Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bathory 2008

Finally, the film is on Netflix, and I am watching it! Below is a review. Much of the film is historical, and much is invented, including the added romance of a fictional dalliance with the ultimate bad boy painter, Caravaggio, who actually was a contemporary of Erzebet, but who took off to Malta, not Hungary/Slovakia. Read below, but more from me, later: Review by Jason Pirodsky for “When legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This mantra from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance can also explain the historically dubious popularization of a number of infamous figures, including Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth (or Erzsébet) Báthory. Vlad the Impaler, often cited as Bram Stoker´s inspiration for Dracula, needs no introduction; after Stoker´s novel and countless Dracula films, he was given his own ‘true story´ in Joe Chapelle´s 2000 TV film Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula. Elizabeth Báthory is just as infamous, the ‘Blood Countess´ whom the folks at Guinness have given the title of #1 serial killer: 600 kills (she was convicted of 80), mostly young girls, she bathed in their blood to preserve her youthful beauty. Or so the legend goes; the 16th century lacked the technology to verify such claims. Compared to Dracula, Báthory has received far less attention on the cinematic front, featured in some low-budget 70´s horror flicks like Countess Dracula and Daughters of Darkness; a definitive story of her legend has yet to be told. Bathory Rating: Directed by Juraj Jakubisko. Starring Anna Friel, Karel Roden, Hans Matheson, Vincent Regan, Franco Nero, Bolek Polívka, Deana Jakubisková- Horváthová, Jirí Mádl, Lucie Vondrácková, Marek Vašut, Tim Preece, Anthony Byrne. Written by Jakubisko, English-language dialogue by John Paul Chapple. Cinematography by Ján Ďuriš, F. A. Brabec. Costume Design by Jaroslava Pecharová, masks by Jana Radilová. Edited by Christopher Blunden. Music by Jan Jirásek. Showtimes IMDb link And we´ll have to wait: Juraj Jakubisko´s new film Bathory is presented, like Chapelle´s Dracula movie, as if it were a myth-debunking ‘true story´ of Báthory. Two things are needed, I think, to make this film work: we need a story, like it or not, that more or less lives up to the legend, and history that seems more or less accurate. Jakubisko fails on both counts, giving us a wandering, plotless film that seems content to run down a laundry list of events in the life of Báthory rather than engaging the viewer, along with entirely (and intentionally) dubious history. Yes, believe it or not, we´re given an invented romance with Italian painter Caravaggio and roller-skating monks in this film that desperately wants us to believe its version of the facts. And that´s not even the worst offender: Jakubisko ultimately wants to paint Báthory as some sort of heroic and/or tragic figure. By the end, I was reminded of the finale of Caligula, with Malcolm McDowell´s head rolling down the steps - wait, what? Now you want us to care about this maniac? (Note that the film doesn´t shy away from Báthory´s status as a murderer, evidenced by one particularly brutal scene in which she stabs a servant to death with scissors.) Bathory is divided into three separate acts: the first, entitled Ferenc, deals with Báthory´s (portrayed - sometimes quite stunningly - by Anna Friel) marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy (Vincent Regan), who commands Hungarian troops in a war against the Ottomans. While he´s away, Báthory lives at Čachtice Castle in what is now Slovakia, and develops a bizarre romance with famed homosexual painter Caravaggio (Hans Matheson). Dubious from a historical standpoint, and mostly unnecessary in the context of the movie (I guess you can draw some connection between Caravaggio´s baroque paintings and Báthory´s legend, but the film doesn´t), it´s a curious choice by the director. The second act of the film, entitled Darvulia, concerns Báthory´s enchantment under the witch-like Darvulia (Deana Jakubisková-Horváthová, wife of the director), who saves her life and mixes her potions to sustain her beauty. Around this time, people in the nearby village go missing and dead bodies begin to pop up; rumors of something evil at Čachtice Castle, promoted by local minister Ponicky (Anthony Byrne), begin to spread. Two catholic monks are sent in to investigate. Báthory occasionally goes mad and murders people, but hey, that´s OK: she didn´t kill all those people they say she did. The third act is entitled Thurzo and involves the struggle of power between Báthory and György Thurzó (Karel Roden), who fought with her husband and envies her wealth. Thurzó sees the rumors surrounding Báthory as a means to strip her of her power, and in a particularly lame action set-piece, he and his men stage a massive torture scene in the cellar of the castle in order to frame Báthory for the lurid accusations. But the monks free the prisoners, and Báthory and servant Ficko dispose of some of Thurzó´s men and expose him for what he is. The day is saved. Or not: Thurzó has Báthory´s servants tortured until they testify against her and Báthory is imprisoned in