Wilkie Collins’s Count Fosco Reminds Me So Much of Sengkuni

Sangkuni illustration. Picture source: abasrin.com

Wilkie Collins’s Count Fosco and Vyasa’s Sengkuni or Sangkuni have many hateful yet agile traits one can relate and learn. Written in centuries apart, “Mahābhārata” and “The Woman in White” captivate me with the inserting of Sengkuni and Count Fosco. I detest each of them but I can’t deny I learn so much from their cunning.

I haven’t read “Mahābhārata” honestly. I only watched the Indian epic masterpiece when was I a little kid. Regularly watching the show was more than sufficient to have put Sengkuni as an unforgettable antagonist in my whole life. I heard him as reference when my father and his brother were referring to national prominent politician from New Order (I didn’t mention his name here, by the way). After I watched the series, I couldn’t agree more.

Sengkuni was best remembered because of his sly tactics for making his 100 nephews known as Korawa defeating their five cousins called Pandawa. Sengkuni was manipulative, provocative person who ignited hatred in the hearts of the Korawa people, especially Duryodana. His resentment toward Pandawa stemmed from his objection when his father accepted a marriage proposal for his sister, Gandari, from Dretarastra, a blind, kind-hearted prince from Hastinapura kingdom. Sengkuni, who was actually a prince from Gandhara empire, wished his sister would have married with Dretarastra’s brother, Pandu. Pandu was the father of Pandawa whereas Dretarastra was the father of Korawa. Despite the two’s good relationship, their sons were fighting for possessing Kuru empire with Sengkuni as the mastermind. Their story is known as Mahabharata.

Count Fosco or Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco was not a layman. Count (male)/ Countess (female) or Conte in Italian language refers to a title in European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey an approximate rank intermediate between the highest and lowest titles of nobility, according to Pine, L.G. Titles: How the King Became His Majesty. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992. P. 73. OCLC 27827106.

Personally, Count Fosco is like some types of people that I know in my life. They have certain attitudes that make them looking like noble people on the surface. The way they talk, how they treat others are different from common people. They know how to keep their tongues in check even when they are in debts or other huge problems. I call them as those who are enslaved to creating good images.

Such is what I learn from Count Fosco. He was in dire need of money but he was not looking as desperate person. He maintained his good humor sense, greeted strangers, and treated people nicely. He didn’t let others know what trouble he was in because that would taint his noble status. This what made Marian Halcombe firstly liked him. After she knew him a little bit longer, she found out who this man truly was. Her realization that Count Fosco was reading her mind and studying her behavior frightened her. This what made the protagonist was very careful in dealing with him. Unlike Laura Fairlie who was frontally disliking him, Mariam was more patient because she knew she must be resourceful and intelligent to get over him.

In addition to his observing nature, Count Fosco was good-tempered person, especially for those who were against his wishes, such as Mariam Halcombe and Laura Fairlie. He knew how to differently handle the two given their traits. Count Fosco was also persistent when it came to reaching his goals. Here, he carefully executed his plans of taking over 21,000 pounds belonging to Laura Fairlie through very well-planned timeline. He knew very well that good strategy wasn’t enough. There required patience to let things rolling on as he planned them, the trait that wasn’t possessed by Sir Percival Glyde.

Count Fosco and Sengkuni were top “brain washers”. While Count Sengkuni consistently whispered devilish words to the Korawa people, Count Fosco did the same thing for his wife, Madame Fosco, who was actually Laura’s aunt. She was so obedient to her husband that she worshipped him like a god. Count Fosco “guided” Sir Percival Glyde, his close friend, in their goals of getting the money.

Walter Hartright could have toppled him with just one strong blow. And I wished he did that because I really, completely detested Count Fosco. Of course, Wilkie Collins didn’t opt for that. Further legal consequence might emerge for Walter Hartright. Marian Halcombe’s descriptions became Walter Hartright’s weapons when confronting him in his rented room before he went away to Paris.

Much like Marian Halcombe, Walter Hartright was patient and clever. On top of that, his sincerity guided this man to smoothly deal with Count Fosco. Walter Hartright fully understood he had to be very well-spoken to confront a manipulative person like Count Fosco.

As Walter Hartright didn’t have legal supports for proving Count Fosco’s wrongdoings, Wilkie Collins remarkably ended the life of Count Fosco. He was killed by unknown people from his past, politically related, in a strange land (Paris) then surrounded by Parisians in a public place. Count Fosco’s life was eventually very much disgraced.

