Tag Archives: Character Sketch

Z is for Zoya Singh Solanki

Though Z is the last letter of the alphabet this is the first post I wrote for this series only because I completely love Zoya Singh Solanki.

It was love at first read. If you haven’t bumped into her go pick up a copy of The Zoya Factor by Anuja Singh Chauhan – one of the best ever chicklits I’ve read. If you’re a self-respecting, cricketer loving Indian girl, I guarantee you’ll love the book and of course Zoya. Even if you’re not, you might find yourself laughing out loud as you read this one. I know because I did.

Zoya works for an advertising agency and the general consensus about her appearance is that she’s ‘cute’.  She’s got a mane of curly black hair down to her back and that’s about the only redeeming factor of her appearance, according to her self-critical eye. However it’s the ‘cuteness’ that stands out. Her boss puts is pretty succinctly when he says, “Looking at your cheeks makes my thumb and index finger sort of spasm – I want to squeeze em and squeeze em and squeeze em till they pop.” Her brother has nicknamed her ‘gaalu’ (loosely meaning ‘cheeks’)

You get the picture?

She’s not too happy with this description though, as she says, “it’s okay when you’re a moppet in red corduroy dungarees…. Not so good when you’re a working woman… twenty-seven years old to boot”. People should be more interested in squeezing your butt by then, she feels.

Zoya was born on 25th June 1983 at the exact time that India lifted the cricket world cup. Whenever she backs a cricket team it always wins, always – or so it’s widely believed. It’s time for next world cup. The media is going wild promoting her as the team’s lucky mascot and the Indian Board for Cricket insists she accompany the team to Australia for the matches but the captain of the Indian team doesn’t quite like the idea. And that’s where the fun begins.

I love her because..

  • She’s the cutest, funniest most down to earth heroine with a bundle of imperfections that make her ever more endearing. She obsesses about being cool, moreso because she lives in the most uncool part of Delhi – Karol Bagh and she loves it too.
  • She thinks in Hinglsih.
  • She is movie-star hungry. Her heart beats for SRK (Just like mine) and she’s not beyond enjoying a glimpse of his ‘toasty brown midriff’.
  • She doesn’t notice cars. The best description she can come up with is (it was silver-coloured and longish-looking. That’s me! me! me!) And this was what she thought was SRK’s car.
  • She doesn’t know much about cricket but does notice that the captain has a ‘cute butt’.
  • She’s a self-confessed fireworks freak – a result of firework boom on her birthday since India won the World Cup.

She’s totally adorable. I wish someone would hurry up and put her in a film.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday for the letter Z.

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He-who-must-not-be-named

My mother’s husband left me when I was an unborn child in her womb. What kind of a man would do that? He isn’t much of a man at all. Does it matter that he was tricked into matrimony? My mother’s love for him must have been real for she lost the will to live when he left.  She chose to die for a man who didn’t want her rather than live for a boy who could have grown to love her.

So it came about that the two people who were supposed to love me unconditionally decided they didn’t want to. That’s how I landed up in an orphanage.

Love is a strange thing. It left me an orphan.

I never did grow to love Love. Never had need of it. Now ‘Power’ – that is something else. Power is what gets my heart beating. Heady, potent, intoxicating, empowering. Power.

voldemort quote

I am special – I always was. I knew that – even when I was all alone in that crummy little orphanage, even before I discovered I had special powers, before the white bearded man came to take me away to that special school. I knew I was destined to rule the world one day.

I went to the school. I won over all the teachers, except perhaps the white bearded man. I became the model student – a prefect, a head-boy. I looked and listened, asked and found, wheedled and charmed my way to seek knowledge. For knowledge is power. I learnt. I learnt all I could, secrets so sinister professors shuddered to tell, magic so potent no one dare try it. None but I. I was special. I was preparing… knowing that a time would come when I’d realise my dream – that of becoming the most powerful man on earth.

Friends, relatives, loved ones – they slow you down. I don’t want them, I have no need of them. I work best alone. But I have followers, plenty of them. They rush to do my bidding. Some come out of fear, some because they need protection and some because they want a share of my power. They swear fidelity unto death. I make sure they keep their word.

