Thursday, January 31, 2013

Santiago in The Old Man and The Sea

Santiago is the main character in one of Hemingway’s masterpieces: The Old Man and The Sea—he was the old man himself. As a fisherman, Santiago lived poorly in Havana. His main assets were his boat and some fishing equipment as old as himself. Living by himself in his humble hut without family, I can imagine how hard it was for Santiago to compete with younger fishermen with—perhaps—better equipment and strongly-built muscles. But he had an advantage of long experience and strong determination.

I guess living poorly has helped Santiago to have his determination; if you have been struggling for your entire life to survive, you’ll be familiar with hardship to know that you must not fall in desperation when facing problems. Santiago has been sailing for 84 days without catching one single fish. A boy who has been his assistant was forced to leave him by his parents because they thought Santiago was an unfortunate man. Not only that, young fishermen started making fool of him, while the old ones looked at him with pity. But Santiago kept sailing and hoping that today he might catch something if God permitted him.

Everytime he had trouble to work by himself, he would remember and miss the boy—if only the boy was here—but he would soon throw away those thoughts; he didn’t like daydreaming because it would only split his focus. He always said to himself to not thinking about what he did not have, but to think of what he need to do and make plans. This is one of the reasons why I admire Santiago, while working alone by himself, he never lost focus; he was very discipline to himself.

More than that, I admire Santiago for his love for God’s creations—nature, animals. Men need to kill animals for food, but it does not mean that men have rights to cruelly treat the animals. Men were the highest creature on earth, but it does not mean they can disrespect animals. Santiago haunted the big marlin for days, he would at the end kill it, but during the process he treated the fish like an equal enemy—even as a company in the journey. Just like a boxer wanted to conquer his enemy, Santiago learned the marlin’s facts and characters, then made plan and strategy.

And when he finally conquered the marlin and tied its body on the side of his boat, and sharks came quickly to eat its flesh, Santiago enraged. Not only because the sharks were robbing his catch, but also because he felt as if the sharks had torn his friend’s body. He felt sad about it and sorry that he could not protect the marlin. Isn’t that remarkable? Santiago was only a poor fisherman, but he taught us moral values of living as a dignified human being.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Modern March

One advantage of joining The Classics Club is that there are always exciting events and challenges you can participate, so that you’ll never be out of ideas of what classics you should read next, the club will choose them for you through the events :)

Upcoming on March, Allie (A Literary Odyssey) would host A Modern March, a reading event focusing on Modernist authors. As you might have known, I already created a reading schedule for several months ahead in order to manage my reading. For March I would read these…

Medea - Euripides (for Let’s Read Plays)
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (for Hotter Potter)
The Three Musketeers (re-read along with Melisa)
The Flames of Rome - Paul L. Maier (Christian theme reading before Easter)
The Orange Girl – Jostein Gaarder (for 2013 TBR Pile Challenge)

…and so I would love to slip this one for participating in A Modern March:

Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

And this would be the only Modernist theme reading I will do for the event, as I am not even sure whether I could finish all the books on schedule.. :(

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Portrait of A Lady – Final Review

You wanted to look at life for yourself—but you were not allowed; you were punished for your wish. You were ground in the very mill of the conventional.”

If the story of The Portrait of A Lady must be packed in few sentences, the above quote suits perfectly to express it. The Portrait of A Lady portrayed the rise and fall of Isabel Archer’s life. Isabel was an American young woman who had been confined in her father’s protection for years. She was a smart woman, thirst of knowledge and experience of the outer world, and her dream was to see other countries and to meet people from different cultures. When her father died, Isabel saw the first hint of her fortune; a woman who introduced herself as her aunt would like to take her to England.

Isabel stayed at her aunt’s house—the Touchetts’—with her uncle, old Mr. Touchett and her cousin Ralph Touchett. Ralph was a cheerful and spirited young man; who unfortunately suffered from pulmonary disease that made him pale and weak, and forced him to resign from his job and to stay idly at home. Ralph fell in love with Isabel from the first time, but kept it to himself, realizing he had no future because of his illness. At the same time, his friend—Lord Warburton—was attracted to Isabel; and a young American businessman called Caspar Goodwood completed the group of Isabel’s suitors. Isabel rejected both their approaches, as she was still fascinated to see the world before being bounded in a marriage.

Before old Mr. Touchett died, Ralph secretly persuaded his father to alter his will, and granted big half of his share to Isabel, because he wanted to fulfill Isabel’s dream. Isabel had suddenly become rich; and this attracted Mrs. Touchett’s friend called Madame Merle. Merle introduced Isabel to Gilbert Osmond—a gentlemen without money or merit but has great ambition to be admired by the society. Osmond’s unique personalities attracted Isabel; ignoring her friend’s advises, Isabel decided to marry Osmond after she returned from the around-the-world journey, and lived in Rome. This decision turned out to be a huge mistake—as Isabel later realized—because Osmond had married her only for her money, with Merle as his ‘partner in crime’. The free spirited Isabel must now live unhappily under her husband’s strict dominancy.

