Archives

Movie Review: Lady Bird

lady_bird_ver2_xlg-693x1024

There’s lots of hype around this small movie. It’s nominated for (several?) academy awards, which should have been an indication of it’s awfulness. But instead my interest was peaked, so I went to see it with Red.

Bad decision.

This movie is full of all things Hollywood praises and glorifies. Full of things anti-Catholic, anti-life, anti-true love.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a high-school senior at a Catholic girls school in Sacramento California, which she has been attending ever since a knifing incident at the local public school. “Lady Bird” is a self-given name. She has the idea that people should choose their own names, because it should reflect who you want to be, who you identify as. Instead of a name given by someone else who can’t identify you better then yourself. Her older brother is a goth – we’re talking 2002 here – whose girlfriend has moved into the family home. Her dad is a hard working, loving father, gentle and non-confrontational, who gets laid off during the movie. Her mom is a nurse, working hard to help support the family, but butts heads with her headstrong daughter on a constant basis. The movie goes through Lady Bird’s senior year, and into the first bit of her college experience.

Christine goes to a Catholic school. The perfect setting for leftists to insult, belittle, and stamp their feet against the Catholic Faith. In one scene, Ladybird and her best friend Julie are lying on the floor with their feet up against the wall, munching on a box of “communion bread” they took from the sacristy. When a fellow student happens upon them and scorns them for such behaviour, Julie replies, “they’re not consecrated”. This implies that the girls do in fact believe the consecrated hosts would be untouchable in the sacred sense, and yet they have no respect for what the current unconsecrated hosts are used for, what they will become. Not to mention it’s a vile sitting position for any young lady wearing a skirt to be in.

In another scene, Ladybird is annoyed with an old nun teacher, and after class, covers the back of the nuns car with a “just married to Jesus” sign and other paraphernalia. It was done with the intent of insult. (Though we later hear the nun admit she found it comical, even correcting Lady Bird by saying that it was technically incorrect, since she’s been married to Jesus for 60 years. This scene was a nice moment between the two characters. After the nuns kindness in another area, Christine owns her previous act, and apologizes for it. The nun’s reaction of chuckles and love was a good testament to the holiness and love of nuns in general.)

The priest who runs the theatre production at school leaves half way through the year. The kids are disappointed by this. We learn in a scene when the priest is at the hospital, talking with a nurse who happens to be Lady Bird’s mom, that he suffers from severe depression. The next scene is three of the high-school kids gossiping about him, when one girl tells Lady Bird and her boyfriend Danny that the priest was married long ago but they lost their son and he later became a priest. Something of that sort. The next priest who takes over the theatre production is a football coach, and, though his team coaching approach to stage was comical, he was put in the light of incapability. Both priestly characters in the film were depicted as weak and somewhat inferior, men to be laughed at, not men to be admired and respected. Very typical Hollywood approach to priest characters. And very nauseatingly stupid. The many priests I know are all admirable, strong men, despite their weaknesses.

In another scene, an auditorium of teenage students are listening to a woman speak about abortion. Lady Bird is rolling her eyes throughout. The speaker tells the story of a woman who chose not to abort, and after a few guesses from students, reveals that that mother was her own, and that she was the baby who was almost aborted. Gasps all around, but Lady Bird makes a comment under her breath, and when asked to speak up, says “just because something looks to be bad, doesn’t mean it is.” (Note: there is no denial in this statement that the baby is a human.) The speaker asks her to explain, and Lady Bird nastily replies that if her mother had aborted her, they wouldn’t all have to sit there and listen to her blab about how wrong abortion is. The woman is rendered speechless, clearly hurt. This scene was disgusting to me. It shows the truly despicable view of the value of human life which leftists, feminists, SJW’s, Hollywood, and all other groups who have denounced God and advocate for Satan himself have.

