Monday, May 29, 2006

I introduced yet another friend to Gaskell and North & South. I am proud to report that she finds both very intriguing and is glad to have been introduced :)

I have more observations about the movie which I would like to share here.

Names and Naming in North and South
Margaret Hale's last name has links with the weather-a tempestous one at that. When Thornton walks into Margaret's home for the first time, there is thunder in the sky (as shown in the film). Margaret's emotions are like a hail--they are not full-blown like a storm, but they are intense none the less, and restless. A perfect example of the similarity between her tempestous emotions and her name is the strike. When the strikers struggle to get into the mill, the force of their actions is like a hail. This mirrors the troubled waters of Margaret's emotions.
John Thornton's first name suggests he is plain and uninteresting, but his last name conveys the sense of a hardness about him. He is prickley and it takes a lot for someone to get under his skin. He falls for Margaret because he notices how different she is from any other young women in his circle. Although he dismisses Higgins, he later comes to recognize his hard work and actually becomes humbled by him, learning about him in the process.
Gaskell does a good job of playing on the names of the important towns. While Helstone is described as "Paradise" by Margaret at first, the name also has connections with Hell. This Hell part of it is indeed what makes Mr. Hale leave Helstone for a better place, the opposite of Hell, a Paradise, which is Milton.
Although the name of "Milton" has connections to a highly educated man, one of the greatest 17th century writer, the town of Milton in Gaskell's novel is the exact opposite. The people here are mainly the working poor, who have little wish to learn. When Mr. Hale comes to teach, he starts with the Classics, something which Milton the writer adored. Thornton takes to the Classics well, which shows how he is willing to learn and therefore be of the same calibre as Milton, the writer. Also, Gaskell's intention in having such a name might be to show the characters, as well as readers, that perhaps the best learning occurs in hardship, in an "illiterate" setting. Margaret and Thornton's characters develop best when they are in Milton, a "dirty, smoky" town whose people care little for "Classical" learning.

ETA: I meant that Margaret's last name is like a hail storm.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Among the love poems selected by members of my college community, I found several that were pleasant like the following:

I offer,

It's all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget, --
Someone the sum could tell, --
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.
- Emily Dickinson

I found this poem rather intriguing, to say the least:

"Unfortunate Coincidence"
--Dorothy Parker

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying--
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

And my own addition to the collection of love poems would be the following:

Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-- William Shakespeare

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why is freedom so easy for some people to attain and so hard for others?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Today I watched the 1944 Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. It isn't one of the best versions I've seen so far, however. I didn't particularly take to any of the actors (and characters) in this film. They seemed too contrived, but I suppose this is the effect of the short running time of the movie. The Rochester in this version wasn't as irate as Hinds (I think no one can surpass this individual in this feat!), or as mournful as Hurt, or as dashing as Dalton, but he was more on the mellow side than otherwise. I am not sure if it is the actor's features, or if this was particularly intended for the movie, but I thought Rochester had a fierce look about him. They might have gone overboard with trying to make him look threatening...when this isn't necessary to effectively portray Rochester. I prefered Fontaine's Jane to Welles' Rochester in terms of characterization. The former showed glimpses of the different shades in Jane's character: she conveyed the expressions of delight and dissappointment quite well. But my favorite character in the movie would be young Jane. She was indeed rebellious, very outspoken, and headstrong. She had the right mix of the innocence of a child and the fire of a Revolutionary.

Two things that I noticed of significance are the cutting off of Helen's hair, and the absence of Bertha.
In the original novel, it is in fact another girl called Julia Severn who is accused of 'vanity' and has her hair cut off by Mr. Brocklehurst.

"Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what--WHAT is that girl with curled hair? Red hair, ma'am, curled--curled all over?" And extending his cane he pointed to the awful object, his hand shaking as he did so.

"It is Julia Severn," replied Miss Temple, very quietly.

"Julia Severn, ma'am! And why has she, or any other, curled hair? Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does she conform to the world so openly--here in an evangelical, charitable establishment--as to wear her hair one mass of curls?"

"Julia's hair curls naturally," returned Miss Temple, still more quietly.

"Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature; I wish these girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl's hair must be cut off entirely; I will send a barber to-morrow: and I see others who have far too much of the excrescence--that tall girl, tell her to turn round. Tell all the first form to rise up and direct their faces to the wall."

Miss Temple passed her handkerchief over her lips, as if to smooth away the involuntary smile that curled them; she gave the order, however, and when the first class could take in what was required of them, they obeyed. Leaning a little back on my bench, I could see the looks and grimaces with which they commented on this manoeuvre: it was a pity Mr. Brocklehurst could not see them too; he would perhaps have felt that, whatever he might do with the outside of the cup and platter, the inside was further beyond his interference than he imagined. ---Jane Eyre, Chapter VII

By having Helen take the place of Julia, the film highlights Brocklehurst's hypocrisy. In addition, this act also severly criticizes Brocklehurst's standing on religion and morality. Helen is definitly more virtous than Brocklehurst, and Bronte clearly makes that distinction. The film goes one step further to show that Helen's 'religion' is preferable to Brocklehurst's. Nature, according to Helen, is prefered to Brocklehurt's version of the Nature, whereby he destroys what is Natural, consecrated by God. By making Brocklehurst acccuse Helen of vanity as a result of having hair that curls natuarally, the film shows that it is in fact Brocklehurst who is the greater sinner. He condemns the Nature of Helen Burns, who is the symbol of kindness and Christian fortitude. Thus his villainy is mocked and hightlighted.

The other siginificant factor in this film is the absence of Bertha. Of course, we hear Bertha-Grace Poole's infamous drunken laughter, but we never get to see her in person. Given that this film is heavy on the gothic, in terms of the lighting and setting, one would have expected it to have featured the real Bertha at least once. However, this did not happen although I kept waiting for it to. The viewers are left in the 'dark' regarding Bertha's appearance. Even when she attacks Rochester right after the first wedding scene, all we are left with are silhouettes. Not showing all of Bertha means the film deliberately conceals Bertha's character from the viewers. She is not shown in all her 'monstrosity', if she is indeed monstrous. Hence, are we to doubt Rochester when he calls her a fiend? How much of a fiend can someone be whom we are not even shown a glimpse of? Also, by not showing all of Bertha, we are also not completely aware of Jane. Jane Eyre , as a novel and a character, cannot exist in its entirety without adequate exploration of Bertha. Jane and Bertha are so intertwined that leaving one out affects our understanding of the other. I wonder if the film was of the opinion that Bertha is less of a fiend than what is presumed. Also, by concealing Bertha, is the film trying to restrain the character of Jane, especially her passionate, fiery nature? Is the film trying to make the woman have a submissive Nature?
The condition of my blog is telling, for it correlates with the events in my life. While on the search for inspiration while writing my papers, I decided to play around with the template...which resulted in what you see now. As the semester began to wrap up, my posts became shorter in length. When I was in my classes, I was so intellectually stimulated that I couldn't contain myself as I had tons of things to write about. Now, removed from the intellectual environment of classes, I have little to occupy me. Much of my time now is taken up by attending Senior Week events, such as dinners and taking part in class-bonding activities. I do do do so wish I had time to contemplate freely. The days seem so packed that I'd give anything for a moment of quiet, for some time alone with my own thoughts.

But the "real world" must always pull one away from the magic of the world of Imagination, mustn't it? Unless I am in class, I fear things will always creep in and give me little time to live in the "other world"--the world of Dreams. I've got to do something about this. I must.

In terms of other happenings, I went to the Senior Gala today. I had never been to one in my life so I was curious to know what this would be like. In spite of the expense involved in preparation, I thought it went well. The place didn't have any sketchy guys and it was surrounded by people familiar to me. I actually danced today! Oh and how freeing it felt to have done so! I only wish I could muster up the nerve to dance like that more often!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My exams officially ended on Friday and I suppose (like what the rest of the graduating class belives), I am officially done with college.

Except I don't feel like I am done. In fact, I feel more like I am forcefully expelled.

