Interestingly, in both Dickens’ (novel) version and the film version of Great Expectations — with Ethan Hawk and Gweneth Paltrow — there is a tension represented between (1) a pursuit of happiness in upward mobility that ends in either greed or snobbery or decadence or moral decrepitude; and (2) a pursuit of happiness in upward mobility that consummates in moral enlightenment — moral enlightenment (and “happiness”) of the sort that Will Smith’s character in the film The Pursuit of Happyness consummates.
Part 1: Students will perform the following assignment (in at least 500 words):
Seek to illuminate the above-outlined tension as it is represented in either the film or in the novel version of Great Expectations. More specifically, seek to illuminate (by use of quotes) what — in your personal opinion of Dickens’ or the film’s representation of the tension — sits behind a character’s way of consummating the pursuit of upward mobility as a form of felt-happiness; and what, by contrast, sits behind a character’s way of consummating the pursuit of upward mobility as a form that looks and feels nothing like felt-happiness but only as a form of either greed or snobbery or decadence or moral decrepitude.
(Hint: effectively, you will be meditating on the questions: Why might it be that one form of the pursuit of happiness in the pursuit of upward mobility ends badly — ends in unhappiness, ends in a story’s or a character’s unhappy ending? And why might it be that another form of the pursuit of happiness in the pursuit of upward mobility ends well, ends in happiness, ends in a story’s or in a character’s happy ending?)
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