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

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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.

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The Bronte sisters and the dream elements in their masterpieces

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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/

‘Jane Eyre’ and I; a special literary comeback journey

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I have been immersed myself in reading ‘Jane Eyre’ since last Saturday evening. Oh my.. I have loved it so much. I can’t believe the novel has entertained me, heart and mind, after I watch its movie version then find myself hating it.

It takes me years to have finally given it a try. This is because the film after effect. I dislike it a lot because I despise watching Mia Wasikowska pairing with Micheal Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011). I like Mia but not Micheal so yeah.. Plus, there’s nothing special for me about it. Just an orphan girl surviving as a governess then falling in love with a manly person performed by Micheal.

As flat as this film leaves a mark in my mind I ignore the book each time I go to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta. I mean like, why should I? The novel is considered as world’s greatest literature treasure but its movie version proves there’s nothing fantastic about it so why should I follow people’ choice?

Years before I am deeply into ‘Jane Eyre’, I enjoy reading her sisters’ works; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I love all of their masterpieces. It is not surprising that I am eager to read books by Charlotte Bronte. I firstly want to read her lesser-known books; ‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’ but I turn my eyes on other titles at that time.

Shortly to say, I decide reading ‘Jane Eyre’ mostly because I don’t have many reading choices about Victorian Literature in the bookstore. I am a traditional reader who prefer buying books in stores to ordering them via websites because I look forward shopping books in bookstores! The kind of shopping that makes me feeling so much happy, refreshed and confident.

After a series of wonderful experiences reading books by the Bronte sisters I automatically have ‘Jane Eyre’ on the back of my mind. So you may say I read the novel after not many classic books left in the Kinokuniya bookstore. A kind of forceful reason coupled with nature conspiracy regarding the series of experience reading books by the Bronte sisters but hell yeah!!

Now, I am so happy that I buy ‘Jane Eyre’ that rainy Saturday afternoon. The weather was wet but my heart was so cheerful for the first words stole my heart away, as what Victorian writers always do. My reading relationship with ‘Jane Eyre’ is unique, anyway.. It’s like I meet a special man but do nothing to even admit the crush feeling. Just when my heart is sort of empty I meet this guy again, I try approaching him then voila! We click then enjoy our journey at the moment.

That is all I can write at the moment. I share this because I and ‘Jane Eyre’ has an extraordinary linkage. It’s called “I can’t deny my first literary love for wherever I go I will return to it. Always.”

The picture is taken from here

Five things I learn about Robert Louis Stevenson from his short stories

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I was biding farewell to Robert Louis Stevenson as I closed the final page of ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, the last piece of his popular short stories anthology a few weeks ago.  Thanks to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, ‘The Merry Men’, ‘Will O The Mill’, ‘Markheim’, ‘Thrawn Janet, ‘Olalla’ and ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, I gather these following ideas about this beloved Scottish author:

  1. Philosophical and reflective

Reading Robert Louis Stevenson can be a hard task. His works invite me to reflect so much, even when he writes something funny. It’s like watching Adam Sandler’s dark comedy, the kind of laugh that tears my heart because something serious and ironic is in it, too. ‘Will O The Mill’ proves me this. This tells a story about Will, a very generous and kind-hearted person, who spends his lifetime staying in the same place until the day he dies. For me, Will is the type of person who is very close to all of us, the sort of a good-boy-next-door, the man whom you would like to make friends with. He is so nice that he doesn’t fight for the girl that he loves when another man approaches her. His story is very touching, a kind of calm, sombre one that leaves very impressive mark in my reading list.

  1. You reap what you sow

Although wrapped in cheerful tone, ‘The Merry Men’ teaches me a lot of life lessons, each and every thing that I throw will come back to me in abundant ways. Gordon Darnaway, the uncle of Charles Darnaway, is the perfect example of this. From the very beginning of the short story, it prompts me to think how can this old man is very serious about his life. He seems distant and takes everything so heavy. After I read on the part where he murders now I understand that he probably reaps what he sows. He feels uneasy because of the crimes he does before. His life seems unpleasant because he runs away from his guilty for so long. The last scene where he is seen jumping off the sea makes my heart breaks. So ironic for his life.