The mention of Lady Bird’s boyfriend Danny brings me to another point. Hollywood WOULD make the good, kind boy from a large Irish Catholic family a closet homosexual who “comes out” during the movie. He and Ladybird meet when they both audition for musical theatre. She is spellbound by his voice and charisma, he falls for her unique quirks. She makes a typical liberal’s remark on his rowdy younger brothers in the grocery store. Somehow he overlooks that, laughing it off, and falls for her anyways. For starters, good catholic boys do not fall for women who insult their beloved family. If he does fall for you after you insult his beloved large catholic family, he is not worth your time, because he lacks the strength and conviction to stand up for who and what he loves. Their relationship seems good, they are becoming closer friends, falling more for each other with every deeper conversation. They exchange “I love you” ‘s. Then Lady Bird walks into the boys bathroom after their first theatre show to skip the long line at the ladies room and opens the door of a stall to find Danny and another boy making out. She freezes and scurries out of the washroom. She avoids him after this, giving him the cold shoulder. He gently and timidly tries to get her attention by eye contact, which she avoids. Finally Danny walks into the café she works at one day. She walks out to the garbage, he meets her out there. He attempts a timid “Can we talk?” “You’re gay!” she shouts at him. Danny breaks down into tears, saying he knows, and he’s so sorry, and he is scared of what will happen, how he will tell his family, how they will respond, and that he needs a friend. Your heart breaks for this poor boy who is lost and confused and terrified of what he is going through. It’s exactly the reaction Hollywood is manipulating your emotions into throughout the whole relationship. We have every reason to like Danny. He even tells Lady Bird earlier on that he respects her too much to treat her in a “meat” type of fashion when she tells him it’s OK to touch her inappropriately. Yet another reason to like this Nice Catholic Boy.  And then out of nowhere, he is suddenly gay. (But then of course you are re-thinking his reaction to touching her, since perhaps he didn’t want to because he is gay and has no interest in touching females.) And yet you see that they truly do care for each other. Christine hugs him, holding him close with tender affection and support, and tells him it’ll be OK. So we have a great example of love here. For they DO love each other in a good friendship way, that much is clear. But somehow a disordered lust gets in the way, and we are supposed to feel sympathy, weeping for this poor boy whose family won’t understand his homosexual choices.

In the latter half of the year, Ladybird befriends a rather aloof, quiet, darker minded youth, Kyle, when she inserts herself into the “popular kids” group. Their rebellious, odd personalities click from the start. She states one day during a heated make-out session that she hasn’t had sex and isn’t ready yet. Kyle responds in kind, leading us to believe that he has never slept around before. Later she asks her mom when it’s normal to start having sex, to which her mom replies “in college, but remember we talked about being safe, so use precautions.” Lady Bird and Kyle are in his bedroom one day when she says she’s ready. There’s a very explicit scene which I hastily closed my eyes and plugged my ears to, the type of scene any Catholic striving for holiness would avoid. Afterwards, Lady Bird is gushing that they “de-flowered” each other. Kyle bluntly responds that he’s had sex before her, with… he counts… six others, he thinks. She goes into a very emotional headspace. After that she and Kyle don’t spend much time together. Shocking.

The relationship between Lady Bird and her mom, Marion, is an on-going issue. Her name is a sore point – Christine wants to be called Lady Bird, “as if her given name isn’t good enough”. They bicker about anything and everything, and the bickering turns to screaming matches. Inter-mingled with these are a few mother-daughter bonding scenes. Lady Bird wants to be loved and accepted for who she is/who she wants to be, by her mom. But Marion doesn’t want to settle for the person Lady Bird thinks she wants to be. She wants and expects better for her daughter. The mother struggles to connect with the daughter. We learn from Marion, in an explosive moment, that her  father was a physically abusive drunk. Suddenly the struggles make sense, because Marion is forever battling the baggage from her childhood, and Christine is very similar in personality to her, so naturally, they butt heads.

There is a short scene between Lady Bird and her brother’s girlfriend (both characters Christine doesn’t get along with) when they are smoking outside, and Lady Bird makes a comment about her mom. The goth girlfriend, who doesn’t say much throughout the entire move, says that Christine’s mom is great, if only Lady Bird could see how much her mom loves her. She is tough, but it’s only out of love. Coming from a girl who was kicked out of her mother’s home due to premarital sex, and has a lot of family baggage herself, I thought this was a rather good scene, because despite her issues, she is able to see and appreciate love when she sees it.

