Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Bleak House is…well..bleak.

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So, since we are reading a big chunk of a Bleak House, I decided to do my bullet points as I read. I’ll add the bullets after I read a couple of chapters. Hopefully, this will make it easier for me to recall things that I wanted to put in my blog – instead of reading it all and scrambling for my points.

Chapters 1-4

  • Obviously, Dickens is pressing reform by starting out the novel in the courtroom.
  • Children – again.
  • Fashion is.. evil?
  • Prolonged court case. I feel like this will be a substantial theme in the novel.
  • New narrarator
  • Abandoned, disgraced, emotionally abused girl and apparently friendless (besides the doll).
  • Family secrets
  • Mr. Jarndyce and the movement of the Esther, Ada, & Richard to his home.
  • More abused, digraced, unwanted children living in a wretched situation.
  • Welcome to the “Bleak House”

Chapters 5-10

  • Crazy, bird lady.
  • Updated info on the Jarndyce case.
  • A plethora of new characters
  • Richard and Ada’s family connection to Jarndyce.
  • Obsession with the wind?
  • Trust for Esther
  • Sympathy of financial situations , then scolding for it.
  • Ghosts
  • Traitors
  • Recalled to life by haunting?
  • Suicide…then lawsuit
  • One busy housekeeper…Esther
  • Charity
  • Sailor ambitions
  • A bunch of letters scrambled together creating insane names for characters

Chapters 11-16

  • Dead body
  • Opium AGAIN!
  • Possible murder/Suspicious death
  • Secrets
  • Guppy “stalking” Esther
  • Demanded payments
  • Kindness to children

*Can anyone read over the name “Jelby” and not say jelly belly?

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OMF…Again.

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I’m sorry to admit it, I just can’t seem to enjoy reading this book. Every week when I begin my reading regimen, I seem to have forgotten what in the world is going on. The main characters I can keep straight…but, wait! Who are the main characters? This is my point, I’m up the creek without a paddle in this novel. It’s sink or swim and I am just going to dog paddle. I just feel like I am trudging through the pages and it’s unfamiliar territory. I loved the other two Dickens’ novels we read. But, I’m still reading, still swimming, I’m going to make it!

Who do I hate?

  • Rogue Riderhood! He is sneaky, caniving, and manipulative. I was almost excited when I thought he died. Then, the doctor brings him back. Why did he have to do that? Riderhood is poison and Dickens needs to cut it off at the source!
  • The Boffins. Sorry, I know everyone likes these folks. But, not so much for me. It’s not necessarily Henrietta, but Mr. Boffin. Money gets to everyone’s head. It’s inevitable. Money is power and sometimes people can’t handle that power. (Case in point – The Boffins.)
  • The Lammles. Do I need to even make an argument here? They are nothing but money-grubbers and I don’t like it. Eventually, they will fall off of the social ladder and I can’t wait!

Who do I love?

  • Lizzie. She has such an innocence that makes her vulnerable and sweet. She is working hard, getting educated, and getting admired. Her main concern has always been her family and I like that about her.
  • John Harmon. Oh, how I love a man who is willing to give up anything to find true love. Here is this man who has given up his fortune to the unappreciative Boffins- all to find out if Bella is the one. I love him, love him, love him!

Here lies the “in-betweener”

  • Bella Wilfer. I couldn’t stand the girl at first. I mocked her, ignored her, and didn’t want to read anymore about her. BUT, she is growing on me. She needs to get her head in the game and marry Harmon/Rokesmith/whatever. I want that money stripped away from the Boffins ASAP!

These are my thoughts, complaints, and everything in between. This reading made me like the novel a bit more, but I’m still weary.

10 minute “reflections”

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After finishing our reading for A Tale of Two Cities, one thing has grabbed my attention and my thoughts keep going back to it. During the trial, in the courtroom, Dickens makes a specific reference to the mirror. Specifically, I am perplexed by the idea of reflections. It is said in essence that the mirror could fill the courtroom up, if it could reflect all the death that has been caused in there. Obviously, many people were unfairly executed for their crimes, due to the sentencing in that court. But, how can this be resolved? Should these people be trying to implement change starting with “the man in the mirror?” (Shoutout Michael Jackson!) I’m nout sure how all of this fits together, but I am definitely interested. It says that the prisoners felt the light shined from the mirror and felt disgraced. The mirror is pulling out the true colors. I think so many things can come from the mention of a mirror – especially the idea of being recalled to life. You see yourself for who you truly are when you look in the mirror. It can bring you back to life in a sense. But,  how does the mirror in the courtroom portray the men and women that fill it up everyday?  There is something special about this mirror and I want to make it fit into the puzzle. Thoughts anyone?

Thoughts…

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So, I just finished our reading for ATOTC.I’m not sure why, but I favor this book far more than the others we have read. Maybe it is because I know there is an ending or because I can keep up with the characters, but I really like this book. Certain characters and their situations have stuck out to me and proved to be my favorite things about this reading.

