Friday, May 31, 2013

So Maybe Boringness Is Better...

Or, Why I Don’t Like the S&S Heroes.
Every time I read or watch S&S, I’m struck with how little I like the heroes.  I like most of the other characters, but S&S is definitely not as high on my “favorites” list as it could be if it had better heroes.
I know many of you like Colonel Brandon or Edward Ferrars, and I’m not going to lose my temper and start bashing them.  I’m just going to state my reasons and arguments for disliking them.  Who knows, maybe I’ll convert someone.  ;)
I apologize for the total lack of pictures in this post.  J
I’ll start with Edward Ferrars.
When the story begins, Edward has been secretly engaged four years to a girl named Lucy Steele.  She’s pretty and clever, but she’s also uneducated and mean.  Edward is getting tired of her and wishing he could end the engagement. 
When he meets his half-sister-in-law (I’m not sure if that’s the correct usage of the half-sister of your sister’s husband, but whatever) Elinor Dashwood, he immediately falls in love.  There’s the first problem I have with him.  Why didn’t he leave?  No matter how much he dislikes Lucy, it was his choice to propose to her and he should keep the engagement.  Also, he IS engaged to Lucy.  He should know that he’s raising hopes in Elinor and her family that can never be fulfilled.
There are several reasons why he wouldn’t have left the house when he realized either that his behavior was raising hopes or when he realized that he was in love.  One is that he was just flirting with her because he was bored.  I honestly don’t think he’s that type of character.
Another possible reason is that he just doesn’t have the self-control to deny himself anything.  He IS the eldest son of a rich family, after all, and that usually means getting petted and spoiled.
Anyway, when the Dashwoods leave, he tries to keep away, but he can’t help himself.  He passes by their new house on his way to London to join his family, and he stays there for a day.  Why?  Why not just get himself out of their lives?
When he gets to London, he presumably praises Elinor to the skies.  This is a mistake- perhaps an honest one, perhaps not.  He’s exposing Elinor to the hatred of his family, and she doesn’t even get the (doubtful) happiness of actually being engaged to him.
When Elinor and her sister Marianne Dashwood come to London for a visit, Lucy Steele tells Elinor (she probably could tell that Edward was in love, and she definitely heard rumors of Edward’s love) that she was engaged to Edward Ferrars.  Elinor is deeply hurt, but she manages to forgive both and wish them happy.
(If you didn’t know before, Elinor is my favorite literary heroine.)
Edward knows, or should know (because if he doesn’t, he’s obviously even more of a day-dreamer than Anne in Anne of Green Gables)(no offense to Anne, it’s one of my favorite books) that there are rumors of his and Elinor’s engagement.  Instead of standing up for her and telling his family that he’s not engaged to her, he just lets them insult her at every turn.  Maybe he was thinking that Elinor was good cover for Lucy.  You know, like when Frank Churchill made love to Emma to hide that he was engaged to Jane Fairfax in Emma. 
But whatever his motive was, he was really wavering and inconstant.  He loves her so much he can’t tear himself away from her, but he won’t stand up for her to his family or try to save her any discomfort.
One scene that I found particularly annoying in terms of Edward was the one where Edward comes to call on Elinor and finds Lucy sitting there as well.
First of all, why is he calling on Elinor?  Maybe it’s a call of politeness, but I don’t think so.  I’m not really sure, I guess, but really.  You’d think that he could stop trying to gain Elinor’s love when it’s obviously not going to work out. 
Second of all, when Lucy tells him that Elinor knows about their engagement, he won’t pay any special attention to Lucy anyway to show Elinor that it won’t work out.  This would be sort of cruel, but at least it would end Elinor’s uncertainty.
Third, he doesn’t offer to walk home with Lucy.  Maybe that’s just from a wish to hide their engagement.  But whatever the reason, it was just common politeness, and he was rude.
Eventually, it slips out to the Ferrars family that Lucy is engaged to Edward.  Lucy and her sister are driven out of the Ferrars’s house, where they’ve been staying.  Edward just sits by and lets Lucy shift for herself.  Seriously?  I KNOW he doesn’t like her.  I KNOW that she’s mean and sorta evil and personally I don’t like Lucy at all.  But like I said before, it was his choice to begin the engagement and it’s his duty to act by it.  And to let your betrothed just get turned out of the house?  What could he hope to gain?  You’d think he could have at least tried to find a house for her, and he’d lose nothing by defying his family anymore.
Then comes the point that all Edward- defenders point to: his family orders and begs him by turns to break off his engagement with Lucy, and he doesn’t.  This is very admirable of him, but he also has some questionable motives.  For one thing, he won’t be able to marry Elinor even if he does break off the engagement with Lucy, because his family wants him to marry a Miss Morton.  Edward’s family then banishes him and gives Robert (Edward’s younger brother) Edward’s inheritance. 
A little while after that, Lucy breaks off the engagement with Edward herself and gets engaged to Robert Ferrars instead.  Lucy has a worse character than Edward’s, but I think they both treated each other badly.  Just because Lucy was somewhat evil doesn’t mean that Edward is blameless.
Once he finds out he’s free, Edward makes a beeline to Elinor and proposes.  She forgives him, which is yet another of the (many, many, many) reasons she’s my favorite heroine.  He’s actually treated her pretty badly, in my opinion- even if that didn’t lower him in hers.
Edward eventually gets accepted back into the Ferrars family and introduces Elinor as his betrothed.  Having already suffered one shock and wishing to have at least one son (Robert was banished for marrying Lucy), Mrs. Ferrars soon gives in and agrees to the marriage.  She still doesn’t give Edward’s fortune back, though.  Shame on her.
I think that’s enough to give my opinion on Edward.  On to Colonel Brandon.
Colonel Brandon is brave, honorable, and true.  He’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for Marianne’s and he’s generous to those in need.
His character isn’t my problem.
My problem is that he doesn’t get enough “screen time.”  I know he’s sort of a secondary hero, but he shows up about a quarter of the way through the book, runs away as fast as he can, shows up in the third quarter of the book and shines, and then gets out of there and comes back married.
I know he’s very virtuous and whatnot, but I only know it.  I don’t see it.  I can’t admire him, because he’s just words on a page.  He doesn’t come alive for me, and he seems like a vague ghost, just floating in and out of the story as the plot dictates.
That’s pretty much the only reason I don’t like Colonel Brandon- because he doesn’t seem to exist in the way the other characters do.  The other characters come alive for me and I can see them, hear them, imagine what they eat for breakfast.
Colonel Brandon doesn’t even get a first name.
So those are the reasons why I don’t like Colonel Brandon and Edward Ferrars.