I have enemies too, I know that. Every great man does. I never forget one (I made sure my ‘father’ met his just deserts). I know they will be vicious and violent and unforgiving. They will try to kill me. But I’m ready. I’ll beat them yet. I shall be immortal. It is possible, you know. Everything is possible, if you know how. They seek my soul but never will they find it for mine is split seven times over and hidden away. Even if my body is annihilated, I shall come back, more powerful than ever.

I am unstoppable, unconquered.

I am Lord Voldemort.

Note: Just wondered what it would be like if Voldemort aka Tom Riddle ever told his story.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday for the letter V, with grateful thanks to Mrs Nesbitt who get’s me writing every week.

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The Unnamed Heroine

This protagonist has no name – she’s the unnamed heroine of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca – an old old book.

Rebecca is the story of 42 year old Maximillian de Winter who bumps into a girl half his age, a paid companion to the the snobbish gossip Mrs Van Hooper. A quick marriage lands her at Maxim’s family home – Manderley. Not only does this new Mrs de Winter have to contend with the demands of running a large establishment but also with the ghost of Maxim’s dead ex-wife Rebecca who seemed to have been universally loved and admired.

But first, the mystery of her name or rather the lack of it.

People have often speculated why Du Maurier never came up with a name for her heroine. She couldn’t have forgotten about it, considering there are specific mentions of it at a number of places in the book. Most prominently, Maxim remarks, “you have a very lovely and unusual name” and later, “…it becomes you as well as it became your father.” Implying that perhaps she shared the name with him.

Some believe du Maurier meant to call her ‘Daphne’ but was worried that people would draw too many parallels between the book and her real life and chickened out. Oh and there were plenty of parallels. Her real life husband had once been engaged to glamorous dark haired lady and du Maurier always suspected he was attracted to her still. That’s where she arrived upon the theme of her novel – jealousy – which became its starting point.

It’s far more likely that du Maurier couldn’t settle on a unisex name that was ‘lovely and unusual’ enough. An unusual decision for sure. I am not a writer but had I been one I assume I would begin with a name before building up a character and giving it traits and deciding her fate.

The new Mrs de Winter..

…is shy and naive and easily embarrassed. There is something lovable and sweet about her, something that makes you want to protect her and take care of her. Her artlessness makes her come across as honest and genuine. It is this that attracts Maxim and of course the fact that is she is nowhere like Rebecca.

rebecca

A scene from Rebecca and one of my favourite quotes from the book

Considering the book is a first person narrative we get to see her through her own eyes only. She is overly critical of herself. Almost till the end of the book she remains unsure of herself worrying if she were being mocked or found lacking by Maxim, the neighbours and even by the servants of the house.

When she does forget to be self-conscious she makes for an interesting companion, at least to Maxim she does. “You’ve taken me out of myself, out of despondency and introspection both of which have been my devils for a year,” he says.

She is amazingly perceptive to people’s emotion specially Maxim’s. She registers each of his mood changes even though she doesn’t understand them. She loves him too and struggles to put him at ease steering the conversation away from topics he finds uncomfortable. She is almost obsessed by him and his attitude towards her, analysing it constantly (perhaps that’s how it is with young first love) and that makes her obsessed with Rebecca.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs Nesbitt who thought up this wonderful meme.

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Katniss Everdeen – the Girl on Fire

We often enjoy books we can identify with – books that make us go ‘Ah I know a person like that’ or ‘Oh this could happen to me’.

But then there are also another kind of books – books where the author crafts a whole different world. And she transports you right there till you feel completely part of that world and are living with the characters. Classic examples would be George Orwell’s 1984 or the more recent Harry Potter series.

Today’s protagonist comes from one such world – Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The book published relatively recently (in 2008) is a first of a Trilogy, and as is often the case with trilogies, is the most gripping.

The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

Katniss in warrior mode with her bow and arrows.

Collins creates a dystopian nation, Panem with 12 districts governed by the city called Capitol. Long ago the districts had rebelled against the Capitol and were defeated. To remind them of the Capitol’s supremacy, each year a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 is chosen from each district. Called Tributes, they have to compete in the Hunger Games. Each one has to try to kill the others or get killed trying till there is a single survivor. The event is televised and watched like a reality show.

