Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Favorite Literary Heroes: Sydney Carton

In connection with The Literary Heroine blog party, I am starting a series of posts on my favorite heroes, literary or otherwise. They will be posted in no particular order, although the absolute favorites do manage to sneak in near the top.

Sydney Carton
I've liked Sydney ever since I first read A Tale of Two Cities. But, on first glance, there doesn't seem much to like about him. Yes, he did save Charles Darnay's life at the cost of his own, but that, some might say, was at an impulse and it wasn't like he enjoyed his life anyways. The 'far, far better thing' seems to be the only good thing that he ever does. His life before his death is wasted.

Sydney Carton is brilliant. I think the real thing about him is that he saw the meaninglessness of life without God.

"'Meaningless, meaningless,' says the teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless! What do men gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?'" (NIV)

Sydney was brilliant enough to realize that life without God is meaningless. And if it is meaningless then it wouldn't matter what he did with his time, whether he spent all his life getting drunk or did something that benifited his fellow man.

Human love begins to take Sydney out of his meaninglessness. But even there his beloved marries another man. This is one spot where Sydney Carton shows his true character. He wants Lucie to be happy. Many lovers want their beloved to be happy - just with them.

"But God was kind, He had for you a better plan
And saved you from the pain of loving me."

MELT. God was kind. He had a better plan. Not just 'maybe it's good that this happened after all' but 'God was kind.' He did the best thing that could be done, and Sydney is content with that.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

With human love, Sydney Carton begins to find meaning. And self-sacrifice for love makes him see a higher love, a love that truly gives life meaning.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Literary Heroine Blog Event!

The Literary Heroine Blog Event at Accordion to Kellie!

1: Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

Something completely random?  That won't be hard.  Randomness is a part of my character.  I do not say that it is a vice, or a virtue, I merely say it is a part of my character. *snaps out of Rigaud mood*
Introduce myself?  My name is Maria Elisabeth and my age - well, with three (I mean two) younger sisters ( almost) grown up your ladyship can hardly expect me to own to it.  As you might have seen, I quote everything and anything whenever I possibly can.  I love writing and have a very ahem! stubborn inner editor.  I have made a pact with myself to click the 'send' button the minute an email or a post is typed up, or I would be at it, changing a word, frowning darkly at the emoticons or taking out an awkward sentence.  In short, there would be no blog post.  But when it is confronted with a piece of my own fiction-writing, it falls down and plays dead.  Odd, that.  I love music and, like Emma Woodhouse, hardly ever practice.  In short, I am an incurable romantic, with a crazy sense of humor, trying to serve God on this journey called life.

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?
Strong faith, a sense of duty and honor, plenty of personality quirks, something for the reader to relate to, and gorgeous dresses don't hurt either!

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.  
Esther Summerson.  She's sweet and kind, but can stand up for what's right and gives herself a hearty scolding when she's not being what she should be.  I try to be more like her.
Amy March.  I know many people don't like Amy, I can relate to her very well.  I love drawing, would be delighted to go to Europe and can thoroughly sympathize with Amy's desire to be a true lady.
Marguerite Blakeney. Marguerite and I are so similar it's scary.  My looks are almost like her: (this is the  one spot where you're supposed to ignore the movie, please!) tall, golden glory of hair with tints of auburn, blue eyes.....  Like Marguerite, I can be amply sarcastic, even witty, and occaisonally come up with a brilliant comment, but when I'm actually in danger you can count on me to do somethign impulsive that really shouldn't be done.
Rilla Blythe.  Rilla is often ignored for her mother Anne Shirley, but she is very likeable in her own right and very like me too.

Five of your favorite historical novels?
 El Dorado, Persuasion, Little Dorrit, The Spanish Brothers, I Will Maintain,

Out of those five books who is your favorite main character and why?
Yes, yes, I am very predictable. You know the answer already. :P

Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?
 Let me see.  Those books have absolutely amazing main characters, but not much in the way of secondary characters.  I think I will have to be predictable again, and choose Lord Antony Dewhurst from El Dorado

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?
I'd go to Europe - France particularly - and I'd write novels on site.  Yes, I mean on site.  If I mention an address or a landmark I will be sitting right by the door with my laptop, while everyone else thinks I'm crazy.  I'd also go to plenty of museums and maybe do a little shopping - did anyone say unlimited funds?  Say you did, please!

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?
Baroque/Georgian/Regency/Victorian somewhere in Europe, preferably England or France.

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?
Singing, of course. 
If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?
At the risk of being very predictable, I will say Marguerite Blakeney.  Just imagine the dress! 

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?
Did someone say chocolate?  Dark, please. :)

Favorite author(s)?
 Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Baroness Orczy, Marjorie Bowen, C.S. Lewis, Grace Irwin, G. A. Henty, Janette Oke, Allen French, Elizabeth George Speare, L.M. Montgomery, and Rachel Heffington.

Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land?
 A laptop, books, and chocolate and - you did say unlimited funds, didn't you? - some good friends, bloggy and not.

In which century were most of the books you read written?
The nineteenth, with a large chunk from the twentieth.

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…
Sir Percy Blakeney.  Yes, I am predictable.

