North and South… again.

I finished it. Twice. It’s actually been a while since I’ve finished that, I’ve just been mulling over it for the past few days.

So, um… Real, true-to-life review:

Overall, you might have guessed, I loved it. The beginning was a little hard to get into, sometimes I was flat out bored with all the religion and strike stuff, but by the riot scene I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t. The ending… rushed. I unfortunately read the footnote that said Gaskell was meeting a deadline, and it colored my reading of the ending. I was expecting an Austen-type pay-off, where they grow old really quickly and we get to hear about all their fat babies and happiness and such. That didn’t happen. But it was still good; don’t get me wrong. My favorite part is the discord… Thornton’s jealousy is just too fun. Not a "perfect" book (whatever that is), but awesome.

Oh, I have so many things to say. I love forewords because they always give you one or two of the easier themes to think about before you start the book. This one mentioned Mr. Hale’s femininity and Margaret’s rejection of her own sexuality and blah blah Victorian ideals. I noticed particularly in the beginning that N&S has a lot to do with gender and control: enough to give any Sophmore English Major a field day. I remember only writing about those themes for years, until I moved onto… slightly different things. The two themes mentioned are a good place to start, but I’ve added a few of my own. The first time I read the book I did it so fast, that I had to do read it again. The second time I read it, I had specific things in mind. Here’s what I was just dying to explore/notice/want to know/find out WHY? WHY did they act this way??? I suppose you can call them "themes":

REBELLION
Everyone rebels in this book. Thornton, Margaret, Mr. Hale… Margaret’s face looks naturally high and mighty: intrinsically rebellious. Thornton rebels against his upbringing, and then his role as an uncaring manufacturer, and all the time everyone rebels against each other. There’s this great part where Mrs. Thornton mentions a riot that happened when she was still married to the late Mr. Thornton, and she picks up a rock to drop it on the crowd, should she need defend herself. In my head, she’s also pregnant and barefoot, but I’m pretty sure that’s not in the book. It makes me wonder… The foreword makes the point of restricted Victorian society, but the book makes rebellion a good thing? It’s almost a personality strength. It’s very exciting. Everyone rebels in some way, and everybody loves the rebellious streak in others. The whole book is founded by the single manly thing Mr. Hale has ever done– his rebellion against the church– and it is done in the girliest, saddest way, and no one, not even his friend Mr. Bell, really truly believes in him.

THORNTON AND JOB KARMA
Since it’s the start of the Industrial Age, we have some very basic ideas of capitalism running against the whole British gentlemen society thing. Very interesting to watch, but wait; what was that about capitalism? At the beginning, Margaret asks why there are so many down trodden, and Thornton actually replies that their spirits and bad postion are "the natural punishment of dishonestly-enjoyed pleasure, at some former period of their lives." So a boy spends his money on doughnuts at age nine, and that’s why he never gets higher than a clerk? Might as well tell panhandlers to get a job, and support tax cuts for rich people. I really wanted to find out what exactly Mr. Thornton thinks, and I suppose what most Industrialists think, about what they were doing. I think it changes in the course of the book, not exactly because of Margaret, but Margaret at least puts him in the way of growing as a person.

MARGARET AND SEXUALITY
The foreword mentions this. The miniseries sneaks it in, when Margaret says "I’m not ready to marry anybody." Margaret has a lot of masculine attributes, and she lives in this little sexless world where her father is more feminine than she is, but they are both alike. The foreword suggests that Margaret refuses Thornton because she doesn’t want to give up the power she has as a sexless being.

Sure, I believe that. And Thornton has his own problems with sexuality: around thirty and still married to your work is a good indication. But you know what else I think it is? I read this great essay once that said Mr. Knightley was subconciously holding back from romance until he could actually support his wife. I think there is something of that in this book. Mr. Thornton has definite obligations to his mother and family, and has dedicated himself to obtaining a respectable, comfortable position. Margaret has obligations of a different kind: she has to take care of her fragile mother and father who rely on her completely. I think Margaret rejects Mr. Thornton because she knows she can’t leave her father. She doesn’t even allow herself to think about romance, and when it comes up… it grates against her conscience. Once Thornton is awakened to the idea (and it only takes him a threat against his life and the life of his love), it’s hard, fast, and permanent. A "hand on the plow" situation, definitely. But Margaret… she’s harder to understand. I think it’s because she still has obligations to her family.

