Monthly Archives: August 2015

Making a Case for the Grinch

All the maudlin love that’s been on this blog for the past two weeks would have made this week’s character wrinkle his much wrinkled and very green nose in disgust. He would probably have dunked a big bucket of gunk on Elizabeth and Darcy for good measure.

Ladies and gentlemen! Presenting ….. The Grinch from How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Grinch

The Grinch

If you have missed this gem of a story by the irrepressible Dr Seuss, here’s what happened :

The Grinch lives in a cave high above the land of Who-Ville. Friendless and alone he watches the people, hating them with intense dislike. Each year as they come together to celebrate Christmas hand in hand, singing the Christmas song, his dislike grows to bitter loathing. Finally he can take it no more and sets out to ‘steal Christmas’. He disguises himself like Santa Clause and goes house to house picking up Christmas trees, stockings, presents and even the feast. Smug in his victory he retires to his cave. And then he hears it – the singing. The people of Who-Ville are singing. Even without the gifts and the lights, the trees and the food they are singing. What’s worse, they sound just as happy, just as cheerful.

That’s when The Grinch has his epiphany.

The Grinch quote

Down he comes to the people of Who-Ville, with the gifts and goodies to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas.

Isn’t that the best feel-good story of all time? No one can tell it quite like Dr Seuss. No one can create a villain quite like him.

And yet can you blame The Grinch?
Even when he was mean and bad I had the tiniest soft spot for him. Imagine living on your own, in a cave, not a friend in the world and having to watch everyone else creating a hoo-haa about a festival you don’t even like. Enough to turn anyone grumpy. Despite his evil bluster and the bit about hating-the-noise he had to have felt envious. What’s more he puts up with it for fifty-three years before he sets out to steal Christmas. That’s something.

The film just makes it more believable with that sad back-story. What would you expect of a child who has been bullied and then ostracized? Who has been laughed at by all the other kids? Yeah, a Grinch he shall become.

Now listen to the Grinch song. Dr Seuss could really say it!

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday where we’re doing posts on the letter ‘G’. Do drop by and check out other Great posts.

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Along comes Darcy

You’re about 15 years old. You’ve just finished reading Pride and Prejudice and you’re in love. You love Mr Darcy. You read and re-read the book till you remember ‘that’ letter word for word. You carry his image in your mind, or…. heart, they’re pretty much one and the same at 15. You feel for Elizabeth. You are Elizabeth. Actually, you are every girl who ever read Pride and Prejudice.

Then you grow up. You mature. You realize Mr Darcy was a teenage crush. Or so you think till along comes Colin Firth. And you fall in love, yet again.. with Mr Darcy. This one remains my favourite Darcy ever.

This is one post I’ve been looking forward to. What? Just because I gave him a miss at the D you thought I forgot? Nah, never. I saved him up to follow Elizabeth. It’s got to be F for Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Mr Darcy

Mr Darcy – two people in one

For most people Mr Darcy is a rich snob. He is critical, proud and pompous. He is unapologetically insensitive and rude. He makes no effort to be friendly; rather, he revels in being unfriendly. The only excuse of his atrocious behavior might be his shyness and the fact that he is socially inept. However, it seems more likely that he considers it a perk of his position – this freedom to be rude to whoever he wants to, which is most people.

Then there’s the other Mr Darcy – The one who is generous and thoughtful, who loves his family, is a kind and considerate employer and knows exactly what to do in a crisis. What’s more, he also loves passionately and doesn’t hesitate to express how he feels, no matter how difficult it is. How many heroes would have the courage and honesty to conquer their ego and propose to the same woman twice?

Had the first Mr Darcy not come wrapped in the whole Pemberley package he would have been booed out of respectable society. Even with Pemberley, all he evokes in the one thinking woman of that time, Elizabeth, is disgust. The second one, the knight in shining armour kind, is the perfect, the make-one-go-weak-in-the-knees kind. But then so are scores of others.

Mr Darcy is special because…

…he is both those people. That is what makes him an endurable figure. A nice man is nice but a not-nice man who turns nice when he falls in love – ummm… that’s the stuff of dreams. What woman can resist a man who she can reform through her ‘love’? Darcy makes Lizzie look good.

What makes him irresistible is :
– that soft heart in an impervious exterior.
– that he isn’t easily available.
– that it takes a special girl to bring out the hero.
– that he places intellect over stunning looks (Jane Bennet) as well as money and position (Caroline Bingley)
Add to the mix his wealth and good looks and he is absolutely divine.

I do have a few doubts though:

One: Would Lizzie have spared him a second glance had he not been rich and handsome?
And two: Does he really change? Or did he simply admit Lizzie (and by extension, her family) into that inner circle where he was always nice while continuing to be his abominable self the world at large?

Ugh! I’ve gone and spoilt him for me with all this analyzing. Need to detox. Off on a P&P drool-fest to undo the damage. What? I meant drooling on the popcorn while watching P&P. What did you think?