 Notes: As those of you who have been reading these “Notes” for the past week know, I’m watching TSP82 tonight and I’m.  SO.  EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I should have my Emma post done by the end of this year or next.  No, I’m serious.  ;)
Please let me know what you think and what topics you’re interested in in the comments below!
-Miss Jane Bennet

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Long Post On One of My Very Favorite Books (aka The Phantom of the Opera)

Why do I like the Phantom of the Opera?
Because…it really can’t be summed up, but I’ll try.
Here it is: If you don’t like the Phantom of the Opera- you shouldn’t read this, because I’m a PHAN with capital letters.  End of story.
Now I shall do an in-depth post on why I really like the PotO.  I’m not exactly sure if the book counts as a classic, but really…I consider it one, and it’s my blog.  Heh.  J
All right…I’ll stop gloating and start.
I first read PO when I was in…what?  Fifth grade?  Yeah, it was fifth.  SO, I was reading it, and going ho-hum, and not especially enjoying it.  Have you noticed that I generally like books better on their second or third reading??  Anyway, I was reading it, I didn’t enjoy it, and I put it away.  
Then, two years later, it was brought to my attention yet again.  My orchestra was playing the PO…theme, I guess it is.  The one that goes DA…da da da da da…
ANYWAY.  I was hooked- no, Hooked with a capital h on the music.  That night, I listened to the actual recording (with voices) on YouTube, and fell head over heels for the musical.  Lucky for me, my parents had a recording of the entire show, and I listened to it so many times that I could sing a lot of the songs by heart.  As I couldn’t watch the actual show of PO, I watched the movie of the musical- the one with Emmy Russo and Gerard Butler- (see, I know all the actors) and was duly impressed.  Emmy Russo did a great job.  BUT this is turning into a movie review and anyway, I like Michael Crawford (who is surpassed only by Anthony Andrews- aka The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Sarah Brightman way better. 
BUT this is turning into a review of the musical.  So while I could gush for ages about that…
(I had to put that.  How many of you have read the book, Do Not Make Me Smile?  ‘Cause it was awesome.)
ANYWAY.  I was listening to the CD over and over again.  Then I remembered the book I’d read in fifth grade.  The book that had started the whole thing.  And I thought, Hmmm…
I decided to read the book, pronto.  I couldn’t find it at our house- I knew we had it somewhere- so I checked it out from the library.  Or rather, I placed a hold on it and had to wait for TWO WEEKS.  Those weeks went tortuously slow.
But I finally got the book.  I read the first page.  I immediately got creeped out.  Apparently that’s not a word.  Too bad.  =)
For the next few days, while I was reading the book, I jumped at shadows, crept around corners and refused to go into the dark hallway.  For ANY reason.
Then I finished the book.  I finished it while reading under a lamp in the basement while the rest of my family was watching Cars.  I am not a sentimental person in general and don’t usually cry over books.  I cried over the ending of this one- or at least, I choked up and couldn’t talk cheerfully for the next 15 minutes. 
“Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be 'some one,' like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must need pity the Opera ghost...”
-The Phantom of the Opera
My feelings about Erik (the Phantom, for those who haven’t read the book yet.) were mixed.  I was utterly and completely befuddled.  Gaston Leroux played on my emotions- one moment I was completely angry with him and the next I felt so sorry for him.  He’s a twisted genius, who’s been mocked and scorned since birth and grown up to be a genius who uses his extraordinary powers of mind for his own benefit. 
Then the story starts.  The Phantom has made himself rich and famous in different countries- he’s worked everywhere, from a freak show in a circus to building grand toys and buildings for a Sultan’s daughter.  Now, he just wants to be “some one”- to live normally like everyone else.
“Now I want to live like everybody else. I want to have a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody. People will not even turn round in the streets. You will be the happiest of women. And we will sing, all by ourselves, till we swoon away with delight. You are crying! You are afraid of me! And yet I am not really wicked. Love me and you shall see! All I wanted was to be loved for myself. If you loved me I should be as gentle as a lamb; and you could do anything with me that you pleased.” (Erik)
-The Phantom of the Opera
Being “some one” means having a wife- a family.  Erik wants someone to love him- and he wants someone to love. 
Erik has fallen in love with Christine Daae for her beautiful voice and her pretty face.  He poses as an “Angel of Music” that her father promised to send.
To explain that, you need to know Christine’s back story.  Christine’s mother died when she (Christine) was a baby, and Christine has been brought up by her father, a famous violinist, and her grandmother.  Christine dotes on her father and is crushed when he dies.  During the sickness that would eventually kill him, her father promises to send Christine an “Angel of Music” so she won’t be lonely.
I don’t know how the OG (Opera Ghost) hit upon being an “Angel of Music”.  It could have been a lucky guess, or Erik could have found it out somehow.  But Christine trusts him because she thinks her father sent him. 
