The 1st draft of this post has been lingering in my drafts for a year or two. I’m under 20 drafts, and I’m determined to clear them out as much as I can.
I’ve noticed a round of defense of the popularly disliked characters which seem to includes some straw arguments for why those of us who dislike characters, dislike them. Susan, Cynthia (here is the post on Cynthia which spurred my post), Amy (I’ve done a post on Amy) dislike them? I like being contrary (ya think?!), so I’m going to develop why I’m bothered by Cynthia; I greatly dislike Amy, I have moral issues with Cynthia.
I think that sometimes people don’t realize that its the characters (or people) that are portrayed as main or sympathetic that get the most ire, because their faults and sins are glossed over. I think most everyone thinks characters like Mr. Preston are villains, he isn’t given a bit of sympathy, he’s very simply bad. Not much need for discussion. Similarly with the newest Mrs. Gibson. Also, both of them get their come-uppance, often in quite satisfyingly hilarious ways, and they aren’t super popular either in the book or with readers. I doesn’t seem to me to be very important or nearly as interesting to discuss characters I see as obviously bad.
There are many characters I find obnoxious in Wives and Daughters, I want to strangle Squire Hamley most of the time. I want to throttle Dr. Gibson for falling for that sneak. I want to clobber Roger for falling for shallowness (I love when Osbourne calls him out on this!). To me, however, Cynthia is the worst because:
- The nature of her sins and faults
- Her sins faults get defended not merely by herself but many other characters and readers
- She never either gets a come-uppance or has real repentance
The nature of her sins and faults
She is extremely selfish, and gets away with it in ways that no one else does. Everything she does, even her “unselfish” acts towards Molly are done because its what she wants to do, nothing to do with conscience.
When characters (or people) are pointed out as being selfish, people often rush in with the fallacious, “but everyone is.”
- I’m not talking about everyone, I’m pointing out one character, clearly I see this character as being more selfish
- Everyone is not equally selfish, there is a wide spectrum of selfishness
- Other people’s sins don’t justify one’s own sins
She’s dishonest and in an especially deceptive way. She’s selectively honest (aka, falsely honest), in the way the that shows up so people think she’s fundamentally honest, which is not in fact honesty at all. And its not a repentant honesty, it’s the (oh, my favorite), “This is just the way I am” sort. She uses “honesty” as deception and manipulation.
She minimizes her faults into non-existence by turning the tables and focusing on other’s faults, blaming Molly and Mr. Gibson, when she was totally or majorly in the wrong. In the case of Mr. Preston whose age, lack of character, and position puts him in the major part of the wrong, she uses that to pretend she was totally without fault and also to excuse acting wrongly towards other people.
She uses people. She charms people and plays on their emotions for her own ends. She claims to care for Molly yet what she really means is she likes Molly better than others. She still uses Molly like a tool.
She’s manipulative. Everything turns to her own end, her selfishness, her charm, her playing on other’s emotions, her manipulating circumstances, her vanity of her “character,” her blame-shifting, her victim playing.
These are not simply garden variety faults, but rather sins of a narcissistic and sociopathic tinge.
Her sins faults get defended not merely by herself but many other characters and readers
I’ve always fell firmly in the anti-Cynthia camp, I know people who tried to defend her, and quite frankly, that makes me like her less. To me I see this as turning a blind eye to a not good person, to enabling that person, to enabling this sort of thing in the real world. It’s like another layer of deception on an artistically laid intricate system of respectable sins.
She never either gets a come-uppance or has real repentance
She is fairly popular and leads a rather charmed life. When she is confronted (in private usually), she manages to turn it against the person and paint herself as a victim. She leads on one very silly boy and one good man (Mr. Preston cancels himself out, so I’m not including him). She nearly destroys Molly’s life by using her as a tool and then waltzes in and takes her man by wooing Roger (don’t think I’m letting Roger off the hook for being such a Dodo) simply because she wants to get married and be “independent.” She manages to get what she wants in life (an obedient husband who would never say anything negative to her and wealth) by the end without any qualms of conscience.