This is the first Henry James I have ever read, and I instantly remarked his genius writing. Not only telling a beautiful tale, James also analyzed psychological aspects of society through his heroine and the satellite characters. But I liked this book especially because of Isabel Archer herself. I found from her first appearance that Isabel was so similar to me. We both are free spirited; we love the freedom to do things ourselves and we like to make our own decision. I share the same thirst of knowledge with Isabel, I had even promised myself—when I was in college—that I won’t marry unless I had stepped my feet in France! 

Because of the similarity, I sympathized with Isabel along her journey of life, I understood her feelings and her decisions. For others, it might be stupid, stubborn or anything, but for us it’s what we must do. Although I’m luckier than Isabel that I was not obliged to accept proposal from many suitors (and thank God I did not have to deal with stubborn suitors like Isabel’s, LOL!), I can understand why Isabel had rejected both Lord Warburton and Caspar Goodwood. Both were good men, but they were often too pushy toward Isabel; they kept circling around her, asking again and again what she wanted; offering their wealth, gentle understanding, etc. In short they were eager to marry her. The subject here was always themselves, never Isabel. You’re wrong guys, Isabel is an independent woman, she likes to be active; the harder you force an idea to her, the more she will reject it. It’s just our characters!

So, how could Isabel chose Osmond then? It’s because he appeared humble in front of Isabel—false it was in fact.

“I’m absolutely in love with you…. I’ve too little to offer you. What I have—it’s enough for me; but it’s not for you. I’ve neither fortune, nor fame, nor extrinsic advantages of any kind. So, I offer nothing.”

That’s what he told her, and I guess, that—among other things—had intrigued Isabel to like Osmond. It turned out to be a wrong choice, well….who don’t make mistakes anyway? Isabel was so innocent at that time, that she wasn’t wise enough to see motives behind other’s perfectness.

If I could advise Isabel, I would advise her to choose Ralph. For me, Ralph’s love was the purest, for he loved Isabel from his helplessness; he understood her very well; he never forced her to do or say something; and best of all, he sacrificed his part of inheritance for her happiness, without even telling her. And I believe a woman should marry a man with whom she feels most comfortable with, as if she doesn’t have to hide anything from him, for he should understand anyway. And Isabel could find that credits only in Ralph (Isabel was afraid of Goodwood, and with Warburton, she often felt uneasy).

James did not offer a sentimental and emotional ending as Dickens; James’ ending could not be said beautiful, but still made us reflect and think a lot. The Portrait of A Lady is not a tale, it’s a portrait of real life. We made mistakes and struggle, sometimes we can get out of the sorrows and start a new brighter life; but most of all, we cannot run from our decision and what we can do is to stop crying about it, and to apply a new way of thinking to make the best of it. Isabel Archer had taught me to be brave and always hold my principles. People can control me physically, but no one can control my mind!

Four stars for The Portrait of A Lady. You can find my deeper analysis of this book in my stage reading inquiries post.


I would die if you could live. But I don’t wish you to live; I would die myself, not to lose you.”
Isabel Archer

You won’t lose me—you’ll keep me. Keep me in your heart; I shall be nearer to you than I’ve never been. Dear Isabel, life is better; for in life there’s love.”
Ralph Touchett

If you have been hated you’ve also been loved. Ah but, Isabel—adored!
Ralph Touchett


*I read 1999 Wordsworth Classics edition paperback*

*This book is counted as*

2nd book for Turn of The Century Salon

 3rd book for 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ralph Touchett in The Portrait of A Lady

Ralph might not be a perfect partner for most women. Although he was wealthy enough to live comfortably without working, Ralph has been suffering from acute pulmonary disease. But apart from that, Ralph could have been favorite suitor for young women. He was kind, intelligent, energetic (before the disease took over him), with good sense of humor and good taste of art. He was a perfect English gentleman, though he was born from an American father. Ralph has worked diligently before he was forced to stay at home by his illness.

From his first introduction to Isabel Archer—his cousin—Ralph had fallen in love with her. But, fully realized that he won’t be a perfect husband for Isabel and could hardly won the pretty young lady’s heart, Ralph retreated from her suitors group, and only treated Isabel as her cousin. From the beginning I saw that Ralph was the only man who could really understand Isabel’s unique characters. Ralph knew her passion, what she wanted in life.

When her other suitors were busy shoving their wealth and advantages to the young woman—you’re going to be a lady; we’ll stay in a big house; not enough? You’re free to go around the world if that’s what you want, etc—Ralph already knew that Isabel loved the freedom to live her life in her own way. Without much talking, he secretly arranged with his dying father to alter the will by transferring a huge part of Ralph’s inheritance to Isabel. Ralph had done this knowing that he won’t get even a ‘thank you’ from Isabel, let alone her love.

