Thursday, March 28, 2013

Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway: Character Thursday (56)

Clarissa is the heroine of Mrs. Dalloway, and she was in her middle age. At this stage of life, she began questioning her past decision to leave her ex-boyfriend Peter Walsh and married Richard Dalloway. I think Clarissa and Peter should have been made a good couple; they loved each other, and they understood each other very well. Often in their meetings, they knew what the other was thinking before they really said it. However, Clarissa was so afraid of uncertainty, that she finally chose Richard Dalloway who was more mature and settled than Peter.

Other reason why Clarissa left Peter, was because Clarissa didn’t like to be scrutinized by him. I think the thought of her boyfriend could read her mind and knew her too much had annoyed her. Clarissa seemed to be always hiding most of her feeling from public. She always wanted to be seen ladylike and quite descent in her high-class society. She was so afraid that she looked too old or too unfit for it (that’s why she was very sensitive to Peter’s unspoken critics).

And in the middle of that fuss, Clarissa never thought about the true meaning of life. She just flowed with it, and enjoyed it. When she held a dinner party, for example, it’s just that she wanted to host a party, no other (more important) reason. She bought flowers for that occasion to feel younger and fresher. She was irritated when Richard was invited to a lady’s lunch without her—not that she was jealous I think—but because the lady did not appreciate her much to invite her. So, how people regarded her was the most important thing for Clarissa Dalloway.

In the end I think Clarissa began to think deeper than the only what in the surface. By beginning to reasoning her marrying to Richard, I think she began to see how she had prioritized status than love; the surface than what’s in the inside. And finally, Clarissa was forced to realize the mortality of human’s life. She was tried to be indifferent to it, blaming the young man’s death as reducing her party’s festivity, but in the end she must have realized that she too must think about it more seriously than just the glamour and glitters of the flowers, fashion and parties.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Turn Of The Century Salon March Prompt: Mrs. Dalloway

For the salon, I have read Mrs. Dalloway (here is my review, and here is what I've worked on for my WEM project). It was my first encounter with both Virginia Woolf and the self consciousness style, and I admit that I could not enjoy it as much as I have expected. Here are few inquiries from Katherine for the salon:

How would the plot of the novel had altered if it had been set in a different era?

The main plot would have not altered too much even if it had been set in a different era, I think. Yes, it is set right after the war, but the problems occurred to the main characters could happen too in a different situation. The general theme of Mrs. Dalloway was a search of life meaning and freedom, which is still relevant to these modern days, and I think, in the earlier centuries too.

What are some adjectives that define what you feel the book is saying?

Snob, indifferent, confused, dependent.

Find a work of art or music within the same time-period that reflect the book and share it.

A Day in June, 1913, by George Bellows

The woman in the right corner brings flowers, which reminds me of Clarissa Dalloway, who went to buy flowers on one sunny morning in London...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mrs. Dalloway (Final Review)

You probably notice that until now I have not read too many books from modernist authors; I think my favorite still remains with Victorian or 19th century’s :) Well, to repair that, I’ve decided to participate in Allie’s A Modern March event which invites us to read more modernist books. I picked Mrs. Dalloway for this event, first because I’m curious with the stream of consciousness style, and second because Mrs. Dalloway is believed to be one of Virginia Woolf’s masterpieces. And it’s only 200s pages too! But….what a wrong choice that has been for me!

At first, I am fascinated by the stream of consciousness. It’s something different; it’s like entering someone’s mind and flowing with it. It’s remarkable to realize how human’s mind could contain many different things at a time, how they could hop from one place to another in an instant—and sometimes they don’t have any connections at all. Like I said, it’s fascinating to read the earlier part of the book (my ebook version doesn’t have chapters or parts); however the more I got into the middle part, the more I got bored. It’s nice to watch people’s thoughts sometimes, but it would be overwhelming to do that all the time.

Clarissa Dalloway was a mid-aged woman from a high class society of England. It was around 1923, when England has just passed the war. One clear June morning Clarissa was walking around London’s street to buy flowers for her dinner party at that night. During the walk, her mind wandered around retrieving her old memories. From then on, Woolf brought us to ‘inspect’ several other characters’ mind; among them were Peter Walsh’s—Clarissa’s ex boyfriend, and Kezia Warren Smith’s—wife of a nerve-broken man. They were all judging their past decisions, wondering what would have happened if they took a different path, and what they must do next.

So I was lost in their minds, when every now and then Woolf would switch from one’s mind to another’s without any signs, that made me often being at a loss of whose mind I was at a time. My favorite is Kezia and Septimus Warren Smith. They were out of Clarissa’s radar, thus building their own story about their faith. Septimus was struck by his friend’s death in the war—and perhaps by the war itself—which lead him to a nerve breakdown. When he got his seizure, Septimus believed he was being chased by his death friend’s ghost, and would talk to himself and seemed to lose conscious of his surroundings. Kezia put enormous effort in making Septimus look normal in public, while often felt that Septimus ignored her and did not loved her anymore. I felt pity for Kezia…. No wonder she said: “To love makes one solitary.”

