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Friday, April 30, 2010

"Rebecca Has Won:" A Review on Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca"

What would you do if you fell in love with someone—someone with a past shrouded in the ominous blackness of mystery, a past of haunted hell? What would you do if everywhere you roamed, everything you touched, everyone you knew were marked with the memory of someone so vivacious, beautiful, and vivid, it would be as if the ravenous bay waters never swallowed them up, the fishes devouring their bloated, rotting body?

These are questions our young, interestingly nameless, narrator must face as she returns to the famed estate of Manderley as the second Mrs. de Winter. She is “nothing like Rebecca,” as so many people note: this meek, na├»ve twenty-one year old with a wild imagination riddled with thoughts of what people would think of her, but most importantly—Rebecca. Even in death, Rebecca steals the spotlight.

Rebecca always comes back.

I thought it to be a riveting and suspenseful psychological thriller with the idea of Misconception being at the heart of it. Du Maurier’s words captivate and cast their spell on you from its opening phrase, “I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” until the final page. And it keeps you thinking. Unlike most stories of today (there are some exceptions,) you are not fed the answers like a little toddler squealing and battering their fists for spoonfuls of food; you are expected to read between the lines, the conventions of 1938 Cornwall, England.

The characters themselves breathe with life, from the narrator herself to the sinister Mrs. Danvers, with hands as cold as death and a face like a skull, to the brooding Maxim de Winter to the rather despicable pig of a man, Jack Favell.

I recommend this classic to anybody. I urge you to walk up the large gravel drive, the small stones crunching beneath your feet. I urge you to smell the bluebells and the scarlet, giant rhododendrons that perfume the air. Maybe you’ll wander down to the Happy Valley through the winding and dark woods, where there are crowds of azaleas and rhododendrons of pink, gold, and snow white, that pepper the ground and fill the air with their sweet scent. Or perhaps you’ll go down to the bay and hear the waves crash against the rocks that are sharp as nails, the sea gulls crying, swooping over the glass surface as if to mourn something.

Welcome to Manderley.

4 out of 4 inkblots.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

James Dean Said It First: "Going For It" 2010

“Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today.”James Dean

Dreams; what are they? They come in different shapes and forms for everybody in this world. They wait in the wings, eager ghosts, hoping to gain our notice and then be molded into reality. It is up to us, and us alone, to realize their presence before they become whispers of the wind, and from want of tender affection, die.

For some, dreams come through the blank, naked white canvases—canvases to be dressed in the splashes of popping colors. For others, they form through sweat slipping down skin, muscles burning in anticipation as they make a triumphant push across the Olympic finish line. For me, it’s different.

For me, my dreams take shape through the art of writing.

I started to get in the thick of writing when I was eleven. I wrote this terribly melodramatic novella about this poor young girl whose only friends were a horse and a little kitten, and her entire family died by its finish. Seeing as it was my first creative piece, I thought it was pretty good—even if it had me rolling on the floor laughing (quite literally) when I found the crumpled journal a few years later while cleaning out my closet.

Then I was introduced to Harry Potter fanfiction. I know, it must sound lame—writing stories around a story already created instead of just writing your own—but in my opinion, without writing fanfiction in a world as diverse and colorful as Harry Potter, I doubt my writing caliber would be the same. Hearing different people’s feedback germinated my writer’s spirit; it made it grow, expand until I was steady enough to delve into original fiction and poetry once more.

My love of film mixed with my passion for writing led to my desire to write screenplays along with novels and poetry. You know how people have those traditions ever year, like watching The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston? Well, my tradition is watching The Oscars. My goal is to get an Oscar for a screenplay of mine, and like Kate Winslet, I often practiced my Oscar acceptance speeches. Except I used Aquafresh toothpaste, not a shampoo bottle.

I love everything about writing, from the clickedy-clack of keys on a keyboard to stringing words together in a river of ink. I love how when you crack open a book, the writer’s words enthrall you, and each word floats like a cloud on your tongue. I love how writing can transport you into another world, another time, another place. You are the magician to make everything dance and sing on the page. You can be anywhere from beneath the sunsets of Calcutta to the peace and quiet of the English countryside to write. You can change lives with words.

That is the beauty of writing.

I’ve always been The Dreamer, ever since I was a little girl. My vivid imagination jumped here, there, and everywhere with wild abandon. To me, nothing seemed impossible or out of my reach—even when people threw obstacles in my way.

You see, when I was nine-months-old, I was blessed with a mild form of cerebral palsy. Please do not feel sorry for me; it may play a part in how I live my life, but walking with a limp and a forearm crutch certainly does not define Me. Nor does it hinder me where it matters most. Some people did not believe that. When I was nine, my doctor—a nervous, straw-haired fellow with a smile that could rival any car salesman—told my father and I, as blunt and as grave as someone ordered to deliver the death of a loved one, that I would be caged in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

I proved him wrong. Yes, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to notice the now-and-then sickly-sweet voices, the plastic smiles, the pitying eyes—but I don’t let these stop me. I’ve shown with my intellect and talents that having mild CP is just another quirk in Kristen.

But writing professionally isn’t my only dream. I strongly believe that helping people is one of the best ways to give back to the world. I want to be a college professor in English literature, particularly Georgian and Victorian literature. English is a subject that is very close to my heart; I can’t get enough of it. I’m such an English nerd that I specifically designed my senior year to focus on six of the seven English courses offered. I want to show people how English is such an enlightening subject, that it is not a course filled to the brim with dull readings that people find a chore to read and only dive so far into a story as SparkNotes. I want to help them see, truly see, the wonderful side of English.

Not only is going into teaching a dream of mine, but it would also help me financially. Has your ideal job ever had a rough market, whether it is the lack of job opportunities or just being tangled in the jungle of competition? Yeah. The world of writing is competitive, especially if you’re gunning to be somewhat successful. How many times have we seen mediocre, or even god awful writers, rise to the top while there are brilliant authors with only a small fan-base and little recognition? I know I’ve seen a few. But I’d wholeheartedly rather a small but loyal fan-base for a work I know to be of quality than be monstrously popular and sickeningly rich for something that may be over-hyped and milked by publishers and produces little literary merit.

Now, why the quote by James Dean? How many people do we know that can honestly claim that they lived their life to the fullest; that when they leave this world, they are happy with what they accomplished—no shouldas and wouldas and couldas? The ones that I think of off-the-bat are the Christopher McCandless/Alexander Supertramp types—the ones that follow their dreams no matter if it costs them the breath in their bodies.

But I don’t think you have to rush to the extremes to chase your dreams.

You don’t have to climb Mount Everest.

You don’t need to win a Tour de France.

You just need to believe. Because anything is possible if you have that thirsting tenacity to get what you want. It can be as tiny as being inducted into an Honors Program or as giant as living in the quaint countryside of England and writing when the juices are flowing.

It’s up to you.

It’s up to you to follow your future. You’re only here once. Make it count.