her castle for the rest of her life. Lazy screenwriting at its finest: if Thurzó was just going to do that, why did he stage the needlessly complex torture scene? Ultimately, the film fails to convince me of anything it has to say, and I really, really wish they had filmed the legend instead of this weak version of the purported ‘facts´. And even though I see the screenwriter flailing his arms in an attempt to get me to feel empathy for this murderer, I don´t. That´s not to say I didn´t enjoy the film in some capacity: there´s plenty of violence and nudity, and things never really get boring. An hour shorter and you might have a nice-looking piece of Euro-sleaze. At 140 minutes, however, this misguided epic is mostly a failure. Highly unnecessary comic relief comes in the form of Czech actors Bolek Polívka and Jiří Mádl as the pair of roller-skating monks sent to investigate the accusations surrounding Báthory (Polívka, or rather the actor who horrendously dubbed him, also narrates the film). The characters of monks Petr and Cyril are bumbling, stumbling updates of the those played by Jack MacGowran and Roman Polanski in Fearless Vampire Killers, complete with ridiculous inventions more at home in Stephen Sommer´s Van Helsing: wooden roller-skates, a dubious hand gliding device, and shoes that allow them to trek up a snow-covered mountain without moving a leg. So pointless are these characters and their scenes that they only detract from the overall film; though admittedly, the sheer audacity of the decision to include them is entertaining. A note about the dubbing: the film was (mostly) shot in English, a necessity given the range of international actors appearing in the film. For the most part, this isn´t an issue, though the variety of European accents (both real and attempted) often clash. Yet the scenes with the monks seem to have been shot in Czech (or Slovak) and dubbed into English; just like those Spaghetti Westerns and other Italian films from the era, which were shot without sound, the actors reading their lines in whatever language they could, and dubbed into a variety of languages for international release. That was fine when you had actors like Clint Eastwood reading their lines in English and dubbing themselves, but was sometimes distracting when other actors were clearly speaking a different language. In Bathory, when the rest of the film has been shot and recorded in English, the awful American-English dubbing over Polívka is more jarring than your average poorly-dubbed Godzilla movie (Mádl, who seems to have dubbed himself, fairs much better). British actress Friel is terrific as Báthory, and it´s a shame the rest of the film doesn´t live up to her performance. The rest of the cast fails to make much of an impression; still, this is Friel´s film. Franco Nero shows up in a glorified cameo as King Matthias. From a technical standpoint: the film looks great, often exceptional, though the lush, sumptuous cinematography by Ján Duris is often compromised by over-anxious editing (particularly in the film´s first third) that seems more concerned with shortening the long running time. Jakubisko has a real feel for the era, and with costume designer Jaroslava Pecharová creates a lavish and convincing atmosphere. Unfortunately, much of this is tarnished by some cheap-looking CGI, mostly employed in bloodletting effects and exterior shots re-creating Čachtice Castle. Original music by Jan Jirásek is appropriately moody. I take no pride in deriding this latest film from Jakubisko, often cited as one of the greatest Slovak directors, and a filmmaker whose works I am, perhaps, not as well-versed in as I should be. But Bathory clearly lacks the controlling hand of an auteur; long delays in production (filming began in late 2005, the movie finally released 2.5 years later) suggests issues, and the final product confirms them: choppy, often rushed editing, highly uneven pacing and tone. The film is not a disaster but it is a mess, and clearly not the international epic the producers had envisioned. My two-star rating is, I fear, generous; I did enjoy much of the film, given my affinity for misguided epics (Caligula, Heaven´s Gate) and Jess Franco Eurotrash. Mainstream audiences beware. Bathory has already become infamous as the most expensive Czech or Slovak production in history, costing some 300 million CZK ($20 million USD). The sacrifices of making an expensive film - bowing to conventions and playing it ‘safe´ in order to reach a wide audience - are painfully evident.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kindness to the Poor and Sara Crewe's Emotional and Financial Debts

Below is my paper on A Little Princess, with sources. This was given at a recent MMLA convention, and it is really a long outline or series of notes. I blog it here becase Erzebet, along with Anne Boley, has been discussed in various biographies and historical documents for her generosity to the poor. Many other doomed women, especially aristocratic ones, share this generosity. Perhaps it is true that no good deed goes unpunished:
Sarah Crewe’s Financial and Emotional Obligations in A Little Princess Young Sarah runs the gamut from child heiress to orphan to wealthy adopted child/heiress in Burnett’s novel. The interesting twist in this children’s novel is that Sara’s debts and impoverished condition are created through a misconception. She really is a “princess” disguised as a pauper. Burnett explores Victorian childhood from every class, angle, and extreme. Sarah learns that even obligation and poverty are relative through her schoolmates at Miss Minchin’s, through her friendship with Becky the little scullery maid, and through Anne, the beggar girl. Even when she has lost all material wealth, Sarah owes “student loans” to Miss Minchin, who keeps Sara as a student, but who uses her as a servant once she learns Sarah’s wealthy father dies. As hard as Sarah’s life is, she learns that Becky, the Minchin’s scullery maid suffers more, and that the street children of London suffer the worst. Sara also owes emotional and financial obligations, which she must fulfill, to her widowed father, to the Minchin sisters and their school, To Becky, and to Anne. This paper will explore Sara’s debts and how she pays them, as well as how debts are owed and paid to her when Ram Dass and her father’s wealthy business partner rescue her. Orphans and poor children in history: Historically, the needs of children and juveniles were not given special attention; in the penal system; children and adults were often punished equally. We only have to read the Bible and other religious texts telling the story of the lives of the saints. Many were martyred as children, e.g., St. Agnes and Sta. Lucia at about 13, Joan of Arc at 19. Thus, punishment for children included whipping, banishment, mutilation, torture and even execution (Bartolas and Miller 4). [Think of King Herod’s Law]. Age 7 was fixed “for determining whether youths would be exempted from criminal responsibility under certain conditions.” (4). English Common Law later adopted this age as the age of exemption where children could not face legal penalties (4). [Currently, civil tort law places the age of exemption at 4]. Between 700 and 1500 A.D. children were viewed in the same manner as adults, no special needs were assigned to them. (4). Medieval peasant children worked as their parents did in the fields, and were expected to assume their other roles and labors (4). The doctrine of parens patriae was finalized during The Middle Ages, and the state could now interfere in the lives of Medieval peasants and their children, and ultimately, the declining authority of the family with the state taking over, became more and more common until early agencies, after care officers, asylums, orphanages, and the agencies we know today came into being (Bartolas and Miller 5). Children were put to death and in England there were between 160 and 200 capital offenses for children (4). It was the Middle Ages and their views on children and childrearing that shaped the doctrines of juvenile justice in years to come, doctrines which only changed during the Colonial Period in the United States. As J. Herbie DiFonzio writes in “Deprived of ‘Fatal Liberty’,” :”the metaphor of infant salvation was coined by the child savers themselves” (856), Poverty equaled depravity and moral turpitude in the Victorian era. One report of 1823 by New York’s Society for the Prevention of Pauperism sated that poor children saw “at home nothing in the way of example but what is degrading; early taught to observe intemperance, and to hear obscene and profane language without disgust, obliged to beg, and even encouraged to acts of dishonesty …” quoted in DiFonzio 856).[by example, see the film Pretty Baby and My Fair Lady or Pygmalion.] By 1880, this attitude had not changed, and penologist Enoch Wines wrote of poor children, “Their destitution their vagrant life, their depraved habits, their ragged and filthy condition forbid their reception into the ordinary schools of the people. It is from this class that the ranks of crime are continually recruited, and will be so long as it is permitted to exist. They are born to crime, brought up for it. They must be saved” (Wines quoted in DiFonzio 865). And they must be saved whether they like it or not. These comments reflected the English and American view that poor and neglected children were “pre-delinquent” and thus had to be placed in Houses of Refuge and other institutions, some penal in nature, so that they could be “reformed” and made useful members of society. Some of these houses depended on the labor of the children incarcerated to survive. We have only to think of Oliver Twist or Jane Eyre to get an idea of these institutions. In fact, Brontë’s own sisters were the inspiration for Helen Burns, the brilliant by fragile girl who dies of the harsh discipline she receives at Lowood. See Jane Eyre. One can understand Miss Minchin’s treatment of Becky and her other servant’s, and the baker’s initial skepticism about Anne, the beggar girl Sara is kind to. DiFonzio observes that while the Victorian ideal of the home was the example and goal of Victorian society, child reformers did not think to reform the home itself. Rather, they strove to take the poor child out of the home, and to reform the child, arguing this method was correct because “deviancy began with the family” (Rothman quoted in DiFonzio 856). Another theory for why poor children were