Ralph on his dying bed

Later on when Isabel had married Osmond and having an unhappy marriage but kept it closely from her friends and relatives, Ralph knew it and never forced Isabel to ‘open her mask’. But what amazed me was that Ralph could survive longer than he was supposed to, because he loved Isabel and he wanted to see how she will do in her future. How love brings life!

If I must choose between male characters in Isabel’s life: Lord Warburton, Caspar Goodwood, Gilbert Osmond, and Ralph Touchett…I’ll choose Ralph, simply because his love was true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

French February

Actually I have made a reading schedule for February, which contains:

Little Dorrit (Dickens)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Dickens)
Richard III (Shakespeare)
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets—reread
Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Smith)

I have been determined to finish them all, although I doubt I can do it.

And today…I suddenly received an invitation from Goodreads from o (Delaisse). She is hosting an event to read as much as classics from French authors: French February. Well, ‘French’ has always been my weakness (and I love o’s Eiffel button…!!), so I think I can’t prevent myself from joining anyway. But…wait… If I can’t be sure to finish those 6 books in my schedule, how can I add one more? Oh, by the way, I’m going to take Voltaire’s Candide—it’s a novella, and I’ve been wanting to read it for sometime.

That means I must scrap one of those 6 books and move it to next month(s) to make room for Candide. The question is, which one?.... Considering that I planned to read 2 books for WEM Self Project (Richard III and Mrs. Dalloway) which would slow my readings a lot, I finally I decided that Mrs. Dalloway must step out of her previous group to enter March group :)

So, here I am….ready to visit France! I wish I could be there right now…:(

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Portrait of A Lady – The Stage Reading Inquiries

These are my works on stage reading inquiries for my Well-Educated Mind Self Project. As I still have much more to talk about this book, I decided to write separate post as my final review. I hope you haven’t been bored yet to read more about this book; it’s a good story anyway! :)

Eugene de Blaas (1843-1931)

Grammar-Stage Inquiry

Who is the central character in this book?

Isabel Archer, an American young woman, daughter of a wealthy man. She was a self-possessed intelligent woman with a free and independent mind.

What is the book’s most important event? At which point in the book does the character change?

I think there are two most important points in Isabel’s life. First is her decision to marry Gilbert Osmond, an American man who lived in Italy, who has a noble manner and a conventional mind and taste. Isabel, with her obsession to anything different and new, saw Osmond as a charming man who stood aside from others. She married him, and slowly realized that she had made a terrible mistake, as Osmond was a very dominant husband. After the marriage, the free and high spirited Isabel became passive, indifferent, and seemed to always be under a mask.

The second point is at the last chapter after Ralph’s death, when Isabel finally decided that she would return to her dominant husband, but this time she would be herself. Isabel has learned all the truth, she knew now what has made her suffered, and that there was no place in the world where women could be completely free. Thus all she could do was to freely choose her destiny and live with it bravely, and I guess she won’t be as submissive to Osmond as before.

Logic-Stage Inquiry

What does Isabel Archer want? What is standing in her way? What strategy does she pursue in order to overcome this block?

Isabel Archer always wanted to be free, even before she inherited that huge amount of fortune. However, the society where she lived could not accept women to be free on their own. In this story, Isabel was trapped under her husband (Osmond)’s dominancy right after their marriage. At first Isabel firmly rejected her friends’ advises to leave Osmond, she did not want to run away from her own decision. Till the end of the story, James did not clearly mention Isabel’s plan, but I believe she has quite changed after Ralph’s dead and Goodwood’s passionate proposal. Isabel knew at last that she could not change something beyond her control: culture and society, but at least she could change her own mind, her way of thinking. Men can control her physically, but they could not frighten her, Isabel decided to return home with a new spirit. That’s only the beginning to get your freedom, to realize that no one could frighten you.

Who is telling you the story?

The story is told from both the third person limited and the omniscient point of views. James picked Isabel Archer as his central character; the story was told by a narrator using her point of view. However, there were times when the narrator also took us to analyze Isabel’s decision, her state of mind, and her feelings. So I think James wanted us to judge for ourselves whether his heroine had done the right things, considering what she had experienced, what she could not control, and the culture and society at that time.

Rhetoric-Stage Inquiry

Is this book an accurate portrayal of life? Is it true?

From what I had read in Victorian books and histories, Isabel’s situation—the lack of freedom for women—was accurate. Even until now, I believe there are still women who experience domination from men everywhere; either physically or mentally; either at home, at work place, or at society.

Do you sympathize with the characters? Which ones, and why?

From the moment Isabel entered the story, I have felt that she had much similarity to me, that made me sympathize with her more. I could understand her feeling, as I often feel it too; we both long to express ourselves in a way we want it, we like to live our own lives and make decision by ourselves. What Isabel always need was the freedom to look at things from her point of view, to be given chance to express it, and being appreciated. Isabel suffered a lot under her husband domination but she refused to surrender.