Lucie and Mr. Manette
I love this relationship. These two are absolutely precious together. There are parts of this book where I could cry because of the sweet nature between the two. Lucie is bound and determined to bring her father back to life. And she did. I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed when she got married. I guess I just wanted it to be her and her father forever. But, after the Mr. Manette’s relapse was resolved, I guess I was OK with it. I am eager to keep following this pair.

Mr. Cruncher
Mr. Cruncher is hilarious. In TMOED, Durdles was my comic relief. Mr. Cruncher is my enjoyment for this book. His wife and her prayers are a little bit confusing. His reaction to them is what is so funny. Also, His new “occupation” seems just like a perfect fit – weird and unusual. Mr. Cruncher seems like the man who wants to “get rich quick.” I can’t wait to see what other jobs Mr. Cruncher stumbles upon.

5 years later…Woah!

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Woah! 5 years later and things sure have changed in A Tale of Two Cities. At first, I just scanned over the “5 years later” part. As I kept reading on and on about Jerry, I finally saw a familiar name…Mr. Lorry. When I realized he was on trial for treason, I was like WOAH! Then I realized he was a witness and I was like WHEW! But, I’m only in the beginning stages on Book 2, so I’m quite sure more is to come.

Recalled to life
Immediately jumping into Book 2, the theme of being recalled to life is instantly brought back up. The description of Tellsons Bank is a disturbing. I love the part where Dickens talks about the number of deaths this bank is responsible for and how if all of the bodies were stacked than no light would shine through. Then in court, the mirror is brought up – how it would fill the room if it could reflect all of the death this courtroom has caused. In both of these instances, I feel like Dickens is calling out the people responsible for the vast amount of lives lost. Will he make these people and things recall them back to life, rather than keep murdering? It seems that is possibly the case with Mr. Darnay. The whole time I was reading about his “trial”, I just knew he would be found guilty and later mutilated. But, to my surprise he was aquitted and the message was sent to Tellsons Bank…not sure what to make of this. Chapter 3 is ended with this quote: “If you had sent the message, `Recalled to Life,’ again,” muttered Jerry, as he turned, “I should have known what you meant, this time.” Aha Dickens! I think I see where you are going with this!

The golden thread
I know when talking about “the golden thread” in class, everyone mentioned the cartoon Hercules. Well, it has been years since I have seen that movie. But, in my mind, the golden thread is an assest. The golden thread keeps someone/something hanging on. It is as if the thread gives them the power to live. (maybe to be recalled to life?) In my opinion, Lucie Manette is the gold thread so far. It is only because of her that Mr. Manette is living. She is the only one who can “charm” him and bring him “back to life.” I’m sure more instances will come up with this theme, once I continue reading.

Dickens gets a Royal celebration

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As we all know, yesterday was the 200th birthday of Mr. Charles Dickens. If an author’s work is still being read and enjoyed after 200 years, than a celebration is a must. Who better to celebrate with than Prince Charles? Yesterday, Prince Charles traveled to the Dickens Museum in London and Westminister Abbey. At the museum, Gillian Anderson (who played Ms. Havisham is the adaptation of Great Expectations) read Dicken’s works. At Westminister Abbey, Prince Charles placed a wreath on Dickens grave. What I found most interesting is that this celebration had the largest crowd of Dickens’ descendents ever. Over 200 family members showed up. While I am sure this will not get as much publicity as the Royal Wedding, it is still an honor for the heir to England’s throne to recognize this loved and talented author. Read about the whole celebration in the Chicago Tribune below.

Prince Charles leads Dickens 200th Celebrations

Reoccurring Themes

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After just finishing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I have noticed some common themes with A Tale of Two Cities. Two major topics stuck out in my mind between the two readings.

Returning to life
The idea of coming back to life is the most obvious common theme to me. In TMOED, it is unknown if Edwin would have come back into the picture. However, since we presume he is dead, Dickens could have easily entered Edwin back into the picture. In this were to happen, it would be very similar to the situation with Mandette. Everyone, including his daughter, assumed he was dead. But, he renters the picture before Book I is even completed. So, although this common theme cannot be directly proven, it is a definite possibility. However, I can say that this same theme does appear in Our Mutual Friend But, I am not going to go into details. (Don’t want to spoil any plot details, since I accidentally read ahead!)

Distrust among people

From the moment I began A Tale of Two Cities, I immediately recognized the theme of distrust. People suspected everyone of being a criminal and were even afraid to look at someone for too long. Likewise, many people in The Mystery of Edwin Drood are deemed dishonest. But, it is not immediately displayed to us. As TMOED progresses, we begin to suspect more and more people of dishonesty. Unfortunately, not everyone’s sins were brought to light. However, the theme of distrust is obviously prevalent. Our Mutual Friend displays these same plot details. From the beginning, Julius Handford is dishonest and at this point, we don’t even know the full extent of it.