Thursday, March 30, 2006

Charlotte Bronte (04/21/1816-03/31/1855).
Writer. Artist. Legend.


There's no use in weeping,
Though we are condemned to part:
There's such a thing as keeping
A remembrance in one's heart:

There's such a thing as dwelling
On the thought ourselves have nursed,
And with scorn and courage telling
The world to do its worst.

We'll not let its follies grieve us,
We'll just take them as they come;
And then every day will leave us
A merry laugh for home.

When we've left each friend and brother,
When we're parted wide and far,
We will think of one another,
As even better than we are.

Every glorious sight above us,
Every pleasant sight beneath,
We'll connect with those that love us,
Whom we truly love till death!

In the evening, when we're sitting
By the fire, perchance alone,
Then shall heart with warm heart meeting,
Give responsive tone for tone.

We can burst the bonds which chain us,
Which cold human hands have wrought,
And where none shall dare restrain us
We can meet again, in thought.

So there's no use in weeping,
Bear a cheerful spirit still;
Never doubt that Fate is keeping
Future good for present ill!

--Currer Bell

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A chart I made using Excel:

Dates of special note:

1825: Death of Maria and Elizabeth
1826: The arrival of the Toy Soldiers
1834: Angria formed with Branwell
1839: Worked as governess
1942: Arrival in Brussels
1842: Return to Brussels after Aunt Branwell's death
1846: Publication of Poems; Jane Eyre in the works
1847: Jane Eyre published
1848: Death of Emily
1839: Death of Anne
1849: Ill-health and continued depression
1853: Publication of Villette
1854: Marriage
1855: Death

More information on chronology can be found here
I nominated this poem by Emily Bronte and was pleased to learn that it was chosen to be read at the "My Favorite Poem" evening which will be held next week.
For more information go here

No coward soul is mine
--Emily Bronte (1846)

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life--that in me has rest,
As I--undying Life--have power in thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The stedfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou were left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou--THOU art Being and Breath,
And what THOU art may never be destroyed

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Notes on Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

This is truly one of the best books I've ever read! Definitly going into my list of "Must Read" Children's Books. I had watched the movie starring Alexis Bledel as Winnie Foster and William Hurt as Mr Tuck and even back then it aroused so much feeling and an incentive to ponder. I never forgot the ending and the themes the movie brought out. Now that I've read the book and actually got in tune with Babbitt's writing, I am more compelled to write.

Firstly, I found the themes addressed in the story to be very profound.

*Death: Death is a part of life. Death is a part of the circle, one that completes our existance in this world. Winnie sees how the Tucks are unhappy because they can't die. It seems ironic because most people just want to escape death and think that that would make them happy. This story tells us what might happen if people lived forever.

*Economics of the possibitly of a Fountain of Death: The story brings out what would happen if there was a central place that governed life and death. There would be so much corruption, regarding who owns it and the means to sell it. The man in the Yellow suit talked about having a freak death to show the advantages of living. Imagine how grotesque that would be. Also, this makes us think about the difference between God's controlling life and death as opposed to some other taking control.

*Freedom and Entrapment: What is freedom? Is it life or death? To Winnie Foster, her life at home seemed dead and lifeless and she wished to escape it. However, she learns that being vegabonds on the run forever was like being dead (without dying). She learns that everything is not as it seems, that freedom can disguise entrapment.

*Loss of Innocence: Winnie loses her childish innocence when she learns to question. She questions the staleness of her life at home and tries to break free. When she meets the Tucks, she is contstantly asking questions. She also grows as an adolescent developing feelings for Jesse. The more she finds out about the inevitability of death, she loses the innocece of a child. She also learns that death could be a blessing rather than a punishment.

*A Girl's growing up: This is Winnie's Story. This is her adventure. Notice the absence of Winnie's parents. Also, it is a girls adventure as opposed to a boy's (in this way it resembles Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess and Secret Garden). Even in the first chapter of the book, we learn that Winnie is on a quest for something and the whole book is about her quest (compare with the Aruthurian quest). She not only discovers the secret of the spring, but also grows as a young woman. She also learns to control her base intincts: she does not drink from the spring though she was aware of its existance. This is also about Winnie taking control of the things around her. She decides to help Mae Tuck and she also rescures the toad from being killed. Winnie learns to shed the decorum she was taught and instead acts on impulse so that she can give way to her natural feelings of love and want (note the appearance of "natural"in the story).