The story is told in first person by Katniss, from District 12. When her sister’s name is picked for the Games, she volunteers to go in her stead.

Katniss stands out as the perfect protagonist. She’s strong and brave and proud. She is a fighter against all odds. At 11 years she takes on the job of the breadwinner for her family of three, when her father dies and her mum goes into depression.

Katniss the heartless provider

All of Katniss’ actions are guided by a strong sense of responsibility towards her family. On the surface she seems practical and emotionless to the point of being callous. She hunts for her family without emotion or compassion. She tries to drown their cat who she looks on as just ‘another mouth to feed’. She doesn’t want to have children because she thinks of them simply as more mouths to feed.
When she’s leaving for the games she shows little emotion. All she talks about are practical things that will equip her mum and sister for their day-to-day survival in her absence.

… and yet love is what guides her

She volunteers for her sister – a pure act of love. It is love that makes her stay with her mother and sister rather than running away. It is love that prompts her to not bring children into a world of starvation and it is love that makes her try to drown the cat rather than see her starving to death.
“if we have to choose between dying of hunger and a bullet in the head, the bullet would be much quicker”, she says.

When faced with kindness she reacts with anger and suspicion yet she strikes up a friendship with some of the tributes. She tries to block them as she is aware that she might have to kill them. Yet she bonds with them.

I like that her better feelings always win in the end. The final act of rebellion against the powers of the Capitol, is the perfect ending to the book. If I have piqued your interest enough – go read it, if you haven’t already, and tell me what you thought of Katniss Everdeen.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs Nesbitt who thought up this wonderful meme.

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J is for Justine O Neill

Sometimes a character isn’t a protagonist, doesn’t even make an appearance till half the book is through yet comes like a breath of fresh air and charms her way right into your heart. Justine O Neill from the Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough is just that.

thornbirds

The book is a captivating saga spanning three generations of the Cleary-O Neill family. It  reminds me a little of Gone with the Wind. Both have similar sprawling farm settings, strong women characters and both tell tales of ill-fated unfulfilled love.

Set in an Australian homestead, Drogheda, Thornbirds is the story of Meggie (Justine’s mother). Meggie is in love with  priest Ralph de Bricassart. He is attracted to her too but chooses to ignore it and moves to Rome to take up a higher responsibility in the Catholic Church. Meggie goes on to marry a farm stud Luke O Neill only because he looks a little like Ralph. Luke turns out to be a flint-hearted workaholic and a miser who has married her only for her money. In a desperate bid to get him to settle down Meggie tricks him and conceives a child. She gives birth to Justine – a cranky feisty red-headed girl.

Within a few minutes of her birth, with the astuteness of a mother, Meggie remarks :
“I don’t think Justine will ever be mine, or Luke’s, or anyone’s. I think she’s always going to belong to herself.”

Luke never learns to love Justine or Meggie. What I found sadder still was that despite all the planning and scheming that Meggie did to get Justine, she  too becomes curiously detached from her. One would expect Justine to turn out a rather sad lost little girl. Not so at all. Justine has no patience for self-pity. She turns out spunky and smart and independent.

When she takes a decision she’s unstoppable. She decides she wants to be an actress and when Meggie delicately points out that perhaps she isn’t good-looking enough to be one – she says:
“Not a film star; an actress! I don’t want to wiggle my hips and stick out my breasts and pout my wet lips! I want to act.”

She’s definitely not looking for anyone’s approval.

Yet she’s neither self centered nor emotionless. She loves her younger brother Dane with a passion that borders on vehemence. She also reserves a special soft spot for her grandmother Fee and loves Meggie too in her own way.

Fee points out that her reluctance to share her emotions stems from a wariness of being laughed at. That made her very real for me. Aren’t a lot of us like that?

Dane is the one person she loves most and they share a close warm relationship. Yet how different they are! He becomes a priest and she an actress. He is celibate while she doesn’t hesitate to experiment. He is her conscience and she never feels the need to hide anything from him.