When Christine packs up and leaves for college across the country, Marion is angry that Christine has gone expressly against her wishes that she remain close to home and go to a less expensive college. Lady Bird is angry that her mom doesn’t support her decision, and seems to want less for her daughter than what Lady Bird wants for herself, leaving Lady Bird feeling selfish and upset. Marion makes several attempts to write her feelings for her daughter out in a letter to Lady Bird, but only winds up with a pile of crumpled, half written letters. When driving to the airport, she stubbornly refuses to get out of the car to see Christine off. As she drives around the block, we see the emotional path she’s going through, and she eventually pulls back, parks, and runs into the airport to say good-bye and tell her she loves her. But she is too late. She merely runs into the arms of her loving husband, who tells her that Christine knows, through the anger and the hurt, how her mom feels.

At college in the big city, Lady Bird feels a bit lost. She doesn’t have those she loves around, she doesn’t feel she fits, and she begins to identify herself as “Christine” once again, realizing that the name really does fit her identity as a person, growing up with the parents she has, her childhood, etc, instead of the chosen name Lady Bird. At the airport, her dad had given her the pile of crumpled half-written letters from her mom, so that Christine would perhaps realize how very much her mom really does love her. And she does realize this. The ending scene, Christine leaves a heartfelt message on her parents answering machine, saying it’s Christine calling, that she misses them, she loves them, the point coming across that she loves where she came from, and who they are, and who she is, and wants to keep growing into that person.

 

The general concept of this movie isn’t a bad one. Lady Bird is rebellious, headstrong, her own individual, and thinks “the grass is greener on the other side”. She is ashamed of where she comes from, her family’s financial struggles. She longs for the big city life, the bigger house, the nicer car, etc. She goes through growing pains, learns from her mistakes, and finally realizes that what she was given is good, and she loves and longs for it again. By the end of the movie, we are satisfied that Christine is finally through her rebellious teenage years, and finally appreciates what she’s been given in life.

But everything in between was the crap that leftists throw at us left, right and centre. The constant stream of anti-Christian proclamations coming from all around us, glorified in a movie, that has now gained so much traction within Hollywood, and therefore being watched by more and more people, brainwashing them to believe and advocate for these same anti-Christian views.

So no, don’t watch this film. It’s a waste of time. Your time would be more fruitfully spent praying for the makers of this film, and the rest of Hollywood that tries to desperately to corrupt young minds at any chance they get.

 

 

Advertisements

2018 Book 1: Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

51a00fea23e922cf227b03116753aaa7--pirate-art-black-sails I’m rather certain I’d never read a novel about pirates until now. Not having seen the old ‘Treasure Island’ movie since I was very young, I didn’t actually remember any of the story. I only knew there was a scary pirate villain with a peg leg whom I was terrified of as a kid. But that’s rather obvious for, possibly, the most well-known pirate tale of all time.

Young Jim Hawkins is thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when old pirate Captain Flint dies in the Hawkins family inn/tavern. Brought on board the Hispaniola as cabin boy, he and three other respectable men, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, and Captain Smollett, set out with a new crew, including ship’s cook Long John Silver, to find buried treasure, following the map of the infamous and deceased Captain Flint. Some time into their journey, Jim happens to overhear a conversation between Long John Silver and another hand, understanding their plot of mutiny and murder once they reach the treasure. Bringing this to his friends attention, all four, together with a very few other faithful crew members, begin a long and treacherous adventure, fighting for their lives. We also meet Ben Gunn, a marooned crew member from Captain Flint’s crew, who joins Jim and his friends in their quest for treasure, safety, and out-smarting the mutineers.

The rest I’ll leave to you to find out, if you are like me and hadn’t read this young reader’s classic. Reading pirate lingo conversation was a new experience for me, but it was fun, and a few times I put the book down smiling with anticipation over what the next chapter would bring.

2017 Book 13: Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life, by Dorothy Cummings

seraphic-singles-083777079I fully appreciate that being single around multiple married and engaged friends can be disheartening. I’m typically not one for being sad or miserable, I can always find the pleasure and good things in any situation and enjoy it for what it is. Not everyone can flex this ability at will. But I believe if one tries hard enough and often enough (in other words, if one practises), one has this ability, and need only do just that – practise it. With time and prayer, it will become easier. It has become easier for me as well, even if it is inherent in my nature.