What exactly is the writer telling you?

Through his heroine, I think James wanted us to give more respect to women. When a man marries a woman, he ought not just to consider whether she would be a beautiful ornament to his household or not. Women are human being, just as men; they were created equally to support each other in a marriage life. Men must give their wives more room to express themselves, to be their husband’s partners. Men must give more respect to their wives—or women in general.

James talked a lot about the difference of Americans and Europeans. Americans were portrayed to be more open-minded and aggressive—look at Henrietta Stackpole and Caspar Goodwood; while Europeans were more conservative. I think James wanted to tell us how human beings were shaped by culture and society where they had been grown up. You could not bend their characters to be like yours; and that in marriages between two cultures, you could each compromise to each other—compromising, not total submission.


Monday, January 21, 2013

The Old Man and The Sea

I don’t know why it takes me so long to read one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces: The Old Man and The Sea. Maybe it’s because of my first encounter with Hemingway years ago; back then I read the translation of To Have and Have Not. I don’t know whether it’s because of the bad translation or because I haven’t been familiar with classics works, but I didn’t enjoyed it at all—although I got a sense that it should be a good book if I could better praise it. I remember I have sensed Hemingway’s deep details of fishermen’s life and how beautiful he described about sea and fish. Anyway, it’s not until this month—thanks to Adam’s TBR Pile Challenge—that I am determined to finally read another Hemingway. And…I can say now that I enjoyed the story very much, and that I am planning to read more from Hemingway!

Like To Have and Have Not, the story of The Old man and The Sea is very simple. Santiago is an old poor fisherman in Havana, and lately his luck—if he ever had it—had evaporated. He lost his faithful assistant and friend, a boy who loved him, and for the last 84 days he hadn’t succeeded in catching fish. On the 85th day, Santiago sailed alone as usual, and suddenly his bait attracted a very big fish—his biggest catch—and from then on the old man had struggled in an equal fight with the big fish, which exhausted both creatures, went on for several days, and only stopped when one of them would win from the other. Could the old man return home safely this time?

Really, I have never imagined before, that catching fish could become a dangerous activity. Both the old man and the fish were fighting in a live-or-die battle against enemy whose minds was different from each other, and they must challenge each patience, used their instinct when to make a move and when to wait other to take action.

Hemingway’s experience in fishing helped him wrote detailed life of fishermen, the way they unite with the nature, the fishing tools, the fishing process, the beauty and richness of the sea and the creatures live under water. Hemingway also succeeded in catching the humanity aspect in a fisherman’s job. Reading this book is like going on board with Santiago, watching him skillfully preparing his ‘weapons’, feeling the same nervousness as Santiago’s when he met and must fight sharks, and share the same compassion towards the Fish—as a companion in the journey of competition to survive at the sea.

In today’s world where greediness is almost unbearable, it’s soothing to read how the old man regarded the Fish not as lower creature he must conquer; but as an equal partner at the sea. That he must kill the Fish, it’s because he needed to survive. Santiago only took what he needed, instead of robbing the sea for his own wealth. At some points, Santiago even questioned himself whether it’s wise to hunt the Fish. After the Fish has died and its blood attracted sharks to eat its flesh, Santiago fought bravely with the sharks, not only to protect his catch, but also to protect his ‘friend’ from being torn violently by the sharks. It’s an amazing harmony between man and nature; just as what God had created them for, to take and give, and to create a balanced life on earth.

The Old Man and The Sea also teach us to have patience in hard times. Santiago had never lost hope although he hadn’t caught fish for 84 days; he kept counting on the next days; that if not today, maybe the morrow would be another day when he would be lucky to catch some fishes. And isn’t it remarkable to see how Santiago patiently hunted the fish; how he waited till the perfect moment came, when the Fish lost hope and began to rise from the deep of the sea to the surface, where Santiago would be able to attack it?

It’s also remarkable how Santiago used his sharp intuition and long time relationship with the sea, that he could understand the Fish’ character, as if he was battling with human being instead of animal. And in that way Santiago treated and respected the Fish as if it’s a human being too. Isn’t it lovely when human could respect equally all God’s creature, so that we could all live in harmony?

To the world, Santiago was perhaps just a poor old man who was fading from life, from the world. But for the boy, he was a perfect example of how man should live his life. Success is not counted from how big or how many fish a fisherman could catch; it is how the fisherman keeps doing his job from day to day in the same manner and with the same hope that God would grant him everything he needs; it is how he is always prepared for everything, the good or the bad, when it comes his way; it is how he keeps doing his best and pushes to the limit, accepts what he receives, and lives with it—day by day, never loses hope. In that, I think, only the boy could praise the old man’s achievement. He looked at the boat, the fish’ remains, and the old man’s bleeding hands, and he understood, then cried. The old man might not get anything from his adventure that time, but he has done all his best, he has given all his strength and ability to do his job; and surely, some other day he’ll get the reward. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Five stars for The Old Man and The Sea, and I understand now how this short and simple story was granted a Pulitzer Prize; it’s really well deserved!