Finally, when she thinks Meggie needs her she is ready to give up her life in the city, her work which she’s passionate about and the man she loves to come and stay with her mother. A loveable monster Meggie calls her – that’s what she is.

Do pick up this book if you haven’t read it. In fact try others by Colleen McCullough too. At least one more of her books will show up here.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs Nesbitt who thought up this wonderful meme.

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Iago: As bad as it gets

This week’s letter, I, took me a bit by surprise in that it proved to be such a toughie. One is prepared to sweat it out with the Qs and the Xs but I?? Yet no character impressive enough came to mind. Then who should come to my rescue but a distinguished old friend – the Bard himself. This week I pick Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello.

Iago is one of the most powerful evil characters of all time. He dominates the play more than Othello himself and gets more stage-space too. Some would even argue he is the protagonist of the play. If that were true, a more vicious, crafty, cruel protagonist you will not find.

The Story

If you haven’t read this Shakespearean Tragedy here’s how it goes. Othello and Desdemona elope. Iago is miffed because Othello has promoted another nobleman Cassius to a position that Iago wanted. Along with Roderigo a man who had fancied Desdemona, Iago meets her father to incite him against Othello. However, Othello convinces the Duke that Desdemona had married him out of her own will and since Desdemona confirms this the Duke lets Othello go.

Shortly after, Othello is sent to Cyprus to lead a war against the Turks. Desdemona follows him along with Iago (who Othello considers a trusted deputy) and his wife Emilia. In Cyprus Iago begins to poison Othello’s mind against Cassius, saying he is having and affair with Desdemona.

He ‘arranges’ a brawl that results in Cassius being demoted by Othello. Cassius asks Desdemona to plead his case. When she does Othello’s suspicions grow stronger. Then using Desdemona’s handkerchief (which Iago asks his wife to get) he manages to convince Othello of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. He also stages a conversation with Cassius that further strengthens Othello’s suspicion. Finally in a fit of jealousy Othello smothers Desdemona with a pillow. Emilia figures out that Iago is the one orchestrating all the events and raises an alarm at which he stabs her. On learning the truth Othello kills himself.

Isn’t that very very dramatic? But then you cannot expect any less from the master dramatist. Did you notice how Iago drives the plot? Here are the top five reasons he’s the ‘baddest’ of the bad.

Iago is unapologetically evil

Till the end of the play it never does become clear what his exact grudge against Othello is. He has no sorry background, no skeletons in his closet that would justify his cruelty or his hatred. He just is Evil. If you’ve read the play you couldn’t have missed the ‘asides’. He loves to brag as he plots and plans. He makes his moves and then stands by and watches the characters fall into his trap, which they do each time, seamlessly. Oh he enjoys being baaad.

He is skilled in the art of deception

Othello never once doubts his intentions and considers him his trusted deputy even while Iago is planning his downfall. He warns Othello of Jealousy while inciting him to be just that –

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on”

Not just Othello, Roderigo and Cassius too are taken in by his smooth talk.

Iago is a master manipulator

Oh yes he’s a crafty one. Each move the characters make, each decision they take is orchestrated by him. Sample this: He arranges a brawl with Cassio, makes sure Othello sees him and fires him. Iago gives Cassio the idea of taking  Desdemona’s help in getting his job back. He then plants suspicion in Othello’s mind regarding the two, warning him to look out for signs like Desdemona urging him to reinstate Cassio. She does just that and the result is exactly what Iago has planned. Oooofff! Impressive or what!

He systematically feeds his hatred for Othello

His dislike for Othello starts with Cassius being promoted to a position he desires. He then goes on to find reasons to dislike Othello. He hears a rumour that Othello has seduced his wife. He doesn’t fully believe it yet chooses to do so.

othello-revenge-3-728

He is driven by all possible evil reasons

Most people have one single driving force that propels them towards evil. Not so Iago. He is driven by power, position, money, jealousy. Everything that’s evil prompts him on.

Who is your favourite villain? Who is the bad man you love to hate most?

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday where we’re doing posts on the letter ‘I’. Hop across for some Interesting posts.

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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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