WOW: Lessons from Literature
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― Neil Gaiman, Coraline
Can books and stories about characters and events that are not real teach us anything useful? Write about it this weekend.
Story telling is as old as man, I read in my very last semester of Masters in Comparative Literature. It was the first means by which we were taught the rights and wrongs, the dos and don'ts of the world - and there are books which have changed us. They taught us things about reality through fiction. Although there are innumerable books and characters, of course, which left a lasting impression on me, off the top of my head I can name the ones I go around quoting at random hours and time.
Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw : The story of the flower girl made into a duchess by the Professor of phonetics, Henry Higgins. What I loved was how Eliza Doolittle changes from the flower girl into a lady, but she always had the makings of a fine lady. But more than her, it was the philosophy presented towards marriage which left its mark on me. Especially the quote by Higgins, "You find me cold, unfeeling, selfish, don't you? Very well: be off with you to the sort of people you like. Marry some sentimental hog or other with lots of money, and a thick pair of lips to kiss you with and a thick pair of boots to kick you with. If you can't appreciate what you've got, you'd better get what you can appreciate." And that has of course made me think twice about marrying the kind of person I want... :))
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This book made me believe that no matter how bad things get, I can always count on a Mr. Darcy to come and help me out. I admired Elizabeth Bennett's strength of character when she finally realizes Darcy had been right all along, and she swallows her pride because she realizes love is far sweeter than any other emotion. I really loved Darcy for he was an amazing better half to Elizabeth.
Sita Betrayed (A Novella from A Season of Betrayals) by Quarrtulain Hyder: I admit I had this book as a part of my course. But I loved how the woman was portrayed to have desires of her own. In a chauvinistic society, it was refreshing to come across a book, written years ago, about a woman who jumps from man to man, searching for both emotional and sexual desires to be fulfilled. She was crazily in love with her husband, but when he stops paying her attention she begins to get drawn to others...and so the story goes. And in the end, she gets betrayed. By everyone she had dearly loved. Sita Betrayed taught me that there is only person who can never let you down: YOU.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: My connection to this book is because of my sister. She'd read it as a teenager and wouldn't stop talking about it. I read it when I reached my teens too...and I loved it. I saw a lot of Scarlett O'Hara in my sister, because she too, tosses her head back when the going gets tough and says, "I won't think about it today, I'll think about it tomorrow." If there is any heroine I deeply admire, it is Scarlett. She rebuilds her life from the scratch after everything has fallen apart. She was one of the strongest female characters who taught women through the years, that they can achieve anything if their put their minds to it.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: The four sisters with very different personalities painted vivid pictures in my mind. It was little Amy who captured my imagination the most, and whose story with Laurie I deeply admired and appreciated, and secretly longed for a love story like that one. Having the person you'll be spending the rest of your life with right under your nose and never realizing that! It was sweetest and most romantic story I've ever read. It, of course, gave me the hope that my Prince Charming might just be under my nose too. I am just not able to see him yet.
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster: Mark Twain's niece wrote this novel in the epistolary format and I've never been so thoroughly entertained reading one sided letters. I could identify with Judy's identity crisis, not knowing who she really is, and feeling like she simply crawled into the world instead of being rightly born in it. Everyone of us go through such identity problems but it was her happy ending which made me firmly believe in the philosophy, if it's not happy, then it's not the ending.
and finally, Grimms' Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm: I have read the original and I know that those original stories are full of blood, gore and every kind of evil. But Disney's cute versions have actually given all of us hope. With out hope, man just wouldn't survive. Isn't it? That's why from a very tender age we all accept that if the story begins with "Once upon a time," it will just have to end with, "..and they all lived happily ever after."
So, do leave your comments below and tell me which fictional characters and which stories have left a lasting impression on your minds?