*Rich characterization: Intensive study of the Winnie, Mr Tuck, Jesse, Miles, Mae, and the Man in the Yellow Suit could be made.

*Intertwining of reality and fantasy and the art of story-telling: The meaning of stories being passed down to generations and also having faith in a new story is crucial. Though Winnie was the only one who knew of the spring, she believed in the Tucks enough to help them and keep the secret. Babbitt does the opposite in giving away the secret to the readers but HER secret is about learning to keep secrets.

Friday, March 24, 2006

In defense of Heathcliff

This post is a response to the discussion in Frankengirl's blog about Heathcliff's character.

This is from one of my previous personal essays on Heathliff.

Why is it that SO many people call me crazy when I tell them I am fond of Heathcliff?
Yesterday I had a conversation with a few people about it too..and they are just like "He is so evil. You must be insane to like him." To an extent I can see their point...but still...most people I've talked to just don't see ANY good in him. And I think that is just too sad: the fact that they can't appreciate his good qualites and see him for who he really is.

What about his devotion to Catherine?
What about the innocence that was stolen from his youth?
What about the fact that Cathering was drawn to him because he allowed her to be wild and free like she wanted to be?
What about the fact that Hindley mistreated him?
What about the fact that he was so imaginative?
What about the fact that he loved a woman so much he would go to the extent of digging up her grave because he couldln't let go?
What about the fact that he begged for Cathy to haunt him as a ghost because he couldnt' bear to be left alone without her?
What about the fact that he was NOT like the other pretentous insipid young men of that period (like Linton or Hindley)?
What about the fact the he was trapped by people and a Society that didn't allow him to be himself?
What about the fact that happiness and love was denied to him?
What about the fact that Heathcliff and Catherine had their own religion? their religion was love and like believers of any faith, they sought to faithfully follow their own. Their Heaven was with each other, regardless of whether it was on earth or elswhere.

People look at Heathcliff in two ways: the ideal lover or the worst nightmare. My inclination is towards the fomer.
True..I can see how one could interpret his actions as evil. Yes he should not have mistreated Isabella. Yes he should not have mistreated young Cathy. Yes he should not have been so manipulative. But if we put all that in a context based on what happened in his past, then his actions don't look so wholly evil. The best part is, Emily Bronte sympathizes with him as well-all along the course of the book. She is not wholly resentful towards even his most "evil" actions. Instead, she draws the reader's interest and sympathy. Or so I feel.

Often people fail to look at WHY Heathcliff was driven to be "evil" . He was driven to do so BECAUSE he was not allowed to be HIMSELF. When he goes against his nature, he does not know or realize how to respond. He was a poor, timid, little boy when Mr Earnshaw brought him to Wuthering Heights and he tasted real love and affection for a brief period with the old man and Cathy. When Hindley stole that away from him after Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff's only respite rested in his relationship with Catherine. He only wanted to love and be loved. Now tell me, is that too much to ask? Not at all.
Heathcliff's capacity to love was like the vastness of the moors around him. In fact, the moors ARE an outward manifestation of Heathcliff's qualities. They are wild and free and a source of freedom and strength. On the moore Catherine can let go of the restraints of home (and Society) and she can let her imagination run free. She can be who she really is.
When Catherine goes against her nature and marries Linton (thereby signalling the start of her doomed existance), Heathcliff is driven to go against his nature as well. When one's only chance of love is taken away from one, what is one supposed to do? Although I don't agree with the way he mistreated and manipulated people afterward, I can sympathize with him and understand why he did so. He is NOT evil by nature; the world arond him MADE him to be so. How can you dislike someone who was intrinsically innocent, when the world with its evil propensities ought to be the real culprit?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Notes on The Glass Essay

Afer a recommendation from Bored Dominatrix, I've finally managed to read Anne Carson's "The Glass Essay".