  1. Oh, the Gothic style

‘Olalla’ brings me back all about Gothic things, the stuff that I learn during my university years. The mysterious, horror, thrilling tones are strongly felt in the story. Although some of key questions remain unanswered, the short story successfully keeps me going completing it. Robert Louis Stevenson is really good at presenting the Gothic idea in it although does not executing it all as smooth as I expect.

  1. ‘Markheim’ proves his work can be unsatisfying

From ‘Markheim’ I learn that even a master like Robert Louis Stevenson can produce deficient writing. I can feel his writing misses a number of scenes. Disorganized. The last scene when Markheim indicates he will surrender himself to the police after a thoughtful conversation with a man doesn’t make any senses to me.

  1. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ remains his exceptionally masterpiece

‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is by far his brilliant work, which completely sticks in my heart in different ways despite the fact ‘Of Mice and Men’ is my most favorite book and ‘Wuthering Heights’ is the best novel I have read so far. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ stands out from the crowd not only because of it tells about someone’s split personality but also because of his very, very subtle language with huge focus on details. This story runs really delicate that if you don’t pay enough attention, big things will slip away.

Thank you Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson!

Thanks for providing the picture.

The hard life of a distinctive reader

Last Sunday, I and my best friend, who is also a bookworm, headed to my favorite bookstore. The bookstore was located in an upscale shopping mall in the heart of Jakarta. The mall is such a high class one that I go to the place because of the bookstore and its food court. Only the products at the two chains that are affordable for my pocket, LOL! Others are luxurious materials, too expensive for me.

My pal was coming back home bringing two novels, one of which was my recommendation; ‘Wuthering Heights’. I was happy she purchased the book. I told her the novel was by far the best novel that had ever been written. She trusted me.

She seemed joyful but I was not.

The bookstore is the only place in Jakarta where I usually find my treasures (best classics I have always been looking for). While I found it amazing the bookstore was still flocked by visitors since reading habit in Indonesia is saddening, particularly for imported books, I was disappointed that it didn’t provide various book titles from the Victorian Era that Sunday. It was displaying famous novels, the ones that had been reproduced into a lot of versions, such as Jane Austen’s popular books and those of Charles Dickens.

If not the popular titles, the bookstore sells overlooked short stories, which are not my thing. I prefer novels anyway.

I was sad because no more titles by Thomas Hardy other than those I had read; ‘Jude the Obscure’, ‘Far from The Madding Crowd’, and so on. I was hoping his lesser-known books were there, like ‘Two on A Tower’ or ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ yet they weren’t.

I have been longing for reading those unpopular novels by Hardy for quite so long. And I was not really surprised that I didn’t get what I wanted that day. The trouble being a classic reader like I in Indonesia is that I always feel like an anomaly.

Either my fellow bookworms are lovers of novels in Bahasa Indonesia or most of my pals are not avid readers, I always find it difficult whenever I want to read novels by my favorite authors. I can buy them online but for a conventional reader like I, coming to a good bookstore then looking for titles that I like is such a bliss. Looking at the many titles, admiring the books’ covers then feeling my eyes sparkle whenever I find books that I want to buy or new titles suddenly capture my eyes..

You can call overly dramatic but I always love going to a bookstore. It feels like I am about to have an adventure.

I almost bought ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ by Elizabeth Gaskell that day but I cancelled it because it was too pricey. Sadly, there was only one book at the shelf, which made me even more sober. I also almost purchased ‘Jane Eyre’ but the faces of Mia Wasikowska and Micheal Fassbender really disrupted my intention. The thought they were on a screen for a movie adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ was not my favorite.

I went home empty-handed. I preferred not reading books that didn’t completely fit my interests to being forced enjoying novels that were so-so. If you guys living in countries where reading is very common you guys are so lucky because in Indonesia, reading habit is quite alarming.

Most youngsters here tend love reading popular books, the kind of stories that ‘sell’ romance or motivation. Canon literature is an alien, especially those in English Language. Reading books in public parks is very rare here. Book clubs are scarce, too. I am happy with my reading preference though despite the fact that I have to struggle finding my desired novels.