One can be man-crazy (or comparatively so) and not let that ruin one’s life. It can be a part. Certainly there are girls/women who seem to have few interests if not only this one, and this man-crazy features largely, and it is crazy and toxic and they are blind to type of guys they end up with because they have no standards, just any man they find attractive will do. But I think like many another stereotype people lazily use this against women who maybe are more interested in guys in general than they are, but who have plenty of other interests and who don’t let that one interest run their brain (or completely run it).
It is hard to explain. I just feel like I often really watch movies because of super-attractive guys and that other girls are looking for strong women characters, and I’m like, why? I want him.
That sounds so shallow, and I can talk about other aspects of the movie, I do want the overall movie and plot to be appealing to me, its not only external looks that I like either, I like both and thank you very much. I think this issue comes out a lot or primarily in the superhero or hero type movies. I just don’t care for female superheroes; I want to see the guys, I don’t want to be a female super hero.
Oh, and like all the other false dichotomies I wrote about (over a year ago?), not being boy crazy or man crazy or whatever does not equal intellectualism. One can be stupid and not boy crazy. One can be “boy crazy” and still appreciate other aspects of the plot. I’m not going to love a stupid movie simply because it has a handsome man in it, but I am going to enjoy a good one a whole lot better if it does.
I think it’s similar with romance in books. I actually don’t think I’ve really read or like liked pure romance novels, books with the genre of romance, but all my favorite books feature romance as a significant part. It’s like with humor, I need several ingredients to stories, and in movies and tv a man I find attractive in person and personality is one of them (in books obviously its the personality).
Provoked by the comments on this post and then this actual post “A Note on How I Experience Stories.” My main thought on that post was, well, if I read like that, I wouldn’t read. I can’t take reality as it is. I need my reading to escape (or avoidance, maybe that is a bit more accurate), I like to view a world safely through the window of a book. I think this is also maybe part of why I don’t like labelling reading as a hobby that one should continually increase, I know it is one that can be used to avoid living and learning and experiencing.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they like such and such character because they can see themselves in them or they feel they are experiencing the world as that character or they relate to that character. Well, I don’t relate either to that sentiment or to characters. And if I see myself in a character, it often is one I don’t like (how’s that for encouraging me to self-reflection?!).
I can’t do that, and if I could I would prefer to just observe. Part of my rereading obsession is returning to the safety and comfort of old favorites. Part of the reason I read within my comfort zone is because I’m reading for comfort. I don’t really care to add tons of details of violence and horridness, I already know of plenty from the news, from history, from my fears, I just don’t get why people add these things to books or why they should be in them, I probably will label many more things gratuitous than many people perhaps would.
I’m trying to go through my drafts again, especially since I’m seemingly devoid of many opinions or post ideas that aren’t complaining at the moment. This should have been finished last fall closer to when I finished rereading the last Narnia book.
I left a comment on a post somewhere that I thought would make a decent blog post draft, and I finally finished my rereading of Narnia. I wanted to measure what I used to think about the books vs. this reread.
My Dad read these twice to us when I was a child and preteen. I “think” I read all of them on my own as an adult.. So my favorites have to do with nostalgia and how I felt as a child as well. Dad read them, I think, in the order they were published? Anyway, he started with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved it, and the Horse and His Boy. I hated Prince Caspian at first because everything was changed, but love The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and The Magician’s Nephew freaked me out.
When I wrote the comment I mentioned my favorites are still The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I said that I’d warmed up to Prince Caspian since the first shock, and that I loved aspects of The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and possibly The Magician’s Nephew, but I felt that they are “colder” and “darker” and that I thought this was partially the overall atmosphere/tone of the books and plot and partially the emphasis on fewer people.
Since then, I’ve read all the books in story chronological order (I think I may have done that a years back, but I’m not certain) in 2019-2020, and I feel that what I’ve always said about my favorites and least favorites is generally true, but I feel like the differences between are more extreme. Also, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster recently, so this is based on my moods when reading.