Quickly: THE WOMANLINESS OF MR HALE
I think it affects a lot of areas of the novel, especially how Margaret feels and acts, but I also think that Hale is the perfect mediator for the debates between the North and South. He is part of the South, but also part of God as a clergyman, and his feminine-male perspective makes him just sort of neutral. He’s the perfect person to erradicate animosity when the debates become to heated, and he looks at the industrial age favorably from a romantic/educated perspective. He likens the mill to a genie from Arabian Nights.

But mostly, what I set out to do was find out, once and for all,
DO THEY REALLY LIKE EACH OTHER????
I mentioned before that Margaret in the mini-series is hard to read. I couldn’t figure out what her face was saying: does she like him before he proposes? Who knows? I got the book to find out why, and read it… and still didn’t know. I had to go back, read it again, and then map out the whole proposal scene and afterwards. I still can’t say for sure, but what I think is this:

As I said before, Margaret doesn’t allow herself to even think about romance when she needs to take care of her family. But I think the same sort of awakening that happens to Thornton could have happened to Margaret before the proposal at the riot scene, perhaps even despite her obligations, if there wasn’t interference from outside parties before she even had time to think. In the book, Margaret is concious but unable to speak when Thornton’s sister gossips about Margaret throwing herself at Thornton. She hears it all, and is immediately acquainted with the harsh, outsider’s opinion of her deeds that puts her conduct to shame. Of course she has to react against that, and therefore takes up the view that she did it for purely altruistic reasons. Poor Thornton’s proposal, though it comes from his heart, only sounds like a confirmation of what she heard from his sister.

When she finally gets to think it over, she says "I could not have been so brave for any one else, just because he is so indifferent to me — if, indeed, I do not positively dislike him." It kind of kills me that I can’t quite figure out what kind of tone she says that last part. Should we take from that sentence that she is in denial of her own feelings? Either way, it is at least suspect that she changes her tune when Thornton shows up, and says that she could do it for any man in the crowd. That’s pretty much all the evidence I have in the way of "does she like him before he proposes," besides the fact that she cries harder at one point when she thinks of him. I know that I cry harder when there’s something I really care about mentioned. It’s kind of a litmus test.

After the proposal, the first indication is a throwback to Pride and Prejudice. "I just can’t stand the thought that he thinks ill of me." What is with that? It hard for me to wrap my head around that idea everytime I come across it, and these women are always loving men because they don’t want to be thought ill of. What is up with that? Rejection as reason to gain respect/love? Reputation as mask for actually caring? I don’t get it.

Meanwhile, Thornton is going through his whole up-in-his-head jealousy phase, which I totally love and totally relate with. I love it when you get so in the character’s head, you feel the thoughts whirl around. It feels so much like your own head, with own thoughts whirling around… I suppose it’s comforting. Also, Thornton challenges himself to not only keep on loving her, but to test his willpower by returning to the house when he can, even though he wants to avoid her. I understand that, and I understand when the author calls it a "stinging pleasure" to see Margaret. I feel like a lot of my life is centered around those two motivations: forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do, and the "stinging pleasure" they create.

If I had time, I would also want someone to explain to me the whole STRIKE, and RELIGION thing, and the gist of the DEBATES WITH BESSY since I don’t care enough to figure it out for myself. But I love one last thing and that is:

DAMN THAT NIGHTINGALE WOMAN AND HER STUPID CHARITY
A footnote said that Gaskell met Nightingale and said, (not real quote) "it’s great that she like’s humanity, but I’m not sure that she likes people." Gaskell was a big advocate for the individual compassion over common-good love, and that makes Mr. Thornton a really interesting character. I don’t think he thinks in societal terms at all: he doesn’t notice that he’s reached a high station in his town, and when Margaret disgraces herself, he instantly skips over the whole social-disgrace part and makes it about her love for someone else. The greatest part where this comes into play is when Thornton starts talking about his "experiments": ie, the helpful things he does for his workers because he recently made friends with one and then many of them, and hides his love by tentatively setting out business proposals. He’s telling Mr. Bell about the soup kitchen he made, and Mr. Bell is wants to give him some money for the cause. Thornton is supremely uninterested. Thornton says, he doesn’t want any charity, he doesn’t want it talked about, he doesn’t want an institution made and obligations to form because it will get all blown out of proportion and stop being about the individuals. He just wants to practice his "experiments" to better form relationships between master and workers. Really, he just loves his new friends and wants to meet more of them.

