Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Okay, so, it is  considered as being one of the first Gothic and scientific novel by a woman. It was published in 1818, by famous female prodigy, Mary Shelley. Mary was the daughter of two famous radicals of England – Mary Wollstencraft and William Godwin and got married to the most famous radical poet of Romantic era, P. B. Shelley.

Well, I think I enjoyed reading the lives of people that were there in the Romantic Era more than their poetry -Wordsworth, our opium guy Coleridge, the rake Byron etc. Their promiscuous lifestyle and eccentric habits, made me their fan.

Coming back to the novel review, it is a novel which is written in a Chinese box tradition – a narrative within a narrative – there are 3 narrators. So, the story goes like this – Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, creates a creature by collecting the dead body parts from the grave and infusing into it life. But the sad part begins, when Victor having thought of making such a discovery which would abnegate nature laws and he will be worshipped as a great scientist, turns out to be a disaster! The creature he makes, has abhorring physiognomy and detestable eyes, due to which without even talking to his creature or nurturing it, Frankenstein turns his back on it. He abandons the creature he makes and ahead in the novel we see, the creature becomes a monster because everybody starts negating it because of his detestable looks!

Creature tells his story of abandonment and how he became a bad guy to Victor and he tells his story to Walton, who tells all this to his sister through letters. Walton is that character whom Victor meets, when he was following the creature to make it dead. 

Interesting novel plot but more interesting are the questions it raises – the question of parent-child relationship(Victor father, Creature child), the issues of male-motherhood, the treatment of women writing in 19th century, patriarchal society, and the most important question – are we born monstrous or the world’s cruel treatment makes us a monster?

These are the questions that Mary Shelley raises in this novel and this novel has also been considered as being the finest example of l’ecriture feminine (feminie writing), a concept introduced by Cixou, Irigaray and Kristeva. This style of writing, was the goal of many feminists to achieve that female style of writing which was not patriarchal and more libidnal & plural like a woman’s body!

 

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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The free spirit writing of Bronte and the depiction of “wild” spirited Jane (protagonist) in the novel “Jane Eyre”, has been the attraction for many readers towards this feminist and widely read novel.

The Gothic elements, a critique of 19th century Victorian society, representation of repressed sexual desires of women, the Christian dogma and the bildungsroman of a rebellious protagonist, are some of the words which sum up this exquisite piece of writing by Charlotte Bronte.

Not like Austen’s “fairy-tale” romance, which although gives its readers a hope of feminism but eventually culminates into the hands of patriarchy, Bronte shows far more audacity and writes something which can be called feminist in a true sense.

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The novel starts with “Jane Eyre’s” autobiography presenting to us a protagonist ten years old and orphaned. She lives with her “cold-eye, stern-looking” aunt Mrs. Reed at Gateshead Hall, with her three cousins. The constraining and indifferent behavior of her aunt towards Jane does not stops her in-built rebellious nature against the injustice and she raises her voice against such cruel treatments. Although, the rebellion lands Jane into Lowood institution, where she is sent and abandoned by Mrs. Reed.

After completing her ten years of restrictive and Christian education, Jane finally finds a way to her freedom and applies for the post of a governess at Thornfield, where, our protagonist finds the love of her life, Mr. Rochester, a wealthy man of handsome property but older than Jane.

Jane’s character does not possesses any class-consciousness, instead her egalitarian and open responses towards Rochester, is what that attracts him towards Jane. But their marriage becomes a fail because of the exposed bigamy of Rochester and Jane runs away from Thornfield to Moor house, where she discovers her another cousins and gains wealth from the demise of her wealthy uncle.

 

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The temporal shiftings, not only suggests the external hardships of Jane, which has led to her unsettling character from place to place, but also becomes the manifestations of her inner on-going conflicts as well as struggles. The novel ends with the matrimony of Jane and Rochester (one-eye blind and crippled due to the mishap after Jane left Thornfield), which shows the winning of internal beauty over external and also the strong bond of love, which can overcome anything!

A benchmark novel with an undoubtedly the most intriguing love-story within it! ❤

 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

2 Things @ Once

The Woman in Black (1983) by Susan Hill

With Halloween just a few weeks away, there’s no better time to snap up a copy of this perfectly rendered Gothic ghost story. A young London lawyer travels to a remote corner of an eerie Englishmoor to settle the estate of a recently deceased client. Of course, circumstances require that he stay the night in the haunted house, isolated daily by the rising tide that renders the one road in and out impassable. He soon learns why villagers behave so strangely when they learn his destination, and then comes to wish he’d never set eyes on the mysterious woman in black. Dripping with creepy atmosphere, this old-fashioned supernatural tale will have you gleefully turning pages. I dare you to read it late at night.