Then, Christine meets her childhood sweetheart Raoul in the theater where she sings.  Raoul is instantly in love with her again, but Christine is scared.  Her “Angel of Music” has told her pretty much not to date anyone. 
When Christine tells Erik/Phantom/OG about this suitor, Erik speeds up his plan.  He sends Christine into a sort of trance with his beautiful, almost unearthly voice.  There’s another thing I forgot to mention.  Erik has the most beautiful voice in the world.  That’s how he can be a singing tutor and pretend to be an Angel of Music.
ANYWAY.  Erik sends Christine into a trance in her dressing room, and then draws her through a trap-door (her mirror) into his lair.  There’s a giant lake beneath the Paris Opera House (that’s the setting), and Erik has built a giant castle with all sorts of strange illusions and torture chambers.  Christine is still entranced when he takes her into his lair.
He asks her to marry him and explains that he just wants to be loved for himself.  Christine, ever curious, manages to take off his mask, revealing the awful face underneath.
“Look!  You want to see? See! Feast your eyes, glut your soul on my cursed ugliness! Look at Erik's face! Now you know the face of the voice! You were not content to hear me, eh? You wanted to know what I looked like? Oh, you women are so inquisitive! Well, are you satisfied? I'm a good-looking fellow, eh?...When a woman has seen me, as you have, she belongs to me.” (Erik)
-The Phantom of the Opera
Erik grows terribly angry and (because he’s emotionally unbalanced- he’s slightly crazy, in my humble opinion) he rages and weeps at Christine, begging her to love him while cursing her for taking off the mask.  Christine, horrified and afraid, pretends that it doesn’t matter to her that he’s so ugly and says she loves him.  Erik is instantly her willing slave and gives her all that his riches and talent can- except happiness.  She doesn’t love him- she loves Raoul, but she knows that she can’t escape from this Phantom who is obsessed with her.
Eventually, she gains Erik’s trust enough for him to let her leave, as long as she wears his ring on her finger.  If she loses it…she will never be heard of again.  He even lets her play that she is engaged to Raoul, which I thought was a little creepy and could only end in heartbreak.  Which it did. 
“And, despite the care which she [Christine] took to look behind her at every moment, she failed to see a shadow which followed her like her own shadow, which stopped when she stopped, which started again when she did and which made no more noise than a well-conducted shadow should.”
-The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom still follows Christine, wanting to make sure that she is faithful.  One night, she meets Raoul on the roof of the Opera House.  She confesses her love for him and her fears about the Phantom.  She tells of how she hates and pities him at the same time.
Raoul, who didn’t know any of this before, immediately makes plans for his and Christine’s escape.  Christine agrees to flee with him, but her pity for the Phantom holds her back.  He loves to hear her sing, and she had promised to sing in the Opera House soon.  She refuses to leave until she has sung for Erik one more time.  Raoul eventually gives in, but gives her a ring to wear around her neck- a symbol of their engagement.
The only problem?  The Phantom was listening the whole time.
Enraged and heartbroken, Erik kidnaps Christine again.  Raoul tries to find out where she could have gone and meets the Persian, a person from Erik’s past who saved his life once and knows where Erik is hiding.  The Persian agrees to help him and they set off together.
The two go into Erik’s cavern through Christine’s mirror and swim through the lake until they reach his castle.  Then, they sneak in and listen in on a conversation between Christine and Erik.
“I give you five minutes to spare your blushes. here is the little bronze key that opens the ebony caskets on the mantle piece in the Louise-Phillipe room. In one of the caskets you will find a scorpion, in the other, a grasshopper, both very cleverly imitated in Japanese bronze: they will say yes or no for you. If you turn the scorpion round, that will mean to me, when I return that you have said yes. The grasshopper will mean no... The grasshopper, be careful of the grass hopper! A grasshopper does not only turn: it hops! It hops! And it hops jolly high!” (Erik)
-The Phantom of the Opera
Erik has tied her up and given her a choice.  She can agree to marry him by turning a scorpion carving- or she can refuse, turn the grasshopper, and blow up the opera house.  He gives her until midnight to decide.  He then leaves, and Raoul calls out to Christine.  They make plans to escape and reach her room, until suddenly Raoul and the Persian are dropped into a torture chamber.  This chamber, a devious invention of Erik’s, creates the illusion of a desert- heat, flies and all.
Luckily for Raoul, the Persian is familiar with this sort of chamber and manages to find a way out- right into the room where the gunpowder for blowing up the Opera House is stored.  Erik comes back and keeps threatening Christine.  Finally, desperate and ignorant of Raoul’s fate, she turns the scorpion- and floods the room full of gunpowder. 
She hears the cries of the two men being drowned and begs Erik to save them.  He does, and brings them out of the opera house.
As the narrator of that part, the Persian, is unconscious by this time, he only finds out what happened later, when the Phantom visits him:
The Persian at once felt who his singular visitor was and ordered him to be shown in. The daroga was right. It was the ghost, it was Erik!