Summary of ‘Wuthering Heights’

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Mr. Lockwood meets Heathcliff in relation to the former status as the tenant of Trushcross Grange belonging to the latter. Heathcliff is the kind of figure that sparks curiosity in Mr. Lockwood’s mind; smart, kind but coarse. The strange facts about the family makes him even more curious.

When he reaches the residence he rents from Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff’s house, Mr. Lockwood digs deep about the history of the family from the caretaker of Trushcross Grange, Ellen or Nelly Dean. The rest of the book is stated by this faithful servant:

Mr. Earnshaw leads a joyful family life. He has two kids; Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw, and a good wife; Mrs. Earnshaw. Once he has to depart for London for business affairs and will back at home a few days later. His two children don’t mind seeing him off briefly but begs him bringing back home desired presents.

Nelly is already the servant of the family. As she is about as young as Hindley and Cathy, the three go along well. The night comes when their father comes back home. Much to their surprise, Mr. Earnshaw isn’t alone.

He carries a boy, much of the same age as Cathy, along with him. He seems neglected, messy. Mr. Earnshaw tells that he finds him on the street. Heathcliff as his name is. Both Hindley and Cathy despises him at first. They bully and make fun of him. As hard as Mr. Earnshaw tries to calm them down, the siblings keep humiliating Heathcliff.

The orphan, on the other hand, doesn’t bite back. He stands silent. As days go by, Cathy becomes calmer. She and Heathcliff sooner becomes unseparated. But not for Hindley. His fury becomes more and more unbearable that once Heathcliff can’t take it anymore especially after the passing of Mrs. Earnshaw. They fight that later pushes Hindley leaving the home.

During the absense of Hindley, Cathy and Heathcliff is like a copy-cat, one cannot stand without the other. Cathy become as rebellious as her soulmate. She becomes uncontrollled, tomboy girl, the fact that bothers much Mr. Earnshaw who grows older and more puzzled as his business starts failing.

Mr. Earnshaw’s health gets worse. He becomes more sober until he dies on his arm chairs with Cathy kneeling down while holding his hands. The words he speak are his concerns on Cathy’s manly attitude which according to the girl, isn’t as much maddening as her father should think of.

Cathy and Heathcliff don’t scream on the death but rather the two little souls hug and comfort each other. According to Nelly, that is the most touching scene she has ever seen children could have responded on the death of such a loving father as Mr. Earnshaw.

Hindley returns home after three years away from Wuthering Heights. He gets back at the home for the funeral of his father. He is not alone though. He brings along Mrs. Hindley, a nice woman whom he marries while he is away.

As Hindley takes care the entire business of his late father, the bond between Heathcliff and Cathy starts tumbling down, physically. After the incident of coming into the house of the Linton family, Hindley sends his sister back at the family for manner and ethic lessons. When she returns home, Cathy becomes a well-mannered, beautiful young girl as she should be. Meanwhile, Heathcliff is treated like a servant. He is no longer at the main house. He becomes wilder and more sensitive especially as Cathy is away at the Linton family for about one month.

Hindley also attempts to separate his sister from Heathcliff by forbidding Heathcliff approaching her. Though this successfully sets the two apart their connections remain strong. There comes one night that changes it all. Cathy tells Nelly that Edgar Linton proposes her. Despite her confession that she loves Heathcliff, Cathy decides to just go with the wedding proposal for the sake of Heathcliff future.

She has no ideas that Heathcliff happens to hear it all. He leaves Wuthering Heights, leaving Cathy so heartbroken because she wants to explain it all to him.

Cathy finally weds Edgar. She moves to Trushcross Grange and they live like joyful couples. Until one day, Heathcliff comes back. He wishes to meet Cathy. He has changed into a settled, clean man. Nelly is surprised to meet him that way plus Heathcliff is back again in Wuthering Heights.

In short, Heathcliff tries to approach Cathy despite her marriage status and of course opposition from Edgar as her husband. While things don’t work out as smoothly as he expects, Isabella has a huge crush on Heathcliff.

The two gets married although this is against Edgar’s wishes. Isabella elopes with Heathcliff and she is now at the Wuthering Heights. She gets immediately frustrated with Heathcliff’s coarse behaviours. She has no companies, she has to do all on her own. She can get along with Hindley, at least, who turns a heavy drunkard. He cares so little about his son, Hareton, who is slowly more into Heathcliff not his own father.

