‘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.

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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.

 

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.

‘Pot-Bouille’, the big laugh I have this weekend

pot-bouille

I have had Pot-Bouille for several years. But I abandoned the novel until just last weekend when I was cleaning my small room, rearranging books in the bookshelf then I found it. At first, I didn’t want to read it (still). I attempted to read the novel but catching the first page cushioned me away. The words were not beautiful, I thought at the time. It was a translated version nonetheless (the original one in in French language written by Emile Zola).

So I never considered giving it another try. Until last Saturday when I didn’t know why my hands got the book then opened it. My eyes were sparkling reading the first page. They were quite entertained by the words; short, descriptive. More than enough to get me through the weeks.

So, the first page that used to be very narrow and unpleasant turned to be literary-worthy. The novel has become a good companion on my daily commute. How comical!

I was happy at that day. The money that would be used to purchase Thomas Hardy’s novels are still in the wallet. That’s trivial advantage by the way. The relieved one is that this has become the second or may be the third time I have given myself a chance to prove myself wrong.

For a person who mostly believe in first sight, what happens between me and Pot-Bouille and me and The Return of the Native serves like an anomaly, which is a good thing because my experiences with the two novels show me that my mind can change. I am a reader on a progress. Anything can happen in terms of reading preference.

What used to be the most-avoided reading materials can nourish my soul later on. The thing is letting myself open to any kind of books although the writing styles do not match up my taste. It is important becoming a flexible reader because I still have a lot of things to learn. It is too soon to close my eyes, limited only to things that catch my attention from the beginning only.

So, Pot-Bouille has been nice so far. The plot moves quickly. The language is straight-forwarded. The theme so far has been about the manner and the lives of middle-class people in Paris, probably in the middle of the 19th century. I really love this sort of theme by the way.

The first pages of the book introduces me to the grand apartment where the characters reside. I can visualize how magnificent and elegant the place is and Paris in general. The extravagant life it has to offer, the rich people and the problems they have to face amidst the wealthy lives they experience.

So, I currently enjoy reading the book. Wish me luck guys! What books are you in right now? I’d love to read from yours.

The picture is taken from this.

‘Will O The Mill’, the wisest story I’ve ever read

will

Reading ‘Will O The Mill’ brings me a lot of pleasure, the kind of joy that quenches my yearning of beautiful language but at the same time makes me mellow for its tone gives me enough clue of what’s in the store.

After ‘The Merry Men’, reading this story is so delightful. The words are so moving, Robert proves his mastery of depicting things so clearly stated, able to spark my imaginations. Will itself is the kind of character that makes me want to meet him personally. The sort of a very nice guy whom I would love to have a chat with.

The story is a little bit tricky. The first pages Robert mentions how the young Will wishes to leave the mill and sets up for an adventure. Up to this part, I really think he will go to the city or elsewhere.

Much to my surprise, Will doesn’t leave. He even develops his business well, gets admiration from the neighbors then invites Marjory and his father to live there while their residence is under reconstruction.

Then I think Will will marry Marjory considering his crush to her from the very beginning of their encounter. I can clearly feel that from the sentences. Instead of tying a knot, Will and Marjory separate. Will says it’s better for them to remain as friends while marriage option remains possible should Marjory wishes them to unite.

If I were Marjory I’d slap Will’s face upon hearing this. I agree with her that Will’s confessions hurt her feelings. Even so, Robert tricks me again, this time around with Marjory’s testimonials which say she is happy that they don’t get marry. Will and Marjory become good friends for nearly three years. Despite Will’s affections to her, it’s crazy to think they can live their lives as good pals.

When Marjory becomes the wife of a man, it’s a pity that Will feels sad, too. I don’t know whether he’s sad because of ‘losing’ a very dear friend or because he’s sorrowful because now Marjory belongs to someone’s heart. At this point, I can’t help wondering why Will acts that way. It’s like if he loves her, shouldn’t he marry her or something? Is it because he is uncertain or foolish enough to act for his or her own happiness?