He looked extremely weak and leaned against the wall, as though he were afraid of falling. Taking off his hat, he revealed a forehead white as wax. The rest of the horrible face was hidden by the mask.

The Persian rose to his feet as Erik entered.

"Murderer of Count Philippe, what have you done with his brother and Christine Daae?"

Erik staggered under this direct attack, kept silent for a moment, dragged himself to a chair and heaved a deep sigh. Then, speaking in short phrases and gasping for breath between the words:

"Daroga, don't talk to me...about Count Philippe....He was dead... by the time...I left my house...he was dead... when... the siren sang....It was an...accident...a sad...a very sad ...accident. He fell very awkwardly... but simply and naturally... into the lake!..."

"You lie!" shouted the Persian.

Erik bowed his head and said: "I have not come talk about Count Philippe... but to tell you that...I am die. ..."

"Where are Raoul de Chagny and Christine Daae?"

"I am going to die."

"Raoul de Chagny and Christine Daae?"

"Of love...daroga...I am dying...of love...That is how it is.... loved her so!...And I love her still...daroga...and I am dying of love for her, I...I tell you!...If you knew how beautiful she was... when she let me kiss her...alive...It was the first...time, daroga, the first...time I ever kissed a woman.... Yes, alive....I kissed her alive ...and she looked as beautiful as if she had been dead!"

The Persian shook Erik by the arm:

"Will you tell me if she is alive or dead."

"Why do you shake me like that?" asked Erik, making an effort to speak more connectedly. "I tell you that I am going to die. ...Yes, I kissed her alive...."

"And now she is dead?"

"I tell you I kissed her just like that, on her forehead... and she did not draw back her forehead from my lips!...Oh, she is a good girl!...As to her being dead, I don't think so; but it has nothing to do with me....No, no, she is not dead! And no one shall touch a hair of her head! She is a good, honest girl, and she saved your life, daroga, at a moment when I would not have given twopence for your Persian skin. As a matter of fact, nobody bothered about you. Why were you there with that little chap? You would have died as well as he! My word, how she entreated me for her little chap! But I told her that, as she had turned the scorpion, she had, through that very fact, and of her own free will, become engaged to me and that she did not need to have two men engaged to her, which was true enough. "As for you, you did not exist, you had ceased to exist, I tell you, and you were going to die with the other!...Only, mark me, daroga, when you were yelling like the devil, because of the water, Christine came to me with her beautiful blue eyes wide open, and swore to me, as she hoped to be saved, that she consented to be MY LIVING WIFE!...Until then, in the depths of her eyes, daroga, I had always seen my dead wife; it was the first time I saw MY LIVING WIFE there. She was sincere, as she hoped to be saved. She would not kill herself. It was a bargain....Half a minute later, all the water was back in the lake; and I had a hard job with you, daroga, for, upon my honor, I thought you were done for!... However!...There you were!...It was understood that I was to take you both up to the surface of the earth. When, at last, I cleared the Louis-Philippe room of you, I came back alone...."

"What have you done with the Vicomte de Chagny?" asked the Persian, interrupting him.

"Ah, you see, daroga, I couldn't carry HIM up like that, at once. ...He was a hostage....But I could not keep him in the house on the lake, either, because of Christine; so I locked him up comfortably, I chained him up nicely--a whiff of the Mazenderan scent had left him as limp as a rag--in the Communists' dungeon, which is in the most deserted and remote part of the Opera, below the fifth cellar, where no one ever comes, and where no one ever hears you. Then I came back to Christine, she was waiting for me."

Erik here rose solemnly. Then he continued, but, as he spoke, he was overcome by all his former emotion and began to tremble like a leaf: "Yes, she was waiting for me...waiting for me erect and alive, a real, living she hoped to be saved....And, when I...came forward, more timid than...a little child, she did not run, no...she stayed...she waited for me....I even believe...daroga...that she put out her forehead...a little...oh, not much...just a little... like a living bride....And...and...I...kissed her!... I!...I!...I!...And she did not die!...Oh, how good it is, daroga, to kiss somebody on the forehead!...You can't tell!... But I! I!...My mother, daroga, my poor, unhappy mother would never ...let me kiss her....She used to run away...and throw me my mask! ...Nor any other woman...ever, ever!...Ah, you can understand, my happiness was so great, I cried. And I fell at her feet, crying ...and I kissed her feet...her little feet...crying. You're crying, too, daroga...and she cried also...the angel cried!..." Erik sobbed aloud and the Persian himself could not retain his tears in the presence of that masked man, who, with his shoulders shaking and his hands clutched at his chest, was moaning with pain and love by turns.

"Yes, daroga...I felt her tears flow on my forehead...on mine, mine!...They were soft...they were sweet!...They trickled under my mask...they mingled with my tears in my eyes...yes ...they flowed between my lips....Listen, daroga, listen to what I did....I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears...and she did not run away!...And she did not die!... She remained alive, weeping over me, with me. We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!"