I’ve spent a considerable time mulling over this poem. It certainly required immense effort on my part and I’ve had to read thoroughly more than 5 times. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the challenge.

For now I am going to post my thoughts in the form of questions and then attempt to answer them later.

Law: Is this the real name of her ex-boyfriend? If not, why is he called Law? Is he an allegory for something larger?

She: Is Carson afraid of turning into her mother? Why?
Why does she call Emily as “this”? Does this foreshadow the confusion in her
own head between reality and fiction?
If she is afraid of turning into Emily Bronte, then why does she address Emily asking for meat?

Three: Who is the third woman in the room? The ghost of Emily or something else?
Why does she use the glass metaphor? Under what context? Does she mention whether the glass metaphor appears in Wuthering Heights or other works by Emily?
The poem is brimming with entrapment imagery.
Heathcliff’s calling Catherine: pathos or violence?
Why is hanging dead puppies important to Carson? Is it because she wants to act out such a violence to those around her (her mother, Law) but feels helpless knowing she can’t do it?

Whacher: “bars of time, which broke”: imprisonment imagery
If freedom for Carson being away from her mother? What does Carson want? Doe she wasn’t freedom or entrapment?
Videotape: meaning? In her mind or literal meaning?
Nude#1: Is this Emily or Carson?
What is the significance of the scorpion? Is it more harmful to Charlotte, Emily or Carson?

Kitchen: pain devil Vs. plain devil
The kitchen an important setting in both Wuthering Heights and in Emily’s life; Thus it is important to Carson too.
Imagery: steel cage of sheets (like Emily’s dungeon)
Connection with Law and Carson’s mother: she dislikes them both
13 nudes: unlucky number, all the nudes are cruelly trapped in some way or another.

Hero: Is the hero her father or Emily or herself?
Mother is reduced to the status of creature.
Charlotte as voice of reason, Carson also despises reason.
Like the Bronte, Carson likes shadows: gothic.

Hot: Importance of spying and surveillance (Villette, Hamlet)
Resentment against mother for keeping watch over the house and her.
This time she is IN a room with hanged puppies: did she hang them? Is she afraid of them?
Are there scorpions in the mother’s rooms?

Thou: Does Carson mean Emily’s loneliness or her mother’s? Is her mother Emily?
Imagery: ropes/thorns
Soul tapped in glass: Emily’s alter-ego? Carson’s alter-ego?
Finally attempts to separate herself from Emily: “I am my own nude”
Nude #7: Like amniotic sac in a pregnant woman.
Voice “be very careful” is mothers? Is it the voice of womanhood?
How did her melodrama suddenly end and why does Carson portray the end this way without an explanation?
The arrival of Nude#13: arrival of Carson’s mania
The nude “walked of the light”: Satan (Paradise lost)? Will the nude come back? Is this nude evil? Will the nude never rest?

Today one of my young charges, a little five year old, said something that struck me as profound.

She was drawing a picture of a little girl who was unhappy because she was told to read instead of draw. In an attempt to explain her work, my young charge looked at me with a grin in her face and said "She is unhappy because she can't draw so I am drawing her".

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I went museum-hopping today and one of the museums I visited had a garden enclosed within its walls.

The garden sure enough was beautiful: the shrubs were trimmed and prettily arranged, flowers of different sorts that added color were in full bloom and the whole aspect was aesthetically pleasing. It was infact this garden that gave the museum such commendable reputation.

It sickened me. It sickened me so much that I wanted to scream and run away.

I couldn't bear to see such exquisite loveliness trapped. Trapped within walls on all sides. The earth was its only connection to the outside world-to Nature (I wouldn't be suprised if this was even artificial). Even though bright sunlight poured through the glass cover on top of the garden, to me it seemed like an abyss. A dungeon of darkness. It literally scared me. I felt like I was watching a scene of death where something is forcibly made beautiful against its will. Everyone who observed the spectacle couldn't seem to stop praising its beauty. But how many will stop to question how the little red flower feels suffocated in its prison of light and warmth and admiration? Someone (the gardner, the curator, the President) forces the flower to conform to their notion of beauty and it has no choice but to obey. No choice but to submit. No choice to even die if it gets sick of living up to others' expectations. Why is it under so much control? Why did it deserve such a fate?