There’s this great part that explains Thornton so perfectly. "He had tenderness in his heart — a ‘soft place’ as Nicholas Higgins called it; but he had some pride in concealing it; he kept it very sacred and safe, and was jealous of every circumstance that tried to gain admission. But if he dreaded exposure of his tenderness, he was equally desirous that all men should recognize his justice…"

Fantastic! Justice as a veil for tenderness! It totally works that way.

Okay, and I swear ONE LAST THING: THORNTON AND WOMEN.
Austen men are always so independent, with no parents to look after. But Thornton is always making friends with the subordinates. First his mother– a very strong relationship there — then Mr. Hale, then Margaret, and even after Margaret, Mr. Higgins. It’s interesting that he surrounds himself with womanly and ultimately subordinate characters. I mean, doesn’t Mr. Thornton have any male friends? Most of it is play-acting for a successful marriage, but I think also Mr. Thornton must have someone to love. He seems a little starved for affection, poor boy. And he looks for it in an effeminate clergyman, his stuck up daughter, and the strike-leader working man of his mill. There’s something in that.

Elizabeth Gaskell is also an anomly as the newest member of my group of favorite women writers: she was married. Ooh, a writing career AND a husband? Is it indeed possible? It makes me wonder how that affects her writing. I’m not sure if I see much of a difference, except for Thornton’s yearning for the "gentle, restrictive" womanly love. Sexual, anyone?

North and South

I’m so high from the six hour angstfest that has been reading North and South the novel non-stop, and I don’t really know how to come down from it. I thought I’d blow off some steam by relaying a few scenes.

First of all,

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

Oh my god. This Thornton dude is intense. You know how we never really get to know what Darcy is thinking except for those few precious, blinding moments where he says things like Elizabeth’s eyes are bright, and her face is pleasing though not particularly symmetrical? North and South has all the pithy lovers-discord that P&P has, but you get to hear exactly what they are thinking. Imagine P&P if Darcy had an inner monologue of:

"Oh my GOD, I hate that Wickham bitch. She likes him better than me, I hate his face. It’s probably because he’s more open than me, oh my god, what is wrong with me? I have to be so fucking droll all the time. She’s so lively and I don’t deserve her, but neither does he. I hate her, I hate him, I LOVE her, oh man, I hate that guy so freaking much."

Thornton is a big rough man, who plays rough, works rough and thinks rough. You get to see every flaw, every petty turn of emotion, and yet his pride is just massive, and takes a huge hit when he finds he has faults. Nothing is worse than him thinking that she prefers another, because you watch it go round and round in his head, and he feels so violently that you feel it, too. "Violent" is the correct phrase for his passion for her. He hates her one minute and tenderly loves her the next; he wills himself to face her, and bitterly throws past grievances in her face. Also real violence is often alluded to, like in this part: 

So, he tries really hard to be a gentleman, cuz he’s all insecure about his shop-boy background, but after they have their big disagreement, and they are both bitter and loving each other from afar, he says this one "OH SNAP" thing to her in front of other people, and he feels SOOO BAD for outing her in a very ungentlmenly way. He wants her to look at him, so he can at least say sorry, but she won’t. Before he leaves he thinks:

"He could have struck her before he left, in order that by some strange overt act of rudeness, he might earn the priviledge of tell her the remorse that gnawed at his heart." (328)

I like that:

"Hey, you!"
*SMACK!* Huge backhand.
"I am sooooo sorry."

Though I suppose for Thornton it would be more *Smack!* "Gnar! Embittered, inadequate unloading of my soul to make you seem the blame."

