Friday, July 06, 2007

At last... entry of decent length.

If you've taken a look at my profile, you'll have noticed in the Favourite Books section, there's a book called The Tenant of Wildfell hall mentioned. This book isn't a particularly magnificent book, but I do like this book.

When I was 16, I went through a phase where I read all those books I could lay my hands on which traditionally proclaimed as "classics". I would also like to point out at this time that this was probably the last time I ever read anything which could not be described as tripe, Harry Potter notwithstanding.

But I digress. So the books I devoured during this period particularly included almost every book by Jane Austen and L M Alcott. I also tried extremely hard to give the Bronte sisters a chance. I read Jane Eyre and found it utterly ridiculous. I also tried really really hard to read Wuthering Heights, especially since I had been hearing since God knows when what a simply brilliant romance this was and how Heathcliff was one of the greatest romantic heroes of all times. Hogwash I say. He was an idiot who didn't get what he wanted the way he wanted so decided to ruin not just his own life but the life of every other fool who had the misfortune who cross his path. And the other characters in the book were no better. I tried really really hard to get through this book, and managed it till the last chapter, when I finally gave up and saw the ending of the movie on Star Movies which happened to be showing it that day. The movie seemed equally ridiculous to me.

I never can remember which Bronte sister wrote which book, barring one. And that is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. I admire this book simply because I think that for its time, this book was extremely brave. To talk about a woman who went against her family and married the man she loved, realized that she had made a mistake, tried hard to save her marriage, and then decided to leave her husband when she realized that her immoral husband was even trying to corrupt her young son must have shocked many people when it was first published in 1848.

Since time immemorial women have been putting up with bad marriages because they have no place to go, or their family wouldn't accept their decision, or because they think it's best for their children for the parents to stay together. (Personally, I've always felt that it could sometimes be worse for a child to have his/her parents separated or divorced rather than be exposed to that kind of constant animosity between them.) Even today, you hear of women putting up with their abusive or unfaithful husbands simply because "log kya kahenge?"

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was an honest and brave book, in my extremely humble opinion. The protagonist, Helen Huntingdon was a very real person, one who made a mistake, owned up to it, and tried to put her life back together after things went wrong. Every character in that book was someone you could probably recognize in members of society even today.

Unfortunately, for that time, it was probably a bit too radical. Not surprising then, that Anne Bronte was the least popular author of the Bronte sisters. A little research tells me even Charlotte Bronte criticized Anne's choice of subject for her novel. Well of course she would, since psychotic fools were the kind of men she liked having as the heroes of her novel.

Incidentally, in case any hardcore fans of the other Bronte sisters ever come across this piece and faint with horror at the way I've referred to their novels, I have two things to say. One, I was 16 when I read them. Two, I hated Gone with the Wind too. There's more sacrilege for you. Hah.

PS: Ooh it's 7/7/7 today! :)

1 comment:

ZiggyStrauss said...

I do not know that book. I read Wuthering heights though.... and surprisingly fast. I remember not liking Heathcliff or Cathy. Stupid self-involved egotistical freaks. The daughter was nice, right?

Don't worry, when books are as hyped as Wuthering Heights and Gone With The Wind, there will always be people who say they don't like it. I haven't read Gone With The Wind, though... too fat. I'm much more for vague books than classics. Barring Alice in Wonderland of course.