Miss Havisham, most horrific & miserable victim of love I have ever known

MIss Havisham. Source: bbc.co.uk

Miss Havisham is a creepy figure. I need to stop imagining what she looks like because that will make the hairs in my arms get goosebumps. To give you an illustration, she wears a white wedding dress throughout Great Expectations which means for years because Pip is a boy as the book starts and he turns 30-something when the story concludes. She never leaves Satis House, a ruined mansion where she lives with her adopted daughter Estella, for many years. She lets the clock in her room unchanged. She stands still in a world that keeps moving.

Miss Havisham quickly reminds me of Quilp, the main antagonist in The Old Curiosity Shop, another Dickens’ novel. They are of course different characters, Quilp is a very wicked, disgusting fiction figure I have ever met with. While miss Havisham isn’t a cruel one but the two reflects Dickens’ totality in creating very peculiar, distinguishable figures in literature.

As I read along the novel, miss Havisham is abundantly buried in her failed planned marriage. As far as “love is blind” saying is concerned, miss Havisham is about to get married to Compeyson, whom she really, really loves long, long time before she knows Pip, the protagonist in Great Expectations. To he sadness, Compeyson abandons her. He is only interested at her fortune.

Devastated and humiliated, miss Havisham suffers from mental breakdown and “imprisons” herself in the house. Worse, she even asks for mister Jaggers finding her an adopted daughter whom miss Havisham can look after and gradually turn her as a player.

Miss Havisham’s dream comes true as Estella plays with many men’ hearts, including Pip’s. Despite her knowing over Pip’s sincere feeling for Estella, miss Havisham instead asks for her marrying other man. At the end, neither Estella nor miss Havisham are happy.

As a reader, I can’t think of anyone can be that depressed as miss Havisham. She is so captured in the past that she takes revenge through Estella. As impossible as her trait can be, Dickens, here, digs his deepest on human emotion when it comes to love, excessive love, that may turn into severe heartbrokenness. And miss Havisham is such most suitable portrait we can get precious lessons from.

From the beginning, Dickens puts many clues on her collapse. The way she dresses, the ruined mansion that she lives in, her choice of not ever leaving the house after she fails to get married.

I remember one of the scenes where which she explicitly tells Estella not to take into account Pip’s feeling. For miss Havisham, love is like a dead-end matter, that everyone should never ever taste sweet, valuable taste of it. She can only regret her action of persuading Estella marrying Bentley Drummle although she knows him a brutal person.

As the novel comes to an end, miss Havisham asks for Pip’s forgiveness that comes out too late because Estella now becomes Drummle’s wife. Miss Havisham burns herself but Pip saves her. She lives the rest of her life in sickness because of that.

Miss Havisham reminds me so much on dangerous illogical love to others. She is actually warned over Compeyson’s ill motives but she ignores it. She pays all the price in most unthinkable ways I can possibly comprehend. I hope each of us won’t be like her in love-related matter or others.

 

 

 

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An Ode to Long, Very Long Reading

In social media era that easily reduces our concentration span, dedicating myself reading long, even very long material is an accomplishment nowadays. As shorter my focus is, my patience runs thinner that makes me realizing uninterrupted long reading experience is now a test of perseverance.

I feel it a bit thankful for myself after completing The Gold Bug, the first short story in short story collection by Edgar Allan Poe this morning. Though the fiction is quite difficult for me to digest, completing reading it is such a relief for me.

I should have finished reading it days ago but I instead spent useless minutes checking Instagram or Facebook. I have managed not to post my daily activity or status as frequently as I do in the past but still, I feel like my fingers are addicted to click the social media outlets.

Even so, I get used to reading non-sense articles with low journalism ethic (believe me, I am a journalist) via LINE or Twitter. What makes me sadder is the tendency how people lately love reading sensational news for the sake of huge number of clicks. For instance, gossip news or those that sell good-looking people get more and more attention.

As much as I love reading high literature works, like from Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy, current popular reading captures my attention, sooner or later. I know it’s unfair to entirely blame on smartphone but I can’t deny accessibility and affordability play some roles. It’s like why most Jakartans prefer spending weekends in shopping malls or cafés to going to beaches.

