Currently-Reading: “The Professor” by Charlotte Bronte

Picture is taken from za.pinterest.com

I have been 10 days reading ‘The Professor’ by Charlotte Bronte. The title wasn’t into my to-be-read list before I went to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta after I covered an e-sport-related press conference last Thursday.

I was expecting I would buy ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins despite the relatively expensive price. But when I got there, the novel was gone. Someone probably had bought it. I couldn’t believe that I was so disappointed at that time that I was encircling the literature section of the bookstore to tame the sadness.

I finally bought ‘The Professor’ after I read its first page via Gutenberg online reading. At least the first page was impressive, so I thought at that time. Then I bought the novel without much excitement as when I purchase ‘North and South’. But at least (again) I will have some good readings to accompany me wherever I go. It’s Charlotte Bronte’s book, by the way, though it isn’t as popular as ‘Jane Eyre’ but it must show me her wonderful story telling.

And you know what? I was awed by the book because of the author’s very bold, brave stance. On the back of my mind, “Oh! This is indeed Charlotte Bronte!” The protagonist, William Crimsworth, is a very interesting character to study. He quickly gets my heart because of his courage wrapped in his silence when it comes to dealing with his own brother, Edward Crimsworth, who is more like his authoritative boss.

By the time William is eventually able to get rid of his brother although he is poor, I am so relieved. There is nothing more gladdening than reading your hero or heroine finally makes up his or her mind leaving people or situations that put them living like in a hell.

When I mention William is an intriguing figure to study, I tell you bluntly. Because actually, by the time I write this I seem don’t understand his real trait by the time he moves to Brussels to teach students there. Why so?

It’s too early to conclude that William changes because of the new environment he now lives in. All I feel throughout reading the new chapter of his life is that he is no longer that quiet. He in fact is a very careful person whom he deals with, for instance with Mlle Reuter, a headmistress of the school William teaches at. He also studies the characters of his young female students, physically and characteristically.

I can read his sarcasm, his way of protecting himself from, say, one of the female students who wish to get his attention in classroom. William attempts to be himself, guard his personality amid various types of traits, mostly are women, in his new surroundings. It’s surprising to get to know this mysterious hero written by Charlotte. I can’t now tell he is a simple man because he in fact reads people. I can’t also conclude he has no ambitions in his profession or romance as he simply flees to Brussels to earn a living. Teaching isn’t his chosen work as he works as a translator at his brother’s mill.

What rather distracts me reading the book is because many French conversations are in it. I am lazy to open the last few pages of the novel to find out what they mean. Other than that, I am interested to know what William life will end up. And I will discover that after I have to read ‘the map reading’ by William which is quite hard to grasp.

 

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Mengenal “Living Books”, Cerita Rekaan yang Bukan Sembarang Fiksi

Terima kasih banyak buat sahabatku, Rizki Mahardiani, yang memberiku ide untuk menulis tentang ini

Masih terbayang secara ‘sadis’ pengadilan sosial untuk tuan Bulstrode saat novel Middlemarch menuju akhir setelah perjalanan membaca yang sangat panjang. Dalam forum tersebut, tuan Bulstrode diadili oleh tetangga dan kawan-kawannya usai mereka tahu Raffles, seorang dari masa lalu Bulstrode yang tahu benar cara licik bankir tersebut hingga bisa kaya raya seperti sekarang, meninggal dunia.

Singkat kata, publik menghakimi tuan Bulstrode lah yang membunuh Raffles agar ia tutup mulut padahal tidak sama sekali meski tuan Bulstrode sudah kadung jengkel diperas oleh Rafles jelang kematiannya. Tetap saja tuan Bulstrode tak bisa menghindar dari forum tersebut bahwa memang ia menempuh cara kelam agar bisa makmur. Publik pun menilai uang amalnya ke kaum papa hanyalah semacam “penebus dosa” atas perbuatan jahatnya selama ini. Yang paling menyebalkan tentu saja nasib Dr. Tertius Lydgate, dokter muda penuh bakat yang “kecipratan” reputasi buruk tuan Bulstrode. Publik ikut-ikutan menilai sang dokter mencicipi uang haram tuan Bulstrode hingga akhirnya memaksa Dr. Tertius benar-benar angkat kaki dari tempat itu.

