Thomas Hardy’s best women

thomas-hardy

Women in Thomas Hardy’s best fictions are complicated, some are even hard to be understood. Reading their personalities challenge me and mixes my feelings. Hardy crafts these heroines so unique that they remain eternal in the minds of many literary lovers.

Below are five female heroines in Hardy’s novels who stuck in my brain:

Bathsheba Everdene

My most beloved female figure in all Hardy’s leading books. Independent, hard-working and persistent. These prove helpful when chasing after wealth. But her overly independence makes her learning choosing the right life partner the hardest ways. She refuses a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak out of emancipation. She later plays the heart of William Boldwood, her aggressive admirer until the game turns ugly with the arrival of Sergeant Troy, the man she loves but can never move on from her former lover, Fanny Robin. Both men fight for Bathsheba Everdene’s love, leaving William Boldwood living in a prison after shooting Sergeant Troy. Only after the tragedy that she finally realizes the only man she completely can’t live without is Gabriel Oak.

Tess Durbeyfield

The favorite for many. One of the most enduring female figures in the classic literature. The struggles of Tess both in working life and romance are unbearable. Not only she has to work very hard to make ends meet she also has to face her fate as a victim of rape. Things get much depressed when Angel Clare, her husband leaves her on the first day of their wedding after finding out Tess is no longer a virgin. What happens to Tess disturbs my senses because almost of her entire life is all about torments. Her decision to kill Alec D’Urberville sets her free. This, too, makes me feel relieved for her act is understandable; that human patience can run out sooner or later.

Sue Bridehead

The most inconsistent, unpredictable female personage in Hardy’s books. Her union with Jude Fawley, the protagonist of the book, is unlikely wonderful. It is the matrimony of two different human beings on the surface; Sue the outspoken and Jude the soft-spoken one. Sue the wild person and Jude the quite one. But on the inside, both share similar personalities; avid reader, marriage adversary, deep thinker. Her critical thinking impresses me at first. How she handles rejection from public on her elopement with Jude wins my attention until she can no longer help it. That is when she 180 degrees turns into a completely different person than she is used to be. Not only she leaves Jude after all the things they go through but she also returns to Mr. Phillotson, her former husband, whom she detests after she meets Jude. She now becomes a disgusting person, at least for me.

Eustacia Vye

She is the perfect portrayal of Hardy’s view on spoiled, materialistic woman. She marries to Clym Yeobright after she finds out the fortune of the native of Egdon Heath. She hopes she can leave the place and depart for Paris yet this plan is against her husband’s wishes who wants to stay at the place and sets up a school. Eustacia is my kind of favorite antagonist because I can totally hate her. Beautiful face but ugly heart. She disrespects her mother-in-law, makes use of Clym’s good-heartedness for her benefits and worse, she is still in touch with her former boyfriend, Damon Wildeve.

Marty South

Although she is not the leading female figure in Hardy’s The Woodlanders, Marty South has a special place in my heart. She is so devoted to Giles Winterborne, the main man in this book, despite his love to his wife, Grace Melbury. She keeps loving him after he dies. She becomes the only person to take care of his graveyard after Grace become less frequently visits it as she is now with another man, Edgar Fitzpiers. What happens to Marty is very rare, touching but some may say her decisions is pathetic and useless. All in all her presence successfully stirs emotion as previous characters do.


The picture is taken from this.

My views on life as told by these Victorian writers

qupteOne of the greatest reading benefits is knowing that I am not a solo fighter to affirm my perspectives on life. From religion, social status, gender… writers share what they think about the world, which in coincidence, matches with my own. And I can say there are things from each of the book that I have read which are just what I feel. As my latest reading experiences are, still, on Victorian era, I’d love to highlight what I and the fantastic four authors have in common:

Thomas Hardy

Oh yes, there he is, again and again. He remains my darling for the Victorian era. His books are endless resources for my writings. What makes me liking this writer is definitely due to his views on life which are similar with mine. Below are some of his works that best describe my thoughts:

Far from the Madding Crowd
Feminism is the first word that emerges in my mind the first time I read about Bathsheba Everdene. She’s the kind of feminist that I adore. I don’t exactly know well the definition of feminism. All I agree is that a woman must be independent, capable of doing her tasks and making ends meet on her own but she, one day, will be a wife and a mother because she wants to be like that. And she does that out of love, not by force. When she is at home, she respects her husband wholeheartedly.

Jude the Obscure
Whenever I think about Jude, the main character in the book, introversion is the first word that perfectly characterizes him. I and Jude both agree that reading is the key to the world, or even, the tool that crafts our beings. Introversion and reading are best partners in life. Perfect mates to live up our dreams. Jude is the reflections of my characterization as someone who sticks at his introversion, lives the life according to his idealism amidst the world that prefers looking at extroverts.