I recently ordered a copy of “Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love the Single Life”, by Dorothy Cummings McLean. I began reading the blog “Seraphic Singles” a number of years ago and enjoyed it very much. I still read the bloggers new blog (though I’ll admit I do miss reading her posts about the single life). I read the first couple chapters a number of years ago, and have wanted to read the rest of the book ever since. I ordered it on Amazon (inexpensive and quick shipping – ah Amazon!) and zipped through it quickly, with lots of laughs along the way! Many passages I read out to Library, even though she had already read the book. We laughed-out-loud over various circumstances and tales, I even read some to Capital D&M and the rest of the pack while lounging on their couch one Sunday.

In short, it’s an hilarious read, even for non-singles. But for singles, Dorothy has a spunky, positive, balanced, and full-of-life approach to living life as a single twenty or thirty something, whether “searching” or “seraphic”. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re feeling the “singles blues” over this Christmas season, or any time of the year! Even if you’re content with where you are, this book is a barrel of laughs, and a reminder to remain happy and positive, no matter where God has you right now in life.

2017 Book 12: Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen

5105241079_ee4cc7a5dc_b

 

It had been such a very long time since I’d read this book, I thought it should count as part of my book reviews for 2017. It was such a good time reading this one again, I wonder I haven’t picked it up in so long. I had forgotten how I like Lizzy. (Warning: Austen man-loving about to ensue…) I had also forgotten how well I like Mr. Darcy. Although, let’s talk real here, Mr. Knightly will always be my favourite. Now that that Darcy-Knightly proclamation has been made, let’s appreciate a few character traits in the heroine & hero.

Lizzy’s humourous and positive approach. She is able to see most everything from a lighter perspective, not taking anything so seriously that it affects her in a negative way. I would actually go so far as to say she isn’t actually “offended” by Darcy’s insult at the Meryton assembly, but rather she is so taken aback by such a negative and self-important pride that she decides Mr. Darcy’s opinion is meaningless to her, and she would rather avoid his company then be exposed to such negative arrogance. She is a person who finds joy wherever possible, and these types of people are repelled by anything seeming like a negative vortex. I can fully appreciate this trait. She is strong-willed, but not stubborn, since she will listen to another side of a story (ie. Darcy’s side of the Darcy-Wickham story, as well as Charlotte’s reasoning for marrying the ridiculous Mr.Collins) openly, despite thinking she already knew all that was necessary. She knows herself and her own mind well, and isn’t afraid to speak it when prompted. Lizzy also fosters good and healthy relationships with those she trusts and admires, namely her sister Jane, her Father, aunt & uncle Gardiner, as well as her aunt Phillips. She is patient with her trying mother, despite often being the bud of said mother’s vexation. She is far from perfect – she can get haughty in her sass, her second chances only come to those who first prove they deserve it, and her wit is occasionally uncharitable in it’s sarcasm and pointedness. But she is also very real, she doesn’t mince words (and yet she isn’t abrupt or rude) and what you see is what she is. She isn’t manipulative or over-sensitive. And I especially love her relationship with her father.

Mr. Darcy’s genuine masculinity. Darcy is in no way effeminate. It’s refreshing to read about male characters that possess such virtuous qualities in a time when women are wrapped up with effeminate, disturbing male characters in the latest “New York Times Best Sellers”. Darcy is a good brother, he loves and care for his younger sister with such attention, somewhat making up for the lack of their father’s presence. Despite being wrong in his judgement, I can’t fault him for persuading Charles away from Jane. He took care to observe Jane for the sake of his friends happiness, found her attachment lacking (as it appeared to him) and then took action to keep his friend from a match that Darcy was convinced would not bring Charles happiness. Of course we all know Darcy was wrong in his conclusion of Jane’s feelings, but the fact that he went through efforts to watch out for his friend in this way proves that he is a good and trustworthy friend to have. This is certainly one of the reasons Charles and he are such good friends. (More men could use friends like Darcy, in my opinion!) Jane is also not a very open person, and therefore the way she comes across to others can be vastly different then what goes on in her head. Ergo, Darcy wins, despite being wrong. I will admit he’s pretty arrogant once we come to Elizabeth, or rather, her family. But honestly, once he realizes he really does love her, and isn’t just infatuated with her, I respect the fact that he wanted to marry her despite her ridiculous relations – even if his wording and tactic weren’t stellar. But come on, what guy really does have perfect wording and tactics? Hallmark men are not real men. I much prefer the Darcy’s to the Hallmark men.