*I read the translation in Bahasa Indonesia—translated and published by Serambi on 2008*


*This book is counted as*

1st book for Turn of The Century Salon

29th book for The Classics Club
January theme: Pulitzer Winner Books for BBI (Blogger Buku Indonesia) Read Along

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Quote 15: The Portrait of A Lady

Still from The Portrait of A Lady, this time I borrowed something Ralph Touchett—a dying young man who loved the heroine, Isabel Archer, but knowing that he won’t be a good husband for her, he could only love from afarhad said to Isabel. If only Ralph didn’t have love in his heart, he must have died months before, but his love for Isabel had made him much stronger. He chose to live because he worried about Isabel’s unhappiness. This was what he said to Isabel when Ralph was about to go home to London, to die in peace…

It was for you that I wanted—that I wanted to live.”

It is short, simple, distinct and really-deeply touching!

Why oh why, women tend to love long-flowery sentences (or even poems??)—that might keep a lot of contradictions if you are thorough enough to examine them—while there is a very simple way to express one’s love.

When a man expressed that he had forced himself to live—while he could have rested in peace—just because he loves you, well…what more do you expect, ladies?

This Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Portrait of A Lady – Chapter 46-55

And these are the last ten chapters of this book (you can return to chapters 1-15; chapters 16-30; or 31-45 if want to grab the whole complete chapters).

Portrait Of Madame Gaudibert

 Chapter 46

Lord Warburton’s proposal letter had never arrived, and when Osmond had been impatient, Warburton appeared himself only to say good bye as he’d be leaving Rome. Osmond blamed his great disappointment to Isabel, and still bore hope that someday Lord Warburton would still think about marrying Pansy.

Chapter 47

Caspar Goodwood had already overcome his broken heart; and Isabel made him promise to take care of the dying Ralph for her. Meanwhile, Osmond like Goodwood more than Isabel’s other friends.

Chapter 48

Ralph decided to come home to die at peace; Henrietta was willingly to escort him, as well as Caspar Goodwood who was asked his favor by Isable. Ralph did not believe that Isabel was happy, but could never extract the truth from Isabel; so did Goodwood who must leave Rome unsatisfied. Here Isabel seemed eager to send everyone away from her.

Chapter 49

Madame Merle blamed Isabel because she has failed to marry Pansy to Lord Warburton. On the other hand, Isabel now fully realized that Madame Merle had cunningly set up her marriage.

Chapter 50

Edward Rosier had sold his precious collections in order to be “rich enough” for Osmond, to marry his daughter; however Osmond made a quick decision to put Pansy in the convent. Meanwhile Countess Gemini was fond of Rosier, and Osmond threatened to banish her if she interfered with his business.

Chapter 51

Ralph was dying, but when Isabel wanted to leave for England to attend to Ralph’s dying bed, Osmond forbade her. Countess Gemini revealed to Isabel that in fact Osmond was Madame Merle’s old lover, and that Pansy was their daughter.

Chapter 52
Isabel finally decided to leave after all, alone. She stopped by the convent to see Pansy, but met Madame Merle there. The later finally realized that Isabel had learned about her secret, and took revenge by telling her that Ralph was in fact the one who had made her fortune.

Chapter 53

Henrietta was going to marry Mr. Bantling and surprisingly left her beloved native land—America—to live in England.

Chapter 54

At Gardencourt Isabel heard news that Lord Warburton was going to marry a lady he had courted only three weeks. Isabel accompanied Ralph beside his dying bed, and they talked every think they had been hiding until then. Although Isabel always hid it, Ralph always understood that she was unhappy. They were having a happy time to feel their love until Ralph finally left the world in peace.

Chapter 55

After the funeral, Isabel was confused, she could not make her mind of what she should do, should she return although she knew Osmond would be very angry to her? Lord Warburton came to bid her good bey; while Caspar Goodwood came to tell Isabel that Raplh—before he died—has asked him to take good care of Isabel. With that, Goodwood suggested that Isabel should leave her husband and marry him instead. After a passionate act from Goodwood, Isabel suddenly knew what she must do; she must go home. And with that—once again—Isabel sent Goodwood away.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Isabel Archer in The Portrait of A Lady

Isabel Archer—our heroine—is a self-possessed young lady with independent mind. She has been comfortably living under her father’s protection, and her obsession was seeing more of the world and how people lived across from where she had been living: America. When she must live alone, Isabel was in the state of a writer who was facing a blank paper; eager to start filling it with his remarkable ideas, yet didn’t know what to write.

Her aunt, Mrs. Touchett brought Isabel to England, where her life would never be the same again. Inheriting some amount of money made Isabel felt free, free to reach her dream to widen her knowledge. She rejected two marriage proposals from two gentlemen because she wanted to fulfill her dream first. Then in her journey around the world, she met a man she adored. Ignoring everyone’s advises, Isabel married Gilbert Osmond, lived in Rome, and soon found that she had completely lost everything dear to her during the marriage. She had made a huge mistake!