And Erik fell into a chair, choking for breath:

"Ah, I am not going to die yet...presently I shall...but let me cry!...Listen, daroga...listen to this....While I was at her feet...I heard her say, `Poor, unhappy Erik!' ... AND SHE TOOK MY HAND!...I had become no more, you know, than a poor dog ready to die for her....I mean it, daroga!... I held in my hand a ring, a plain gold ring which I had given her ...which she had lost...and which I had found again... a wedding-ring, you know....I slipped it into her little hand and said, `There!...Take it!...Take it for you...and him! ...It shall be my wedding-present a present from your poor, unhappy Erik.....I know you love the boy...don't cry any more! ...She asked me, in a very soft voice, what I meant.... Then I made her understand that, where she was concerned, I was only a poor dog, ready to die for her...but that she could marry the young man when she pleased, because she had cried with me and mingled her tears with mine!..." Erik's emotion was so great that he had to tell the Persian not to look at him, for he was choking and must take off his mask. The daroga went to the window and opened it. His heart was full of pity, but he took care to keep his eyes fixed on the trees in the Tuileries gardens, lest he should see the monster's face.

"I went and released the young man," Erik continued, "and told him to come with me to Christine....They kissed before me in the Louis-Philippe room....Christine had my ring.... I made Christine swear to come back, one night, when I was dead, crossing the lake from the Rue-Scribe side, and bury me in the greatest secrecy with the gold ring, which she was to wear until that moment. ...I told her where she would find my body and what to do with it. ...Then Christine kissed me, for the first time, herself, here, on the forehead--don't look, daroga!--here, on the forehead...on my forehead, mine--don't look, daroga!--and they went off together. ...Christine had stopped crying....I alone cried....Daroga, daroga, if Christine keeps her promise, she will come back soon!..."

The Persian asked him no questions. He was quite reassured as to the fate of Raoul Chagny and Christine Daae; no one could have doubted the word of the weeping Erik that night.
The monster resumed his mask and collected his strength to leave the daroga. He told him that, when he felt his end to be very near at hand, he would send him, in gratitude for the kindness which the Persian had once shown him, that which he held dearest in the world: all Christine Daae's papers, which she had written for Raoul's benefit and left with Erik, together with a few objects belonging to her, such as a pair of gloves, a shoe-buckle and two pocket-handkerchiefs. In reply to the Persian's questions, Erik told him that the two young people, at soon as they found themselves free, had resolved to go and look for a priest in some lonely spot where they could hide their happiness and that, with this object in view, they had started from "the northern railway station of the world." Lastly, Erik relied on the Persian, as soon as he received the promised relics and papers, to inform the young couple of his death and to advertise it in the EPOQUE.
-The Phantom of the Opera
The Vicomte de Chagny is Raoul and Count Phillipe is his brother, whom Erik accidentally killed.
Erik eventually shows mercy to Christine because she showed mercy to him.  She gave up everything to save her love, and he gave her everything back because she did it. 
Erik couldn’t live much longer after that:
That was all. The Persian saw Erik to the door of his flat, and Darius helped him down to the street. A cab was waiting for him. Erik stepped in; and the Persian, who had gone back to the window, heard him say to the driver:

"Go to the Opera."

And the cab drove off into the night.

The Persian had seen the poor, unfortunate Erik for the last time. Three weeks later, the Epoque published this advertisement:

"Erik is dead."
-The Phantom of the Opera
PotO is a cross between a horror story, a murder mystery, and a romance.  It’s a story about love, self-sacrifice, and good overcoming evil.  It tells about a broken, twisted man who is redeemed through love- like Christ redeems us.  This book is not an allegory, but perhaps you can learn something about Christ from it.
And a last quote:
“If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.” (Erik)
― Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera

Notes: I’m still working on the Emma review.  I’ll probably do a TSP1982 review on Saturday.  Please leave a comment and tell me how you liked this post and what you’d like me to write about next!
-Miss Jane Bennet

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm Sorry, But I Do Have An Excuse!

I haven't posted for three days.  I'm very sorry.  HOWEVER I will try to make it up.
First, let me thank Laura Ingalls for being the first to answer the quiz!
I'm sorry, but my family doesn't allow media on Sundays and I won't be posting on holidays.  I probably should have said that before.  But I'm here now! Right?
Now, my post:
There are three required posts for any classic literature blog: one on Mr. Darcy, one on favorite literary heroes, and one on favorite literary heroines.  I am starting with literary heroines.  So without further ado...[insert applause here]
Let me present my top ten favorite literary heroines!
#1. The first one is always the most important, so I have been deliberating on this for quite some time.  But...I think...I'm ALMOST entirely sure that...Yes!
My favorite literary heroine (so far!  I haven't read that many classics yet) is:
Elinor Dashwood.                             
I'm sorry about the picture.  I'm not sure what happened there.

Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I like Joanna David's portrayal of Elinor. A. Lot.  Hence the picture.
Elinor is the heroine I most admire.  She can keep her cool when Lucy tells her that she and Edward Ferrars are engaged, she can still be civil and even wish for Edward's happiness with Lucy, and she just tries to get on with her life.  Coming from the sister of Marianne, this is a big accomplishment. ;)
Even when everyone around her is wishing for her happiness with Edward, when Marianne falls apart and Elinor has to help and cheer Marianne on top of everything else, she can still love and forgive her family and friends.  (And enemies!)
That is why she's my favorite Austen heroine.  My favorite portrayal of her...I already told you.  ;)

#2. Jane Bennet
Considering my pen name is Miss Jane Bennet, I had to put her somewhere. ;)
Jane is sweet, loving, and kind and she always tries to find the best in everyone.  She always tries to be a peacemaker, and she loves her family despite their flaws.  Any hurts that she might have, she tries to keep hidden from her family and she always tries to protect and comfort everyone around her.  Even when Miss Bingley is being very rude, Jane doesn't let that stop her from forgiving and attempting to be friendly to her.
I like Susannah Harker's portrayal better.  I think she really captured Jane's sweetness and serenity and by the standard of the times (read this post- it's interesting!) she really is prettier than Elizabeth.