I will most likely not be waiting so long to read this book again.

Side note: I love that Mr. Bennett is so supportive of Lizzy’s wish to marry Darcy. Lizzy & her father have a great relationship. Lizzy is his sanity in a world of silly women. The fact that he trusts her judgement enough to give his blessing on a match he thought bizarre and out-of-the-blue to a man he thought wasn’t good enough for her, shows how strongly he trusts her judgement. A real tribute to their strong bond.

 

 

2017 Book 11: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

 

northanger abbey henry tilney

I approve of J.J.Field’s Henry Tilney

 

Naturally S&S put me into an Austen kick, and I picked up the other Austen novel I had never read. I had heard years ago that Northanger Abbey was a ghost story, and quite different then Austen’s other novels. Well, reader, this is only true in part. It is not a ghost story, and it is quite different then her other novels.

Catherine is the oldest daughter of a parson’s large family, and receives the excitement of her life when asked to accompany her mother’s friend & husband to Bath for the season. She meets new friends – some unsavoury characters, others quite savoury – that shift her life and character for the better. Her explosive imagination leads her down some paths she should not have allowed her mind to wander down. But that’s as far as the “ghost” department goes

It’s not as widely a read novel as Austen’s others, so in the hope of avoiding spoilers for those who have yet to read it, I’ll end there with the plot outline.

But I must have an honourable mention for Henry Tilney. What a solid character with excellent male leadership. He is one of Austen’s good clergyman (not all of her clergymen are laughable characters). I love that, though Henry easily loves Catherine’s amiable, sweet and innocent nature, he is not afraid to correct her wrong doings (in all gentleness and charity) or show disappointment in her conduct when due. I also love that Catherine nearly worships the words he utters. She is very young and inexperienced, but there is a goodness in him that Catherine picks up on immediately, and his opinion becomes all that matters – none of her (worthless) friends opinions compare to Henry’s. Because he holds high standards for himself, those around him are also brought to hold higher standards for themselves. Catherine easily aspires to be that much better, that much more virtuous. And really, isn’t that what love should do?

The second preconceived notion I had about this novel turned out to be true. The tone of this novel is very different then Austen’s other main works. It has a constant comical oddness about it that differentiates it from her other novels – almost a slightly mocking story-tellers tone, as if telling a fairytale to young minds in need of learning what not to do. I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what is it, but the tone difference is apparent in even the first few paragraphs of the book, and I found myself laughing quite often over Austen’s narrative.

 

2017 Book 10: Sense & Sensibility, by Jane Austen

 

Addition08MorahanSteevens

2008 BBC version. Arguably the most beautiful “finally!” on screen love moment

Confession: I had never actually read S&S before now. Shocking, I know. But now I have.

Since I’ve seen both versions of the movie countless times, I initially visualized certain characters as the different actors portrayed (which is always a con of watching movies before reading the books – your imagination is stumped by the movie). But I found the further in I read, the more my own imagination took over the various characters and now it’s basically a separate story from the movie, which I am happy about.

Let’s talk characters, since we pretty much all know the story and I don’t feel the need to give a plot outline.

Miss Lucy Steele: Ugh. She’s awful. The movies portray her as a slyly friendly and somewhat bratty young woman. But she’s actually so much worse. She is manipulative and nasty, with the façade of being sweet and innocent. She is probably what many good men fear – a beautiful woman being more focused on his money and her own desires then truly loving him. Lucy uses Edward very badly – they rashly become engaged at a young age, and despite his obvious indifference now, she holds him to it, feigning ignorance to his indifference, and in fact playing up their “deep love”. She treats Elinor with contempt, layered in a thick coat of familiarity and friendship. Yet ever-good Elinor is nothing but patient and accepting of this.