Itu adalah sepenggal adegan dalam salah satu novel yang aku sayangi. Meski bukan buku paling aku favoritkan, Middlemarch merupakan novel kehidupan atau living book yang sangat aku rekomendasikan bagi siapa pun untuk dibaca. Bisa dibilang ini novel kehidupan yang paling kaya, komplet dan mewakilkan kondisi banyak orang di suatu tempat, tak terkecuali di Indonesia. Kesemuanya bisa tercermin secara gamblang berkat kemampuan menulis George Eliot yang sungguh bagus.

Middlemarch merupakan contoh novel kehidupan yang mengandung pesan penting nan berat tetapi membungkusnya dengan fiksi yang menarik. Imajinasi yang detil tentang orang, tempat hingga kejadian membuat pembaca awalnya abai dengan ide yang Eliot ingin sampaikan.

Setelah sanggup menawan hati pembaca dengan cerita yang menarik, barulah mereka akan mulai menggenggam apa maksud kisah ini. Bukan hanya itu, mereka akan akan mulai merefleksikan karakter yang ada di dalamnya dengan diri mereka sendiri atau orang di sekitar mereka, hingga situasi sosial saat ini.

Jika kau adalah putri baik hati, perempuan lembut tetapi kuat, karakter Dorothea Brooke bakal memukaumu. Jika kamu adalah tipikal orang yang sangat idealis, Dr. Tertius akan banyak mewakilkan pandangan hidupmu. Atau jika kamu cowok yang satir dan mempunyai jiwa seni tinggi meski hidupmu pas-pasan, tengoklah Will Ladislaw.

Novel kehidupan mempunyai tipikal fiksi yang dari permukaan dan pada awalnya terbaca ringan, menyenangkan tetapi lama kelamaan begitu pembaca mulai membenamkan hati pada cerita atau karakternya, mulailah novel jenis ini menunjukkan taringnya yang sesungguhnya: kedalaman isu yang ingin disampaikan oleh sang penulis.

Novel macam ini mengajak pembaca belajar, mulai dari berimajinasi, mencerna maksud  penulis lalu memikirkan nasib karakter hingga kemudian mengambil banyak pelajaran dari situ. Hal-hal berat ini bagaimana pun menjadi menarik untuk diselami sebab kita sudah kadung suka dengan cerita, tokoh atau gaya kepenulisannya.

Novel semacam ini banyak ditulis oleh abad ke-17,18 dan 19. Salah satu contoh novel kehidupan lainnya yang saya sukai adalah cerita-ceritanya Thomas Hardy. Sebenarnya mayoritas bukunya muram dan sedih hanya saja saya suka membacanya sebab karakter dia begitu humanis selain banyak mengangkat jati diri perempuan pada masanya. Katakanlah, Micheal Henchard dalam The Mayor of Casterbridge, yang hingga kini masih menjadi tokoh fiksi favorit saya sebab kompleksitas hidupnya sebagai anak manusia, dari orang yang nggak benar hingga menjadi walikota. Tokoh yang semrawut tetapi pelan sanggup menarik simpati saya sebagai manusia pada umumnya yang tak pernah bisa luput dari yang namanya dosa dan kesalahan.

Ada banyak pelajaran yang bisa dipetik dari seorang keras kepala tetapi sangat sabar seperti Jane Eyre. Bagi banyak orang mungkin dia perempuan yang sok kuat tetapi buat saya sendiri karakter dia yang sungguh idealis membuat saya kagum. Saya masih ingat adegan dimana dia harus memakan bubur sisa orang untuk bertahan hidup setelah dia gagal menjual sapu tangannya agar bisa makan. Buat saya novel Jane Eyre memberikan pelajaran sabar yang teramat sangat manis dan indah pada akhirnya, yang sekali lagi, disajikan dalam fiksi luar biasa buatan Charlotte Bronte.

Buku kehidupan memang pada dasarnya hanya berupa cerita rekayasa, nama dan tempat banyak yang tidak ada. Tetapi sukar untuk tidak mengakui membaca buku berkelas seperti ini tidak memberikan kesan selain ceritanya yang bagus atau tokohnya yang menarik. Buku semacam ini selalu bisa meninggalkan bekas berharga bagi saya sebagai manusia zaman modern. Meski beberapa nilainya terdengar klise, seperti belajar sabar, setia, percaya pada orang lain, novel kehidupan seperti yang saya sebut di atas somehow membuat saya untuk mengunjungi nilai-nilai penting dalam hidup tersebut. Baru saya sadar dari novel semacam ini saya sebenarnya banyak belajar tentang nilai penting dalam hidup dengan cara yang sangat menyenangkan.