From a lot of classics characters, I think Isabel Archer is the one to whom I most akin. Both of us praise freedom; freedom to be ourselves, to do what we like, and to sound our ideas. Unfortunately for Isabel, she lived in her era, when women were not supposed to live by her own. Well, the same thing applies nowadays—perhaps, in certain country with strong patriarchal culture—but it was much tougher for women in 19th century.

Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer

Other thing that makes me as if I’m seeing my own reflection on the mirror, is Isabel’s stubbornness (if it could be called ‘stubborn’) in not following others’ persuasive suggestions. In all occasions, when her friends persuaded her to do or choose something, Isabel always did the contrary. I share the same thing as Isabel, the harder people suggest us to take direction, the harder we stick to the other way. Why Isabel chose Osmond instead of Lord Warburton or Caspar Goodwood? Because Osmond never pushed her too hard (well—at the beginning, I mean; he changed a lot after they had married).

All in all, Isabel was a smart woman, she had her own ideas, and she was eager to express it. I think marriage would not be a danger if Isabel had chosen the right man. In her innocence, Isabel could not see behind people’s masks. And when she made a mistake, her pride prevented her to admit anything at all to her friends who cared about her. She preferred to swallow the bitterness by herself, she felt that she had done the mistake by herself—despite of their advises—so now she would not complain, not even to her husband who had made her suffered.

Isabel was a very strong and brave woman. Others would think her as stupid and stubborn, rejected other’s stretching hands to help her. But I can understand why she kept her bitterness to herself. Like I said, Isabel is very similar to me. You might call it pride or arrogance, whatever, we don’t care. We are strong women, we knew we’ve made mistakes—hey, who doesn’t?—but we didn’t like to be forced to confess it to everyone. We knew what you all would say: See, what I’ve told you? Or I know you’re unhappy, etc etc. Well, you DON’T know anything, so stop disturbing us; mind your own business. We would let you know when we need helps, but before that just leave us alone.

One thing I don’t agree with Isabel, of all her suitors, I wonder why Isabel could not see that Ralph’s love was the truest and deepest. Speaking about love, I don’t believe that Isabel really loved Osmond, I think she adored him, she was amazed by his noble thoughts and his knowledge. Ralph might be too humorous, but deep inside he was sincere. But then, Isabel was only a very young innocent girl. Girls like Isabel were easily fascinated by the world, not knowing that there are so many deceptions under the beautiful masks.

In the end, are we happy? If we were given another opportunity, would we take different path? I think the answer would be 'No'. Isabel Archer and I hold our principles, and leaving a husband, even if he hates us, is not something we would do in the first place. We know that life can be difficult, but we will get through all that. We are strong when we hold on ourselves and stand on our feet, others' interference would only weaken and confuse us.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Portrait of A Lady – Chapter 31-45

Another summary post for the next fifteen chapters, following the first chapters 1 – 15, then chapter 16 to 30.

Chapter 31

A year after making the journey to see the world, Isabel took another journey to the East with Madame Merle where she found hints of her friend’s bad morality, which declined her friendship’s intensity with Madame Merle. Then Isabel returned to Florence to meet Mrs. Touchett and Ralph.

Chapter 32

Caspar Goodwood came as he had been promised by Isabel, to get final answer from the young lady two years after their last meeting. Isabel told him that she was going to marry Gilbert Osmon, and Goodwood then left in anger.

Chapter 33

 Mrs. Touchett disapproved Isabel’s intention to marry Mr. Osmond who possessed nothing, but she was angrier to Madame Merle for having deceived her. Ralph was very shocked when he heard the news; he had done a huge mistake in his calculation about Isabel’s future.

Chapter 34

Ralph uttered to Isabel how he thought it’s wrong to marry Osmond whom he believed was a villain but could not prove anything about it. He finally admitted that he had had a great design for Isabel’s future because, as he said: “I love you, but I love without hope”.  Isabel could not accept that argument, she had chosen Osmond because he was nobody and had nothing, that she loved his mind and his character.

Chapter 35

When no one agreed Isabel’s decision, it made her firmer of it, she felt that her marriage was to please herself, not anyone else.

Chapter 36

Mr. Edward Rosier re-appeared, he turned out to be falling in love with Pansy Osmond, and was asking Madame Merle’s favour to ease his way to marry the little girl—who now turned fifteen.

Chapter 37

Mr. Osmond didn’t want to have Rosier as his son in law, for he’s not rich and not good enough for Pansy. Mrs. Osmond—or our Isabel—followed her husband’s judgment while Madame Merle seemed to have her own plan for Mr. Rosier who was offended by the rejection.

Chapter 38

Lord Warburton came to visit the Osmonds in Rome; he had recovered from his old broken heart. He brought Ralph—whose health got worse—with him. Meanwhile Pansy confirmed Rosier that her love was for him.