Mrs. Jenkins & Sir John: Austen does love her ridiculous characters. But what I do appreciate in these two (along with Miss Bates in “Emma”) is their utter and complete desire to treat their friends kindly and do everything they can for said friends. Yes they try Elinor & Mariann’e patience at times, embarrass them, and have a jolly laugh at their expense when it comes to teasing about men. But they always mean well, even if they don’t perceive how they are trying their friends. There is no reason to dislike these two characters, save for their being overly accommodating to the point of frustration (which is in fact NOT a reason to dislike someone).

Mrs. Dashwood: Oh that more of the world had mothers like Mrs. Dashwood! She is all feminine tenderness, motherly affection, and earnest love for her family. She has her faults, which include allowing her sensibilities too much freedom. But she loved and relied on her husband, who, based on references toward him, I gather, was her counter-balance in that regard. She does all she can by her daughters in kindness, love and concern.

John Willoughby: Scoundrel. (Ever so slightly comforting that he did fall in love with Marianne during the time he was simply amusing himself with her, which he wasn’t expecting. It doesn’t change that he’s a scoundrel, but at least he is the worse off between the two, since he knew he would long for her years after she’d forgotten about him).

John Dashwood: Pathetic excuse for a brother and man. I’d sock him a good one if he were my brother. Thankfully my brothers are men. The only redeeming quality about him is that he has a genuine concern for his sister’s well-being – even if he’s incapable of doing anything worth while to make it come about, or man-up against his wife.

Fanny Farrars Dashwood: Worst sister-in-law ever. Selfish, snobby, the sister-in-law equivalent to an evil-stepmother.

Marianne: Sensibility. Marianne wears her heart on her sleeve, takes and gives everything as it is. She is innocent, if naïve, and assumes the world is the beautiful, perfect place she assumes it to be. She lacks prudence in discerning the characters of others, and follows Willoughby’s lead in being uncharitable in thought and word against Colonol Brandon, whom she finds boring and stiff. (I would note that Willoughby finds fault in Colonol Brandon only on account of Brandon’s over-all goodness and seeming severity. Hardly things to be considered faults in such a virtuous character – might Willoughby feel animosity towards Colonol Brandon because of the inferiority he feels when around the Colonol?). Marianne means well in all she does, though she lacks the sense and discernment that Elinor has.

As a side note, in Austen’s day, “sensibility” meant something quite different then it’s current meaning today. In Austen’s writings it refers to one being strongly affected or lead by one’s emotions, or one’s actions being emotionally influenced. “Sensitivity” would be the world we use nowadays in place of “sensibility”.

Colonol Brandon: Ahh, what a man. Perhaps he is seemingly severe in his quiet and strength. But his genuine care, attention, and kindness to his friends (and even friends of his friends he has never met) is an humble and unassuming virtue. He has loved and lost, but holds true to love as it expanded to a child in need of him. He is upright, thoughtful, generous, and unshakable in his character. Would that any Marianne’s of the world be given a man such as Brandon.

Edward Ferrars: Oh Edward, you dear, you. The poor man was badly done by, at the hand of everyone who should have been caring for him. The kind, genuine and uncomplicated young man spent so much time in Plymouth because he found a tutor and friends who appreciated him, and whose company he enjoyed more then his own dreadfully stuck-up family. Naturally, with a mother and sister such as his, he would be starved for female affection, and easily fell for the steely Lucy (please take a moment to appreciate my witty pun, for puns are not my forte). But alas, his young age quickly matured and he realized his mistake. For he had, in fact, engaged himself to a dame just as cold as his mother and sister. Elinor’s friendship is precisely the female companionship his gentle, honourable self was in need of. But, his honour, or rather, attention to Lucy’s honour, holds him to his engagement. As awful as Lucy is, it’s the same awful in her we dislike that brings her to transfer her “affection” from Edward to his brother Robert, and she breaks off the engagement with Edward herself. Bravo! Our hero will finally be free to marry the one woman he adores for her virtue. The two are so well suited.

Elinor: Sense. I gathered that Elinor’s character was similar to her deceased father. She was “her father’s daughter” it would seem. After his death, she is the strength of the family. She holds her mother and sisters up, she is the sense and leadership in a family of women desperately in need of their patriarchal leader. (That’s right, I just used the words ‘need’ and ‘patriarch’ in the same sentence.) Her wise, sensible, balanced, and kind approach to life helps her mother to make more balanced decisions, encourages her sister to higher virtue, is the draw of a friendship with kindred spirit Colonol Brandon. These are also the very virtues that enkindle such a true love from our virtuous hero Edward. I appreciated that the book contains a less perfect Elinor, we read her faults – her personal anxiety and frustration with Lucy Steele – but we also read her unshakable kindness and patience with Lucy in public and when speaking of her to others, even during the most trying social times. Elinor must be one of the most virtuous fictional female characters who’s story I’ve read.