I am going to miss my classes more than anything else here. And my teachers. I feel so lost already. I'd give anything to discuss a poem or a work of art. The graduating seniors do not want to 'study.' They want to be as far away from such a vocation as possible (at least for now), whereas I simply don't know what to do with myself now that I am 'done.'

I hate having to keep myself from expressing what I feel. People don't want to hear too much analysis. They just want to 'relax.' Well, it is not relaxation for me if I am on my guard all the time. I would not be so if those around me were more open to critical analysis. In their eyes, too much questioning is unnecssary, more so now that we are offcially done with studying.

It surprises me how a lot of people just want to leave this place of learning, this place with endless opportunities. I don't know if it is because they are so over-worked or whether they hated what they studied. I know that if I had remained in Neuroscience, I would feel just the way they do.

I am learning to see different shades of people now that they are leaving college. I see many of those who want to make loads of money, I see others groveling for prestige. As long as you land a fancy job that pays well, there is no end to people admiring you. They don't want to know if this job is what you really want to do or why you are doing it in the first place. All they care about it is the prestige that it entails.

I understand that an element of practicality is necessary for survival. One needs a roof over their head and food to eat. But it is this lust for wealth and prestige that I find disturbing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I have watched North and South several times now...and hope to continue for a while yet. Yesterday I made a Margaret Hale finger puppet!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You scored as Marianne Dashwood. You're Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! More dramatic and emotional than your sister Elinor, you have no trouble saying what you think and showing people how you feel about them. However, you usually know when to keep your mouth shut.

Marianne Dashwood


Catherine Morland


Anne Elliot


Fanny Price


Emma Woodhouse


Elizabeth Bennet


Elinor Dashwood


Which Jane Austen heroine are you?
created with

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Well Well!! Sinead Cusack, who played the formidable Hannah Thornton in North and South, is no other than the sister of Sorcha Cusack, who is our 1973 Jane!! Sinead explored Hannah's character really well! She brought out the complexities of a woman who has worked hard to be get to her present situation. Ironically, Hannah resmebles Margaret Hale with her headstrong and ambitious nature too.

Friday, May 12, 2006

North and South is....

WONDERFUL!!! I just finished the first episode but I am simply itching to see the rest!! If I had more time I would have finished all 4 hours of it at once. However, considering I have the dreaded papers and exams to prepare for, I could use North and South as a reward.

I liked reading this books as well. I didn't think Gaskell wrote about burning passions but the book has it right there. Especially in the scene of the strike. How much more symbolic can it get than that?

And Richard Armitage Rochesterian in a lot of ways! Not to mention he looks gorgeous!! *SQUEE*

Will try and write more on the subject if time and circumstances allow but I just couldn't contain myself at the moment!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I watched the 1996 version of Jane Eyre recently and here are some obervations:

*Anna Paquin is a good enough Young Jane. I wish she had been considered to play the role of older Jane (perhaps in the new BBC version, although Ruth looks promising as well), now that she is 10 years older than she was in the 1996 version. It will serve as a wonderful follow-up if the same person played both young and old Jane!

*Mr. Rochester is quite the melancholy kind in this film. He broods too much. But I didn't find it unpleasant in the least. In fact, it evoked more pity. Dalton was more irate, but thankfully, not half so much as Hinds!But Hurt is the saddest Rochester I've seen so far.

* Rochester's complicated relationship with Adele: I liked the Adele in this film. She is a lot more visible and lively. Rochester also treats her decently and even wraps his arms around her once. We can definitly see his growing attachment to his ward.

*Jane's hair: They had her hair untied, loose, and flowing in both the after-the-fire scene as well as the one with the wounded Mason. Were they trying to clue us in on Jane's wanton nature by portraying her hair like that?

*The Rivers Family: Besides having St. John as the man in charge of disposing Mrs. Reed's wealth, this script also showed him as a goofy man, tumbling over in the grass, instead of the serious missionary he is supposed to be according to the book. In addition, they only showed one of his sisters, and she is never named. I always wondered why Charlotte Bronte created both Diana and Mary instead of just one of them.

