This is going to be a really short review. Because I did not finish the book and just watched the film instead. I found it far too tedious to continue reading it and the writing was a little too complex for me because I’m just more of a straightforward person.
Idealism v Reality (made from concentrate)
This is the primary theme of the book. We have the Schlegels – Margaret, Helen and Tibby – as the idealists and the Wilcoxes – (too many to list) – representing reality and hard facts. Which is better? To be honest.. Neither. Margaret took a shot at representing as a medium and I felt that to be a healthier way of viewing life. As much as I love Helen’s thoughtfulness, I did not enjoy her love of discussing theoretical principles that had no practical application and the Wilcox’s, although practical and pragmatic, were a little too hard-hearted. Then we have Leonard Bast who belongs to the working-class and is a simple clerk who attempts to pursue intellectual pursuits in order to enhance his mind and suffers as a result of this dogged determination quite literally.. As in a bookcase collapsed onto him (and he dies). What Forster did quite well was illustrate the shortcomings of all three attitudes: Charles Wilcox is charged with manslaughter and Helen becomes pregnant with Leonard’s baby as a result of their ideals and beliefs. What did I learn? Nothing much to be honest.. Well, except, the complexity of life. And to view things both objectively and with some compassion. Mind should consult heart and vice versa. That’s all peeps.
The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are things you get ashamed of, because words make them smaller. When they were in your head they were limitless; but when they come out they seem to be no bigger than normal things. But that’s not all. The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried; they are clues that could guide your enemies to a prize they would love to steal. It’s hard and painful for you to talk about these things … and then people just look at you strangely. They haven’t understood what you’ve said at all, or why you almost cried while you were saying it. – Stephen King, The Body… For me, personally, BEST QUOTE EVER.
Sometimes in life there really are bonds formed that can never be broken. Sometimes you really can find that one person who will stand by you no matter what. Maybe you will find it in a spouse and celebrate it with your dream wedding. But there’s also the chance that the one person you can count on for a lifetime, the one person who knows you sometimes better than you know yourself is the same person who’s been standing beside you all along. – Bride Wars
Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. – The Shawshank Redemption
Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend. – The Shawshank Redemption
Colin: Everyone thinks I’m going to die.
Mary: If everyone thought that about me, I still wouldn’t do it. – The Secret Garden
“It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before.” – The Secret Garden
One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live… surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place. – The Secret Garden
Love is a great beautifier. – Little Women
One time, when I was very little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples. – The Kite Runner
You are the jam to my donut. – Me (I know, poetic.)
Now in all my life, I have never come across a character who’s personality and personal growth has been almost exactly similar to mine. From the start, Mary Lennox was moody, unsociable, selfish, someeeewhat mean and extremely strong-willed. F.H.Burnett does a great job explaining how Mary was a product of her environment, her parents neglected her and left her in the hands of her Ayah (well – a string of Ayah’s) who she developed no sense of attachment and warmth for. However, once she arrives in England, settles down and discovers the garden, she also discovers the garden inside her that needs considerable tending to – with a little bit of help from Martha and Dickon Sowerby. One of the many things I love about Mary Lennox is her spirit and her ability to use her own initiative to look after herself and never take things lying down. She also develops a certain maturity that allows her to understand the emotions and feelings of others but she also knows how to lay it down and be downright honest when she needs to be. The only ones who are praiseworthy are the ones who can bear the blows of the hammer and emerge stronger as a result of it and Mary Lennox certainly belongs to that class.
2) Jane Eyre
Now where do I begin with this absolutely wonderful woman? Jane Eyre like Mary Lennox experiences a tumultuous childhood but emerges stronger (again, like Mary) with a little bit of help from her warm-hearted friend Helen. Jane faces challenges against her moral and spiritual sensibilities at Thornfield Hall, to a casual observer she would come across as a meek and dutiful governess but she stands her ground when Rochester aggravates her and faces him as an equal. Not only that, she refuses St. John’s proposal and challenges the idea of getting married without love and and the impropriety of accompanying St. John to India to aid him in his missionary work. Jane Eyre is a true role model who illustrates that you do not need to be beautiful and charming to be awesome, all you need is your independence, strength of will and confidence in yourself. You are more than the way you look and your social and economic status, you are also a complete person.
3) Jo March – Little Women
Now Jo is a character who is a more universally relatable character. She’s feisty, strong-willed, creative and introspective. She’s prone to reacting harshly i.e. when Amy burns Jo’s manuscript (which, incidentally, is harsh in itself!) and as a result, nearly gets Amy killed; she also fails to realise the importance of strengthening her relations with her great-aunt which costs her a trip to Europe and she also completes a series of blunders in New York by dedicating her writing skills to sensational stories until Professor Bhaer points out that she is wasting her talent. Moreover, she is socially awkward and quite a tomboy. However, these faults only serve to make her a very REALISTIC and endearing character because as readers, most of us can identify with her (I’m guessing!). We learn with her as she grows. She also displays considerable understanding of her own emotions when she refuses Laurie’s proposal (#TeamJoAndBhaer all the way) as she realised they’re both too emotionally … difficult to be able to work together. Love is a subjective concept and to my understanding it’s a feeling of warmth (but you also have to consult your reason if you’re considering a relationship/marriage!) and with Jo and Professor Bhaer that feeling certainly came across. Anyway, at the end of the book, Jo is running a boarding house for boys with her husband (Bhaer) and you can’t help but feel proud of her journey! I’m sure there are many Jo March’s out there sympathizing.
4) Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind
“Anyone as selfish and determined as you is never helpless.” Going after an innocent woman’s husband aside, Scarlett O’Hara is the epitome of determination and entrepreneurial spirit. While many may question her morals, she saved Tara and her family from being cast out of their home, she gave them food, shelter and comfort (and other luxuries not to mention!). I personally don’t feel bad for Suellen, let’s face it, if she married Frank she would have said adios amigos and got the hell out of there! You have to admire a resourceful woman who can create and visualise a dress from a freaking curtain and then use her beauty and charm as a weapon to lure away her sister’s fiance. I’ll admit there are other weapons to use but those were the best weapons at her disposal and boy did Scarlett make the most of it. I’m so glad that Scarlett finally understood Melanie’s worth even if it came at the latest stage possible because it did not seem like it would ever dawn on her at all, I think it was at that moment that Scarlett understood and respected other attitudes to life other than her own that are equally valid. Shame about Rhett Butler though, he was awesome.
5) Arya Stark and Sansa Stark – Game of Thrones
Now I want to do a side-by-side comparison of these two characters, it is possible to admire both of them despite these characters having personalities that are on the opposite spectrum of each other! Now I understand and relate to Arya, she doesn’t take any s***, she fights, she’s a tomboy, she’s not in the least bit charming (except to those who find honesty charming) or girly. Sansa on the other hand is a laaady, she’s gentle, charming, soft and romantic. Both these characters have their core values challenged but both rise to the challenge (yes, that includes Sansa too!). Let’s begin with Arya, she is separated from her family and off to God knows where (after losing Yoren), just learning how to survive.. and kill (of course). She befriends Gendry and Hot Pie, learns how to kill from the Hound and is now under the tutelage of Jaqen H’Ghar training to become a Faceless Man and delivers swift justice to that perv Meryn Trant. Not bad for a little girl! Now Sansa, on the other hand, is criticized for being soft and not taking control of her life. I think the context has to be considered here because I find that most compare her to Margaery. Margaery came with the power of Highgarden, the Tyrell army, Loras Tyrell and with ample tutelage from Olenna Tyrell, she was OBVIOUSLY going to be much better prepared in dealing with Joffrey. Sansa grew up in Winterfell which, let’s face it, is the ONLY NORMAL PLACE in the whole of Westeros with the example of her parents set before her. Moreover, when she arrived at King’s Landing, while Arya was being given ‘dancing’ lessons, Ned Stark hid his true feelings about the Lannisters from Sansa so naturally she had no clue what was going on. The only criticism I have against her is when she lied about Arya and as a result lost Lady. Unlike Ned, she learned quickly from her mistakes. When she watched her father lose his head, it was her first true lesson and she adapted quickly. She learnt to keep her mouth shut and comply with the Lannister’s requests but whilst staying true to herself which shows she has both brain and heart. Let’s not forget that Sansa was also urging Joffrey to enter the battle where it’s thickest because he’s brave unlike her traitor brother Robb. I would really love to see Sansa and Arya come out alive at the end with Arya becoming a mini-Brienne and Sansa becoming the queen in the North.
6) Ginny Weasley – Harry Potter Series
Now I know most love Hermione Granger, I love her too, she is an excellent role-model but realistically speaking as much as I respect her campaign for Elfish rights I can imagine that she might be a bit too in my face about it (if the character existed). Realistically, I can imagine getting along with Ginny Weasley. She’s sporty, she’s fun, confident, laid-back, funny, kind, brave and cut-throat honest. She’s basically a super, super cool girl with an endless list of amazing attributes. She’s not afraid to speak her mind but she knows how to take it easy as well whereas I feel like Hermione can be a little scared of being completely honest sometimes. I remember in the book when Luna was getting teased and Ginny stood up to the bullies, when Harry was being a bit of a little bitch (I still love Harry) and Ginny told him to calm his pants and when Ron threw a tantrum when he saw her kissing Dean and she absolutely slaughtered him and I just couldn’t help but admire this fiesty, bold woman. Ginny Weasley is a firecracker, kissed by fire fo’ sho’.
7) Katniss Everdeen – Hunger Games Trilogy
Last but not least – the Girl On Fire. Katniss Everdeen is the ultimate guardian, she would probably be the dad friend in your group of friends. She is mature, responsible, resourceful and minds her own damn business. When her mother broke down after her father’s death, she took the responsibility to provide for her family. She volunteers in her sister’s place (not saying anyone wouldn’t!) and not gonna lie that scene was totes emosh. Moreover, she befriends the elderly and children and sees the worth in Peeta when he can’t see it in himself which shows her compassionate nature. She is also extremely practical, she understands in the first book that she has to be cautious with her words and actions and like our dear Sansa keeps her true feelings to herself until it becomes safe enough to do so in the final book. Katniss basically gets s*** done without making a fuss about it and that’s why she’s one of the top female characters in literature.
And that concludes the list. Let me know who you would add to the list and what you think of the current list I’ve compiled.