Perhaps one could argue and say that in this way the little flower is alive. Its beauty is preserved and it lives on as art. However, did it choose to do so? Perhaps its way of living as art would have involved growing wild in the fields. And dying there. Even if meant dying young. Artists have the power to be cruel and relentless. Especially with Nature. They can steal earthly beauty away from something and convert that into what their fancy suits them.

In the end, by doing so, they literally destroy their creation because they strip it of life. That little flower, forced to live, is actually dead. Dead in its loveliness. And those who watch it are deluded into not recognizing Death when it stares at them in their faces. Because of the dictates of society, because of the work of such artists who give into its whims.
I came across this odd site during a random google searching endeavor.
I was surprised to learn of Bronte lip balm...but floor tiles!! hehe
hmm I wonder if I'd not feel a wee bit cautious and paranoid imagining trampling on the Brontes everytime I'd set foot on these tiles.. :P

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A random act of Bronte occured today.
I was surprisingly proactive in public today (instead of my usual quietude) and gave a piece of my mind to the manager of a (well-known) bookstore. Um..not that I atually talked to him/her face to face, but I left a rather (vehement) note.

The premise of that matter was that this bookstore had a shelf devoted to "Famous Women Writers" and despite frantically searching, I found NOTHING by the Brontes! NOT ONE BOOK! There was even one by Mrs. Gaskell..Cranford, but nothing by the Brontes.

Pressed for time and risking being stranded in the city for another 2 hours, impulsively I marched up to the sales desk in fury and gave a tirade to the assistant about how inaccurate their book display was. I asked her to even tell me why Mrs. Gaskell was there. The girl fumbled for words and only managed to give me a piece of paper and a pen. On not finding the manager I could only manage a note.

Even if nothing happens at the bookstore, I am hoping I would have made a difference in the lives of two people at the very least: the manager (provided the note reaches him) and the assistant who had to endure listening to my rant.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I found this topic slightly disconcerting:

Charlotte Bronte and Imperialism.

Any thoughts anyone?
Yes!! It seems *very* likely that I could have a mini Bronte exhibit!! I've also added a Villette objet d'art to my collection :D

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I am so excited I just have to share!!!

So I might be able to display my "Bronte creations" in a public building(I am keeping my fingers crossed for approval and display space). But if all goes well, I will be able to get word out about the Brontes to a lot more people than I can at present. :)

ah I feel so excited!! Yay for the Brontes!! Yay for such supportive people!!!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cold in the Earth and Fifteen Wild Decembers

I just finished listening to this live on BBC Radio 4. Before I can collect my thoughts and post an entry, I simply have to say this:

I can't understand why people force themselves to assume that experiencing love-as in romantic love as we know it-is the only way Emily Bronte could have writtten Wuthering Heights. Why is Imagination not given enough credit? I agree with Juliet Barker 110%: It is preposterous to even assume that Emily Bronte would have fancied a weavers's son, when she has much more interesting men in her own head!

SERIOUSLY!! Why the hell are people so wrapped up in thinking that one needs to love in order to write such a passionate story??? And Wuthering Heights can be read as something that has little to do with "love", but rather all to do with power and control, as Juliet Barker argues. I think it depends on how one defines "love". But really, Emily Bronte is EMILY BRONTE. I really think she would have demanded more of a man than what was portrayed in this drama. The Robert/Emily affair wasn't even 0.00001% as intense as the Catherine/Heathcliff affair.

