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REBLOG: ARMIDA BOOKS: ANTIGONE AND THE LITERARY HEROINE

link: Top Famous Fictional Heroines « Armida Books

Top Famous Fictional Heroines

By: Haris Ioannides – Armida Publications

Heroine is defined as a woman admired or idolized for her courage, outstanding achievement, or noble qualities. In a more literary context, the definition is trimmed down somewhat to the chief female character in a book, a play, a movie who is typically identified with good qualities and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.

Antigone by Frederic Leighton, 1882

Image via Wikipedia

Although there have been many examples of literary heroines throughout history, being Greek, I am more familiar with the amazing work of SophoclesAntigone. Antigone is a daughter of the accidentally incestuous marriage between King Oedipus of Thebes and his mother Jocasta. She is the subject of a popular story in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polynices, even though he was a traitor to Thebes and the law forbids even mourning for him, on pain of death. Sophocles’ Antigone ends in disaster, with Antigone hanging herself after being walled up, and Creon’s son Haemon (or Haimon), who loved Antigone, killing himself after finding her body. Queen Eurydice, wife of King Creon, also kills herself at the end of the story due to seeing such actions allowed by her husband.

Even though many years have passed since then, I still remember being taught this play in high school. I vividly recall me questioning Sophocle’s choice of tormenting Antigone for wanting to the do the ‘right thing’. This is the beauty of literature, the ability to generate either internal or external discussions and debates over basic human experiences and emotions. Sophocles is a master and Antigone became my definition of a true heroine, the benchmark for all future references to this specific noun.

Sophocles is long gone (what a shame) but thankfully many more authors have created amazing characters for us to enjoy and admire. Just to name a few: Edna Pontellier, Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders, Anna Karenina, Lily Bart, Jane Eyre, Hester PrynneElizabeth BennetDaisy Miller, and Murasaki Shikibu.

And maybe a few more: Lucy Honeychurch, Antonia Shimerdas, Ellen Olenska, Josephine (Jo) March, Isabel Archer, Scarlett O’Hara, Cathy Earnshaw, Daisy Miller, Lizzie Bennet, Lily Bart, Eliza Doolittle, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Gertrude, Beatrice, Maid Marian

Read more about famous fictional heroines. These novels feature just a few of the many…

Imagined in the late fourteenth-century, the Wife of Bath is one of literature’s earliest promiscuous ladies. Jovial and clever, she regales a band of traveling religious pilgrims with tales of former husbands. (She’s got five, the first one wed at the age of twelve.) Hence the name: she’s been a wife over and over and over again. Some women are white bread, she says, but freely admits that she’s a coarser loaf of barley—and this is exactly why I’m drawn to her. She’s not ashamed of her sexuality, or how it serves her desire for power.

Rosa Dartle, from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield

Rosa Dartle has had a scar across her face since she was young—the cruel gift of a narcissistic step-brother—and it’s turned her undesirable and bitter. The scar almost becomes a character in its own right; it nearly glows whenever she gets upset. Rosa’s mean to almost everyone. But I like her anyway, maybe because no one else does. She’s not appealing to men, she’s pissed about it, and she’s willing to say so. She’s the essential wounded lady. I respect her anger, and the fierce intelligence beneath it.

Anna Karenina, from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

She’s a married woman who abandons her husband and son to run away with the charming playboy she’s fallen in love with. But despite all this—because of it, actually—she’s become one of fiction’s most enduring tragic heroines. Why do we care about her? She wants something more than stability from a man. She wants passion. But it’s not just that she believes in love, it’s that she suffers for this belief. She doubts herself. She’s needy. She ends up vulnerable and pathetic, betrayed by her own love as much as the society that disproves of it. She isn’t afforded any glory as compensation for her aspirations. She has to pay for them. I never know what to make of Anna. I get angry with her, and love her, and root for her, and root against her, and feel deeply sad for her, and what good is a heroine, in the end, if she doesn’t make us feel all these things?