#3. Marguerite Blakeney
This one was hard!  She almost got Jane's spot, but I like Jane just a teensy bit better than I like Marguerite.
Marguerite is a strong, loyal woman who, I think, is a bit naive, but she is passionate about life.  She loves her brother and husband and tries her best to support Sir Percy as he does all these dangerous missions.  Even though she makes a lot of Percy's adventures a lot more dangerous than they have to be, she doesn't do it intentionally- she's trying to help, or she just wants to be near her husband.  (If she didn't exist, a lot of the TSP plots would be eradicated.)  She, like Jane, wants to think the best of everybody and she forgives and loves many people who don't deserve it.  She's proud, but in a good way- her dignity and honor are important to her.  She trusts people and feels mercy and compassion for those in need, and she tries her best to help them, as well.  Marguerite is definitely worthy of being on this list.
I haven't seen any of the movie versions of TSP yet...this Friday I will...but I've heard Jane Seymour is really good, so I'll go with her.
#4. Anne Elliot
Anne Elliot is not my favorite heroine, and Persuasion is not my favorite Austen book, but both come pretty close.
Anne is gentle and quiet, but she has principles and she sticks to them.  She loves her family and obeys them, even though they're pretty terrible to her.  She also keeps on loving Captain Wentworth even when he's flirting with another girl just to get revenge on her for breaking up the engagement.  She's very useful and tries to help whenever possible, and the people around her who appreciate more than beauty recognize her true worth.  She has good sense, but she doesn't try to force it on anyone.  Sometimes it seems like the whole world is against her, but, in her own quiet way, she struggles as bravely as any warrior could do.
I haven't seen any movie version of Persuasion yet, so I'll go with Amanda Root.
#5. Catherine Morland
Catherine is in the middle of this list, but to get on the list at all is pretty good, and I like her a lot.
Catherine is a sweet, naive girl.  I like her for a different reason than I like the other heroines.  The others I respect and admire as well as love.  Catherine is different.  I like her because she's such a typical teenaged girl.  She reads "horrid novels" and has a wild imagination that only needs the slightest encouragement to go rambling off somewhere.  She longs for adventure and when she doesn't get it, she makes it up.  She's a lot like me- I'm definitely guilty of imagining strange things about closets and secret rooms, and I've been searching for secret passages in our house for at least a year.  Without success, of course.  Sigh...
Like her, I often get over-excited about visiting old buildings that turn out to be modernized and boring.  Like her, I found out the hard way that it's possible to creep yourself out too much and that, really, there aren't that many bloody skeletons lying around.  Catherine is perhaps the heroine I enjoy reading about most, because she's the simplest.  A 17-year-old who's traveling for the first time and is "almost pretty" is about as funny and simple as you can get.
I haven't seen any movie versions of NA, and I hear that none of them are very good, so I won't pick a Catherine.
#6. Elizabeth Bennet
Of course Lizzy Bennet is on here.  She's the most popular Austen heroine.                                                  
Lizzy is funny and brave in her own way.  She's a bold tomboy who cares more about character than social status.  She's flawed- like all good heroines- but she can laugh at herself and she'll take a little criticism.  She loves her family, although she's ashamed of some of them, and she'll go to great lengths to ensure their happiness.  She's caring and will go out of her way to help people.  She can laugh her way out of any predicament, but she can be serious or wise when the occasion arises.  She's usually a good judge of character.  She can be polite on the surface while still being unafraid of anyone, and some of her sly remarks had me giggling like crazy.  :D
I can't decide between the two Elizabeth portrayals.  Don't kill me!  I'm a member of the P&P95Forever Club, so out of loyalty I'll pick Jennifer Ehle.  HOWEVER I think that while Ehle captured the witty, graceful part of Lizzy better (and she had fine eyes!), Knightly was actually 20 years old and she had the light figure.  In some of her better moments, she did a great job capturing Lizzy's more serious side.
#7. Fanny Price
Fanny is not detested.  She's not even detested, because she's too boring to be worth it.  Right?
Fanny Price is almost universally thought of as a doormat.  She just gives in to her bullying family's wishes and lets her cousin do her fighting for her.  BUT isn't that a kind of strength?
Fanny gives in to everybody and doesn't want to cause any trouble.  She thinks she isn't worth anything and that she doesn't deserve anything.  However, she still holds fast to her principles and integrity, even when faced by the disapproval of her entire family.  She can find strength when she needs it and she loves her adoptive family.  She has a very forgiving, loving heart and she enjoys doing things for people around her.  Even when her love Edmund confides in her that he loves someone else and is thinking of proposing, she is nice to that woman- more than nice.  She goes out of her way to help Mary Crawford and is always very kind and obliging to her.  She has no thoughts of resentment.  She may be a doormat, but she's a strong doormat.  :D
I haven't seen any of the movie versions of MP, and to be honest, I don't want to.  None of them stay with the story or portray the characters as they're supposed to be.  However, I pick the one with Frances O'Connor because even though it completely changes the plot and characters, it sounds like it has a good storyline.  Even if it's not Jane Austen's.
#8. Emma Woodhouse
That picture is just so totally Emma,  isn't it? ;)
Those of you who know that Emma is my favorite Austen novel might be surprised to find Emma so far down on the list.  I beg you to remember that all the characters on the list are definite favorites, and that these aren't really placed in a super-particular order.
Emma this post to find my full opinion on her.  For now, let's just say that at the beginning I thought she was a spoiled brat, but by the end she had improved, not only in character but also in my regard.  I really respected and liked her by the end.
Romola Garai is Emma.  No question.  I like the 2009 version the best, but take that with a grain of salt, because I haven't watched any other version.
#9. Jane Eyre
Another Jane on this list!  I have departed from Austen for my ninth heroine.
For me, Jane Eyre was a little difficult to understand.  For one thing, why did she fall in love with Rochester????
But aside from that...Jane Eyre is probably the most honorable and upright person on this list.  She loves Rochester, but when she finds out that he already has a wife- whatever the circumstances surrounding that wife may be- she immediately leaves the house because she doesn't want to be tempted.  She loves Rochester even though he has behaved terribly toward her, and when she finds out he's a cripple at the end of the book, she still loves him and marries him.  She clings to that love, but she's willing to step away from it and get on with her life if she can.  She doesn't try to wallow in her own sorrow or behave like an afflicted heroine; instead, she does the sensible thing.  When life offers her a chance to better her life, she takes it, and when misfortune strikes, she makes the best of it and struggles on, trying to live a good life for God.  She's a devout Christian, and when she finds that her love for Rochester is overshadowing her love for God, she steps back from it and eventually finds a healthy balance.
I think there was only one movie of Jane Eyre, so I'll pick that one.  I haven't seen it, though.
#10. Caddie Woodlawn
I'm not sure if Caddie Woodlawn is a classic or not, but I really liked that book- even better than the Little House books- so I pick Caddie Woodlawn as my last heroine.
I wasn't able to find a good picture- there was a movie made about it, but I don't know anything about that movie, so I'm keeping away from that.
Caddie Woodlawn is a tomboy growing up in the West.  The story is based on Carol Ryrie Brink (the author)'s grandmother's life.  The grandmother's name was actually Caddie- a nickname for Caroline- Woodhouse!  Of all the coincidences!
Caddie is brave and honorable and true, and though she might carry her jokes and tomboyishness a little too far, she is fiercely loyal to her family and friends and loves the land she grew up in.  She hates being ladylike, but at the end of the book, she grows up and realizes that she can be a good woman without being a silly, simpering fine lady.
As I said before, I don't know anything about the movie, so no comment. ;)