There’s nothing really interesting about Clarissa herself. She mostly argued about her past love life. She was with Peter Walsh for some time and seemed to be a perfect couple, before she met Richard Dalloway. On that particular day, Peter suddenly appeared at her house announcing that he would divorce his present wife to marry an Indian woman. Both Clarissa and Peter were reasoning with themselves whether they’d have been right not to marry each other. Clarissa remembered too how she was fond of her girlfriend Sally Seton, how they had been not only friends, but more intimate than that. Clarissa was thinking about her husband Richard too, how he seemed to be away from her, and she was a bit jealous because a lady had invited Richard to lunch without her.

All in all, Mrs. Dalloway is about uncertainty and a search of life’s meaning and freedom. Clarrisa Dalloway and Septimus both were searching for freedom from the society, but both from different situation. Clarissa was sick of being under criticism of others (that’s why she had broken up with Peter Walsh), and she longed to have privacy, that she chose to sleep in an attic room in her house. Septimus sought for freedom for a deeper purpose. He was treated inhumanly by his neurologists; the so-called Professors and experts forced him to take this medication and that kind of treatment, but forgot to treat him with the more humane touch. They treated him as merely a sick patient, but failed to see that what he needed most is love and care. They thought that keeping him alone in an asylum would be the best cure, whereas people like Septimus should have mingled with society who would treat him like a normal man. They should have treated him as a friend, put trust on him. I’m not a doctor, but I believe it will make him feel better.

Two and a half stars for Mrs. Dalloway, because I didn’t enjoy it as a whole, though I still found a treasured value behind it, which add the half star there.


I read ebook version from Feedbooks

This book is counted for:

my WEM inquiries post for this book

37th book for The Classics Club

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Porthos in The Three Musketeers: Character Thursday (55)

Porthos is, probably, the most uninteresting musketeer from the four inseparable musketeers who served the King of France under Mr. de Treville. From my first encounter with him in Three Musketeers, it’s easy to learn that Porthos adored his appearance so much, that he challenged d’Artagnan for a duel only because d’Artagnan has caught his false golden embroidered belt!

Just like his other comrades, Porthos’ income was not as big as his taste; and like other musketeers too, he used to spend his salary so quickly, that in only few days he would have been moneyless. But again, like other musketeers, Porthos had his charming manner which was quite a gentlemanly appeal for high rank women (ladies and duchesses). From these mistresses, the poor musketeers used to get their ‘second’ salaries. It’s an easy case for Porthos too, with his handsome countenance and well-built massive body.

You can guess, I think, which one is Porthos?...

Porthos might not be very intelligent, but he was brave and loyal. In short, Porthos was a simpleton; he didn’t have many mysteries veiled his life—well, apart from his false golden belt perhaps—like Athos or Aramis, and there’s certainly not any politics in him. His only aim in life was, perhaps, being admired by others as a pure gentleman, being well taken care in terms of clothes and foods, and having enough money to get them. I don’t think he cared much for politics, he’s just loyal to the King and Queen like any other conservative gentlemen who had high adoration to royal figures. And Porthos disliked the Cardinal just because Richelieu opposed the King (and Queen).

Well, Porthos might only be an ordinary gentleman, but later in The Man In The Iron Mask, he would show his quality as a devoted and loyal friend.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mrs. Dalloway: The Stage Reading Inquiries

The ebook version I read for WEM does not include any chapter division for Mrs. Dalloway. Knowing that it is a stream of consciousness, Virginia Woolf might not using chapters at all. And I think, this kind of narrative doesn’t need one. So consequently, I did not do the usual chapter summarizes, and went directly into the stage inquiries instead. Here they are… (I would write a separate post for my final review).

Grammar-Stage Inquiry

Who is the central character?

It’s definitely Clarissa Dalloway, from whose stream of consciousness Virginia Woolf derived the most in this book.

Logic-Stage Inquiry

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

I think Clarissa herself did not know what exactly that she wants, so we can say that she wants to know what she lives for, the meaning of her life. The post-war situation with all the changes might stands in her way, but her dull life might also be her block. And in one whole day Clarissa reflects and debates with herself of her past, her old friends, her marriage, and her surroundings while preparing a party for the night. Those reflections resulted a new way of viewing her life, and that’s how Clarissa overcome her block.

Who is telling you this story?