Lena Grove, from William Faulkner’s Light in August

Lena Grove is young and poor and pregnant in the middle of the Deep South. The father of her child has abandoned her, but she’s determined not to let him get away with it. She sets out on foot to track him down. Destiny deals her the victim’s portion but she refuses to accept it. Without money or companions or even a horse, she fights back. She’s not particularly clever or subtle, but I don’t miss these things in her; she’s determined to be a mother, and this means finding her baby a father. She’s on a primal quest. She turns resourcefulness into an art.

Maria Wyeth, from Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays

Maria Wyeth is a washed-up film star with a troubled marriage and a disabled young daughter. Didion’s minimal, knife-like prose brings her hardened psyche into pristine focus—besides her daughter, Maria isn’t sure what to care about, and her reckless self-destruction and affairs are the only way she knows to articulate this hopelessness. I didn’t like Maria, but I found something deeply moving in her plight—the way she’d given up, but kept on going, the fact that she kept caring about her daughter long after she’d stopped caring about herself.

Patsy McLemoore, from Michelle Huneven’s Blame

When we first meet her, it seems like Patsy might be a tough character to root for. She’s an alcoholic history professor—smart and beautiful, sure, but also deeply thoughtless and self-absorbed—who accidentally runs over two Jehovah’s Witnesses in a drunken blackout and kills them. The novel follows her through years of prison, recovery, and atonement. Along the way, we see her struggle through a kind of guilt nearly impossible to comprehend. She doesn’t live a martyr’s life, but she tries her best to live a good one. I found, in the end, that she’d dug herself out of the hole of her own character—had, somewhere along the line, captured my sympathy and my respect.

Maria Christina, from Richard Romanus’ Chrysalis

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Chrsyalis‘ tells the story of 17 year old Maria Christina, who lives in Metsovo, a small mountain village in Greece, where women are judged according to their physical strength. World War II, the Greek Civil war and other calamities transform this young woman into a heroine. The crisis affects the fate of three generations, all of whom experience the peril of those years in different ways, changing not only the community and Maria Christina’s destiny, but also redefining the role of women in society.

I am absolutely certain that you’ll love these books, not only because they are very well written but because they are full of love, honesty and sincerity.

Partially based on a list complied by , (About.com Guide)

Faceless

The Social Network (2010, d. David Fincher)

I respect bullshit.  Sometimes.  Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter of The Social Network freely admits to taking artistic liberties with the story of Facebook and it’s founder Mark Zuckerberg partially because Zuckerberg declined to participate in the bio-pic, but also because it was Sorkin’s artistic preference, “I feel like, had I met Mark, I would have felt a certain obligation to make the character sound like Mark, walk like Mark… I probably would have had an affection for him that I wouldn’t have wanted to betray…I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling.”   That’s a more sophisticated way of admitting the screenplay is full of bullshit.  All dramatized biographies necessitate storytelling.  There’s nothing new about movies that reprocess history, id est bullshit, for dramatic impact.   The Social Network film is in part adapted from the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.  Remarkable, because Mezrich himself opens his book with a note that he re-created scenes using “my best judgment,” altered descriptions, compressed several conversations into one, and changed the settings.  As if the bullshit cocktail weren’t strong enough,  Social Network’s creators have carefully clarified that their film was inspired only by Mezrich’s original proposal for the book, not the book that Mezrich published and that Sorkin read neither the book proposal nor the book until after his screenplay was nearly finished.  Still, all okay by me.  Hell, I’m currently writing a book I casually refer to as “autobiographical fiction” which is perhaps a more sophisticated way of admitting my book is full of bullshit.  Why?  Because what I’m in the middle of making up is more interesting than anything I’ve actually done in life.    Even the real Mark Zuckerberg said on Oprah that a film about him had to be fiction because he lived the real story and it wasn’t all that entertaining.  Yet, what I see discussed across the internets is all about which parts of The Social Network are fact and fiction and were the filmmakers ethical and responsible in presenting the Facebook story less accurately.  I’m not actually going to get into that ethical debate (I am including some article links at the bottom).  My concerns lie more with what’s in the film instead of what it isn’t.