seen as potential criminals and delinquents was that the house of refuge and child saver movements along with the juvenile court had their origins in medieval English poor laws [well used and drafted/redrafted during the reign of Henry VIII], and that the goal was to avoid pauperism, not crime (See Rendleman discussed in DiFonzio 861). As Anthony Platt writes in his book The Child Savers, ‘behaviors the child savers selected to be penalized—sexual license, roaming the streets, drinking, begging, fighting, frequenting dance halls and movies, and staying out late at night—were found primarily among lower class children” (quoted in Bartolas and Miller 8). [See David Baldus on inequality and death sentencing, where the poor receive the sentence and see it carried out far more than the wealthy; see also his Southern Poverty Law organization]. This English system and belief in deviant poor children traveled to the US with early American theocratic communities. It must be remembered here that Burnett lived in the US, and would have been familiar with these types of child reform systems. The Puritans thought that childhood was a “regrettable prelude” to adulthood (DiFonzio 864). Early on, however, childhood deviance in the colonial world was “controlled through a strong sense of family order, an institutional force which was synonymous with the public good” (DiFonzio 862). In short the family took care of its own. Even in the case of debtors, DiFonzio notes that “immediate families were usually assured that relatives or neighbors would spare them form the almshouse” (863), and this is part of the plot in George Eliot’s, The Mill on the Floss. Both workhouses and almshouses were rare in the American colonies. (Ibid). Criminal punishment was swift, but there was not “general incarceration” (863). For example, in Massachusetts, “magistrates often remitted delinquent children to their homes for a court observed, but family enforced, whipping” (ibid). If the family of a delinquent child was itself corrupt and unsuitable the child was fostered out to a good home, and kept in a family environment. This idea of the community “distrusting outsiders but sustaining its own through the family ideal, remained an ideological fixture throughout the eighteenth century” (Ibid). According to DiFonzio, prost American Revolution disorder and “urbanization” created more delinquents, and poverty was no longer “an exigency befalling a worthy neighbor,” but a type of depraved behavior fed by “the misdeeds of the new class of poor children” and “the victims of misfortune blended into the unfortunates who victimized others” (Ibid.). They’re as no more “worthy poor.” ( Ibid).[Note, children could be executed for disrespect of parents in colonial times. DiFonzio 863). The 19th century brought a new emphasis on childhood, and Wordsworth’s quote re “the child is the father of the man,’ “reflected that childhood is not merely a stage but be outgrown but also a critical developmental period in human life (DiFonzio 864), It was better to let children be children as long as possible, and various institutions became “asylums for the preservation and culture of childhood” (865) and Miss Minchin’s school was surely one of these. If children were “different enough to warrant their own institutions,” (DiFonzio at 865), then immigrant children were rife for all kinds of educational and reform institutions and the new socialization methods that engendered them (865). Besides, poor families in general, let alone poor foreign families, could not be trusted or allowed to bring up dutiful American citizens (865). [Cf Coventry Patmore and “The Angel of the House.” ] In the late Victorian era, childhood was sentimentalized and given special attention. Dolls, always reflections of their makers and their societies, began to represent little girls, and baby dolls were more common from the 1850s on. Maezel, who created the metronome, soon created the mechanism for the “mamma” doll, so that toys too became “juvenelized. “ Poor children were given another glance due to poems by The Romantics, and the growing body of sentimental literature written for children, as well as by other adult poets like Burnett, Dickens, Stowe, Kate Douglas Wiggins, E. Nesbit, Kate Douglas Wiggins, Eugene Field, and others. Lithographs of children were sweet and idealized, and poor, unfortunate children were given romantic deaths and sent straight to heaven, as in Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” and to a certain extent, Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Carol in The Birds’ Christmas Carol. Sara’s life reflected contemporary belief in charity towards others, which Sara certainly practiced while she was wealthy, and even when she was poor, towards Ann and Melchisedec. Sara was more mature for her years and her time. She is a composite of Burnett’s own experiences [one is reminded of Joyce and his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man], and early reform movements to improve the lives of children that didn’t involve class preconceptions or prejudices, work that perhaps began with reform of schools like that the Brontë girls attended and Dickens’ literary children, e.g., Tiny Tim. The original story of Sara Crewe was