This is my first stream of consciousness reading, and it is interesting to know a little about it. It’s a kind of narrative technique which follows the flowing of character’s mind; so I think it is the third-person objective who’s telling the story, who was hopping from one’s mind to other to tell us what they’re thinking.

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

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

I have never been in a war or post-war time, but I think Woolf has vividly portrayed a society that has just emerged from the war. Families ruined by its cruelty (Septimus and Rezia Warren Smith), and women began to have place in the society (Miss Kilman assured Elizabeth that women could—and must—now pursue their own career; and how she despised Clarissa for being idle at home).

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

My sympathy is for Rezia. She did not participated directly in the war, but she suffered directly from it. Septimus, her husband, got a nerve breakdown from the war. Rezia must endure it alone, as people won’t understand and would think that Septimus has gone mad. Moreover, Septimus seemed to ignore her, not loved her anymore. Rezia felt very lonely and helpless, her marriage was ruined by the war, the war has taken (still) young Septimus from her.

What does the setting of the book tell you about the way human beings are shaped?

I think, war also brings uncertainty and confuse to the society after it is over. Just look at Clarissa and Peter Walsh who were searching for something; who felt that their life was incomplete, something was missing, but they did not know what it was. ‘The death of a young man’ (Septimus) has helped opening Clarissa’s mind, that shifting her from the absurdity of parties and luxury, to something more profound in life, such as death.

What exactly is Virginia Woolf telling you?

That one should not be indifferent to others. War has ruined relationships, and changed the society very much. One should adapt to it more and learn to build and rebuild relationships. Richard Dalloway’s giving Clarissa a rose bouquet (he was a very conservative man who never showed off his feeling before) proved to be a change of husband and wife (and family) relationship in the turning of the century.


I worked on this for:

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Three Musketeers [Re-read]

This is perhaps my third reading of Alexandre Dumas’ first installment of D’Artagnan Romances series: The Three Musketeers. I read it first as a child (the illustrated abridged version), then read it again several years ago in Bahasa Indonesia translation, and now I got the chance to read it in the English unabridged version, together with Melisa, Maria and Althesia. Surprisingly, even having been familiar with the main plot—especially with the cold-hearted Milady—I was still surprised by some little details scattered within this 555 pages, which I thought I have never known before. Or, was it because I have read Twenty Years After and The Man in the Iron Mask before this that made those details more sense? Maybe….

Anyway, this time I put more attention to the historical facts of this story, The Siege of La Rochelle—the war between France and England in 1627-1628 during the reign of Louis XIII—which I have neglected in, at least, my second reading. La Rochelle was the last city which was inhabited by the Huguenots at that time, and the Cardinal wanted to take it to entirely clean France from the remnants of Calvinism. But this war was also believed (at least according to this story) to be triggered by personal interests of Duke of Buckingham and the Cardinal—who both tried to gain Anne of Austria’s love. Yes! That’s what happened when two powerful people from two countries played at a high stake.

Richelieu in "Siege of La Rochelle", 1881 by Henri Motte

The third reading enabled me to see Cardinal Richelieu as an honorable gentleman, and not merely as an antagonist who would like to destroy the queen, as I perceived before. Even d’Artagnan and the three musketeers paid some respects towards the Cardinal, despite of their dislikes. Richelieu had a mixed feeling towards the four inseparable musketeers, he admired their nobleness, brave, and intelligence, but on the other hand, he would not rest easy while they kept intercepting and ruining his plans. His last interview with d’Artagnan grew my admiration towards the Cardinal.

Rereading this book has also given me chance to follow d’Artagnan from the very early of his career. I could see that the young Gascon had already been possessing courage, intelligence, witty and prudence, even when he was scarcely twenty years of age. One quality that marked his youth off his future life as an adult was his uncontrolled amorous passion. While falling in love with Constance Bonancieux, he could also cultivate a madly attraction to Milady. I am wondering whether, if d’Artagnan met Milady when he was more experienced in his career, would he still be fallen to her charm?

In The Three Musketeers, Dumas poured out all his humour and wittiness in describing his young musketeers’ adventures. He forced me to laugh out loud several times everytime the musketeers were teasing each other; at Aramis, for example, who would be blushing a great deal when the others could guess that ‘a cousin’ means a lady he was courting, and ‘money from selling poems’ came in fact from his lover, instead of a publisher who bought his writing. It was also comical how the musketeers could never save their assets very long; for example when they got four beautiful horses from Duke of Buckingham. Athos—whose weakness was in wine and dice—put the horses at stake, and lost his and d’Artagnan’s; Aramis—with his delicate heart—sold his in low price; while Porthos—well…this is the most hilarious—he made his horse to be delicious foods which the four musketeers enjoyed very much without realizing it at first (except Porthos)! LOL, this scene is very funny indeed! =))

