Friday, July 18, 2014

Criminality is The Condition of Life?

While reading Julian Moynahan's critical article "The Hero's Guilt: The Case of Great Expectations", I was struck by many of the points Moynahan makes, but one line stood out to me. In quoting G.R. Strange's "Dickens' Fable for his Time' Moynahan says "Pip, therefore  feels criminal guilt because he is criminal as we are all criminal" because 'criminality is the condition of life' ergo we as humans are not inherently good. The Joes and the Biddys are ideals--perhaps even unrealistic ideals in many ways.

Speaking on the terms of connotations, I immediately want to react to the concept of being called a criminal. It's a harsh term that conjures up images no one wants to claim. However, stepping back I can get behind the argument. Who among us has not committed a crime? That doesn't mean we have all been caught--but most of us have broken the law and few of us are plagued by guilt when it happens. Speeding, jaywalking, etc. "small crimes", sure, but they are criminal. No one is perfectly innocent. So we are all carrying criminality inside of us, as Pip does in Great Expectations. So what do we do with this information? For that matter, what does Dickens want us to do with this information? 

Honestly, I'm not sure, but it's something to consider especially as we take this text to our students.

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