Notes: I'm working on a long Emma (the book) review, which will probably be up by the end of this week or next week.  This Friday, I'm watching TSP from 1982.  I'm EXCITED and I will probably write a review of it.  Please let me know in the comments what other topics you'd like!
-Miss Jane Bennet

Saturday, May 25, 2013

THREE In One Day!

But don't worry, this'll be a short one.  I just wanted to say that I've changed the blog title and added a description.  Welcome to Regency Novels is now Classic Ramblings.  Thanks for reading this!
-Miss Jane Bennet

A New Idea!

I felt so guilty by leaving off like that- I couldn't have that post be my accomplishment of the day.  That's not the way to endear this blog to people.  So...
Without further ado...(this is a lot of further ado)
Let me present my EXTRA post of the day!
(I've been sitting here thinking for a while because I couldn't think of a good subject for an extra post.  This is why I need feedback.  I'm too much like Harriet Smith for my own good.)
But I FINALLY thought of a subject: A quiz!  It's a little too early in this blog's history to be asking for people to join.  BUT I do want attention (to this blog, anyway) and I thought a quiz would be a good idea.  I love personality quizzes myself, so let me introduce:
Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You? quiz.
There are so many of these out there that it's kind of pointless to make another one, but I like taking lots of these.  I tried to make it somewhat unique, though.
Without further ado (again!), here are the questions:
       1. You are listening to music.  It is:
a)      Over-the-top, dramatic opera.
b)      Whatever the rest of the family is listening to.
c)       Any sort of good quality music- you aren’t picky.
d)      Adventurous, scary music!  Anything exciting!
e)      Sweet, low music- maybe cello or viola.  Or oboe.
f)       Ridiculous, redundant music that you can make witty remarks at.
g)      You wanted to listen to classic, but your sister likes country, so…
h)      You just like changing the channels.  It gives you a feeling of power…

      2. Your mom or dad tells you to wash the dishes.  You:
a)      Don’t really want to, but you’ll just do it fast and get it over with.
b)      Sure!  You love your dear family.
c)       Do it, and break half the plates while daydreaming about wild adventures.
d)      Oh, you’re so glad you can be helpful!  You don’t deserve such kindness.
e)      Are undecided as to whether you should dramatically protest or be saintly and do it without complaint.
f)       Do it.  Chores first, pleasures later.
g)      No way!  You can get one of your many devoted friends to do it for you.
h)      Why not? You can chat with your sister, who rinses the dishes.