GAH! It kills!

So Margaret disgraces herself by lying, and Thornton knows it, and they spend at least twenty pages each worrying about what the other thinks of them. They say, "If I could just talk to them, just look at them — who knows what they’ll say or I’ll say or if anything will come of it — but it will be better than waiting, not knowing what they think of me." They both pray for a meeting. And then they meet in almost pleasant circumstances— Thornton gives their mutual friend a job that Margaret suggested in the first place — and Thornton races up to meet up with her, and triumphantly says something to the gist of:

Thornton: Um, hi.
Margaret: Hi.
T: So, um, you don’t mean anything to me.
M: Right.
T: And I don’t mean anything to you.
M: Yes…?
T: Oh. Well, then, I don’t really know why we are standing here. *Abruptly leaves*
M: *Blinks.* Everything there went WRONG!!!

It kills it kills it kills. There is many a time where he storms off to his window yelling, "I DO NOT CARE FOR HER!", and thinking, I soooooooo carrreeeee…. in a deep gravelly voice. But that’s not the worst of it. The worst is that he knows he cares, and, evidently, SHE cares for another. Yowch. Cold, hard let down. Blinding defeat. And jealousy, oh so much jealousy. It’s delicious to read, but let me tell you, I don’t think I took a full breath the entire six hours I was reading.

Acceptable gifts from eligible men: another Austen post

Acceptable gifts from eligible men: flowers, candy, extravagant bribes towards marrying cads to hussy sisters so as to save you from social and economical ruin…

I recently got to that part in Gone With the Wind (the book), where  Scarlett gets that beautiful green plume bonnet from Rhett and remembers Ellen saying, “now, you can only accept flowers and chocolates and other small things. Nothing that would tarnish your reputation as a lady.” Pragmatic Scarlett doesn’t understand the idea of obligation, and even thinks a few kisses for a pretty little present is a hell of a deal. I never really understood it myself. They give you a box of candy, and suddenly they own you? That’s ridiculous. My first reaction is to say, “men would never impose on women that way.” Oh, naïve first reaction me. When I don’t find wisdom enough in my own silly head, I find it in movies. Second reaction always brings up crotchety, prostitute mother of Marnie, and her story of Marnie’s conception, ending, “well, I got that nice letterman’s jacket.” First reaction me is suitably chastised.

Understandably, obligation comes up a lot in Jane Austen. In Mansfield Park, when Fanny mistakenly wears the cast-off, lousy gold necklace that happened to be given to Ms. Crawford from Mr.  Crawford, Mr. Crawford looks at Fanny like he owns her.  He didn’t even buy the thing for her, and suddenly, he’s not just giving her a stare that means, “you owe me a favor, and that favor might have to be sex,” but he looks her up and down like valued property. Even a compliment, when paid to you, can be considered your debt. Ever notice “I’m much obliged”? As in, “I owe you.” Hell, when a man pays his addresses to a lady, she will feel so obliged by his “condescension” in wanting to marry her, she would usually marry him. Clearly this is not a time where flowers and candy are permitted.

With this in mind, I reread Pride and Prejudice recently…  or, at least, a bastardization of P&P. Every time I get to that part where Mr. Bennet says, “what could I do to repay him?”—meaning repaying his brother for bribing Wickham, when we all know that Darcy did everything— I picture him gleefully pushing Elizabeth in Darcy’s direction saying, “how to repay you? How about a lovely daughter? I’ve got tons!” Every party would find that a suitable exchange, though I think Elizabeth is a little bewildered.

But it dawned on me on the last reading that it’s not the dad that needs to repay him. When Elizabeth thanks him, Darcy says that he was not thinking of his family but ONLY ELIZABETH when he did that huge, daring, selfless, and extremely obliging deed. So suddenly the debt falls completely to her. She was already feeling grateful; now it’s downright oppressing. How could she ever say no to him now? Darcy, as sweet as you are, that was kind of a dick move.