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It’s a G next week and the it’ll be a man on the blog – not too nice a man maybe, but a very very powerful one. Take a guess, if you can.

Linking up to ABC Wednesday where we’re doing posts on the letter ‘F’. Do drop by and check out other Fabulous posts.

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http://abcwednesday-mrsnesbitt.blogspot.in/2015/08/f-is-for-fabulous-fabares.html

The good and bad of Elizabeth Bennet

This A to Z journey was always intended as an eclectic one – to include characters from well-beloved to obscure. If you haven’t known the past few I’ve written about, here’s one you will know for sure and love too – Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

I have to admit I was sorely tempted to write about Edward Cullen today purely driven by Robert Pattinson’s looks (Yeah I can be superficial like that) but then my advisory committee (my sister and SIL) overruled me – darn the feminists!

Elizabeth Bennet it is.

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 film based on the novel

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 film based on the novel

Few authors feel as strongly about their characters as Austen felt about this one. In a letter to a friend she wrote : “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know“.

My problem with Elizabeth Bennet

Well I just might have been one of those who she would have found difficult to tolerate. I wasn’t much of an Elizabeth fan. When I began reading the book I thought Jane was the protagonist. In contrast, Elizabeth seemed cynical, critical and insufferably proud which was ironical since her dislike for Darcy was based on the fact the he was proud!

In one of the passages she says, “The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense”. Nobody, it seemed, was good enough for her.

However my biggest complaint is that she played favourites with her sisters. Even assuming it does happen when one has more than one sibling, I found her uncharacteristically hard-hearted when it came to Lydia. Oh Lydia was a pain, I agree. Siblings can be annoying, silly and painful beyond measure (In no way do I mean that mine are, just clarifying 🙂 ) but one does not stop loving them. At least that’s how I see it.

When Elizabeth receives Jane’s letter her first thought is that she has lost Mr Darcy. That might be forgiven considering she was young and in love but her next is about ‘-the humiliation, the misery, she (Lydia) was bringing on them all’. What about worrying for Lydia’s well-being? Of her being ill-used or hurt by Wickham? Elizabeth doesn’t think about it.

Did I get it wrong? Maybe we can blame it on the times which were such that public shame meant more than anything else.

Yet I like her because..

..she is smart and witty, independent and brave. Not many girls of that time would have refused a marriage of convenience when their future was far from safe. Not many girls do that even now.

She has a mind of her own and is wonderfully unapologetic about it. She prides herself in her judgement yet is quick to accept her error. When she discovers Wickham’s true self through Darcy’s letter how hard is she on herself!

“Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.”

That redeemed her in my eyes.

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With thanks to ABC Wednesday , that set me off on this fun journey and because of which I get to revisit some of my favourite friends.

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Dominique Francon – a puzzle, an intrigue

fountainhead

When I first read this book in college the heroine puzzled me no end. She was rich, beautiful and smart, strong and powerful and very idealistic. Yet her character seemed skewed and motivated by something I couldn’t quite understand. Why would a woman love a man yet work against him? Why would she go ahead and marry his arch rival? Why would she actively campaign for this husband whom she despises? Why would she take the extreme step of sleeping with another man to bag a project for this husband?

Dominique Francon, the female protagonist of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead made no sense. Brought up on a staple of relatively straightforward romances, I didn’t quite take to her.

When I re-read the book a few years later I looked at her differently and I swung over to the other side, completely wowed by her, amazed by the way her thought process functioned. Now, many years later, I’m doing a rethink yet again and I cannot decide what I think of her. One thing’s for sure she is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across.

Just like its heroine, Fountainhead remains a book to be loved or hated even today over 70 years since it was first published. It needs to be read and re-read.

Dominique the ultimate cynic

On the face of it Dominique appears a vacuous socialite who seems to do strange, even vicious things, simply for her entertainment. Her mind seems to work in perverse ways. However, she begins to make sense. She shuns, even destroys, all that she truly loves because she cannot see it destroyed by the world, which she is certain would happen sooner rather than later. That’s what she does, or tries to do, with Howard Roark, the protagonist (he is an architect who refuses to compromise his creativity). Dominique puts in all she has to end his career, to kill his spirit, to rid him of his principles. Yet, she wants to fail, desperately so, because that would be a victory of all that was good against all odds. Convoluted? Huh?

And she changes!

What I like most about Dominique is that she allows no one to make up her mind for her. She’s a stubborn woman but she isn’t blinded by it. To be able to observe and evaluate happenings around you in a balanced manner and to change your worldview based on it – how many people are capable of that? As she watches people who she despises, fail, she begins to believe that good does triumph over evil. I loved that bit of positivity at the end, the happily ever after, that comes to her life.

She was panned by critics as anti-feminist but I think she was quite her own woman. What do you think of her? Who are your favourite female characters? I’d love it if you share.

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With thanks to ABC Wednesday , the fun alphabetical weekly challenge.

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