And in that witty manner, we came to know each musketeers’ personalities and secrets. Athos has a noble manner and heart which was sometimes senseless, but he also suffered from a huge burden that made him often drawn in his somber mood, then passed his time in drinking. It was revealed in the end, that he was actually Count de la Ferre, who came from a high rank family in the kingdom, and had a dark history concerning his marriage with Milady. Aramis was a ‘beautiful’ gentleman who adored glamorous style, and had a divine passion to serve the Church as an abbé. It was revealed later that his passion in theology appeared not of any divine reason, but rather as a gloomy reason when his lover was abandoning him! Aramis was the most hypocrite from the four, and whose life was full of mystery and intrigue, but he has the most delicate style in diplomacy—one of the best of all. Porthos was a simpleton whose intellectual was perhaps behind the others, but he was a loyal friend, and of course as brave as others. Porthos was depicted as a handsome and well-built young man who adored high fashion and exquisite gourmets.

From the four, d’Artagnan was definitely the most intelligent one, although his emotional was too unstable to be their leader—we should give that to Athos instead, for his perfect calmness. It’s remarkable to see how the trust between the four was built up so quickly, one solid foundation to their true friendship. Everytime d’Artagnan rushed to pursue something urgent, the others would unquestionably follow his step, always believed that he must have a good judgement for that. And look how the three musketeers gave themselves up to d’Artagnan when they accompanied the Gascon to England for returning the Queen’s diamond studs—an incident which could have had triggered a war between England and France, even before the siege of La Rochelle, had d’Artagnan didn’t possess his iron nerve! What a brilliant and heroic rescue that was!

Although not the best from the series, The Three Musketeers has set a good base for the d’Artagnan Romances; it’s less serious, it’s historical, it’s witty, it’s really entertaining. Four swords—instead of stars :D—from me for the four musketeers. I know now why Dumas gave the title “three” musketeers instead of “four”, it’s because d’Artagnan is the center of the whole series, so it should be: d’Artagnan AND The Three Musketeers, d’Artagnan: Twenty Years After, etc.

One favorite quote of mine, from the last intriguing interview of d’Artagnan and Cardinal Richelieu, a passage which showed d’Artagnan’s noble and brave character—which basically represented all the four musketeers’ characters. This interview was very crucial, because it would fix d’Artagnan future (life or death), and this was d’Artagnan's answer for his ‘defense’….

My Lord, I swear to you that I have not for one instant thought of defending my head against your eminence. I will submit to whatever punishment your eminence may please to inflict. I do not cling to life sufficiently to fear death.


*I read the Wordsworth Classics 1993 edition*

*This book is counted for*

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend Quote 18: Mrs. Dalloway

This is, or would perhaps be, my longest Weekend Quote—if not passage—so far…. But, I just can’t ignore this beautiful passage from Virginia Woolf which shows her genius in mind description. This is taken from Lucrezia “Rezia” Warren Smith, a suffering wife of a mad man—either schizophrenia or post-war nerve disorder—Septimus. Rezia loved Septimus a lot, and she always tried to save him from humiliation in public, by making him looks normal, so that people won’t see his abnormal behavior. This, and feeling that Septimus did not love her anymore, tortured her. She felt lonely because she must endure it alone, having nobody to tell about it. And Woolf has described Rezia’s deep feeling in this…

There was nobody. Her words faded. So a rocket fades. Its sparks, having grazed their way into the night, surrender to it, dark descends, pour over the outlines of houses and towers; bleak hillsides soften and fall in. But though they are gone, the night is full of them; robbed of colour, blank windows, they exist more ponderously, give out what the frame daylight fails to transmit—the trouble and suspense of things conglomerated there in the darkness; reft of the relieve which dawn brings when washing the walls white and gray, spotting each window-pane, lifting the mist from the fields, showing the red-brown cows peacefully grazing, all is once more decked out to the eye; exists again.”

Does being alone in a great suffer feel like dissolving into the darkest of the night? Maybe it’s when we are in our deepest despair. But somehow, the sun will shine again, we exist again. Or is it about bearing humiliation? That Rezia wanted to dissolve into the dark, but she couldn't hide it forever from the world, that one morning, everything would be clear, and everyone can see it? I don’t know, until now I still vaguely hold the meaning of that passage. It deserves my deeper reflection. Can you light me?

Weekend Quote is a meme hosted by 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, March 15, 2013

Plays Monthly Meme March Prompt: What's So Greek About It?

Frankly speaking, if I should have a chance to watch a play, I would have chosen Greek play than Shakespeare’s. Why? First, because the language—as they are translated to English—are more simple than Shakespearean plays. Second, Greek plays’ structure enables me to imagine the play as a performance more easily. I have only read two Greek plays so far, and from them, I have observed that they have similar styles. Let’s see some of them,


Greek plays usually contain of:

…is a monologue by one of its character (in case of Medea, the Prolog was performed by The Nurse), which serves as explanatory of the play’s main plot and background.

