Meme in F

Dec. 21st, 2016 03:24 pm
heliopausa: (Default)
[personal profile] heliopausa
Recently I saw on tielan's journal a meme, which involved asking for a letter, and, being given it, thinking of five fiction characters for that letter, and offering comments and ideas about each one.  I liked the idea, so I asked her for a letter - she gave me... F

Fanny Price (Mansfield Park):  I love how her strengths shine in adversity - the Portsmouth scenes are just brilliant, showing her coping wonderfully with a shamingly (and deeply disappointingly) rowdy, quarrelsome, slovenly family.  And I like her steadiness when she's the more-or-less downtrodden nobody, too, and her clarity of vision.  Oh, and I really like the genuine affection between her and her brother.  I guess constancy and a kind of gallantry could be the words that come to mind.  But in prosperity she loses some of her virtues, I think - she is never guilty of any charity to her cousin-sisters that I can see - and she and Edmund end up, after all, replicating the pettily smug life once led by the Norrises  - safely ensconced in a family-held living, close to the big house - and profiting from plural benefices as well, despite the earlier high-minded talk about how only an on-the-spot clergyman can hope to do his duty adequately.

Friedrich Bhaer (Little Women series): Awfully worthy, of course, and I take the author's word for it about their long and happy marriage, but as a matter of fact, I can't really come at him, for Jo.  I try hard to explain it as the lure of a great mind - I could see that all right, easily!  Jo is just the sort of person whose mind could be set ablaze by great new ideas, brilliant intellectual debate, new worlds opening... except he doesn't ever actually show it.  (He gets argued to a standstill in the one philosophical debate we see him undertake.)   I wish the author had written him more compellingly intellectual, actually.  I wish she'd written him as revolutionary, as political refugee.  Ah well - he is what he is - lumbering, inelegant, beery, good-hearted, Jo's perpetual moral leader and guide (bleugh - I would like her to straighten him out, for once!)  .

Falstaff (Shakespeare): The most terrifically multi-sided supporting character in the whole of Shakespeare.  We see him roistering, cunning, cowardly, despicable, pitiable, using, used, rejected, despised, resilient - he's Blackadder and Baldrick both - and like them, suddenly inside-outs the comedy to end in grim death.  Liking him, not liking him - doesn't apply.  He blasts past like a windstorm.

Fantine (Les Miserables): I hate how much she loses and loses and loses, to the extent that it starts to seem wilful.  She seems to go out of her way to have the most horrible time she can.  Yes, devoted mother, but (sorry about this) stupid.  I mean - when her looks are her one great asset, to sell her teeth?!  So not bright, Fantine!  The first betrayal is pretty intolerable, though - I mean that rich men's stunt at the restaurant.  But come on, Fantine!  Take a bit of control for a change!

Miss Flite (Bleak House): She's a most unsettling character.  Her sudden, stabbing insights, and fluttering ways make her seem one of her own birds - her name's not accidental, I guess - and of course she's as caged as they are, fluttering against the bars, and will be freed, like them, when Judgement is delivered (ha!).  A caged bird, or a captive blind prophetess, maybe - a Sibyl, who spells out dark truths in riddles, or Cassandra, dismissed as mad by those around her who cannot hear what she believes she is saying plainly.  All of which makes her a tragic figure as well as an unsettling one.  (But then I find the whole of Bleak House unsettling.)

If anyone would like to play, I'll gladly give them a letter!

(I'm abashed to see, on reviewing what I've written, that I'm not wholeheartedly admiring about any of them.  Oops.)

Date: 2016-12-23 03:53 am (UTC)
autumnia: Central Park (Default)
From: [personal profile] autumnia
Still haven't read Mansfield Park... one day!

Not remembering much from Little Women but I still don't buy the Jo/Bhaer relationship at all. It never seemed realistic to me, no matter what Alcott says about their marriage.

And Falstaff! He's such a character. I was rewatching Henry IV and V from the Hollow Crown series a few days ago, and for all that he's so jovial and fun to be around, he really is such a villain if one looks beyond the jolly fat man he portrays most times in front of Hal. Falstaff is the complete opposite of Henry IV so I guess that's why he's such an appealing mentor to the rebellious prince. I liked F well enough until we got to the battle at Shrewsbury when we truly see for the first time what he's really like, hiding his cowardice behind his "kill" of Hotspur.

And oh yes, Fantine was definitely not very bright...
Edited Date: 2016-12-23 03:54 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-03 05:22 am (UTC)
transposable_element: (Default)
From: [personal profile] transposable_element
Coming in late here...

Louisa May Alcott didn't want Jo to marry at all. Jo was her alter-ego, and since Alcott herself was a spinster, she didn't want Jo to marry. She wanted to show that a woman could have a good, useful, fulfilling life without marrying. But her publishers insisted that Jo had to marry. My pet theory is that she deliberately married Jo to an anti-romantic character, a character that few readers like, a character who would in no way fulfill the expectations of a romantic hero.

By the way, if you want more of a Jo-like voice, I recommend Alcott's "Hospital Sketches," her account of her brief stint as a nurse during the US Civil War.

Date: 2017-01-03 06:39 pm (UTC)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
From: [personal profile] marmota_b
I would like to play! Of course, it's still a question whether you'll give me a letter I can really play with, but that's the fun of prompts. :-)

And happy new year!

Date: 2017-01-04 07:32 am (UTC)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
From: [personal profile] marmota_b
Just as I feared, you managed to hit on a letter that Czech names are highly unlikely to begin with, limiting my pool of options. :D
But don't worry, I've already got one, that's a start...


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