Chapter 39

Ralph observed that Isabel has changed, the self-possessed young woman had become only a representative of her husband. Ralph’s health got better while in Rome because he was so excited to see what would happen next to Isabel, that he decided to stay in Rome, as well as Lord Warburton who suddenly became interested in Pansy… or her stepmother?....

Chapter 40

At first Isabel was sure that she has set up her marriage with Osmond by her own, without Madame Merle’s help; but as time went on, she became unsure. She knew she had a big mistake, but she just had to accept and live with that, and won’t put the blame on Madame Merle. One day she witnessed Madame Merle and her husband were talking in a very friendly and intimate manner. Meanwhile Isabel was reluctant and indifferent when Madame Merle was discussing Mr. Rosier’s proposal to marry Pansy; but she immediately approved Pansy’s marriage when she heard that Lord Warburton had somehow attracted to the girl.

Chapter 41

When Osmond was talking to Isabel, it’s obvious that he dominated his wife, and that Isabel became submissive. Osmond wanted to set up a marriage between Pansy and Lord Warburton; he asked Isabel to use her “influence” upon the Lord to manage it.

Chapter 42

After some reflections, Isabel became aware of Warburton’s true intention of marrying Pansy, was it not to renew his love to her? Other than that, sable realized how Osmond had hated her, which made her life miserable. She didn’t think she made a mistake on marrying Osmond, as she had been devoted to him. It’s just that Osmond didn’t like women with too many ideas as Isabel. He liked Isabel’s cleverness, but he expected her to follow his way of thinking. Osmond’s very conservative and Isabel—with her free mind and no traditions—suffered a good deal for being confined in Osmond’s principles. Her reflection lingered also to Ralph who was much more intelligent than Osmond. Isabel often visited Ralph whom she believed was dying.

Chapter 43
In a dance party to where Isabel escorted Pansy, she met Lord Warburton whom Isabel found still in love with her, not Pansy. Poor Edward Rosier pleaded Isabel’s help for him to marry Pansy; Isabel was indifferent at first but at the end she gave him a little hope.

Chapter 44

Countess Gemini—Osmond’s sister—Henrietta Stackpole and Caspar Goodwood were on their way to the Osmond’s, although they came for very different reasons. The Countess was invited by her brother, while Henrietta would like to help her dearest friend who was unhappy—especially when she heard that Lord Warburton was in a close approach to Isabel. Meanwhile Goodwood wanted to see Isabel again.

Chapter 45

Osmond dislike Isabel’s frequent visits to Ralph’s, whom he thought would infect her wife’s mind with his idea of freedom. On their meetings, Isabel often hid her feeling about her miserable marriage in front of Ralph. Isabel knew that Pansy would be happy if she married Rosier, but she mercilessly pushed her to marry Warburton instead, because Osmond wanted it. Pansy firmly believed that Warburton won’t proposed her if she didn’t want it.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Quote 14: The Portrait of A Lady

After weeks of skipping this lovely meme hosted by Listra (I’m so sorry Listra! :D), I’m back with a quote from The Portrait of A Lady.

I won’t spoil which one of the heroine’s suitors says this quote or what would become of him, but I think this is just an example of what I as a woman would have preferred to hear from a man when he proposed to me:

I’m absolutely in love with you…. I’ve too little to offer you. What I have—it’s enough for me; but it’s not for you. I’ve neither fortune, nor fame, nor extrinsic advantages of any kind. So, I offer nothing.

I know, it’s not as sweet as you might imagine I’d picked it for a meme, but there’s a good argument here too. Instead of bragging about what he owns—a big house, fortune, lordship, fruitful career—the man who said the above quote just offered his love. His pointing out of his “nothingness” only emphasized his love, his heart. And isn’t that the most important thing instead of those sweet words of (only) love? Or no…? :)

This Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Portrait of A Lady – Chapter 16-30

Following my summary post of chapter 1-15, here’re the next fifteen chapters of The Portrait of A Lady…

Portrait of a Young Lady
Sir James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923)

Chapter 16

Caspar Goodwood came to see Isabel at the London’s Hotel, and once again Isabel rejected him because she wanted to be free to see the world. Here Isabel showed her persistence to be left free to her own choice of fate.

Chapter 17

Isabel was so satisfied with her power in sending her suitor away; she’s kind of enjoyed it. Henrietta—liberal herself—thought Isabel would harm herself and criticize it as “immoral” if she kept doing that. Then Mr. Touchett’s health got worse and forced the two cousins to come home immediately.

Chapter 18

Ralph inquired his dying father to grant half of the son’s part of inheritance to Isabel, so that Isabel could fulfil her dream

Chapter 19

 Isabel found new admiration towards Madame Merle—Mrs. Touchett’s friend. She was amiable, clever, but too unnatural and too perfect. Madame Merle believed that people were judge from their fortune, their house, their status, or their career; without those, one was nobody. This chapter was closed by the death of old Mr. Touchett.

