In Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations Pip, a boy of humble origins, steadily grows into a man of great ambition. But is he the happier man? Or is it the unsophisticated and uneducated Joe who’s happiest? -the partner of his sister, who raised him. It’s often said that Dickens dedicated his works to railing against social injustices and inequalities.
But he was also playing with philosophical concepts, and obviously societal ones. We instinctively want the ambitious, lowly born person to do well. But should we not also question the ambition, as does Dickens? We teach people that having great expectations is a good thing. Sometimes we even go so far as to praise avariciousness, though we rarely call it by that name. But should we? Are great expectations always good? Or would it be a better thing to teach our young to be content with what they already have?
This line was written by Shakespeare, but it fits nicely into modern relativistic and post-modern outlooks. What sense do you think it has? Does it still apply?
Utopian visions have caught the imagination of some of the greatest minds in history, and formed a theme that has been echoed in historic libraries around the world. We have Plato’s Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia, an unparalleled publishing of nearly 100 utopian fantasies between 1875 and 1905, and more recently the publishing of Fukuyama’s ‘The End of History and the Last Man’, in which he says that the future will simply be managing past ideas. Most now agree that ‘the end of history’ reflected no more than a mood at the time. In fact it’s no coincidence that each utopian vision is eventually discredited. A state of universal perfection is a backward concept. It belongs with the absolutes of Newtonian physics; not with society past the teachings of Einstein. What’s perfect to one person is an abomination to another. And what is perfect to someone at age 40 may be an abomination to that same person aged 50.
So in fact there is no such thing as a true Utopia. However there are such things as ideals, and as such the closest we will ever get to utopia is a state of constant reform, adaptation and evolution.
Do you agree? Is the mood today one that will result in a death knell for the continued publishing of utopian visions?
>Feel free to question the context and meaning behind these words if you know much about Hamlet.
>The great books are held to be great cultural achievements and long term assets. Many films have entered this category too over the past few decades. But what books remain either undiscovered or worthy of being made into film that have not yet been already?
In other words what stories would you like to see made into film?