Describe your ideal dwelling place.
 I'd like a mansion (think Pemberley-style) with a very pretty park and gardens and when I got tired of that I'd move into a cottage, Thomas Kinkade style.

Sum up your fashion style in five words.

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name?
Oooh, yes.  I have settled opinions on names; hardly ever will I like a name just because a likeable character has it, and when a likeable character has an unlikeable name............

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...
Perhaps someone downright creepy, like Rigaud, or someone quiet, but horribly clever like Chauvelin, or someone you and the heroine nearly break their hearts over, like Willougby.

Three favorite Non-fiction books?
 The Bible, Don't Waste Your Life, and  Do Hard Things

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?
Sitting under a tree, with an amazing book and chocolate. 

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character.
If you could tell me what my true character is, I could put it in a hat!  As it is, I don't know.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
Other than getting this-here bloggie, nothing that I'd like to mention.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.
     Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  -1 Peter 1: 8,9 (NIV) I learnt this one in the 1 Peter Project, an excellent memorization challenge!
    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  - John 1:14 (NIV)
    I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33 (NIV)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

Among other Valentine-related things, don't forget to check out Rachel's Heigh Ho for a Husband blog event!

Total side note, but don't you just love her dress?  Beautiful....

Here's a thought-provoking poem I'd like to share with you about real love.  From this blog, written by her little sister Tabitha Bell.

Your valentine said he would risk his life for you,
Mine gave His life.
Your valentine bought you a card at Wal-Mart,
Mine wrote a book.
Your valentine painted on canvas,
Mine painted the sky.
Your valentine said that he loves you,
Mine created love.


*images via pinterest*

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Design!

I was getting tired of the old blog design, and it was rather cluttered, so I changed it around.  I hope you like it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dickens Week Tag

Here are my answers to Alexandra's Dickens Bicentennial Celebration Week.
1. How were you first introduced to Dickens?
When I was really little we had a silly picture book version of A Christmas Carol and one look at the illustrations in it was enough to make me decide that Dickens was crazy.  When I heard fellow-bloggers talking about Dickens books and characters I decided to give it a second try and I read Great Expectations.  Not exactly Dicken's best work, in my opinion, but it was good enough to make me read A Tale of Two Cities, and then I was hooked. 

2. Which is your favorite Dickens novel?
I'm wavering between A Tale of Two Cities and Little Dorrit.  Really, how can you choose, with such amazing books?

3. How many Dickens adaptations have you seen?
*squirms* None actually.  *Blushes,*
I'm hoping to watch one sometime, but I'm a little hesitant to plunge my mom, who I always watch period dramas with, into the hours and hours of movie, when she doesn't really like Dickens.  And, I mean, Bleak House has fifteen episodes! I  have Little Dorrit on order from the library, so that should get us started.

4. Which Dickens adaptation is your favorite?
Um, see above.

5. Have you seen multiple versions of A Christmas Carol? Which version is your favorite?
I haven't actually watched any.  What I really like about A Christmas Carol is his amazing writing style, something that a movie just can't capture.

6. Who is your favorite Dickens hero and (if applicable) who does your favorite portrayal of him?
I'm wavering between Sydney Carton and Arthur Clennam.  Arthur is an amazingly-gentlemanly gentleman, so kind to Amy Dorrit and so horribly treated by circumstances.  Anything bad that could happen, happens to him.  (Well, almost.)

Sydney Carton is brilliant and lazy.  He's his own worse enemy really, and I still don't know how I can stand him.  But what he did in the end and that heartbreaking last chapter at the end of the book........ Beautiful. 

I'm trying to tell myself that I really should like Charles Darnay, after all, he has everything that Sydney Carton doesn't, but I never really liked him.  I wonder why.

7. Who is your favorite Dickens heroine and (if applicable) who does your favorite portrayal of her?
Esther Summerson, hands down. 

8. Who is your favorite Dickens villain and (if applicable) who does your favorite portrayal of them?
Oooooh, villains!  Let me see.  I've always had a partiality for Rigaud/Blandois/Lagnier.  His moustache went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache.

9. Have you seen any musical adaptations of any of Dickens’ stories? If so, which is your favorite song from it?
*squeals* So there are musicals for Charles Dickens stories.  Lovely lovely lovely!  I remember hearing vaguely about them, but that was before I really cared.

10. Do you have a favorite Dickens quote? If so, what is it?
Do I have a favorite quote?  Here goes.
Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving—HOW NOT TO DO IT.  (Little Dorrit)
"Bird, be quiet!" (Mrs. Merdle)
....the chief Barnacles being rather hurried (for they had it in hand just then to send a mail or two which was in danger of going straight to its destination, beating about the seas like the Flying Dutchman, and to arrange with complexity for the stoppage of a good deal of important business otherwise in peril of being done)....  (Little Dorrit)
"You can't just come in and say you want to know, you know." (the lively young Barnacle)
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. (A Christmas Carol)

I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it." (Sydney Carton)

"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-Three.  (A Tale of Two Cities)

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." (Sydney Carton)

"It did better than that. It rained Esther." (Ada Clare)