On the other hand, Cathy’s health starts deterioting. She becomes easily irritated, making Edgar furious. She starts hallucinating too after the wedding of Isabella and Heathcliff. Just when she gets a little better, Heathcliff comes along, again and again. This time around he is able to get into the house after threatening Nelly.

So after a few years, the two eventually declares their love for one another. In such limited time, Cathy says what she feels for so many years while Heathcliff can only feel sorry why she acts such way. She destroys their love, according to Heathcliff. In such very emotional moment, they reconcile. So brief yet so relieving. While their super short sweet reunion is almost over, Edgar comes back home.

He finds Cathy falls ill so bad. Not long after that she passes away peacefully. There is a daughter coming out from her womb. Heathcliff who stays outside the residence of Truscross Grange turns like a maniac upon hearing the death of his eternal lover. He attempts to torment himself yet he decides he still want to be alive.

Cathy is buried without her brother or Isabella attending the funeral. Such is the close of the first generation of the Earnshaw and the Linton families.

After hard struggles, Isabella can leave Wuthering Heights. She escapes then gives birth to Linton, a smart yet physically weak boy. After Isabella passes away, Edgar takes Linton back to Truscross Grange but for very short moment for his father takes him to Wuthering Heights.

Linton grows poorly physically and emotionally. He wants people to pity him, particularly little Cathy. Although yes, he loves her and the other way around, Linton becomes so dependable. He and Cathy get married she falls into his ‘trap.’ Right after their wedding, Edgar dies. Truscross Grange falls to the hands of Heathcliff.

Cathy becomes a prisoner of her home in Wuthering Heights as Heathcliff doesn’t want any servants to help her while Linton remains indecisive. He grows more and more ill. Heathcliff doesn’t care about his own son at all until Linton dies young.

Slowly but surely, Hareton becomes more educated. He now can read and speak politely. While things get better for both of them, Heathcliff starts acting weird, becoming more and more distant. He starts hallucinating about Catherine, wearing white gown showing up in all of the rooms in Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff declines eating. He becomes restless. He passes away all alone after he locks himself in a room. It is Nelly who finds him lying lifeless in his bed. Hareton becomes the only person who completely mourns Heathcliff’s death.

After the death, the main part of Wuthering Heights is left vacant while servants occupy minor space of the residence. Cathy and Hareton gets married then live in Truscross Grange.

The picture is taken from this. Thanks so much for providing it.

Diving into the depth of Gothic literature in ‘Wuthering Heights’

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After Catherine Linton dies, Emily Bronte inserts abundant scenes that combine fantasy and horror. Heathcliff imagines seeing Cathy in white gowns. The late is seen everywhere. The deceased follows him.

When Heathcliff is dying, his servant, Nelly Dean, tells the readers that her master once smiles while looking at empty space. It seems Heathcliff hallucinates. The atmosphere surrounding the days before his death is queer. Heathcliff shuts himself down, alienates from the family. He spends most of his days alone. He lives inside his mind.

While that fantasy already produces goosebumps because I strongly sense horror since then, Emily makes it even more frightening. According to Nelly, Heathcliff’s face looks strange as he approaches the day of his passing.

One of the scenes that shocks me is when on the part she finds his eyes black when he looks at her. Nelly even says Heathcliff becomes more like a goblin. The scene when he dies, too, is ghastly. Nelly finds his eyes staring at her as she opens the door where the deceased closes him off.

At first I think Heathcliff is still alive but, as Nelly proceeds, his hands are cold, he dies. My heart jumps as I try visualizing this. Scary.

The finale of the book puts the ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff roaming around Wuthering Heights. The house they once live in is now left vacant.

The illusion world of Emily Bronte leaves me puzzled for they are hard to grasp. I know the scenes where Heathcliff seeing Cathy is definitely out of his imagination but Emily Bronte’s excellent writing skills make it as though they were real. The description is very smooth. Reading these parts confuse me as a non-native English speaker. At the same time, I can’t help feeling so astonished with Emily Bronte. The book, not thick enough compared to Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy’s, yet it is so wealthy, you can’t find it enough to use it as an object of study.

The picture is from this.