Sorkin’s story, directed by David Fincher, takes place during 2003 and 2005.  Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard University drop out and the billionaire creator of Facebook, the worldwide social networking website, is being deposed in two coinciding lawsuits.  The story flashes back to Zuckerberg, as an undergraduate, being spurned by the girl of his dreams, and feeling shut out of elite Harvard social clubs.  Zuckerberg is imagined to have a complicated personality- verbose yet self-conscious, quick-witted yet prickly, and either an asshole or a nice guy trying to be an asshole.  One late night he directs his rejection hostility into an online prank called FaceMash, comparing photos of girls on campus and crashing Harvard’s computer system.  The prank gets him academic probation but it also earns the attention of several students from an elite club who hire him to develop FaceMash into a campus dating site.  He churns their idea into the first version of Facebook, and this becomes the basis for the first lawsuit; that Zuckerberg stole the idea.  The second plotline and lawsuit is in the form of Zuckerberg’s former business partner and friend, Eduardo Saverin, who is forced out of the blossoming company, as the victim of Zuckerberg’s corporate backstabbing, Zuckerberg’s suppressed animosity toward Saverin, or perhaps simply out of disagreement on which direction the company was going.  We don’t know for sure and we never will.

 

Zuckerberg

 

We will never know because Sorkin, being a brilliant writer of dialogue, chose not to commit to one point of view, to decide whose bullshit was truer.  In a non-fiction novel I think this could work.  For the screen, I’m not so sure; same goes for taking on the story of an invention.  Sorkin wanted to write a movie about the legal battle for Facebook’s intellectual property and it doesn’t completely translate.  Sorkin says he wanted

 

Eisenberg

 

to avoid a depiction of people friending each other and falling in  love through a social network.  I think a story about how technology and Facebook changed the way people communicate is a more compelling starting point; especially because Sorkin’s invention of character Mark Zuckerberg for the screen lacks poignancy.  Some people are taking issue with Social Network’s factual frivolities.  The problem I see is that Sorkin’s deliberate gloss over facts doesn’t take us to any better truth.  Actor Jesse Eisenberg’s Aspergers-like portrayal of Zuckerberg is well executed, but this fictionalized Mark Zuckerberg is a cipher.  We are afforded almost no information into character Zuckerberg’s background, motivations, or retrospection.  Sorkin wanted to invent a Mark Zuckerberg but his leap of imagination lands nowhere.  Character Mark Zuckerberg, the protagonist and apparent anti-hero in this tale is practically faceless.   Additionally, as filmed by the talented and original director David Fincher, I found the project to lack imagination.  I’m not calling it a bad movie.  However, I am stretched to find anything special or noteworthy about the filmmaking itself beyond the sharp dialogue and fine acting.

In regard to writing about people who are still alive Sorkin has said, “On one hand, you don’t want to screw around with people’s lives, you never want to say anything that isn’t true, and you don’t want to mess with history. On the other hand, this isn’t a documentary. Art isn’t about what happened, and the properties of people and the properties of ‘characters’ are two completely different things.”  Sorkin and Fincher’s work on The Social Network is drawing attention via Citizen Kane and what its fictional character did for the real biography of William Randolph Hearst.  Critics have said that whoever the real Mark Zuckerberg is, The Social Network defines him and the story of Facebook and that the filmmakers have irresponsibly messed with history.  Zuckerberg is 26.  The imminent danger from a reckless act of bullshit and the passive associations with Kane sounds like bullshit that gets planted by movie studio p.r. people.  The Social Network is good, but it’s a dwarf compared to Citizen Kane.  I wish it were a better movie but the fact that The Social Network is bullshit doesn’t bother me.  Aren’t most people’s Facebook profiles all bullshit too?

link:  http://nymag.com/print/?/movies/features/68319/

link: http://www.slate.com/id/2269250/?from=rss

http://gawker.com/5643915/mark-zuckerberg-describes-the-dirty-tricks-that-led-to-the-facebook-movie