I do have an absolute favorite: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I just felt my spirits soar and my heart sing when I read this book in a way the other couldn’t do. I think that I didn’t enjoy The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as much, I certainly dragged on that one, perhaps its too familiar; I felt like I enjoyed Prince Caspian more! I know that The Horse and His Boy fell from being equal with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I think that perhaps The Magician’s Nephew is less dislike and more apathy while I feel like I actively disliked The Silver Chair while still liking the characters Jill and Eustace. The book is just so dull, dark, and dreary. The Last Battle is just . . . sad, it’s just a sad book (does Narnia really have to end?) . . . and boring at the same time. But again, I like some of the characters, King Tirian and Jill and Eustace and the old favorites who show up. I think I’d have to say The Last Battle is my least favorite because is just so sad.
I’m thinking that next time I don’t want to reread my least favorites, maybe only reread my favorite 4 or maybe just the (in Narnia chronological order) the first 5, ending on a high note with my favorite rather than a low note with my two least favorites.
So after my most recent rereads my favorites list is something like this:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Prince Caspian and The Horse and His Boy
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle
When I watched The Plant Based Bride’s reading statistics, I was reminded how not great at data, Goodreads is (their Excel export function just doesn’t do the dates right, so I can’t reliably sort information by year plus lots of other data I want to track). So, I started (not optimistically) searching for an alternative. I stumbled upon a reddit on the same issue and found a link to a youtuber, Portal in the Pages, who created an awesome spreadsheet, the post was a few years ago, so I found the 2021 version.
Be sure and watch the videos for help editing. One thing I knew I wanted to edit was genres, so I searched for a list of total genres to put in the hidden tab. I deleted any I thought I wouldn’t read.
Lists of genres. I used this a base along with my library categories (categories that I’d used to divide my TBR on my library site) to create a fiction and nonfiction list of categories I usually read or think I would read or would like to read.
Here is my current iteration. I think once I’ve finally gotten access to Excel again (I’m hoping to transfer my programs from my old computer, so I don’t have to repurchase, and I will NOT subscribe, its been a bit of a headache), I will try to add back in more of the charts like she had originally, it was just working in Google sheets and after I changed all the first page (which would have been much easier in Excel), I’d have to do way more changing that would be less automatic in Google sheets.
I’m linking up here and the prompt is “New Beginnings.”
So, I’m in the middle of reading Harry Potter, and I am really feeling that suddenly waking up to find out that one is a wizard and then getting whisked off to a magical world out of mundane, tedious (and in Harry’s case horrible) reality would be quite a refreshing thing.
Can you imagine? Especially after all the build up, Harry has been living in dull misery then he finally gets a letter, something of his very own, but after tons of tries and sitting in a miserable shack with his crazy family, he still hasn’t read it. Then a giant bursts in and starts talking about his family, tells him he is a wizard and gives him a wondrous letter, now that is a key to a fabulous new existence.
I know none of us is living under a stairwell, but well with the dreariness of the world even for those of us not seriously affected, doesn’t a magical world opening up tantalizingly before our eyes sound wondrous?! Especially with such a start as a visit to Diagon Alley?
I’ve been reading my sister’s illustrated versions (she has 3 and I’m going to get her the 4th as a belated grad gift so I can read it, I’m going to wait for myself until they are all out). I think these really bring the magic of Harry Potter to life. And I really needed something soothing to read.
My General Reading Goals (present to March 20)
- Try to keep my books borrowed from the library to 12. Try to keep any other borrowed books to far fewer.
- Join an online book group, I’d like to join The Enchanted Book Club deluxe, maybe in March, depends on what they are reading.
- Work through important to reads and long held borrowed books:
- The Idiot
- War and Peace
- Dune? Maybe, if the movie is coming out in September, perhaps I could wait to start until Spring, but knowing me, I might not finish it time, and who knows, they could bump up the movie, since clearly its done if it was supposed to be out LAST September.
- House of Mirth
- Looking for Transwonderland
- The Shadow of the Wind
- Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts
- Hemingway Didn’t Say That
- Wheel of Time
- I’d like to read one or two more classics besides those listed above from my Classics club list
- I’d also like to read one or two more books besides those listed above from another country, perhaps another mentioned on A Strong Sense of Place
- Fun potentials
- Ethel Lina White mysteries
- Mercedes Lackey fairytale retellings and fantasy
- Circe by Madeleine Miller
- Books to match my current study schedule (History, Logic, Geography, Civics, Christian Apologetics, World Religions). Genealogical reading should be on Ancestry.com, I don’t really need books for that subjects, its mainly to be building my tree.