I am really sorry she (and the power of her Imagination)is being treated so. Why do people find it so hard to admit that Imagination can be so powerful? Why do people want to reduce this power to the puny effects of conventional romance??
Don't get me wrong...I do think it is possible she might have entertained a love affair, even with a weaver's son. But what I don't like is how little weight Imagination is given. Imagination is better than every living thing. It is the only REAL thing we know about Emily's romantic fancies (she even wrote an Ode to it!). Everything else is mere speculation. Instead of elevating the Imagination, people are trying to lower it by comparing it with earthly-albeit conventional-love.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Does love ever die?
What if you wake up one day and realize that you don't love someone/something you've always loved? What if nothing can bring that feeling back?

Can we find any comfort in knowing that we'd be ok if love died? I don't mean a physical death, but rather an emotional one.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Angrians

Here's a sketch of mine detailing the Bronte children.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I came across this post and wondered about how it relates to Jane Eyre and her dreams about a wailing child just before her weddding to Rochester.

To see a baby in your dream, signifies innocence, warmth and new beginnings. Babies may symbolize something in your own inner nature which is pure, vulnerable, and/or uncorrupted. Babies may represent an aspect of yourself that is vulnerable and helpless. If you dream that you forgot you had a baby, then it suggests that you are trying hide your own vulnerabilities; You do not want to let others know of your weaknesses.
If you dream that you are on your way to the hospital to have a baby, then it signifies your issues of dependency and your desire to be completely care for. Perhaps you are trying to get out of some responsibility. If you are pregnant, then a more direct interpretation may simply mean that you are experiencing some anxieties of making it to the hospital when the time comes.
To dream of a crying baby, is indicative of a part of yourself that is deprived of attention and needs some nurturing. Alternatively, it represents your unfulfilled goals and a sense of lacking in your life.
To dream about a starving baby, represents your dependence on others. You are experiencing some deficiency in your life that needs immediate attention and gratification.
To dream of an extremely small baby, symbolizes your helplessness and your fears of letting others become aware of your vulnerabilities and incompetence. You may be afraid to ask for help and as a result tend to take matters into your own hands.
To see a dead baby in your dream, symbolizes the ending of something that is part of you.
To dream that you are dipping a baby in and out of water, signifies regression. You are regressing to a time where you had no worries and responsibilities. Alternatively, it is reminisce of when the baby is in the fetus and in its comfort zone. In fact, some expectant mothers even give birth in a pool, because the environment in the water mimics the environment in the uterus. It is less traumatic for the baby as it emerges into the world. So perhaps, the dream your search for your own comfort zone.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is there a connection between Jane and Bertha the same way as there is between Christabel and Geraldine (from Coleridge's Christabel)?

Here is some evidence/potential leads that I've come up with to help answer this query:
-Jane fears but also sympathizes with Bertha in the same way that Christabel reacts towards Geraldine.
-Bertha controls Jane more than she knows, just as Geraldine controls Christabel.
-Geraldine is a demon-lover and Bertha is as well. How much does she seduce Jane though in the manner Geraldine seduces Christabel?
-Geraldine acts out Christabel's desires just like Bertha does Jane's. For example, Christabel's repressed sexual desires for her lover are given release when she encounters Geraldine. Jane's desires for Rochester fluctuates like the secret of Bertha waiting to be revealed.
-Geraldine comforts Christabel (as a "mother with her child") and Bertha does Jane a good deed by revealing Rochester's past.

This is probably a long stretch, but do you think Jane ever ventured secretly to Bertha's room? Do you think there could have been any licentious relationship between them (just like one between Christabel and Geraldine) that is not recorded in the novel?
More on Brontë Crafts.

Here's imitation Brontë juvenilia. The book measures 2" x 2.75" and contains a story (which I wrote).

On the left is the cover of the book and on the right is a double-page spread.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From a previous essay:

"Who am I"?: The many faces of women's identity in Victorian Literature.

The portrayal of women in Victorian novels raises questions about the search for their identity, and as a consequence, serves as a vehicle for the projection of the authors' varied opinions on the position of women in that period. In this essay my purpose is to analyze five heroines in Victorian Literature and compare and contrast how each form their respective identies.