The Woodlanders
Sometimes, the best thing falling in love with someone is limited as standing by his side, giving a helping hand when he needs that, being his best friend even when he’s in love with another woman. So painful yet that experience has brought so much joy for Marty South, one of the characters in the book. The death of Giles Winterborne doesn’t encourage her to immediately find another lover. Is being faithful to an unrequited love is a pathetic romance? You have your say. But for me, her decision to love, to have her heart crushed, to fall until she reaches the very bottom  of her life is a very brave, risky thing to do. She doesn’t mind being so vulnerable and that what makes her heart is so precious.

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell is really sweet. She’s the kind of writer that nourishes your soul with her poetic, beautiful phrases. She is, what I call, as moderate realist. Neither skeptical nor an optimist. She’s such a refreshment.

Wives and Daughters
Molly Gibson, the heroine of the novel, speaks my stance about womanhood very well in Wives and Daughters. I used to really hate table manners, ladylike sort of things when I was a teenager. I hated make up, wore dresses and girly accessories. They were so nonsense. They took up so much of my priceless time. Womanhood used to be so annoying for me. I even wished I were born as a boy, LOL. At that time, I thought boys were so free. No norms, public statements that would limit their movements. While girls were born with so many duties, stereotypes. And if they went against public norms, their lives would be doomed, filled with gossips.

But that was then. Just like Molly, now I understand the nicest things of becoming a woman. I enjoy them all by the time I was turning, may be, 25. Sounds a bit late but each and every of us has a wonderful journey of his or her own. My time happens when I was 25 years old. But still, I keep my tomboyish trait and let it flourishes once in a while, like when I do exercises and watch sport games.

Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey
By the time I write this post, I almost complete reading Agnes Grey and I really love reading it. I usually prefer to read books with third person narration but Agnes Grey proves me that reading novels using first person narration method can be awesome, too. I am so fond of Agnes, the heroine of the book. Apart from the fact that she’s a bookworm and introvert, just like I am, she’s so bold and brutally honest. She’s so firm with her belief although that means she is risky of losing her jobs.

She does not give up easily pursuing her dreams despite the fact she faces hatred, unfair treatments, harsh words from her bosses and their families. She knows some people view her profession as a governess is no more than a servant but she keeps doing what she feels correct. Oh the last thing I really like about Agnes is that she’s not a people pleaser.

George Eliot

Adam Bede
Dinah Morris, one of the major characters in this novel, amazes me because of her religiosity. She devotes her life for her religion then share what she has with the poor, the depressed or those in need of spiritual help out of love not for the sake of good impressions. She knows well what she wishes in her life, she practices her religious rituals because she knows what they mean to her life.

I, too, my ultimate goal in life is getting closer and closer to Alloh swt. I want to make Him as the best ever friend in the world and the hereafter through questioning, self-learning, doing religious rituals under His guidance as stated in Koran and the sunah from the Prophet Muhammad saw (peace be upon him). To make my life much more meaningful, I’d like to share good things and help people out of love and because Alloh swt wishes me to do so. I’d love to make Islam as my way of life, fully implement it to live the days full of peace even as days go wild because I have Alloh swt in my heart. (the source of the picture: http://www.azquotes.com)

“The Three Strangers” by Thomas Hardy

I thought I would never again find another title other than famous novels by Thomas Hardy in the Kinokuniya bookstore. “Far from the Madding Crowd,” Jude the Obscure”, “The Major of Casterbridge”, “Tess of the D’urbervilles, “The Return of the Native”, and “The Woodlanders”, are his widely-read books, which I have read, too. Usually, the store sells only most popular works from an author, including Hardy, thus discovering his short stories collection is such a rarity for me.

Aside from the glee that I am going to read his less popular stories, the fact that the book is just as Rp21,000 or less than US$2 is perfect for my current pocket.  The 85-pages book contain his three stories – “The Three Strangers”, “The Distracted Preacher” and “The Fiddler of the Reels. So far, I have completed reading “The Three Strangers” which leave me with mixed feelings about the writer.

Before going on the reading remarks, I would like to share what the story is all about:

The loneliness of Higher Crowstairs, the name of a cottage, is broken down by the gathering of 19 persons — men and women from various professions. They dance, talk about so many things while listening to the beautiful rhythm coming from a 12-year old fiddler boy. One of the attendants in the conglomeration is shepherd Fennel and his wife. The blitheness of the party comes to a stop when a stranger knocks at the shepherd’s house.

