Books to read during school holidays in Singapore.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for Sec 1-3 levels.
Charles Dickens brings us into the world of Pip in Victorian England.
Phillip Pirrip aka Pip plays the 7 year old protagonist growing up in a period in England where being a gentleman makes the man, instantly identifying one as being successful in society.
We follow his path in this story of trials and tribulations, of cause and effect, and how society can deal a cruel hand.
Raised by his abusive sister after his parent’s passing, his transformation from a lower class boy into an upper class gentleman documents how different stratas of society interacts during Victorian times. We see how Pip moves through the ranks and perceives the class divide, giving us an intimate glimpse into social classes and its effects on people with the story churning out characters that are the products of human social segregation.
Pip bonds with the people that will shape his thoughts, and ultimately, his life choices. Pip grows to learn and contrast characteristics of the upper and lower class when he is brought to different scenarios of his education. From the honest close friendships of lower class folks that protects him, to the insults and shaming from the upper class that instilled a strong sense of inferiority complex in Pip. This makes him ironically yearn to be a gentleman, causing abrupt tangential occasions that carries forward his ventures into the upper class.
As it is the easiest way to increase his standing in society, Pip decides to improve his status by becoming a gentleman through the help of a mystery benefactor. Included in the development, all the drama and stigma that makes Pip question his choices of being a gentleman. Twists and surprises abound that develops and defines Pip’s character. With his journey into adulthood, Pip goes through the process of learning that not everything that glitters is gold.
To fight his destiny to be a gentleman, comes its opportunity costs of losing the warmth and closeness of friends, so what will Pip decide at the end? To accept his lower class and its struggles but happier innocent times, or to be the gentleman that brings about sadness, remorse and corrupting nature of money.
This ushers us as readers to question our very own choices, relevant even now and the decisions that we make growing up, helping is to criticise our own path square on and make better decisions.