And now that I’ve finally read Sense & Sensibility, my mind is slightly more at ease in the classic literature department. And doubtless, I’ll read it many more times in future. But seriously, Colonol Brandon though.

 

 

 

 

2017 Book 9: Tess of the D’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy

Oh where do I even begin!? This is quite likely the most tragic of novels I’ve read.

***SPOILER ALERT***

tess1.jpgThe story begins with a beautiful, virtuous, innocent girl of 17, and ends with a broken, beaten down spirit of a woman who once was. Tess is a victim from the start. Her misery is sparked by a few regular ever-day actions which lead to a mis-hap, killing the family horse. Since the horse is the means of her family’s income, Tess feels it is her fault/responsibility to make up for the lost income and well-being of her family. Her mother’s idea to marry her off to a supposedly distant family member by sending her to work on his property where he will obviously fall in love with her, is the first phase of her life long misery, the beginning of her detriment.

Alec D’Uberville is a villain if there ever was one. Smooth talking and persistent, he takes advantage of Tess’ sweet and vulnerable nature, quite literally leading her through the forest, manipulating her emotions, and when she is exactly where he wants her, he takes what he wants. Claiming love from the start, Alec persists, during the three months following, that he wants to marry her. Tess is forever pushing him away, verbally, physically, emotionally. But to her he is somewhat of a viper, tranquilizing her into eventually being unable to avoid him any longer. Knowing him to be evil, Tess packs up and leaves when she realizes she is with child. Despite knowing how wretched Alec was from the moment she met him, Tess somehow feels that she is to blame.

Tess goes back to her parents home in shame, but her mother, knowing that she should have been more considerate towards Tess’s innocence, takes her back without qualms. A few months later Tess gives birth to a little boy, and lives the next year in her childhood village as an outcast, where she toils day by day with her child on her back. Her pride as well as her disdain for him keeps her from asking Alec D’Uberville for anything. Tess often has mixed emotions towards her child, though she loves him unconditionally. He is the only beam of sunshine her sad life contains. But after a year, her little joy becomes ill, and despite every effort Tess makes throughout the night, he dies. She had the minister called during the night as her little one fought for his life, and requested a baptism. She didn’t want him to suffer the sins of his father, she wanted him to rest in peace. But the minister refuses to baptize her son, claiming that children born of sin have no place in heaven. By dawn her little one takes his last breath, but not before Tess herself baptizes her son. Again, her son isn’t granted a place in the cemetery, and one night Tess goes out into the dark and buries her little boy alone, leaving a cared for but nameless grave behind her.

Tess leaves her parents home for a job as a milkmaid at Talbothay’s farm, where her story isn’t well known and may only be heard through rumour or speculation. She tries to make a clean start of life. But instead of living a secluded, hidden life, she meets Angel Clare. Angel is an apprentice farmer, having walked away from potentially living the clergy way of life. He and Tess have a certain chemistry between them that the other girls admire and pathetically mourne for. Angel is seemingly exceedingly good and forthright, an honest and hard working man. For as long as she can Tess keeps him at a distance despite her growing attraction and love for him – “for his own sake” she claims, due to her past. She believes herself unfit for such a man, that he would despise her once the truth is known of her (through no fault of her own) impurity. But Angel continues in persuading her, claiming that nothing she could possibly have done would ever warrant the removal of his love for her. Eventually Tess’s heart over-rules her head, and she accepts his proposal.