*Bertha/Jane connection: I LOVED thinking about this aspect of the film. Bertha's hair is the same color as Jane's. When we first see Bertha, she is dressed in a white nightdress and looks very much like Jane when we saw the latter in the after-the-fire scene. Also, it is insteresting how Jane comes veiled when she enters the room and just before we see Bertha on screen, Jane unveils herself. It is like saying that Jane is another verison of Bertha. Bertha sets fire to the house when Jane leaves and this is like saying that she cannot live without Jane. Also, there is more pity for Bertha when she sees Grace dead and then kills herself. This shows that she might have felt affection for Grace Poole, who looked after her.

*The Voice: Jane hears Rochester's voice at the grave of Helen Burns'. This is to show that the Voice has a very religious basis, in that it comes from God, since Helen is supposed to embody religious uprightness. Also, since Jane liked Helen, hearing the Voice at her grave is an indication that the voice is a positive sign, instead of something evil.

* I liked the Thornfield in this film. I thought it looked bright and gay, unlike other films' portrayal of it as something dark and gloomy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Today was the last day of my Bronte seminar and we spent the time looking at Rare Bronte books. I was surprised to find that my library actually has a copy of the very first edition of the "Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell" which only sold 2 copies in when it was first published! There was also the original of "Cottage Poems" by Patrick Bronte.

I was disconcerted in class today, however. Refering to her letters to M.Heger, a classmate remarked about how "disgustingly pathetic" Charlotte was. She thought Charlotte had no shame or morality. She asked "How retarded must she have been to go after a married man, when she knew it was fruitless?"

I retaliated. I could not bear to have Charlotte spoken in such vile language. I think it is just preposterously mean to say such things about someone, even if they are dead. Just because the dead can't speak back doesn't mean that others have the right to disrespect them in such terms.

Whatever Charlotte's motives might have been, only she knows what they were. We can speculate but that is all. There are two sides to every story. Though what Charlotte did must have been imprudent, there is more to sympathize as well. For one, she longed for intellectual stimuation. Loneliness is a frightful thing. It can drive people to lose their sanity, and thus, their sense of perspective. We do know that Charlotte was very depressed after she came back from Brussels. Her letters to M. Heger could have been her attempt to distract herself from her emotional troubles, rather than having another agenda altogether. In her biography of Charlotte called "Charlotte Bronte: A Passionate Life", Lyndall Gordon suggests that Charlotte's letters to M.Heger grew out of a need to excercise her intelligence and skills as a writer, rather than a romantic entanglement with him. Whatever the case maybe, her spirits had sunk after she came back from Brussels. I wonder why this particular classmate was bent on berating Charlotte than pitying her. Furthermore, M.Heger ceased to respond to her letters even as a friend or mentor and actually tore her letters to pieces. Shouldn't that only increase sympathy for Charlotte?

Perhaps it is because I am Charlotte Bronte fan that I do sympathize with some of her actions. Of course no one is perfect. The same applies to Charlotte. I do see she had faults, but so do all of us. She might have done something foolish in a momeont of weakness, but that weakness also demands attention and study. Merely blaming the act itself will not do.

The other issue that came up as I spoke on Charlotte's behalf, was a question about why Charlotte behaved in such a way instead of staying calm like Anne. I responded by saying that Anne turned to her religion for comfort, whereas Charlotte did not consider religion as solace in the same light as Anne did. Then the girl who questioned me asked, "Then why is she so supportive of "her faith" and so hateful towards the Catholics in Villette? Surely she is lying one way or another".

This comment bothered me. Villette is a work of art. Charlotte Bronte is the artist, she is an individual. Although Villette might be a "semi-autobiographical" novel, it is not meant to portray everything that happened in Charlotte's own life, including her beliefs. One can talk about something but may not follow it too well. They may not wish to. It migth be a weakness, but it might not. But this is what makes us human. For some people, religion is found wanting. For others, it suffices well. Some burn with creative energies, for others the fire is easily vanquished. But my paint was, perhaps Charlotte could not express herself in any way, even by turning to Scripture in the manner Anne did, other than by sinking into gloom and writing those letters. Perhaps she was wrong to do so. But this is what I find real in Charlotte. She is weak, like all of us, and she knows it. But the fact that she rose from that weakness and did such great works proves that everyone has the potential to rise from thier misfortunes.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

It is Finals time again (my last one ever in college! :( ), but the work load is enough to "excite my poor nerves", for I am anxious as to how I can get all of them done in so short a time.