These were my 2020 goals. ahahahahaha. Ouch.
I read 60 books or well, items, considering that I counted each Gail Carson Princess tale singly where we have two books with 3 each in them. And I read two plays but those are closer to books. Anyway. This was my worst reading year in terms of books and page counts since 2011 when I was in college and still struggling to recover from my reading breakdown (meaning I was still sounding out or mouthing the words). And I think then I wasn’t rereading the same amounts because I had less to choose from.
I was busier and had more brain fog/mental weariness this year, and I don’t think all of that was due to the pandemic situation although I’m sure it didn’t help. I’m going to be focusing more on present and forward thinking, so this will be a very short summary.
A full 40 of those were rereads: The Anne series, the first two Emily Series, most of Narnia (I’d started in December 2019), some fairytale retellings, The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, the Grandma’s Attic Series.
Of the 20 left, 16 were fiction. I read 8 classics, 2 of which were plays, 2 of which were the James Herriot audiobooks. I read 2 Christian fiction (Mitford, I’d hardly class them with the trash that is most of Christian fiction, but that is the correct genre I believe), 2 fairytale retellings, 2 mysteries, and 2 romances.
Of the 4 (yikes!) nonfiction books I read 2 were history, 1 a memoir, and 1 pop psychology I suppose.
So, this is very late. I’d definitely skimmed or read the story version of this play as well. I wrote my notes as remarks, so I’m going to have to pull my brief reviews from these somewhat cryptic responses.
Ugh. There is a reason this one is not one of Shakespeare’s super popular plays. Coriolanus is arrogant, but its not played interestingly. And there are parts where he lies and flatters the people to obtain power I think, I preferred his open contempt. There isn’t much humor period.
And all things above, HIS MOTHER! Who can respect a man with a mother like that-she unmans him no matter what he does? Everyone is awful, but Mummy and the tribunes are the worst.
Ok, such was reading the play. Now for the Donmar Playhouse performance. I’d seen almost all the main actors is very different things and some of those roles were ludicrously different (while fitting the actors far better than the ones in this play) for example one tribune is Aunt Marge from Harry Potter and Volumnia is the silly Miss Phoebe Browning.
This play did great at showing how his relationship with his domineering mother pushed contrasted with his relationship with his weak wife.
I at least first thought that Tom Hiddleston played Coriolanus less hateful and arrogant and more honest and maybe he was playing Coriolanus somewhat self-deprecatingly, as having as sense of humor? I also thought he made Coriolanus more dignified (or tried), but he could not fully be so because I felt that I could see the flattery and sycophancy from everyone highlighted so much in the performance, and I was heartily sick of hearing of his wounds.
I didn’t care for the odd mixture of modern, and modern with historically inspired elements, AT ALL. I don’t think it was creative, I thought it reminded me of a small town community, high school theater that doesn’t have enough money. I found it distracting, and his wife is made to look even sillier with her entirely modern outfit (which granted might be a point but could have been made more creatively). Also, this is a very Roman play, some plays are more timeless and better lent to modernization or modern vs classic juxtaposition, for example, Romeo and Juliet. Coriolanus loses impact when this was done to it.
I felt that the flattery (oh, it was constant!) highlighted the relationship boundaries crossed, especially the mother-son boundary that Volumnia doesn’t appear to think exists. So the flattery is creeping and the relationships are all creepy (they added another relationship boundary busting bit between the tribunes). And then play takes these things further with T. Aufidius and grossed me out and made Coriolanus looks absolutely ludicrous. I think also that this was one way to make the play have more humor but it wasn’t clever, didn’t fit, and all attempts at humor felt forced. So I quite watching.
Again, I need to stop having high expectations, that guarantees that they will be dashed down.
McKayla tagged me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. And as usual, I’m quite timely.
What genre was the last movie you watched? What are your three favorite movies in said genre?
Hallmark, but I’m not going to count that. I think non-Hallmark is Princess Diaries which is I guess modern Rom-Com. At the moment, that is one of my three, Leap Year, and Clueless.
If you were to attend Hogwarts, which subject do you think you’d be best at?