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Beloved- Toni Morrison

                                “A magnificent achievement… An American masterpiece”                                                                                                   – A.S, Byatt, “Guardian”

belovedFirst of all, do not confuse yourselves in contemplating this novel to be a romantic fiction, portraying a lover and his “beloved”. No! Not at all. In fact, this intriguing fiction by Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison is about the barbarous history of slavery of ‘Black People’, back in the time during the 18th Century.

The cruel treatments of Black folks by White people, Slave trade laws, racial discrimination and the haunting re-memory of the past are the main themes of this fiction. Rather than, giving us the account of “slavery and it’s repercussions” in a very monotonous manner, Morrison takes up the very genuine story of a black slave woman, naming, Margaret Garner, who actually killed her own small child, to keep it free from the prevailing brutal slavery and it’s aftermath. Morrison includes supernatural interventions to fabricate this authentic story and makes into a  very poignant as well as the very marker of the history of Afro-American.

The fiction moves around an ex-slave Sethe, a black woman, who escaped from her earlier slave home, named Sweet Home in Kentucky, with her 3 children and 1 new born-baby, who took birth during her escapade and now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. After 18 years from that escapade, those haunting memories of slavery still haunts the present of Sethe and her daughter Denver. Apart from loosing so many significant persons in her life, she also lives with the pain of the loss of her two year old baby, Beloved.That escapade really cost a huge amount from Sethe, she is right now, living with her 4th no. daughter, Denver in a house that is haunted by the ghost of the baby (Beloved), she killed, in order to save her from slavery.

Now, after all these years of living with Beloved’s ghost, both Sethe’s and Denver’s almost stable life shudders with happiness and nostalgia, when Beloved’s ghost appears in the form of a full-bloodied woman.

Thus, what is the purpose of this ghost appearing after 18 years of her killing has to do with Sethe and Denver’s lives, is what all we see in this fiction. Not only the haunting by the ghost, but also the ‘shocking & shaking’ truths about slavery and the experience of that homicidal past through a woman’s eyes, is what makes this novel a “Pulitzer Prize” winner.

A must read novel to experience the ghostly truth of slavery in America!!

Also made into a film, starring Oprah Winfrey- do watch it (The following is a teaser)

 

The House of The Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

sevengablesjacketOK! So, it’s in my course, that’s how I got to know about this book. It’s termed to be a “Gothic” novel (not a hardcore one, though). I kind of researched about this author and I’ve also posted his best quotes, which are truly awesome and also got to know, that Hawthorne, was mostly known for “The Scarlet Letter”, which was his chef d’oeuvre..

And, after reading this novel, one can definitely improve his/her vocabulary & English writing, if you want to be a writer or have interest in this field, with of course, a dose of horror.

The story of this magnificent novel revolves around the  cursed “Pyncheon Family” of the New England. The progenitor, colonel Pyncheon, finds his “Dream” place to build a house for his descendants, but that place is occupied by a destitute, Mathew Maule.

House-of-the-Seven-Gables-dSo, the clever Col. Pyncheon accuses Maule of witchcraft and make sures that he gets hanged, but when Mathew dies, he points towards Col. Pyncheon and utters, “God shall give him blood to drink” (THE CURSE). After which he acquires his place and starts the construction of his big edifice called, “The House Of Seven Gables”, interestingly, the construction head of the house happens to be the progeny of Mathew Maule, known as, Thomas Maule.

Everything is done, but Col. Pyncheon, is found dead in his chair, with blood on his mouth, at housewarming party, (the curse has started). So, the curse goes on, and very few Pyncheons are left now, after 120 years. Clifford Pyncheon, has been sent to jail by his cousin. Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, on the accusation of murdering his own Uncle. Clifford’s sister, Hepzibah, an old woman, is now te owner of the house and starts a, “one cent” shop, to heal her trough economic situation. Mr. Holgrave lives as a tenant in the upper stairs of the house.

Phoebe Pyncheon (Niece of Hepzibah) and Clifford, after getting released from the jail, comes back to the house and so does Judge Jaffrey, to interrogate Clifford about the deed, Col. Pyncheon left(which he thinks, Clifford knows about). But what happens is, that because of the curse, Jaffrey dies of a sudden stroke, and Hepzibah with Clifford, runs away from the scene.

In the meanwhile, Holgrave convinces them to come back and finds a way to show Jaffrey’s death as an innocence of Clifford’s till now punishment, and he too confesses his love for Phoebe. All this happens, and they all move out from the house to a new place, plus we also gets to know, that Mr. Holgrave, was a descendant of Maule’s and he tells us that, that “deed” is of no significance now, because it was of importance till, Col. Pyncheon was alive.

In the end, Phoebe and Holgrave gets married, thus, giving us a message of “Cursed marrying Curse giver”.

Nice Novel!!

You can buy this novel at http://http://www.amazon.in/House-Seven-Gables-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486408825