So far, I have the following:
1. Jane Eyre essay (10 pages)
2. Wuthering Heights re-write(?)(7 pages)
3. RoPo RESEARCH paper-that I have NOT started at all! (12 pages)
4. Milton Essay (6 pages)
5. CS Final/Project

And the never-ending JOB search!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I went to see Louise Gluck at a poetry reading today. She read three poems from her new book Averno. It is so different when a poet reads her own poem out loud compared to you reading her poem. Her poetry is raw and evocative of a world removed from anything we know. It is contained, yet expansive. And readers and listeners alike bend to her command through the music in her words, rather than the words themselves. The whole room went a death-like silence. The reading was an experience of being an awakening.

Exploring gender and sexuality in the characterization of Lucy Snowe.

Gender and sexuality play a prominent role in Villette. Lucy is a single woman struggling for existance in a world that is not very open to women's advancement, socially, intellectually and emotionally.

Once in Villette, Lucy is attracted to two men, at the same time, although, in her typical way, she does not let us in on her inner feelings until the very end. It is clear that she harbors romantic designs on Dr. John although she tries very hard to not let them fruitition. Although she tries to "bury" her dissappointment of unrequited love, she can't keep us from knowing the truth. As for M. Paul, she leaves the readers in the dark until she shocks us with the knowledge that she was fully aware of his intentions (his leaving books and chocolates in her desk), and no doubt encouraged it. Lucy is not cold, as her name purports but burns with female desire. It is a hidden flame, but all-consuming and dangerous, not only to herself, but also the readers who sense its power.

But what I find most intriguing in the novel in terms of conflicts in sexuality is Lucy's relationship to Genevra Fanshawe and the Nun. In class, we had a brief discussion about Lucy's odd friendship with Genevra, who seems to be attracted to her despite her "crusty" exterior. In Villete, like in The Professor, disagreements in a relationship is eroticized. Morever, Genevra perceives Lucy's masculine side, which Charlotte Bronte elucidates. For example, Lucy is addressed as Timon and she also plays the role of a male character in the play held on the day of Madame Beck's Fete. Lucy cross-dresses as a man and there is no doubt eroticization in a woman playing the role "with relish" of a man in love with another woman (who happens to be Genevra). They both seemed to have enjoyed acting in the play. Although Genevra seems to have gained Dr. John's admiration and Lucy seems to have acted out her jealousy, is this really the case? Because Lucy hides so much from us, perhaps we can also assume there must be another layer to the story that she is not telling us explicitly. In characterizing Lucy Snowe, Charlotte Bronte makes the reader aware of issues that were difficult to portray in fiction: such as sexual abuse and domestic violence. It is therefore possible for her to have included conflicts in gender and sexuality into the bargain.

As for the Nun, Lucy seems to have been both fascinated and repelled by her. Is Lucy afraid of her own awakening sense of sexuality? Not only is she attracted to two men (which is different from other novels from the period that insist on a woman being attracted to only one man at a time), but perhaps also to women? Even if there is not too much evidence to support the certainty of a lesbian connection in the novel, there is enough to entertain such a possibility.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Below are the lines I have to recite for a class. I chose these lines because they represent human understanding of God's covenant, and the relationship between desire, love, and worship.

Paradise Lost, Book 9 (l.235-250)

Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed
Labour, as to debar us when we need
Refreshment, whether food or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse
Of looks, and smiles, for smiles from Reason flow,
To brute deni'd, and are of Love the food
Love, not the lowest end of human life.
For not to irksome toil, but to delight
He made us, and delight to reason joyn'd.
These paths and bow'rs doubt not but our joynt hands
Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
Assist us. And if much converse perhaps
Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield.
For solitude sometimes is best society
And short retirement urges sweet return.

--John Milton