…is a group of ten or fifteen people who chant with an orchestra, whose role is to react or comment the actors’ choices or decision. The Chorus often acts as ‘consciousness’, when they become the interlocutor to the actors. They can also act as the author’s mean to criticize or emphasize what he wanted in writing the play. Sometimes a Leader of the Chorus performed alone, then followed by the rest, or at other times they perform together.

The Episodes
…is where the actors performed, while in between they would have conversation with the Chorus.

…is performed by the Chorus, to conclude the whole story.


What I loved the most from Greek plays is their beautiful ode or lyrical stanza! The stanzas usually contains of four lines, such as a-b-a-b or a-b-b-a, but sometimes they are built of slightly more complex scheme as a-b-c-c-c-a-b.

Examples of each rhyme scheme (from Medea):

Go, lest her hand be hard
On the innocent; Ah let be!
For her grief moves hitherward,
Like an angry sea.

For pity! What have they to do,
Babes, with their father’s sin? Why call
Thy curse on these? ..Ah, children, all
These days my bosom bleeds for you.

O Zeus, O Earth, O Light,
Will the fire not stab my brain?
What profiteth living? Oh,
Shall I not lift the slow
Yoke, and let life go,
As a beast out in the night,
To lie, and be rid of pain?

And as the lines are built from only short sentences (contain only of several words), the rhyme schemes become more distinct, and the whole ode sounds more beautiful, either chanted or spoken.

What do you think? If you are participating in Let's Read Plays, you are welcome to share your opinions for Plays Monthly Meme by Listra.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Medea in Medea: Character Thursday (54)

Medea—whose name became the title of this Greek play of Euripides—is the leading female character in this play. She is neither protagonist nor antagonist; to me, she is just a victim.

Medea was a young woman from a barbarian country, I suspect, a less civilian one. She abandoned her land and her family because she was in love with Jason. Both young lovers arrived in Corinth and decided to stay in this new country after they were married. I imagined that Medea had been growing up as an independent girl, and she was used to make decision by herself. Entering a marriage life, Medea must obey her husband and accept him, good or bad, as her superior. This must have been quite tough for a young woman of freedom. Medea felt that women were in a weaker position when affronted with the husbands. Men, even after marriage, could have mistresses without ruining his honor, but women couldn’t; they were supposed to be faithful to their husbands.

When Medea knew that Jason would like to marry another girl—daughter of King of Corinth—she was enraged. She felt that after all she must have been sacrificing for the marriage (her freedom, her full obeisance, her submissiveness), she was helpless to her husband’s selfish want. Medea did not have anywhere to run, either she must live bitterly with his husband’s infidelity, or she would be disgraced for divorcing her husband.

The wound from being abandoned by Jason, and her hopeless situation, were more than enough to be born by an independent and self-esteem woman. That was perhaps which lead Medea into her half madness. She could not control her temper, and after the rage was accumulated, she decided to take avenge by murdering everyone who has ruined her life. Considering how she was brought up in a less civilian culture, killing others should not be a strange things; that’s why I think we could not accused Medea of being suddenly mad; it has been in her blood.

The most interesting point in this play is when Medea went forth and back to decide whether she should kill her two sons to ruin their father, or bring them with her in her banishment. I think Medea had her own selfishness too, for, in this matter, she never thought about the kids, but for her own feeling. When she declined from killing them, it’s not because of the kids, but because she felt the affection for them. When she made herself to kill them, it’s more of her needs to take avenge to their father, than to deprive them of the disgrace they might have to endure.

So, in short, it was first her own personal character (being selfish), then the way she was beought, but more than those, the society which did not support women, caused more fracture in the already corrupted soul of Medea, and made her even worse to a level which we call madness.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[Classics Movie] Little Dorrit

This BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit was adapted to miniseries by Andrew Davies. Although they were rather long—for the novel is very long too—I have enjoyed it. This is the second time I watched Dickens’ adaptation by BBC, which I like for their original setting. As usual, I am breaking down my opinion of this miniseries in this review,


Overall, I don’t have many complaints for the castings. For Amy Dorrit, I preferred her in the miniseries; she looks stronger and more natural than in the book. I imagine that a young girl should obtain such qualities under poverty and hard times. Amy in the book seems too delicate, just as characters in tales. Claire Foy’s blue eyes, sweet face, and of course, brilliant acting, are really the main attraction of this miniseries.