Therefore, each time I finish reading fiction and find myself deeply engaged to the book completely gladdens me. I now regard being capable of doing that means I pass patience test. Putting my whole self in adventure with certain authors in the books also mean I still retain the pleasure of being purely entertained with something intellectual. As I grow older, maintaining my focus and remembrance start challenging me. And reading high quality books is one of the effective ways of keeping my brain functions at its best. Add to that enduring patience while enjoying what the authors have in store for me. That is as I called as the ultimate pleasure that doesn’t only entertain my brain but also shakes my heart as a human being.

I have written this type of theme in the blog before to remind myself on the joy of long reading. I think I will write another post on the theme to let myself know that I can still taste it with a little bit challenge.

The Power of Being Under Pressured Completing Reading Pile of Unread Books

Have you got dozens of books unread for months, or even years at the bookshelves in your room? Or, have you felt there seemed to be no time for reading books anymore because, frankly speaking, you are busy scrolling down your social media accounts?

If you have that questions in your mind and wish to get rid of them all or one of them, probably you can try my trick. The key is a little bit ridiculous; buying more titles!

So.. I haven’t finished reading Great Expectations, Homo Deus and The Professor for a few months. Those don’t include Sejarah Islam or The History of Islam, which, oh my God, hasn’t been touched for months, too.

When I bought The Professor, I didn’t need the urgency of finishing reading Great Expectations because honestly, the masterpiece of Charles Dickens is too sentimental to cope with. Later, The Professor didn’t satisfy me that much because too many, way too many statements in French language that I needed to look at the back of the book. I abandoned the title, as well.

Then, I made another mistake. A few weeks ago, I and my pals went to an internationally-scale book affair in Jakarta. To put it shortly, I purchased Homo Deus, a currently-popular book among readers globally. Plus, I am interested at reading books on internet and social media hence the book suits me best. And yes, indeed, until I discovered it too much already when I read the first pages of the book. I have left it untouched for weeks now.

This week, I visited, again, Kinokuniya bookstore, with my best friend, Wida. I didn’t intend to buy novels or books at that time but as we were looking at titles, somehow my mind struck at The Woman In White. I have been looking for the book for months. I almost took it home but Wida reminded me that Dian, our close friend, had bought it for me from Paris. Dian would bring the book next month when she comes back home.

I was trying so hard not to buy it by switching my mind on reading other detective or mystery tales. My head quickly turned to Edgar Allan Poe as his The Tell-Tale Heart became his only fiction that I read so far.

I circled the Mystery/Horror section for some moments, till, yes! Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a collection of short stories by Mr. Poe was put in one of the section’s bookshelf. How happy I was! I bought the book right away, ignoring the fact some titles were crying to be resumed.

After I went back home, I opened the first title of the collective story. The Gold Bug opened the book and I couldn’t stop reading it. I began remembering how genius Mr. Poe was, yet somehow, I looked at The Professor. My guilt started embracing me.

I stopped reading The Gold Bug, reopened the last page where I read The Professor then two days later (today), the novel was finished. I am so glad at the moment because I fulfill the promise that I made months ago. The personal triumph surprisingly comes from the guilt that I feel after buying another book.

 

Currently Reading: “North and South”

I am amazed that I can read “North and South” this quickly. I buy the novel three weeks ago and now I am 70s pages away from the ending (the book is 478 pages in total).

Reading the book relieves me relieve because I start getting addicted to smartphone, reading online stories is one of the activities that I often do. I even question myself if I still have the ability of speedy reading when it comes to enjoy books that lure me so much. My not-so-good experience with Great Expectations adds to my own doubt. Though I initially savor half of the story, I find it difficult to finish the remaining half of it. So, right now I abandon the book though I actually look forward to knowing what the romance of Pip and Estella becomes. Too many minor characters, Pip’s too sentimental traits are some reasons that draw me away from the novel.

And when I purchase Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, I feel not good of buying a new title while leaving unread books at the bookshelf back at the rented room. But it’s North and South, man. The writer of the book is Gaskell, one of my most favorite authors whom I simply love her because of her beautiful way of telling sentences. At the back of my mind, as long as the writer is Gaskell, the story will be a good one. If the essence of the book is ordinary, I will totally enjoy her words, her writing style. In addition, I once see the title at the Kinokuniya bookstore long time ago but I don’t buy it then it’s gone. So I won’t lose the chance this time around. Priced at IDR132,000 I keep buying the novel despite the fact I have to save money.

I bring it back home and damn! I love every page of the story. My excitement of reading decent novel remains the same. I still can read like a maniac. I can still spend hours reading for the sake of the words and of course for the story itself.