 

 

 

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“The Woman in White”: How does it feel to have read 90 pages every day

I had intended to write my second part of “The Woman in White” reading process in this blog after I did the first one. But before I had typed this second part, I completed reading the novel two days ago. As many as 619 pages were done in seven days. I read about 90 pages per day. Call me a mad reader because I believed so. The book was driving me crazy.. in many good ways I had never thought it would be capable of.

I don’t want to boast on the number of the pages I read in this blog post. I strongly believe there are a lot of, a lot of bookworms out there who are crazier than I am when it comes to speed reading. I will only speed up when I have a good novel in my hands. When a book isn’t that challenging, I will drag myself to even finish it. So, needless to say here that “The Woman in White” is indeed good, very, super incredible one that you need to try reading it, especially if you love sensational stories or mysterious fictions.

“The Woman in White” isn’t an easy book. I thought it would be around the riddle of who the woman in white was. In this regard, I had thought the key of the story would be who was Anne Catherick by the end of the very lengthy book. I was deceived. The name and the background of the woman was revealed much earlier that I had expected. Her appearance stimulated overall secret within the lives of the major characters in the book. Like a snowball, the first riddle led to grander mysteries than I could have never imagined.

With the whereabouts of the woman in white became the entry matter that triggered my curiosity, I read the book page per page. I was enjoying the superb writing talent of Wilkie Collins, the author of the novel. As a Victorian writer, he didn’t forget to describe people, scene, scenery, movement of time and character in beautiful, wonderful language that captivated me as a hard fan of imaginative stories.

I made use of my available time to have resumed reading the book. As the mystery had strongly stirred my curiosity with the amazing writing style, I didn’t want to miss a day not reading the book. I kept working as usual. Thankfully, I finished a book writing project on-time. In between the writing job, I spent reading the book. I still managed to have gone to bed before 12 a.m and woke up feeling fresh and healthy to yes, reading the novel again.

The key of completing the book so quickly while deeply connected with every single sensation of the story is that I was attempting to have put my mind at its best concentration even after I closed the book for that day. In some nights before I went to sleep, I talked to myself on possible ending of the story and the answer for the puzzles. As crazy as that sounds, the method assisted me to have engaged with the plot and made me so excited for the next day’s reading. To this, I owe so much to Mr. Collins. Enjoying this brain exercise brought me a qualified pleasure. Given my ability to have controlled the fondness of the book, I was enjoying it proportionately despite the fact of the 90 pages per day.

In addition to have been curious on the first mystery, my brain worked at the hardest to have guessed what this and that clue scattered in the whole story. Later on, the guidance led to something bigger, terrible that made up the big themes here. For instance, the anonymous letter by Anne to Laura Fairlie that warned the latter on her future husband Sir Percival Glyde at the start of the book.

What makes this exercise even more complicated is that I needed to have guessed what were laying beneath the expressions of some characters. Mr. Collins gave hidden clues through facial and verbal expressions that if we didn’t pay attention enough, we wouldn’t catch sensational, thrilling tones of the book let alone understood what did they contribute to the whole ideas.

I would like to take Count Fosco as best example for this regard. I remember very much when Marian Halcombe said in her diary how she liked him the very first time she met before she loathed him very much later on. Marian said that Count Fosco was very clever in amusing strangers, talkative and very friendly. This is later proven by Walter Hartright as the story draws to a close. Walter said the Count greeted store keepers in his route to an opera for buying a ticket. The Count was humming to himself, knowing to entertain himself thus he looked like a 40-year old man instead of his actual 60 years old. I would later discuss on the Count in another blog post.

Facial expressions were playing big roles in the book because this aspect, as a matter of fact, had been deceitful. This time around, I take Sir Percival Glyde as an example. Marian Halcombe thought she had best reasons to let Walter ended his teaching term earlier as he was known to have loved Laura while she was engaged to Sir Percival Glyde. For Marian, Laura’s fiancee was a respected, honorable man. And I felt that too when reading his response and his behavior, particularly when Laura told him he didn’t want to marry him. Sir Percival Glyde didn’t get angry, curse or whatsoever. He took the ill news wisely. Here, as a reader, I thought Laura would learn to love him because I thought Sir Percival Glyde was a good person who was worthy of loving back. But I was deceived as his true attitude was revealed during the six-month honeymoon in Italy.

I would like to write more but I am afraid the post would be very long to read. I end it here and I hope you still want to read other posts about the book.