Matthew MacFadyen is indeed a perfect cast to play the melancholy Arthur Clennam, a man of forty who thought he was too old for Amy and was beyond his age for romance. His reaction when John made him (Arthur) realized that Amy loved him, was superb. Mrs. Clennam and William Dorrit also reflect what I imagined from the book. My favorite is, perhaps, Mrs. Merdle; the actress can play the beautiful, haughty and hypocrite lady in a perfect manner. Rigaud or Blandois also fits my imagination from the book; his singing the French chant is really memorable, although for they who listened to it in the story, it must be a thrilling experience. 

Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit

The only one who did not match the book at all is Cavalletto. Cavalletto in the miniseries is too ‘handsome’, while in the book he was described as quite plump and comical. But who can complain about that, as James Thorpe—an English comedian—could play the character very well? 

James Thorpe as Cavalletto

Oh, and there is also Henry Gowan. I didn’t like him in the book, but I think Henry is, in the miniseries, the most attractive male character of all…..

Alex Wyndham as Henry Gowan

Story and Plot

Mostly, the plot follows the book; but there is a crucial part in it that has been altered, I don’t know for what reason. It is about Mrs. Clennam’s secret. In the book, the uncle of Mr. Clennam (Arthur’s father), following his sympathy towards Arthur’s real mother who was at that time already dead, inherited a sum of money to the youngest daughter of Arthur’s mother’s music teacher, who was Frederick Dorrit, or—if he didn’t have a daughter—the youngest daughter of his brother. In the miniseries, it was confusedly altered so that people would think that Amy and Arthur were relatives. This, I think, a fatal failure. The script writer might have adopted that alteration to make the plot less confusing, but at the end, it would confuse you more!

One more thing, here Amy revealed Mrs. Clennam’s secret to Arthur by showing him the document which Rigaud would like to sell to Mrs. Clennam; while in the book Arthur never knew the secret and because of that, never have to forgive the woman he thought was his mother, for Amy asked him to burn the letter which he never knew the content. In this case, I like the miniseries version, because I believe Arthur deserved to know about it, and Amy did not have the right to hide it from him. How can you start a marriage life with a lie?

Setting and Costumes

The Marshalsea is just a debtor prison as I have imagined from the book, as well as the old and fragile Clennams’ house. The atmosphere reflects both despair and bitter hatred of the inhabitants. Especially in William Dorrit’s room, I can feel the warmer atmosphere, which I believe was brought by the loving character of Amy. The glimpses of the Dorrits’ journey to Italy and Rome are quite entertaining, although I hoped more of the snowy Alps and the Great St. Bernard Hospice scenes.

Part of the characters in Little Dorrit in front of Clennam's house set

About the costumes, one that was annoying me was Fanny Dorrit’s. Really, must dancers in 19th century put a weird make up like that? Watching Fanny Dorrit’s lips reminded me of a Geisha! I liked her much better when she has no make up at all, at the bedtime scene with Amy; there she was much prettier. Or maybe they wanted to point up Fanny’s bad temper by making her lips so thin? But still, you can do that by acting, not solely by the lips shape!

Emma Pierson as Fanny Dorrit

In the book, Amy returned to Marshalsea to visit her beloved Arthur, wearing her old dress when she was still a poor girl. This detail did not appear in the miniseries, although I think it’s not just about dress, but more to emphasizing Amy’s feeling, that poverty suited her much better than richness; so I think it’s important that Amy appeared in that scene in her old dress.

One thing that annoyed me is the ending. The ending was much different from the book, and I think, did not fit at all with the whole story. I don’t know why BBC must put a typical ‘happily-ever-after’ scene with all the confetti, colorful dresses, and cheerful celebration to describe Amy-Arthur’s wedding. After the dress, now the wedding, one would think that Amy is Cinderella! If we know Amy very well, we should know that—despite of her richness phase of life—she was still the timid and simple young woman who attended the more essential things in life, and who despised being a lady. I think, to be fit with Amy’s character, the ending should follow the book’s, where Amy and Arthur went to the Church and registered their marriage, then left it hand in hand in silent, savoring the happiness as husband and wife by themselves. That would be a perfect touching and memorable ending!

For all that, I granted 6.5 of 10 stars for this Little Dorrit BBC miniseries.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Medea by Euripides

After having to skip last month theme for Let’s Read Plays, I have been looking forward to read a Greek play. It’s been few years since I have enjoyed read Sophocles’ Oedipus—translated in Bahasa Indonesia—the only Greek play I’ve ever read, and I had a good time with it. This time I picked a Euripides’ of Medea. It’s a quite short play, but a very strong one.

Medea was a princess of a barbarian land of Colchis. She abandoned her land and her family for the sake of a Greek man she devotedly loved, Jason. The play began with a prologue by the Nurse (Medea and Jason’s) who put the background of the play. Medea and Jason had been husband and wife with two sons, lived in Corinth. There—either for gaining place in the royal family, or merely for his lust on King Corinth’s beautiful daughter—Jason abandoned Medea to marry the princess.