Tess and Angel marry. The day is pure bliss for both of them. But they each had a secret they didn’t want to divulge to the other. Once Angel has secured her in marriage, he feels the need to come clean. Angel admits to Tess that he was once with another, by his own choice and actions, and begs her forgiveness. Once Tess hears this, she feels compelled to tell Angel about her own past, with sure hope that he will forgive her as readily as she forgives him, and they can continue this new life in openness. But nope. Angel is stunned into silence by her story, and says he needs time to think things over. SAY WHAAT!!!??? He literally just says “hey babe, I slept with this girl one time, but I didn’t love her, and I love you, I was young and foolish, can you forgive me?” And of course Tess’s heart forgives this love of hers, because it was in his past, and isn’t who he is today. Then Tess says “since we’re on the topic, I was raped a few years ago by a horrible man, had a baby, my baby died, and then I came here.” And Angel’s response is “wow, you’re not as pure and good as I thought. I’ll have to think things through, this sort of changes all the vows I just made to you five hours ago.”

Angel decides to go away for a spell, across the ocean, where he had originally been thinking of taking Tess to farm with him. He leaves money at Tess’s disposal so that she might not want for anything while he takes time to think and just be far away from everything he knows. Tess humbly and quietly accepts this, returning to her parents home for the time being, dreadfully unsure of her future, and for some reason still believing that she is completely to blame for Angel’s change of tune towards her.

At this point of the novel, I had to put it down for a while. I picked up some “Anne” books instead because, to be honest, this story was just too tragic and depressing for me to handle. Both men made me nauseous. Tess’s lack of gumption when it came to telling both men off drove me insane. Her humility is admirable, but I also found it too much. There is virtue in humility, no doubt about it. But there is also virtue in strength and will power for justice’s sake. And Tess allowed these two men to take terrible advantage of her. Yes she was done a horrible disservice by her mother, who kept her in the dark when it comes to the world of men. And I don’t necessarily think anything she could have said or done would have changed either of these men’s actions. But had her character responded differently,  I think she could have stirred something in each man that would have made them feel disgust for their behaviour as well as remorse and a proper way of dealing with things afterwards. The tragic circumstances and lack of immoveable goodness in every single character of the book (except Tess) was just too much. I had to put it down for a spell.

The rest of the story continues in just as much tragedy. Now Tess is forced to live a life of toil, since she won’t use any more of the money her husband left for her and is determined to find her own way, while being committed legally and emotionally to a man who has more or less deserted her. It’s horrible. Then Alec comes back on the scene, and he is smooth and disgusting and she is fighting to be rid of him. She FINALLY feels anger towards Angel when she realizes she can’t hold Alec off much longer. The man she loves – who loves her – has left her to be swallowed up by a fiend, without so much as a backward glance.

Eventually she does give in. Alec uses his wealth and her fatherless family’s situation to manipulate her into – quite literally – a life of sin. Fully aware that her strength is weakening, Tess writes a hostile letter to Angel; first accusing him, reproaching him, and finally imploring him. But by the time Angel receives her letter, months have gone by, Tess is trapped, and Angel has already realized his injudiciousness.

Angel hunts Tess down, and after seeing him, it sets something off in her that crazes the mind of one who has been badly used by too many people for far too long. She sends him away in a cold manner. She returns upstairs, and ends up stabbing Alec to death after an argument. She runs after Angel, and they spend the next six days in compete bliss, hiding from the world for as long as they can. Tess doesn’t actually feel remorse for her crime. She feels a sort of freedom, even though she knows she’ll face death once she is found. And yet she is at peace with it. She expects it to come, and simply wants to enjoy the few days she has with her love before she is arrested and sentenced.

The morning before her arrest, Tess convinces Angel to take with her younger sister after she is gone. Liza-Lu – who is most similar to Tess of anyone else – is the only creature in the world “good enough” for him, Tess claims, and Tess couldn’t bare for Angel to be alone once she is dead. Liza will be a consolation to him, she claims. And it would put Tess’ sole ally in the care and protection of the only man Tess ever loved and trusted. Even after everything Angel put her through, Tess is good enough to be considering his welfare after she is gone. Certainly he is undeserving. But Tess is that virtuous.

Angel and Liza-Lu watch Tess’s execution from afar. They turn, hand-in-hand, away from their pure and loving wife & sister.

The only consolation in the ending of this story is that Tess is free from the horrible injustice and abuse she received throughout her life from the hands of all those around her.

I knew I would be reading a depressing story in Tess of the D’Ubervilles. But I didn’t realize it was THIS tragic.