Chapter 20

Ralph soon left England, while Mrs. Touchett departed to Paris with Isabel who was still confused after having inherited seventy thousand pounds. She found in Paris that being rich meant idleness, and that won’t led one to anything, just like Ned Rosier—an American young man who lived idly in Paris.

Chapter 21

Isabel and her aunt arrived in Italy. Ralf advised Isabel to take things more easily, on the subject of her sudden fortune, and lived as she liked best. When she had already been familiar to her richness, she reflected that she didn’t have any regret of the past, especially to her suitors.

Chapter 22

There’s Mr. Gilbert Osmond, a widower with a 15 years old daughter; he and Madame Merle mysteriously made a deal that he should get to know and marry Isabel Archer because of her new fortune.

Chapter 23

Ralph thought Madame Merle was “too perfect” but Isabel adored her still, and Ralph thought it would be safe after all for Isabel to befriend and learn lessons from Madam Merle.

Chapter 24

Isabel thought Mr. Osmond as a rare “specimen” that was apart from people she had ever known, and she soon attracted to him.

Chapter 25

Madame Merle’s and Osmond’s sister’s conversation had only confirmed that Madame Merle and Osmond had an intention to rob Isabel’s fortune with a marriage. Osmond’s sister knew about this and would try to hinder the wicked plan if she could.

Chapter 26

Osmond began to appear quite often at Mrs. Touchett’s to approach Isabel. Mrs. Touchett didn’t approved this, while Ralph disagreed with his mother. Meanwhile Henrietta and his boy friend were about to visit Rome; Ralph and Isabel would join her; and so Mr. Osmond at the last minutes—you know for what reason!

Chapter 27

In Rome Isabel incidentally met Lord Warburton, who promised not to press Isabel about his love again. He came to know that he had a competitor: Gilbert Osmond. Ralph advised him to just be quiet and believe that Isabel won’t like him.

Chapter 28

Meeting Isabel at the opera, Lord Warburton had been greeted coldly by the girl, and he left in disappointment; while Osmond felt more interested in a girl who could refuse an English Lord.

Chapter 29

In Rome Ralph was delightful to see that he had successfully mastered Isabel’s development. Then Isabel must be back to her aunt’s, and on the last night Osmond told her that he fell in love with her. Isabel did not promise him anything because she would take the journey around the world, but Osmond emphasized that he would wait patiently and until then his feeling would remain unchanged. He humbly said that he could not offer anything, only that he loved her. Before they parted, Osmond asked Isabel to stop by his house and told his daughter—Pansy—that “she must love his poor father very much”.

Chapter 30

Isabel administered the task of visiting Pansy, and her chat with the little girl only added her interest and respect towards Mr. Osmond.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Antonio in The Merchant of Venice

I still can’t decide whether or not I liked Antonio. He seemed to be an honest and successful businessman the The Merchant of Venice, but on the other hand I think he’s rather unwise. Antonio was an Italian merchant—or a businessman would be more suitable. He had a number of ships to carry his commodities. Apart from it, he was famous for lending money without interest. I don’t know why he’s doing that, for charity? Did he do it only to help friends? In that case, he might have had a lot of friends, because who didn’t want to be his friend for such generosity? But as a businessman, I think that was unwise. I prefer a man who could separate his business and personal side.

Anyway, Antonio has agreed to help his best friend Bassanio. In order to propose to a wealthy girl he loved, Bassanio needed a large amount of money, this lead him to do business with Shylock, a wicked Jewish money lender. When Shylock hesitated to lend the money, Antonio came and guaranteed the credit with his commodities that were expected to arrive within sometimes. Unfortunately a catastrophe caused Antonio to lost all his ships; he was about to fail settling the debt, and Shylock—who had been hated Antonio since long—saw an opportunity to crush his enemy in front of the court.


I started to dislike Antonio when he helplessly submitted himself in front of the court, as if he would accepted anything Shylock would ask from him because he could not pay the debt. At this, I just wanted to yell at him, ‘Oh come on Antonio…you’re a businessman, right? Think of something, can’t you just borrow money from your business partners? Of all the money you lend them, can’t you ask some of them to pay some amount in advance? Can’t you borrow from your customers? Businessman should have been creative in things like this. What a businessman were you, that one loss had made you surrendered your life to a villain like Shylock?

Really, Antonio shouldn’t be called a successful businessman in the first place! He kept accepted Shylock’s request in front of the judge. But look what happened when Portia came to the rescue and reversed the situation; Antonio forced Shylock to become a Christian. I did not understand him (Antonio), he seemed to be a generous person (lending money to friends needed help) without interest, as if he was a good Christian; but on the other hand he forced Shylock to change his religion.

I could not sum up at the end, what Antonio’s personalities were; was he a good businessman or merely a stupid man? One thing is clear, he is dear to his friends…