Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January Classics Club Meme 2014

I suppose I can answer my own suggested question for The Classics Club's January Meme:
Which character from classic literature is most important or influential to you and why? Or which character do you most despise and why?
I remember when I was reading The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, I loathed Gilbert Osmond.  If you have read this book, then you know it is a given because Osmond is not supposed to be a likable character; and in that sense, James was effective in creating such a pathetic personality.  (If you saw the movie version, starring John Malkovich as Osmond, you may agree that he played this part well).

Still, I would prefer to think about which character really made an impression on me, so naturally I am drawn to characters who are completely opposite of my personality.  They tend to be women who are stronger in areas where I am weak.  Here are three characters I remember most:

Alexandra Bergson by Clarence Underwood

Alexandra from O Pioneers! is ruggedly persistent, fearless, and down-to-earth.  She is sufficiently wise to make difficult decisions on her own and successful enough to prosper.  She was able to make it on the land where so many had failed.  And she was a woman doing what was usually considered at that time a man's job.  

Capt. Wentworth and Anne Elliot SOURCE

Anne from Persuasion is mature, patient, and honorable.  She is a lady, but she has a quiet courage about her that enables her to be herself on her own terms, not permitting the standards of her time to completely dictate who she is supposed to pretend to be.
Hester Prynne - Hugh Thomson, 1920,
The young woman stood fully revealed

Hester from The Scarlet Letter had her own personal complicated issues, but she rose above her shame and disgrace and kept it with her like a badge of honor - or maybe not necessarily - but she actually used it to her credit while spending time in service to others, turning her shame into intrepidity and eventually respect from the community.  Her scarlet letter was more like her "red badge of courage."  

She also showed great restraint in either protecting the identity of Pearl's father or waiting for his guilty conscience to eat away at his soul all on his own. Either way, how many of us could have done that for very long?  


Ellie said...

I completely agree with you about Anne Elliot. She is definitely my favourite Austen character.

Cleo said...

Some interesting choices. I can't believe I have never read any of these books yet! I've heard such good recommendations of Persuasion lately, that I need to move it up my list. I think I was affected by the movie version of it, where Anne is so boring, that I had little desire to read it.

Ruth said...

Great! Thanks, Ellie. I did not like Persuasion as I thought I would, but I just thought Anne was a great lady.

Ruth said...

Are there several versions of Persuasion? I saw the BBC version, I think, and I actually enjoyed it more than the book; well, it actually inspired me to continue reading the book b/c I had felt lost while I was reading it. Anyway, it still is not my favorite, but Anne was a really good, decent woman.

Cleo said...

I saw the one with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. Amanda Root made Anne completely boring, very timid and mouse-ish. I know there is a more recent BBC version so perhaps I should try watching that. However these days, I'm attempting to stay away from T.V. and keep my nose buried in a book. I need to get my TBR pile reduced before it buries me!