That gift is heavy load indeed. It’s not like a string of pearls that are just expensive; making Wickham marry Lydia saves Elizabeth and her family in so many ways: economically, socially, down to the very welfare of Lydia and her sisters. It sucks that Lydia has to live with Wickham, but it could be worse: she could never be found, cast off, dead. Of course Darcy would give such a gift; such a serious gift from a serious man, a gift that changes everything around them. He thinks of it in terms of righting his own wrongs, improving his character, fixes it all, and then washes his hands of the whole thing. But what about Elizabeth?

Thank God Darcy now seems to care what others think, though it cost the emasculation of every man Elizabeth is connected with—Mr. Gardiner, her father for not being allowed to pay Wickham—and now Elizabeth is what?

She cannot not accept the gift. It was done without her knowledge (placing a huge obligation upon an unsuspecting party— again, kind of dick move), but it’s also a matter of survival. This is not a “ohh, now I feel happier” gift, it’s a “well, now I can survive.” So thanks, Darcy, for giving the gift of life.

It makes one feel like when the book ends, Darcy slaps his hands together and says “lesson learned!” But I think someone says somewhere in the book, “how is such a debt ever to be repaid?” Guess what, Elizabeth, it can’t be. Obviously you can’t use money, and becoming his loving wife for him to cherish and hold forever is a start, but is that enough?  Marriage in itself is some other kind of exchange: you give them sex (…and love, and sons, and house management or whatever), and they agree to put you up for the rest of their life. That’s the deal. And even if marriage to him covers the physical and economical strain it put on Darcy to do the deed, does it also cover his selflessness, his morality that succeeded over all inclinations towards family and birthright, his dedication to Elizabeth? Can she answer that with a yes, and not be lying to herself?

You know that question of “morality” that Austen scholars so love to include? You can tie that in, too, with the fact that the very way Darcy accomplishes his deed makes the obligation so implacable. He not only fixes Elizabeth’s problems but with such selfish, noble motivation that Elizabeth can’t even pretend she doesn’t owe him big time. His goodness makes her punishment more severe. Not to mention all the stock she put into thinking him cold and self and unfeeling— can anyone say “proven wrong”? Darcy learns that his actions don’t meet his lofty thoughts. Elizabeth learns that she IS prideful (she never really knew before), and just keeps paying and paying.

It’s funny to me that though all of them end with long promises of happiness and passels of fat babies on all sides, I usually ask myself who ended up worst when reading a Austen novel. It reminds me of Greek Tragedy class, when we talked about how the people who died in a Greek tragedy might actually have been better off than the people who survived. In both tragedies and Austen novels, I ponder who got the better deal.

Who do you think got the better deal?

yoinked a book meme!

Apparently “The Big Read” assumes that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. Of course, I can’t turn down a challenge.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them 😉

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare That’s a mighty tall order.

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold Oh man, this is not on the top 100

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Wow, those were some lame books. I had this one friend that was so upset that she wasn’t an English major, she showed me this list of the hundred best books or whatever for me to approve so that she could start reading them. But I was like, I’ve only read something like 12 books in my English career, so it’s not like I’m better off than you. She didn’t seem to get that it wasn’t about the quantity of good books, and the lists are never made of truly "good books" anyway.

But I think I got at least 25 out the hundred, so beat that.

Disturbing Behavior and The Professor

I’ll make this quick because I’m shleepy.

 

Disturbing Behavior is a teen thriller made in 1998, starring James Marsden (oh, my how he must wish the days of first billing), Katie Holmes, and introducing Neve-Campell-turned-Man, Nick Stahl. If you look at pictures of him, you’ll see what I mean. James moves to a new town that is conspicuously Pacific Northwestern, and find that the school has been solving teen delinquency through brainwashing them and putting chips in their eyes.

 

Surprise! It’s not very good. Predictable, and cheaply thriller-y, you begin to groan when you realize that their theme song, even in the beginning, includes Psycho-esque blares of sound as part of the music, not just as a surprise sound. It’s a cheap way to scare the viewers in the first place, but overusing it is just plain sad.