Not long after that, a second strangeman goes in, too. While the first produces no sign of awkwardness, the second one seems a bit avaricious and mysterious at least for Mrs. Fennel. Although she tells her husband how she dislikes the look of the second man and that she feels he is a bit avaricious for quickly drinking lots of mead, Mr. Fennel ignores her complains.

The night goes on and the second stranger joins the party by singing a song about shepherd which stimulates the wonder among the people because of the man’s strange lyrics. While he is about to resume his song a knock at the door is audible. The third stranger, a man in a decent dark clothes, is about to ask for a direction but he stops saying after his eyes catches those of the second stranger. The latter keeps singing, though, that later makes the third man gets trembling, shaking then running away.

While the group has yet to fully understand the motives of the third man’s sudden departure, a gunshot shocks them. Later, they learn that the police are looking for a shepherd stealer. They then quickly conclude that the third man is their target given his super quick, weird behaviours. The male attendants pursue him, including the second man.

However, he does not follow the overall research and stops by at a friend’s  house. At the end of the search, the people and the authority finds the third stranger then brings him to the police. Surprisingly, the police declare that the third stranger is not the wanted man. The third man then explains that it is the second man who becomes the object of the investigation. He flees from the shepherd’s house after he finds out that the second man, who is also his brother, is there, too. When his brother rises his bass voice, the third stranger quickly learns that the former does not want to be found thus the latter chooses to escape. At the end of the story, the second man is never discovered.

 

 

Five fictional characters whose personalities resemble my own

fictional characters

picture source: virtualvictorian.blogspot.com

One of the most surprising things that can happen when reading novels is knowing that one or several characters in the books have personalities that resemble my own. When this occurs, I have mixed feelings; sometimes I feel my weirdness is no longer special because there are even artificial people who behave or think like what I do. On the other hand, I feel that I’m not alone in embracing my oddity; that there are a lot of people who are just as unique, melancholy, overly sensitive, whatever kind of traits that label my personality.

So, these are the characters whom I find some parts of my overall personality are embedded in them:

  1. Jude Fawley

I discover most parts of my personality in this character; a deep thinker, an introvert, a loner, a hard worker, an overly sensitive person. One thing that we share in a common; we work hard on our goals no matter how often we get confused on whether we are pessimist or realists. Oh not to forget: we are both bookworms.

  1. Cynthia Kirkpatrick

She is one of the puzzled characters I have met so far; elegant, educated, very pretty,classy woman. No.. I’m not that physically charming or may not be as intelligent as her. What shocks me when I read about her is that she’s moody and is full of masks. One moment she can be so happy in front of her parents but in another moment she can be look so down in front of Molly Gibson, her stepsister. She seems calm, cool when she talks with Mr. Gibson, her stepfather, whom she respects highly but she looks disrespectful when she is with her mother. She wisely chooses her words when speaking in front of her stepfather or strangers but she does not watch her mouth when she has discussions with her mother.

And she’s so smart in hiding her problems. She won’t tell her matters unless she is forced to do so. Even if she does that, she is opened to certain people only. My similarity with her lies on our mood swing trait. Sometimes I can be extremely joyful then quickly be gloomy. But oftentimes, I can control emotion. On average, I’m a peaceful person.

  1. Molly Gibson

Molly is a very loveable character. She is innocent and super kind person who becomes the best confidante for almost all characters in the ‘Wives and Daughters’. I’m not that agreeable loveable like her but yes I’m a nice person. I see my tomboyishness in Molly. And her rebellious character is just like me. She dislikes ladylike conduct, fashion mode and table manner that are highly held by her stepmother. I have the same saying for this matter as well.

  1. Marty South

It’s too bad that Thomas Hardy does not put her as a major character in “The Woodlanders’ for I think her loyalty to Giles Winterborne is outstanding. Although I can’t foresee myself to be so faithful as Marty South when it comes to romance but I regard myself as a loyalist almost in all aspects of life. I have only John Steinbeck as my most favorite novelist, Juventus as the sole football club, Alessandro Del Piero as the one footballer that sticks in my heart and Westlife as the once-and-for-all musician in my music preference after all these years. And I’ll be way much more faithful when Alloh swt finds me and him one day, ameen..

  1. Tess Durbeyfield

Tess is the perfect person once could ever be in the Victorian era. Among the positive list of her characteristics; decent, patient, good-tempered, Tess properly suits with this trait: the love that I have to my family. And as hard as she works for her family, I do the same thing all for the sake of the ones that I unconditionally love until the very bit of my heart.