Here, Euripides seemed to underline the disadvantages of being a woman, from Medea’s soliloquy:

Of all things upon earth that bleed and grow,
A herb most bruised is woman. We must pay
Our store of gold, hoarded for that one day,
To buy us some man’s love; and lo, they bring
A master of our flesh! There comes the sting
Of the whole shame. And then the jeopardy,
For good or ill, what shall that master be;
Reject she cannot: and if he but stays
His suit, ‘tis shame on all that woman’s days.

Medea told us what she thought about being a woman. A woman needed a man as a husband under some excessive price (I take it as a dowry). The man then would have control over her, yet, she could not be sure beforehand whether he would be good or bad; while she could not divorce him if he turned out to be bad, as divorcing would ruin her reputation. So either way, she must take that husband. And after that, the husband would take her to his home, a new place where she must adapt herself to whatever the condition, and must accept the husband as he was. If the marriage turned good, she would be grateful, but if it turned bad, she must want to be dead. Then, the husband might get bored to his wife, and began to seek entertainment outside; while a woman must be satisfied with one man only in her entire life, while bearing his children.

But Medea was not a melancholy woman, who accepted her unfortunate faith with bitter tears; she was spiteful and severely enraged by Jason’s infidelity. She was at last banished by King Creon of Corinth for making everyone frightful by her cold and cruel manner. In fact, she has murdered her own brother and has persuaded two sisters to kill their father before arriving in Corinth. Became more enraged with her banishment, she then prepared a most cruel and cold-blooded revenge to Jason, his wife and his father.

I had a mixed feeling while reading Medea; I enjoyed the plays structure, language and the emotional sense in detailed description. However I was a bit inconvenient with the vulgarity of the murder scene. Medea’s intense anger and the turbulence of her feeling were captured very vividly by Euripides, as if I was witnessing the action myself; and for me, it’s the most attracting point of this play.

Some people called Medea’s killing her two sons as madness, but I think it was more of a fight between her hatred versus affection—and in this case the hatred won. I don’t know much about madness, but Medea felt sorry for her children; she altered her decision from killing them and releasing them for several times, it only meant that Medea still have affection for her children.

Cold-blooded she was, I could not put the blame only on Medea’s part. I hated Jason more than Medea, for treating his wife so coldly. How clever he was in his reasoning of marrying King’s daughter, that he actually still loved Medea, and only marrying the princess as a chance to protect their family in their exile in Corinth; that Medea should be thankful to live in Greek instead of Barbarian country where she came from. Here Medea was right, if Jason honestly wanted to marry Creon’s daughter merely for survival, he ought to tell the truth to Medea. I agree with the Chorus, Jason deserved Medea’s punishment. If only she did not take his sons too in this revenge scene, I might have been more enjoying this play. If only after several times altering decision, the last one was departing with his sons to Aegeus’ country, I might have had more sympathy towards Medea.

In the end, I believe, Euripides has written it for purpose, as if to tell us how women—delicate their nature are—could be more cruel and stronger than men when you hurt them. And most of the times, it’s about infidelity in love. That’s why, beware you, men….!


*I read ebook from Gutenberg Project*

*This book is counted for*

 Greek play theme

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Weekend Quote 17: Medea

This time I’d like to share a passage from Medea, a Greek play by Euripides.

‘Tis best men tread the equal way.

Aye, not with glory but with peace
May the long summers find me crowned;
For gentleness-her very sound
Is magic, and her usages.

All wholesome; but the fiercely great
Hath little music on his road,
And falleth, when the hand of God
Shall move, most deep and desolate.

The nurse (nurse of Medea and Jason’s children) reflected that she was very grateful to live a moderate life, as she believed that wealth and fortune only brought unhappiness towards men. It’s wisely true, but unfortunately greediness is often overshadow this wisdom from us.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Edwin Drood in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Apart from the mystery—which Charles Dickens did not live long enough to solve—Edwin Drood was an interesting character. He was an orphan, and had only his uncle John (Jack) Jasper as a relative; and as they were of the similar age, they had become intimate friends. Drood is a young man of good spirit, gaiety and cheerfulness. In his simplicity, Drood never sees any obstacles in life, and rather took everything for granted. Men with those qualities should have been far away from troubles, however it’s often than not, that their indifference caused them huge problems.

Drood was supposed to marry an orphan girl he had long affianced to—Rosa—when he was coming of age, and after that a bright future has been waiting for him in Egypt as an engineer. With his indifference and selfishness, Drood never thought much about others’ feelings. He did not take his future marriage as a serious matter, and until the time came, he treated Rosa merely as a little sister whom he called ‘Pussy’. I believe deep in his heart Drood has a slight attraction to Rosa, that had he not engaged to her since childhood, he would have felt the attraction more easily.