      3. Somebody breaks a little bracelet you made in first grade.  What do you do?
a)      Clean it up and throw it away.  It wasn’t much use; it was just gathering dust.
b)      You didn’t deserve the opportunity to make it anyway.  You clean it up immediately.
c)       You’re sure it was just an accident.  You liked that little bracelet, but you can forgive.
d)      Burst into sobs and carefully gather the remains of it into your arms.  Later, you hold a private funeral service for it.
e)      Make a clever joke to ease the tension and then clean the bracelet up.  Any slight pangs you might have felt, you quickly amuse them away.
f)       Oh, dear!  The person who broke it MUST be a villain in disguise.  How could they be so cruel otherwise?
g)      The person broke it because he was staring at my beautiful friend.  He must be in love!
h)      You want to cry, but it doesn’t really matter, you suppose.

    4. You break your arm while playing alone in the yard.  What do you do?
a)      Control the pain and march into your house as fast as you can to call the doctor.
b)      HOW adventurous and daring of me!
c)       Go into the house crying quietly and call the doctor yourself; your family is away.
d)      Stagger into the house, exaggerating the pain as much as possible.  Once inside, you collapse into a chair and faint.
e)      Go into the house and call the doctor yourself; you don’t want to worry your family.
f)       Walk into the house as quickly as possible.  Your sister is alarmed and calls the doctor right away, and you make clever remarks to stop her from worrying.
g)      Go in as fast as you can, call the doctor, and then make a splint for yourself while you’re waiting.
h)      Sit down and cry outside because you don’t want to cause your family trouble.  Eventually someone finds you and calls a doctor, while you’re quietly protesting and blushing as hard as you can.

     5. You’re walking outside and you’re at least a mile from your house when it starts to downpour.   You don’t have an umbrella.  What do you do?
a)      Take shelter in a nearby building or under some trees until the downpour stops.  Then go home and change into dry clothes.
b)      Immediately walk home, covering your head the best you can.
c)       Wait under a tree and find humor in the situation until the rain stops.
d)      You wouldn’t dare take shelter in somebody’s house, so you walk home immediately.
e)      Walk home, but stay outside until somebody brings you towels.
f)       Work yourself into a fit about lurking bandits and evil storm spirits.
g)      Walk home and dry up the best you can, not wanting to trouble anyone.
h)      Oh, how romantic!  How grand!  You run around in the rain, glorying in the wet, until your sister comes out to look for you and drags you back to the house with the makings of a bad cold.
      6. The attribute you wish you had is:
a)      The means to travel.
b)      Fairness.
c)       Self-control.
d)      Wisdom.
e)      Firmness of mind.
f)       Better perception of others’ character and intentions.
g)      Boldness.
h)      Less self-control.

     7. Your biggest flaw is probably:
a)      Your extreme shyness.
b)      Your rigid concealment of emotions.
c)       Your wish to manage everything.
d)      Your wish to think well of everyone.
e)      Your gullibility.
f)       Being judgmental.
g)      Your extreme emotions.
h)      That you rarely stand firm.

      8. Your biggest enemy is:
a)      That cold, unemotional girl over there who scorns me.
b)      Oh! Nobody means me any harm!
c)       That guy who swears all the time and tries to break up my outings with friends.
d)      I shouldn’t tell you, it would be improper.
e)      The relation who always tells me I’m not as good as s/he is.
f)       Nobody’s my enemy.  I’m not worth it!
g)      Mr. Proud and Haughty over there.  
h)      That INSUFFERABLE woman who thinks she’s better than anyone else.

      9. Your best friend is:
a)      Everyone who wants to be!
b)      My sister.  But I’m good friends with my neighbor too.
c)       My cousin.
d)      My mother and sister, who are the combination of everything worth having.
e)      I don’t have many close friends.  I’m too reserved to get close to many people.
f)       Anyone who’s friendly and shares my interests.
g)      I don’t have a best friend, but many people like you well enough.
h)      Nobody is my equal in talent and intellect.

10. You have a dollar.  What do you do with it?
a)      What’s a dollar?  I have THOUSANDS at my disposal.
b)      Buy a present for my sister.
c)       Try to give it back.
d)      I wanted to get that pretty hat, but my dad wanted some beauty accessories.
e)      Buy the latest horror mystery.
f)       Go into raptures and thank the giver of the dollar again and again before you finally wander through the stores with a smile on your lips.
g)      Save it.
h)      Go to your favorite old book shop and buy your own copy of your favorite book- you’ve worn out the library copy!

And a BONUS question!

11.You just woke up, looked out your window, and saw a foot of snow on the ground.  What do you do?
a)      Sigh- this means shoveling.
b)      Feel happy, but this is bad for your delicate constitution.
c)       Leap out of bed and run outside in your pajamas.  You spin in circles in the new snow, shouting with glee, until your family drags you inside and makes you get dressed.
d)      Smile, eat breakfast, do your chores, and then go outside and play in the snow with your sister(s).
e)      Build a snow fort and play War or Robbers with your siblings. Or curl up and read that new horror mystery.
f)       This has put you in a very good mood, and you make your family laugh nonstop during breakfast with your wit.  Afterwards, you go outside and play enthusiastically.
g)      You want to play in the snow, but you have to run some errands first. 
h)      Yay, I suppose.  

Please give me your answers in a comment and I'll reply with an answer within a few days.  
I hope you like this quiz!
Note: Any resemblance to another quiz is purely coincidental.  I did not mean to copy anyone else's quiz and if this is similar to another quiz, please let me know and I'll change it!
-Miss Jane Bennet