 

I was excited to see that James was considered a normal person in this movie. Rather than, say, a Baxter, or a loser, or whatever. Katie Holmes comes into her role by doing absolutely nothing but staring at the camera lazy-eyed. She’s “hot chick loser girl.” Like those exist. Luckily, everyone else is labeled clearly, and packed into nice little like-minded groups. It’s funny that in these movies, the druggies and the preppies both have the same number of members, with an even dispersal of diversity and different but group-matching clothes. This is also much like high school. James, who is definitely jock statue with that iron jaw, joins the druggie group because Katie Holmes is hot. And Katie Holmes, lazy-eyed, eventually accepts his advances with the coolness that suggests “I’m only doing this because you saved me from those crazed monsters.”

 

The monsters: turns out the chip in their head, as well as making them Mormon, goes on the fritz every time they are aroused, so they start killing and raping and stuff. Arousal? My friend, these are teenagers. They would constantly be pillaging and raping if this was true. I have to say that the brain-washing micro chip seemed to have some religious connotations in a pretty demeaning way. When a micro chip girl is aroused by James (a weird hair-flicking scene), she slams her head into a mirror “this is wrong, this is wrong…” At the very least this could be a scrape against the Abstinence Only policy.

 

I don’t agree with the ending. I’m going to tell it right now: retarded janitor-turned-undercover smart guy drives the crazed kids off a ledge, plummeting to their deaths. It’s a micro chip, man. It can be taken out, I’m sure. Plus, no matter what the cops think (one cop has been shielding crazed teens from the law) I’m sure the parents would want to help their kids from, you know, getting murder charges. But this is a teen movie; everyone is against the kids. Which is sad, because the parents in this movie actually seemed pretty well-meaning.

 

So, really not that entertaining, but I’ve wanted to see it since I was a child so there you go. Hilarious, though, that they are triggered by arousal. The first time it happened, I was like, seriously? That’s it, isn’t it? Neve Campell as Man is really unattractive. He has a large bobbly head.

 

 

With a sudden hard turn to the right, I finished the Professor recently. The Professor is the first book written by Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre. A friend of mine told me it was awesome. I really have no idea what she’s talking about.

 

I only read the first line of the foreward and it was Bronte saying, “I wanted to make a portrait of a self made man.” Oh no. Some of the best things about Jane Eyre are the magical and gothic circumstances that make seem mystical, romantic, and ridiculous. I love to laugh at the part where she yells to the winds, “I’ll be right there!” But this, I suppose is a serious novel. And therefore really boring.

 

The man, Crimsworth, a delicately boned youth with too much education and no connections at all, has to scrimp and struggle in a couple nasty jobs before becoming a teacher. And we all know how the Brontes felt about teaching.  The kids are nasty, the pay sucks, but at least he’s not a governess. I miss the love affair, and Crimsworth is much too isolated. We only get to other women halfway through the novel, and one’s a detour. After we spend too much time on a coy headmistress, we redirect by teaching a cute little Swiss girl English. She is the one Crimsworth eventually marries. FINALLY. But it’s not very interesting even then. It’s too late; the characters aren’t well established, and there aren’t enough examples.

 

This is the first book Bronte turned in to a publisher, and it was declined. Frankly, I don’t blame him. I can definitely see a vast improvement in her writing from Professor to Eyre: Charlotte is one to talk for too long, and while it’s noticeable in Eyre, it’s freaking everywhere in Professor. The characters are not well defined, and the plot is long and dragging. I had a hard time convincing myself that Crimsworth was a man: he wasn’t particularly masculine and just sounded like Jane Eyre, who is probably Charlotte herself. So this book is Charlotte going, “wouldn’t it be cool to live as a man?” Even when the female protagonist shows up, all plain and stern and submissive, I would lay my money on Crimsworth being more like Charlotte. It provokes a strange question: “if Charlotte Bronte were a man, what kind of woman would she like?” I’m not sure Frances is the answer, but she must be close.

 

Professor might have been an exercise to get Charlotte more comfortable for Jane Eyre. I think Charlotte started Professor by saying, “It is impossible for women to establish themselves in the world, but these things are easier for men. I’ll write about them.” Wrong impulse. Jane Eyre’s struggle is more intimate because it addresses a frustration more personal to Bronte herself. She doesn’t push aside women’s struggles, she faces them.