Drood always sees positive aspects of others, that he did not see any suspicious thing about Jasper; Drood only thought about himself. And being insensible, he talked rather harshly to Neville Landless on the night of their first encounter. I believe it’s not that Drood wanted to intimidated Neville, but it’s because he talked whatever across his mind, never care about what other may feel about it.

in BBC miniseries

If Drood talked about Rosa indifferently, I think it’s because it was Drood’s nature to not think seriously of everything; he did not have any intentions to be ignorant. And giving money to Princess Puffer who was coughing terribly on the night he was murdered, showed that Drood wasn’t that ignorant to others. He could be kind sometime…

What I learn most from Edwin Drood is that being too sensitive won’t make you happy, but being too insensitive can put you in danger when you did not realize that people who look kind to you might not be honest to you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The New Alternative for Indonesian Imported Book Readers

Last week I got a surprising e-mail; it’s from OpenTrolley, an online bookstore from Singapore who sells international books to Singapore and Indonesia. They are relatively new—especially in Indonesia—so, to spread the awareness of their products and services, they provide vouchers to Indonesian book bloggers who read imported books. They invite us to use the vouchers to do online shopping, so that we can share our experiences later in blogs. In short, I’m one of those lucky bloggers!

I received the voucher by e-mail on February 25th, 2013—it felt just like I’m getting a belated birthday present!—and eagerly hurried to in no time. My first expression was ‘wow!’…, for I’ve imagined that, for a new bookstore, they must have had limited collections; but on the contrary—they have quite impressing collection of books. Since my main interest is in classics, I browsed through their classics sub-category, and found 20.294 books in it—just fourth from Mystery & Detectives, Romances and Literary. Yayy…now I have found a new alternative to feed my ever-unsatisfied hunger of classics books!

But, to do justice to this new alternative, I should compare it with two existing online bookstores I usually visit to order my books: TBD and Amz. Frankly speaking, I was opening OpenTrolley's website with a hope that, because they are based in Singapore and Jakarta, they must have a “free delivery” concept as in TBD. I have been neglecting Amz lately because of the shipping rate (around $15 to Indonesia!), so that if I’d like to order a book from Penguin English Library collection, the shipping rate would be higher than the book price! That’s why I am now a frequenter of TBD (yay to free delivery!...).

Back to OpenTrolley, I was rather disappointed to find that they charge us a quite high shipping rate (IDR 18.000 or $1.8 to Surabaya). I know that the shipping rate is counted per order, not per book, so if I buy four books in one order, I assume the shipping rate would be the same. I’m only guessing that the warehouse is located in Singapore, so they must arrange a shipment to Jakarta office first, then forward it to our addresses, and this is which they charged us. I quite understand it, but still…. I still think that OpenTrolley should have created a more flexible shipping rate scheme. Rather than making it per order, maybe it’s better to have it per book. It would be fairer for us, and I think would give more orders to OpenTrolley.

Or, if the shipping rate scheme is remain unchanged, OpenTrolley should adjust their book price to be slightly lower. From my browsing before I picked a book I’d like to order, I was quite surprised at their quite expensive prices. Compared to TBD, OpenTrolley’s overall prices are still higher, and remember….TBD is “free delivery”, so in the end the total we pay for the same book is much cheaper than OpenTrolley.

Other than that, I am very satisfied with my first order to OpenTrolley (they gave me a free delivery along with the voucher, by the way :P). First, because they have books that are difficult to get at other book store; second, their response is fast; third, their satisfying shipping handling. I was so excited when I found the latest issue of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I then proceeded with the order and transferred the payment at the same day. The next day I received their payment receipt, and in the next four working days I have received the shipping acknowledgment. The book finally arrived one day after the acknowledgement, which is yesterday.

To my surprise, my book arrived with a secure and neat packaging. The paperback was wrapped in plastic shrink to avoid disfiguring during shipment, then neatly wrapped in a sheet of bubble plastic wrapper, and finally packed in a carton box, before being put inside the courier’s usual envelope. This is the first time I encounter such a safe and neat packaging containing only of one paperback (I got that treatment usually only for hardbacks). Thanks to OpenTrolley for making sure our books arrive in good condition, for, for booklovers, books are treasure, aren’t they? :)

So now, OpenTrolley has become one of my sources for ordering imported books. If only the prices were friendlier with free delivery service, I might consider ordering from them more frequently. I wish in no time OpenTrolley would spoil us with more discounts and bargain books! So, my fellow Indonesian classics-readers…do you like to try too? Just click, and happy shopping! :)