For he’s a jolly good fellow!

Tomorrow is Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday. I am so glad that I am a teacher because I can force 22 children to have a birthday party for him.

For morning work they’ll have to write about their favorite character from Great Expectations.

After they get back from their fun classes (music, spanish, computers), they’ll get to try their hand at forging Charles Dickens’s signature (thank you npr).

Then we’ll celebrate with a rousing chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” None of this Happy Birthday. In fact, I may just do away with Happy Birthday altogether. That song is whiny, and my kids can’t sing it worth snot.

Cinnamon crunch bagels to follow. There should’ve been a proper cake, but next year…

Today we read the chapter in Great Expectations in which Pip visits Wemmick in Walsworth. Wemmick has turned his little English cottage into a fortress. He lopped off the top of the house and mounted a gun which he fires every night at 9 pm Greenwich time. He has a moat that is four feet wide and two feet deep. He has a gothic door which is almost too small to fit through. He keeps a pig and many fowl as well as growing cucumbers. In case of a siege, he’s pretty sure his castle would make it (at this point my kids groaned that the house couldn’t withstand an army of two year olds). My point is…there is no point? Dickens spent an entire chapter describing this little cottage and Pip’s visit. It’s not really necessary to the plot, and it’s not terribly necessary to understanding the character of Wemmick. But there is a lot of delight. And isn’t your world a little bit better for knowing that Wemmick after working in the dreariness of the shadow of Newgate prison gets to go home to his own pint-sized castle? I will always love Dickens because of his ebullience and insouciance for life (and he uses big words that I have to look up). And why be economical with words and characters when we have so many at our disposal?

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!


2 thoughts on “For he’s a jolly good fellow!

  1. You do. I aspire to be more like Dickens in my appreciation of the awkward. Not there yet. I really wish you could visit my class, Hannah. I always tell them stories about my amazing friend who always makes me do goofy things I don’t want to do, and then I’m so happy I did!

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