I’m not sure. I’d like to be good at Charms, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. But I think I’m rather too impatient to have stable success in Potions (I’d probably do great one time and abysmal the next) and too chicken for Defense. I’d like to think I’d be great at Charms, but I’m a history person and major, so I’m guessing History of Magic. Fascinating skill, I know.
Would you play Quidditch? If so, what position?
Honestly, I think Quidditch, if we could get the hovercraft/flying thing down with science, would be a super cool game in actual fact. I think I could play any position. I’m thinking Beater although you don’t want me as one, I’d probably seriously hurt someone.
Favorite fantasy subgenre?
Low fantasy. By which I mean where there is a distinct real world and a distinct fantasy world. I consider magical realism as different, its a small level of magic in the real world.
What is a book that you think should have a movie adaptation?
I’m rather afraid of what Hollywood filmmakers do to stories. I used to trust BBC more, but lately they’ve been doing ludicrous things to film adaptations as well I feel. Also, I feel like a lot of my favorite authors have had a least one of their works turned into a movie. If a non-cheesy, non melodramatic (melodrama ruins dramatic effect) independent company could do a movie, I think Mara, Daughter of the Nile would make a good film.
What is a book that you think shouldn’t have had a movie adaptation?
The Eagle of the Ninth. In fact, I’m rather glad it’s forgettably bad. Stay away from Sutcliff all ye sacrilegious filmmaker story ruiners.
What is your favorite type of donut [man, now these are just getting weird]?
Chocolate glazed yeast doughnuts. Granulated sugar yeast doughnut twists are good to, as well as the boxed chocolate with sour cream cake doughnut holes.
Does Aaron Samuels’ hair look sexy pushed back?
I’ve not seen that movie, and that actor is gay, and he looks it, so he’s not attractive to me.
If you had to spend 24 hours locked in an elevator with three fictional characters to keep you company, which three characters would they be?
Jack Sparrow, Kusco, and Chandler. Can you imagine?!!!
Or maybe Chandler, Ross, and Joey just to listen to them and their responses to the situation.
If you could rule the world for enough time to make one law that everyone had to follow, what would that law be?
Something along the lines of mind your own business or leave everyone else alone. I think that should knock out quite a few of the worst evils (murdering or raping someone is about as much getting in their business as you can get) as well as the worst annoyances all at one blow.
What is your love language?
Quality time I think. Specifically, quality discussions.
I’m joining in with Tarissa’s A Literary Christmas like I did a couple times a few years ago. I looked, and I think I did NO Christmas posts last year. What?! I’m hoping for many Christmas posts this year.
I have struggled to find Christmas books for adults in past challenges (I mean sans Hallmark ones), but I think I’ve found some resources to draw from for this year and next year anyway. I am trying some Hallmark authors I think. This is more a potential list than a set in stone TBR, so we shall see.
Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire
Christmas in London by Anita Hughes
The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
It’s a Wonderful Christmas: The Best of the Holidays 1940-1965 by Susan Waggoner
Norman Rockwell’s Christmas book
Christmas at Fairacre by Miss Read
Christmas Treasury by Louisa May Alcott (I think a reread, I own this, and I think I read it years ago)
Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L.M. Montgomery (reread, if I can buy it in time, our library seems to no longer have it)
There are many characters who on the surface look the same, they are elegant, have high standards, popular, live a charmed life in many ways, but they get such different reactions from me. For example, Anne Shirley, who I like and would like to be more like, and Amy March who I resent.
The Amy characters seem to have everything handed to them (and are very spoiled) without, in my opinion being very interesting while I think Anne type characters earn their way far more often of the time.
Also, I feel like Amy was a “told” character rather than a “shown” character. And well, I don’t think she ever learned to laugh at herself. Anne did learn to laugh at herself. Anne had dignity and could be offended by presumption, but I always sided with Anne while I always thought Amy a spoiled snot.
However, I should note, that I feel that Anne turns into more of an Amy type in the later books when the focus is on her children, she’s not Anne Shirley any more who is hard working and earns her way, I feel like the writing portrays her more as a haughty lady of leisure, who sits above it all and offers judgement. Also, I don’t like Rilla very much at first, Rilla is very much an Amy March type character.