 

‘Sense and Sensibility’, my second escapade with Jane Austen

sense and sensibility

For how many times I can’t remember I made a vow to myself which I knew I was going to break it. Before the payday came this Tuesday, I promised to myself I wouldn’t buy a book because I have planned saving a sum of money for other things. Only a few days I kept this promise as yesterday I went to the Kinokuniya bookstore after my job was done. I couldn’t help fighting against the temptation of not reading a novel. So even if my money is so tight I kept going there. Even when I have known I can’t expect the bookstore offers more classic titles I went home bringing Jane Austen’s evergreen romance story, ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Although I once watched its movie version I kept purchasing it because I have known written version will always be much more joyful for a reader like me.

The best realistic thing about Victorian books is that they are sold in various editions that match with my pocket. I bought the book edition at just around US$7 (see picture), which is still very affordable for me. I can still enjoy a very lovely story under cheap price. I actually wanted to buy ‘The Vegetarian’ but the price is too high for me at the moment. So never mind with ‘Sense and Sensibility’, though.

I watched ‘Sense and Sensibility’ years ago. All I remember is Kate Winslet still looks so young at the movie.  I don’t even know the name of the actress who plays the oldest one as the central protagonist of the book. I was considering my experiences of having watched the movie version before I bought the canon. As the amazing experience of reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after watching its movie version proves my capability of enjoying the novel, I grabbed ‘Sense and Sensibility’ then headed home.

Unlike ‘Emma’, which was opened with rather cheerful tone, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, so its first pages suggest, invite me to probably read it in a serious mode. So far, I am at its first 13 pages so I can’t say many things yet other than the novel is quite solemn. Since I am accustomed of reading books by Thomas Hardy which are way stressful than Austen’s I bet ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is not that much depressing. At least let’s hope this classic isn’t as distressing as ‘Jane Eyre’.

 Thank you for providing the picture.

For this particular reason Anne Bronte is my most favorite Bronte writer

anne bronte

Hail to the Bronte sisters who have left enduring legacy in English Literature. I wish they write more books so that I can go inside their unbelievable minds. Though I know I can never reach their super high imagination level put into magical words at least I can enjoy more of their works. They die relatively at young age because of sickness.

So far, I read four books; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the last one is ‘Jane Eyre’. I know some titles remain unread, particularly by Charlotte Bronte but I believe reading them is sufficient for me to draw a conclusion that Anne Bronte is my most favorite one.

I agree to most literary fans who say ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ stand higher than ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. I sum this up because of what I feel after I read each of them. I go crazy when I read ‘Wuthering Heights’. I am so moved when Jane Eyre becomes a beggar then so relieved when she eventually becomes Mrs. Rochester. I still remember I find it hard to put ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ down because the plot completely moves me. I get addicted to the book but if you ask for my opinion the novel remains below the other two titles in the paragraph. I think this is perhaps due to Anne’s writing technique which doesn’t dramatize Helen’s life as tragic as Jane Eyre or as horrific as ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Anne Bronte is my personal favorite because I find pieces of my personality in her two stories. The reason is so private. As much as I adore Jane’s trait that is so rebellious and as much as I am blown away with the wildness of the love between Cathy and Heathcliff, Anne’s characters are engraved in my heart. The simplicity, patience and strong-willingness of Helen Lawrence Huntingdon and Agnes Grey are what make them ordinarily outstanding.

You may call them boring because they don’t pose one or two particular traits that make them distinctive. Jane Eyre is very notable for her obstinacy and independence while Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are both hardworking women but not that very stubborn. Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are so-so if compared to Jane Eyre or Cathy. But beneath their average qualities lie endurance and strength. In my own words, they are very humane. Not just I but I think a lot of women or people out there will easily relate their characteristics with theirs.

‘Agnes Grey’ is the second novel that bedazzles me after ‘Wives and Daughters’ because of their ordinary protagonists who experience simple lives. Like Molly Gibson in ‘Wives and Daughters’, ‘Agnes Grey’ follows the life of Agnes Grey, all the choices that she makes and how they contribute to the final trait of the female leading figure by the end of the novel.

Agnes Grey wants sufficiency for her and her family needs. The problems she face during the life in the book seems ordinary; the difficulty in finding jobs, the negativity she has to receive as a governess. She sometimes hates her job because she has to deal with naughty children and some even put her position as a maid. But a job is a job. She has to complete her tasks for the sake of making ends meet. Her simple thought in job is also applicable in the romance side. She doesn’t pursue her crush but chooses to be patient and wait. Until when the universe goes in favor of her feeling, he comes and proposes her. There lies indescribable power beyond Agnes Grey’s simplicity.