And man! North and South way exceeds my expectation. It’s way better than Mary Barton and Wives and Daughters in terms of story, characteristic, moral message and plot. I can’t believe the book runs so quickly without being in rush. It’s compact and solid but her lovely descriptions are still there.

The novel is surprisingly heavy, in terms of themes. Poverty and effects of industry for the Miltons, to be exact. So I can say the novel is bleak and sorrowful in overall. Good point about the book is the characterizations of the major people here, Margaret Hale and John Thornton.

Here, Gaskell crafts her heroine to be a very memorable figure, a complicated person in her simplicity. Loving, caring, empathetic yet carrying a lot of burdens inside her heart. Margaret is a very strong woman, independent but naïve at the same time when it comes to her feeling to John.

That’s all that I can write at the time being. I can’t wait to finish reading the book to be put as another topic for the next post. The thing is I don’t regret buying it, using it as an intermezzo after leaving Great Expectations unread.

And best of all is that I can still read physical books, good ones, in enthusiastic manner as I usually do. Smartphone doesn’t take that away from me. I am beyond happy!

Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (2)

The second part of this long post highlights my short analysis about the novels by the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens.
Anne Bronte
If you want to read novels by the Bronte sisters, you can begin with those by Anne Bronte. Luckily, I do start with her books. Reading her books make me feel like I get into her personal lives. Plus, she uses first-person narrations in ‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’ and ‘Agnes Grey’. As such, her tales can move you so deeply.
Anne voices feminism, too, like Charlotte Bronte, her elder sister. The difficult life of being a governess becomes her source topic. The harsh life of being a single mother who flees from her own husband because of domestic violence I think at that time is revolutionary, particularly the latter one. Anne tries to break all religious rules through Helen Huntingdon.

Alcoholic husband, infidelity issues mark Anne’s writing achievements. Don’t worry, my friends. Anne’s stories end in happy tones!
Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is a very powerful heroine. She is blunt, stubborn, strong and idealistic woman you can ever imagine. Her faith and how she holds her religious values indeed cause her to face difficult situations. I still imagine the moments she starves that she wants to sell her handkerchief but is denied by a potential buyer. Then she eats porridge that is already thrown by former eater to keep her alive.
Reading the book moves me so much. Not only because of Jane’s firmness holding her values, but also the way Charlotte puts her heroine in difficult tests ever since she is a little girl. I am also amazed how the book doesn’t bore me as it is very thick one. Charlotte’s storytelling brings so much joy despite the tribulations Jane has to bear.
Emily Bronte
First of all, I dislike Catherine Earnshaw given her indecisive attitude. Her unwillingness to take risks to fight for her love. Also to be honest, I can’t say what Heathcliff does is correct. Their love story stirs mixed feeling for me. I call it as a deep, wild and destructive romance you can ever imagine knowing.
I have never read this romance-based fantasy as that frustrating, depressing, furious yet very strong at the same time. And Emily’s writing style is beyond my thought. Beware of physical and emotional tortures in the book for if you really feel them so profoundly, you will be haunted by the sensations they leave in your heart.
Charles Dickens
I think Charles Dickens is the most serious and social novelists in the Victorian era. While others take limited range of topics, such as women lives or people’ attitude at that time, Dickens write many books on child labor, the Industry Revolution, crime, legal affairs and many more.
I find it interesting that reading books by Dickens give me another shade of the Britons’ lives in London, a big city that is rarely touched by previous writers since their settings are mostly in rural areas or villages.
So, Dickens adds knowledge to what really happens in the big city when the machine starts taking over the lives of the people and how it leaves many problems. There haven’t been any writers who are very sophisticated in portraying individuals’ conflicts as he is. As such, reading his works challenge me a lot in understanding little things between characters and how their relations develop into something bigger in the end of the story.
Those are my opinions that hopefully can guide you a little bit before diving into that thick pages, hehe.. I hope this helps you, my fellow readers!

Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (1)

When it comes to wanting reading books by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens, surely we must bear in our minds that their works are so lengthy. About 300 pages, depending on the book edition that we have in our hands, are relatively short. Well, yeah. So, first and foremost, we must be very patient, especially those who are first-timers in enjoying their works.
Once we can slowly bury ourselves in the stories, I expect all of you can deeply delve into great literary adventures through their created characters in particular. For each and every author that I mention has the sort of memorable figures that are immersed in readers’ minds.
So here are my thoughts about each of them. I attempt to compose this post according to my experiences reading some of their works. This post may not be fair because of the different number of books that I read from each of the writers but I do hope my share is still worth reading.
Thomas Hardy
You will be wholly entertained by the way he appreciates beauty in daily life. Not only you will absorbed by his way of describing scenery, landscape, but also by his skill of crafting characters.
Hardy’s characters are very strong. His works are associated by characters you won’t forget not only because of their traits but also because of their fates. For instance, Bathseba Everdene who best portrays an independent woman whom, despite her wealthy and high social status, can still be willing to submit herself as a devoted wife.
Or who doesn’t remember Tess Durbeyfield, one of the most beloved literary heroines of all time? Reading her tale makes me learning the beauty of patience, endurance and faith. Her scenes when she walks very long, this happens a few times in the book, still stick in my mind. For me, they depict her struggles in life, the thing we can always look at it as a good example.
All in all, Hardy has special attention to woman issues, their positions in the society, their impacts to the lives of the men they love and their overall personal characteristics we can learn so much.
And by the way, if you dislike stories that end in gloomy, dark and bleak endings then I don’t think his works suit you best. Some of his stories are very depressing, but most of his end in, I call them as ‘realistic way of life that makes you viewing the plots as what human beings normally face in their life stories’.
George Eliot
Mary Ann Evans or popularly known as George Eliot will wow you with her complicated, brilliant way of putting her ideas into a book that hardly bores you. In her ‘Middlemarch’ you will be bedazzled with how she puts and weaves that many characters in the book so as they can relate to one another in such smooth ways.
Eliot’s works touch various subjects. While Hardy puts more focus on women, society and universal moral values, Eliot addresses issues, too, about corrupted religion, sibling relationship, family ties and even politic.
Her writing is very exquisite and deep. Unlike Hardy who prefers ending the fate of the characters in ‘realistic’ ways, Eliot still believes in happy ending, that those do good things completely deserve of enjoying joyful lives.
Jane Austen
Reading Jane Austen’s books is refreshing, silly yet are full of self-mockery. You will laugh at the characters’ behaviors in the novels but at the same time you will like look at yourself at the mirror.
Austen’s works are identified with match-making, dances and parties. You will seem associate them with trivial issues but actually those are the keys of her best works. Because from that social occasions, one can learn into another’s traits, overhears rumors and such. I call Austen’s works are amazing because she takes small things through which she actually voices her criticisms about people at the time the novels are produced.

How Reading Teaches Me A Lot About Self-Commitment

reading

Currently, I am reading ‘Thrawn Janet’, still by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has been taking me a few weeks for reading the short story which is just less than 20 pages. Worse, I don’t even really understand what I am reading about. It’s a triple embarrassment. I have never been this awful.

The hard thing about this short story is that the author, again and again, writes so many dialects in it. It also presents so many writing symbols, such as . Then, it writes the words exactly as they are uttered, like ‘likit’ for ‘like it’. I think they are all about the Scottish language. And you know what? I am so dizzy reading all about that. I really am.

As much as the author wishes to compose the story as original as it is, the method completely drives me insane. But I keep reading it despite the adversity. The experience has been torturing me in the past few weeks but I have kept doing it.

Why?

Because I want to be a damn responsible person. I have to complete what I start, no matter how miserable thing turns out to be. I never expected one of the author’s short stories would be this full of Scottish dialect, how would I know back then?

But deciding purchasing the collected short stories means I have to finish reading all works. I don’t want to put this book into the list of the unfinished novels in my book shelf. There have been some titles and I hope this book won’t be one of them. I am so sick with myself if I don’t keep my promise of reading books that I buy. I can get angry with myself because of that. I can feel so guilty to myself each time I don’t finish reading books.

After years reading books, I have learned how much I can value my self-commitment. In fact, you can measure the level of the self-commitment or train your own commitment through reading books, any kind of reading materials that you purchase then stick at it until the last page.

As a result, I can shamefully tell you that my self-commitment is fluctuating, but mostly I can keep my own words. There are amazing titles that I miss, including Middlemarch by George Eliot, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Really, I don’t know how I can resume reading the titles. I did try continue reading them but gave it all up, partly because I wasn’t into the writing styles.

If I can give comparison my reading commitment level is 80% to 20%, the lesser percentage is for those partial reading trips. Still pretty good score but I need to work on and reduce the 20% into a lower point.

What about you guys? Do you feel ugly if you don’t finish reading the books you decide buying?

Thank you so much for providing the thumbnail.