Marty South, ‘The Woodlanders’ minor character who leaves me with an indescribable satisfaction

books

source: www.study-skills.ca

Had Thomas Hardy not ended ‘The Woodlanders’ with the fate of Marty South, I would be hugely disappointed. Marty South, though she plays a role in the broken relationship of between Edred Fitzpiers and Felice Charmond, is the only female character in the novel who upholds the meaning of faithfulness.

I am almost forced to accept the anti-climax of the book as what I read, up to the last two pages of the novel, is the reunion of Grace Melbury and Edred Fitzpiers. Unfortunately, their union is not the ultimate ending of the novel. This is the first time ever Thomas Hardy deceives me. In a good way. He ends the novel with the scene of Marty South visiting the graveyard of Giles Winterborne all by herself. After eight months going there together with Grace, Marty is alone. She learns the news that Grace returns to the arms of Edred, leaving Marty with full happiness because Giles solely belongs to her.

The reason on why I would curse Hardy had he finished the wonderful book by the reunion of Grace and Edred is because I don’t appreciate the major characters. I would like to define Grace as a wishy-washy person. At some points, somehow I would like to label her as a selfish lover. She lets her father controls her future. Even when she realizes she loves Giles after he is homeless, Grace does not do anything to save her love life. One moment that makes her name deserves applause is when she stands quiet while ignoring her unfaithful husband. I salute this kind of act for this successfully puts Edred into a great shame when he comes back to amend his sins. However, I completely do not understand her manners when she involves Giles in her departure to Exonbury in a bid to avoid meeting her husband. I call this as a stupidity because she knows pretty well that she and Giles are not allowed to meet by law although they love each other. When she knows that Giles opt to stay out of door for the sake of her safety and purity, Grace should go on her own way to her friends’ house in Exonbury. Rather, she keeps staying in Giles’ hut until she finds it too late that Giles dies, partly because of his staying outside the hut.

When Grace determines to repair her marriage with Edred I feel satisfied. For I think this only assures me that she is indeed not faithful. Or you may call her final decision as being realistic; that it is completely unfair to judge a person’s faithfulness based on his/her willingness not to get married after her beloved one passes away. But looking at Grace’s changing minds from the beginning until the end of the novel somehow frustrates me.

While for Edred.. despite his profesional skill and light-handedly manner, I, at the beginning, already dislikes him. His infidelity already emerges long before he marries Grace and meets Felice Charmond again. The way he pays back his mistakes by coming to Grace again is a good turning point anyway.

So, there remains two only loyal characters; Giles and Marty. Their sacrifice, though brings no happy ending, is what makes the novel really teaches us about true love. Giles finally dies for Grace, whom won’t ever be his wife by legal means. While Marty, who supports Giles in good and hard times, can finally find joy and remain faithful although her love is unrequited.

Even though the novel does not run in the way I want, I somehow feel satisfied. The presence of Marty South at the start and ending of the novel is a magic factor that makes the novel is different with Hardy’s novels. This is the kind of plot that makes me falls in love with Hardy even more. It feels like Hardy knows the best plot for his readers, that despite the sad ending, his readers can feel their minds and hearts are fully occupied with contentment.

‘The Woodlanders’ by Thomas Hardy

the woodlanders-picture source openlibrary.org

picture source: openlibrary.org

Marty South can’t help refusing an offer from barber Percomb to sell her beautiful hair. She desperately needs the money from Felice Charmond to cover medical cost of her ageing, ill father. After a few days of interval, she visits the barber’s workshop to get her hair cut and obtain the money. Felice Charmond, who only meets her once, falls in love with the hair and with her wealth she asks the barber to seek the girl. Now Charmond gets what she wants.

South earns little money by working to Mr. George Melbury, a respected man in Little Hintock. Melbury who has only a daughter, Grace Melbury, lives with his second wife Mrs Melbury. In his old days, he begins to get worried over the future of her sole daughter. He understands very well that he has betrothed Grace with Giles Winterborne to pay back his past great sin. He deeply regrets he has cheated Giles’ late father to get Grace’s deceased mother. Giles doesn’t know about this story. For, he adores Grace and looks forward on the day they tie the knot.

After Grace completes her study, Melbury realizes his initial purpose of uniting her daughter and Giles is a wrong idea. Although he knows Giles is a very good man, he is penniless. The thought of marrying Grace with someone rich comes up in his mind partly due to the fact that he has invested so much money in her expensive education. Grace is powerless against her persistent father on this matter. Although she likes Giles, she has no words to even decide her own future. Giles, on the other hands, gradually realizes that he and Grace slowly becomes apart despite the short distance between the two. When the Melbury family pays a visit to his home in a Christmas’ eve out of their pity, Giles doesn’t feel any sense of mercy at all.