Helen Huntingdon lives a more complicated life compared to Agnes Grey thereby she is a lot of tougher than Agnes Grey. Not only she has to deal with her alcoholic husband, Helen must go against public norms; fleeing from her husband while they are still married. Unlike Jane Eyre who is completely obstinate, Helen’s firmness is understandable, that she escapes from her husband to save their only son. Helen does this by force. Jane, on the other hand, could have stayed in Thornfield Hall while teaching Adele, for instance. Jane still has other choices that Helen doesn’t. Similar to Agnes Grey, what Helen wants is her son security and good moral sample that he will never get that from his own father.

I can’t imagine what strength Helen poses when she has to take care of her ill husband. She completes the duty of a devoted wife (I know the term ‘devoted’ here stirs debate at that time) by returning back home. As much as she hates him, she performs the responsibility until he dies. This part is so mixed. I feel that in this part, Anne Bronte softly brings up two opposite climaxes at the same time: the downfall of masculinity as portrayed by Arthur Huntingdon and the victory of feminism by Helen Huntingdon. Again, Anne Bronte describes this part in slow, soft ways that makes it very powerful.

Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon.. For some they may be boring, plain and not spontaneous. But you and I can’t bet they are beautiful souls because they stick at what they believe to do. They are stubborn because of strong reasons. Though patience and hardworking, they live the lives they dream to have no matter how many bumpy roads they have to undergo. They are awesome fictional characters and for myself they describe my personality.

Thank you for providing the picture.

After reading ‘Jane Eyre’: satisfied, contented, joyful

jane eyre

I know it’s a little bit too late to say I become one of the many million people out there who agree ‘Jane Eyre’ is named as one of the world’s best novels of all time. Reading it gives me various kind of feelings but to sum it all I feel so, so satisfied after closing the last page of it yesterday evening. This is actually the sort of feelings each time I finish reading books by Victorian authors. That’s why I still get stuck reading books by the writers.

First and foremost, the character of Jane Eyre is, I can call her, as the proper representation of a feminist. Though the novel is composed hundreds of years ago I can still find myself in awe with Jane. Rebellious, independent, stubborn, idealist and at the same time genuine and very kind person. I love her dearly, really. Because some part of her identity match with my own. Ah, I can even call her my favorite heroine by now.

I love the way Charlotte Bronte portrays her as not an attractive female leading figure, which is in par with her tomboyish trait. Charlotte Bronte doesn’t describe Edward Rochester as a handsome person but rather a well-built, strong and decisive man. So when both falls in love makes the story all makes sense. That’s not a fairy love story but rather realistic one. In fact, at the end of the tale, Edward is blind and has very few possessions left. On the contrary, Jane is a rich person who bequeaths the money left by her uncle.

How the two major characters swift positions in and after the turbulence of their romance makes the novel is again, logical. Following what happens in the life of Jane and Edward makes me thinking what makes the novel is something so whole. Anything can happen in our lives, anything. That what makes me admiring the book as it completely tells the lives of human beings, mirrors and says much of what life is in general.

The way Charlotte Bronte tells the readers, by the way, is smooth that I am so engaged with it. Oh her writing technique. Damn it! How can I write as beautiful as she can.

Charlotte Bronte successfully highlights the life of Jane in such comprehensive ways that by the end of the novel I am left satisfied. From an abandoned orphan, a lonely teenager, a hardworking, loving governess until she crumbles down then gets up being a wealthy woman. What is remarkable here is that no matter how well-to-do she is, how calamity robs Edward’s eyesight, her feeling and stance remains the same. That Jane Eyre is still Jane Eyre, the woman who holds her belief and sticks to what she feels. Because of what she experiences in her life, poverty and she turns into a beggar, Jane can appreciate whatever she has. She firmly holds her ideas and identity. No matter how St John frequently gives critics to her traits, Jane keeps to her words.

So many things I wish I can tell about the book but I know I can’t do all of that at the time being. I end up filling this post by saying thank you very much Charlotte Bronte for creating ‘Jane Eyre’ for this masterpiece makes me feeling so happy and enriched. Thank you once again.

The picture is taken from this.

 

The Bronte sisters and the dream elements in their masterpieces

the bronte sisters

The night before her wedding, Jane Eyre dreams something so horrific that leads her feeling frantic and unquiet throughout the remaining night. She sees a woman looking ghostly coming into the chamber she previously sleeps in. Jane never sees her before the night. She surveys the wedding dress, takes the wedding veil. No damage is done but she stares at Jane’s eyes that lefts the bride-to-be feeling frightened.