The rest of the story after her death is what this writing is very heartbreaking. Does Will decide to spend their rest of his life alone because his love is solely for Marjory? Or what? I know I have no rights to judge someone because of something but I really, deeply feel sorry that Will ends up living alone.

His good reputation earns so many respects from a lot of people, including passers-by or guests. They encourage Will to travel but the protagonist chooses not to go. And when death invites him to travel forever, Will is joyful as for him, he has no one left to be taken care of other than Marjory. So when death comes, he is happy that since he no longer has someone to talk to, he is now free to leave.

This piece of story really moves me. On one side, I am sympathized with Will, the kind of person who wholly loves someone, like Marjory. The fact that he takes care his residence, business mesmerizes me, too. He opts staying at home despite so many stories about going out. His loyalty awes me so much.

But one the other side, I wish Will would seek friends elsewhere, fall in love with a new women and raise a happy family. It’s all a matter of choice, anyway. And that what makes this story is so wise, ordinary. Robert presents readers with life choices, and we can learn a lot of things from Will’s life.

Well, I don’t think Will is unhappy anyway. The story challenges my life perspective. Will’s choice is definitely acceptable. If you completely in love with just one person and one life why would you bother leaving it? That’s why I feel this story is so humane. You can put your shoes in Will’s and this has got me thinking about my life at the moment.

I love the kind of story which is like this one. Leaving my heart so mixed with feelings. Prompting me to contemplate about my own life. Thinking hard on what has gone wrong with my life thus far. This is the most ordinary yet wisest story I have ever read so far. Well done, Robert. Thanks for writing this one!

Thank you for this picture.

Summary of ‘The Merry Men’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

Large winter waves crash against cliffs at Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

After his graduation from Edinburgh University, Charles Darnaway visits his uncle living in Aros, Scotland. Deep in his mind, he wants to seek for treasures hidden beneath the Spanish ship, ‘Espirito Santo’, plus proposing his cousin, Mary Ellen, to marry him.

His uncle, Gordon Darnaway has been tested by the adversity of life that he becomes stiff, hardly smiles and becomes serious person. From his uncle, Charles knows about the miseries regarding the wave and the sea nearby the place they live. The story of the Merry Men gets more emphasis for it refers to breakers that roar around rocks and make extensive noise like shrieking laughter.

On the day Charles gets to the place, his uncle looks flat. Something about the sea and the past bothers him. Charles tries to persuade Marry to not only marry him but also leaves the house. But Marry can’t leave his father.

Charles tries his luck. He goes down the sea, wishing he can find treasures that will enrich him. Much to his surprise, his discoveries are instead graveyard, remains of shipwrecks and human bodies!

On the way back home, he spots a group of strangers rowing the boat on sea. While he tells about this to his uncle, Charles is surprised to learn Gordon’s panic. Gordon realizes the stranger Charles just sees is the marine whom he kills yet he comes back alive.

Upon this, Gordon leaves home carrying wine. He gets drunk while standing on the edge of a cliff. His eyes watch the ill-fated boat. Charles and Rorie seek for his whereabouts. They can’t do anything to make Gordon coming back home or help the ship. Not long after that, the Merry Men are back in action. “Their laughter” swallows the ship, leaving no remains of it and Charles, Rorie and Gordon can just stand still.

After this incident, Gordon looks frightened until Charles learns that his uncle is sinful for murdering the marine man. After Charles utters his disappointment on his uncle wrongdoing, suddenly a black man is visible. Gordon gets even more terrified. He flees, so does Rorie. While Charles tries to speak to him whose language seems so alien. Charles brings him back home though.

Mary and Charles feeds him and provides him a shelter. On the other hand, Gordon still escapes. He doesn’t want to return home as long as the black man is still in the house, so Charles thinks. Rorie brings Gordon meal but the old man doesn’t want to leave his place. Mary is very sad finding her father behaves like this.

Until one day, Charles wishes to let the black man go. When he meets Gordon, the latter runs away then is chased by the black man. Gordon is unstoppable. He thinks the black man is the ghost of the marine man whom he murders before. They chase one after another until they jump off the cliff then the Merry Men engulf them all.

The picture is taken from this.