Day by day, Grace somewhat obeys her father’s decision of canceling their engagement. She later tells Giles about this, a statement that she regrets later on as she instead starts loving Giles when he loses his house. When she wants to annul her previous decision it is too late. Giles has sent a notification that grants her wishes to Mr. Melbury and from that day on, they only remain good friends. During his hardship, Giles builds a hut and lives alone. It is Marty South who always stands by his side, helping him with his job. Her pure feeling unfortunately falls blind in Giles’ eyes for he only has his heart for Grace. Despite this, Marty South does not show her jealousy and remain kind to Grace.

When Giles is away from Little Hintock, Edred Fitzpiers, a young doctor, declares his affection to Grace. Although at first Grace opposes his offer, she accepts his marriage proposal after listening to her father’s reasoning. Definitely, for Mr. Melbury, Edred is worth way above Giles who is currently homeless and impoverished.

Their marriage lasts for only a few months when Edred’s infidelity is revealed. Felice Charmond is none other than Edred’s long lost to-be girlfriend. Destiny brings the two at the village. Prior to the reunion, Felice loses her husband who later inherits a mansion in the village. She has no children and spends most of her time by inhabiting the house and travelling overseas. Edred comes to Felice’s house to cure her sickness. That is when the old love starts blooming again.

After a series of the so-called regular health checkups, both can’t help admitting they fall in love again. They try not to listen to other people’ gossips but the rumor reaches the ears of the Melburys. When Felice tries to tame the gossip by going out of the town, Edred forces his way to meet her there. The reactions that come from the Melbury family, especially from Grace, are a bit surprising. She doesn’t question her husband. It is her father who is deeply disappointed. Not only he is sad over the quality of his own choice for Grace but also he curses himself for separating Grace from Giles.

As her daughter opts for silent treatment, Melbury chooses a more aggressive action. He almost kills Edred by intentionally dropping him from a horse they share together in a homecoming trip. At that time, Edred is so ill that he can’t rescue himself. As the rumour of the death of her husband is at large, Grace and Felice are somehow united. They set aside their shared love for Edred and instead put more focus on the safety of Edred. A few days have passed and no news about Edred is known. When Felice arrives home, she is shocked to have found Edred is at her house full of wounds. They then decide to flee from the village then take a very long journey. Edred sends a letter to Grace, saying that their marriage comes to an end.

As a matter of fact, the wrecked marriage comes as a chance for Grace to repair her love with Giles. For Melbury, it also serves as a second opportunity to mend his past mistake. He vows to legalize the divorce then prepares Giles as Grace’s second husband.

Giles is such a pure heart. When Melbury confesses on his truest intention of marrying him with Grace Giles isn’t mad at all. When he knows Melbury wants to fix their broken love he gladly welcomes the idea. Giles and Grace’s back-to-back romance is unfortunately short-lived. The existing law can’t legalize their divorce. Giles is so devastated after learning this news.

Grace and Giles then decide to be friends (for the second time). While Grace mourns over her disastrous marriage, Giles resumes his job despite the fact his health starts deteriorating. After some time, a shocking fact occurs. Edred sends a letter telling his sorry over his unfaithfulness. He even wishes he can return to the house in the Little Hintock. It is known that Edred has a fight with Felice that later separates the two. When Felice is about to catch him, her past lover shoots her to death.

A few hours prior to his homecoming, Grace decides to flee. She leaves a note saying that she will visit her friends in Exonbury. Instead, she comes at One-Chimney Hut belonging to Giles then asks for a drive. When they are in the middle of the journey, heavy rain starts pouring down. They are forced to get back to the Giles’ house and she remains there for a few days later. Giles chooses to stay out of the house while Grace occupies it all alone. This condition lasts for several days until Grace hears a cough she believes it comes from Giles. When she discovers him in a cold night, it is too late. Giles’s condition is already fatal. Grace calls her husband to examine Giles but not long after Edred’s treatment, Giles passes away. A few months of gloomy mood circulates in the Melbury house and of course Marty South. Regularly, Grace and Marty visits Giles’s graveyard and put flowers there. On the other hand, Edred, who realizes the love between Grace and Giles, determines to pursue medical career somewhere else. Although he is far from the Little Hintock, Edred always looks forward to fix his marriage. As such, he writes some letters asking for Grace’s agreement to join him in his current place. After several attempts, Grace, who at first sticks her heart to Giles, eventually approves his offer.

After eight months of Giles’ death, Marty now finds herself being all alone coming to his graveyard. She learns that Grace is with someone else and now is the time Marty can finally have Giles for herself…