According to her future husband, Mr. Rochester, Jane is half awaken when that takes place. The woman that she sees is not a ghost or whatsoever but rather a human being. On the planned big day it turns out the dream is not just a dream.

The wedding is aborted. Mr. Rochester is still the husband of a woman namely Bertha Mason whom he has been married for 15 years. He argues that his still living wife is a maniac or a mad person whom he doesn’t know about when he marries her. He later blames her family for hiding the truth about his wife. To make it bitter for Jane to swallow, the woman has been staying in Thornfield Hall for a couple of months. I bet the woman Jane sees is the wife of Mr. Rochester!

When I come to this part not only I am a little bit shocked but also I am intrigued to question what makes Charlotte and her elder sister, Emily Bronte, inserting dreams into their novels. Before writing this post, I read several articles that inform me about the lives of the Brontes. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell are fond of telling stories to each other. They are talented story creators since childhood.

I haven’t found any commentaries from literary experts about this topic but I think their fantasies become like a solid ground from which they base upon their dreams. As their skills mature, the fantasies turn into complicated forms, like the one I mention above. If you already read Wuthering Heights the kind of dreams emerge several times. And in the Emily’s novel, the dreams are much more terrifying.

The blend of fantasy, psychological issues and reality lead to best sort of dreams that make the Bronte sisters are the masters of it. As a result, I, as a reader, find it harder to differentiate whether the characters’ dreams are real, surreal or mere delusion. What is left as a reader is the sensation that sticks so long in my mind and again makes the sisters are exceptional writers.

I feel frightened and disturbed at the same time. Then I will question what the dreams mean to the rest of the story. What will come next. And you know what? Every time I find the scenes where the main characters dream, I feel a little bit afraid. I can still remember well when Heathcliff dreams of Cathy wearing white dress after she dies. Also the conclusion of Wuthering Heights mentions the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy!

This particular aspect of Charlotte and Emily makes me realizing they pose very advanced writing skills. Every detail are paid attention that slowly leads the stories snowballing into something greater without leaving readers, I included, feeling bored.

The source of the picture: https://voolas.com/facts-about-bronte-sisters/

Resuming reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after long holiday

During this year’s end of June and the start of July when the holy fasting Ramadan month and Eid al-Fitr long holiday were taking place, I didn’t read ‘Jane Eyre’. I did this on purpose as I hoped I would read more information about Islam, my religion. Not only was it part of the prayer but also because I thought taking a short break reading the novel would be a good idea.

After the hiatus, I continued reading the classic this morning. The thing is I want to restart this year with something simple, more focused and grounded. Personally, I feel refreshed and recharged not after new year’s celebration but after the fasting month. So in the past few years, I have had promised to myself to redevelop myself and love myself even more after fasting for the whole month, fighting against devilish desires.

This year I hope I can manage my time management for online activities then get back or precisely read more physical books. ‘Jane Eyre’ is the perfect start for this. So, this morning I spent the time on the public transportation reading the novel. What a joy to start the day!

At first, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy reading it given the long time I had taken the break. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. It didn’t take a lot of pages to have taken my reading mood back on the right track. I didn’t find it difficult to put myself on the shoes of Jane Eyre. The reading process ran on smoothly that I felt like I fall in love with it for the second time… although this time around, I don’t think I respect Jane as much as I do when Charlotte Bronte brings her up as a wild, super honest girl who instantly captures my heart as a reader.

I am at the 300 pages something of the book (in the version that I read of course). The part that I am in is when Jane is preparing her wedding with Mr. Rochester. I admire the character of Jane Eyre, don’t get me wrong. For me, as a governess or in general, someone who has lower social status to her lover cum her master, Jane is a very confident person. She is someone who knows herself very well that she sticks to what she believes and she holds true although her opinions are opposite the master or the people in the house she teaches.

As their wedding day approaches, somehow I start getting fed up with the drama she could have actually avoided. Her stubbornness begins boiling my emotion up. She complains when she has to obey Mr. Rochester or buying new dress for the big day which is definitely different with the ones she always wear; simple and plain dresses.

Then when Mr. Rochester is insanely drawn to her, praising her through a romantic song, Jane seems disinterested. In short, she makes a fuss or a drama out of nothing. Pffh…

Thankfully, Charlotte accelerates the courting part then comes the one day before they take a vow as a husband and a wife. And I haven’t resumed reading it again, LOL.