I am my beloved: Catherine Linton (Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights)
For Catherine, who she is as an individual depends on how much she is a part of her soulmate, Heathcliff. As long as she was free to be with Heathcliff, she could be herself, but the moment she goes against her nature, i.e. try to "better" her self by marrying Linton, and thereby breaking her relationship with Heathcliff, she loses a part of herself. After her marriage to Linton, Cathy takes on another persona. She is no longer the girl who would roam wild and free in the moors. Instead, she is confined to the suffocating gradure and Victorian sense of propriety in Thruschcross Grange. Cathy even acknowledges to Nelly that she and Heathcliff were one when she says "I am Heathcliff". Hence, in this case, the woman takes the identity of her beloved.

I am his equal: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre)
For Jane, her identity as an intelligent, independent woman is resolved through ties with Edward Rochester, her imposing employer and master of Thornfield. Although Jane does seek her own independence (and thereby her identity as a single woman), in the end, she finds she does need Rochester to be complete. Firstly, there is the telepathic relationship that she shared with Rochester, which I believe was a strong indicator (from the author) that as long as that supernatural connection was there between Jane and Rochester, they could not be entirely happy without each other. They needed each other to be whole because they were "equals" and complemented each other. Jane needed Rochester during moments of her insecurity (when Rochester was more controlling of her), and by the end of the story Rochester needed Jane when he was (phsycially) found wanting (thus Jane controls Rochester). This kind of relationship is differnet from that of Cathy and Heathcliff in that this is a relationship of equals, where only each will do for the other, but each keeps their own identies. Jane is NOT Rochester in the manner as Cathy affirms she IS Heathcliff.

I am my husband's wife: Dorothea Brooke (George Eliot's Middlemarch)
For Dorothea, finding her place in the world and fulfililng her purpose in life resulted in marrying Casaubon, although there was no passion or love between the two of them. Dorothea, having been brought up in wealth, identifes her purpose in life early on. She wished to make a change in her society and to help people below her. She also had a thirst for knowledge and was intent on learning more about the world around her. Hence, she believed that marriage to Casaubon would help her attain all her goals. To an extent, marriage to Casaubon does give her some liberty to help people around her, such as helping Lydgate. However, it is only after her marriage that she realizes Casaubon's duplicity and weakness of character, along with finding out who she is as a person and what she wants in a marriage. Though she does fall inlove with Will Ladislaw, even after her marriage to him, her powers as woman fulfilling her aims in life remain obscure, as she is only able to excercise them through her husband, a powerful politician.

I am my father's daughter: Margaret Hale (Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South)
Margaret, being the daugther of a cleric, was used to having the influence of her father lead the way she conducted affairs in her own life. Being very close to her father, she was also prone to holding some of her true feelings back, as when she bravely consents to leave Helstone even though her heart was breaking the whole time. In Helstone, Margaret was an important personality and she was able to influence people around her by means of her position. Thus, even when she moves to Milton with her family, she would still have carried that mentality (the fact that she was "superior" to the other workers). Even though her father resigned from the Church of England and only chose, through his own free will, to teach the workers, it gave Margaret an upper hand, in that she knew that while her father had a "choice" to do a noble deed such as educating workers when he could have led a more comfortable life, the workers in Milton did not have such a choice. Thus Margaret also felt that she had to live up to her father's standards of judgement and leadership. While this prompts her to visit workers and to try and change them herself, she also learns a lot from them, which later allows her to overcome class boundaries, such as in reconciling her relationship with John Thornton, a man far below her in terms of social class.

I am Myself: Tess Durbeyfield (Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles)
Tess, in my opinion, is the most radical of all of these heroines in that who she is as a woman is NOT merged with the identity of any man. When Angel compares her to Greek Goddesses like Demeter or Artemis, she immediately retorts, "call me Tess". She wanted Angel to accept her for who she was, despite doubts of her "purity". She stands her ground when the Pastor refuses to baptise Sorrow, and she herself baptises her own child, even though such a practise was foreign. She tells Angel the truth about her past hoping that he would accept and forgive him as she forgave him. She tells Angel that she was Tess and that he should love her for "her very self" as she loved him. She loved Angel but did not think of him as "herself" or her "equal" as the heriones above did.