written as a serialized novel in 1888 called Sara Crew or what Happened at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School, published by St. Nicholas Magazine, a periodical popular with children like Helen Keller who themselves later became famous writers. The Book A Little Princess was published in 1905. One of the most famous and appealing editions was illustrated by Tasha Tudor, who was a friend of Rumer Godden and also illustrated The Dolls House. Burnett also wrote a play, The Little Princess, and The Little Un-Fairy Princess, which seem to the basis of the Shirley Temple films. Since the book was published, there have been numerous film, dramatic, and TV adaptations, as well as various editions of the book. ALP, according to one source, may have been inspired by Bronte’s unfinished Emma, but there are also shades of Jane Eyre and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” in the story. As with British writer Rumer Godden, “Burnett did not begin her writing career as a children’s author, yet she seems to have stumbled onto a formula for writing for children that allowed her to be successful” (Resler 15). Some critics have argued that children’s literature gives Burnett “more reign” to show her skills as a story teller (Bixler 54 cited in Resler 15), while others claim children’s literature is less taxing for Burnett to write (Gerzina 119). Probably, Burnett’s own childhood, fraught with moves, falls from riches and descent into poverty may have made it an easier vehicle to move with as a writer. For, like Sara, the young girl living and writing in Tennessee, and later the seasoned writer in D.C., was often singled out as “not being from around here,” and just as the Carmichael children knew Sara is The Little Girl who is not a Beggar from her mannerisms, poise, and speech, so American Editors realized that the young author from Tennessee was really a displaced, well read and cultured English woman, expatriated from the life she wrote about in her stories. Moreover, like Godden, Burnett left a prolific collection of writing, over forty-four books and “countless essays and short stories,” (Resler 16) including one in the author’s archives about her doll collection, yet it is the three children’s books, Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden which have given her a place in any literary canon at all, most specifically, the canon of children’s literature. Fears of the workshouse and poor house loomed in American life as well; Anne Sullivan Macy, teacher and companion of Helen Keller, was sent with her brother to the Tewkesbury institution for the poor; her brother had a tubercular hip and walked with a crutch, while she suffered from Glaucoma and was going blind. (Lash here!!) In fact, it was St. Nicholas magazine, created, and edited for thirty years by the author of Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates (1865), Mary Mapes Dodge, who first published Sara Crewe serially in December 1887 and January 1888 in St. Nicholas (Resler 19). Charles Scribner’s, who later published Burnett’s SC, also published the magazine It was as if Dodge gave FHB her seal of approval and passed the crown of leading children’s author to Burnett. Much of Sara’s life reflects Burnett’s own (Resler 2); indeed Burnet and many of her Victorian author colleagues wrote extensively about orphans and their plight; others include Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop, David Copperfield in David Copperfield, Pip in Great Expectations, Esther Summerson in Bleak House, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre, and Eppie in Silas Marner (Brown 23). As Richard L. Brown writes in “Disinheriting the ‘Legal Orphan’: Inheritance Rights of Children after Termination of Parental Rights,” “The plight of orphans from Oliver Twist and Harry Potter of literature . . . has long engaged our social consciousness and conscience. By ‘orphans’ we have meant children ho have suffered the death of their parents” (1). According to Gretchen Gerzina in Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life of the Author of The Secret Garden, Sara’s “rise, fall and redemption (Resler 66) similar to Burnett’s “own childhood) (66): “ . . . the original ‘Sara Crewe’ . . . resonated with her own childhood, with the dead father, the child’s slide into poverty and her faculty for reading, storytelling, and pretending, all apparent enough in her 1895 memoir, The One I knew Best of All” (Gerzina 94). Both suffer loss of wealth, so that they also lose father’s income, see Sara foreshadowing “ I believe I could.. If one was a beggar, one would have to suppose and pretend all the time. But it mightn’t be easy”( p. 78 cited in Resler 69). 1. Knoepflmacher: “such circumstances often worked their way into mainstream as well as juvenile fiction: called 2. Beneficial lowering; “bourgeois characters” are ”reschooled in values that come from ungenteel work” and is feature of adult Victorian fiction too, (cited in Resler 69) (Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights, “The Necklace”. In 1865, The Burnett family moved to Tennessee, where there was more inspiration for her than in Islington Square (Resler 5). There, her life seems to echo those of Louisa May Alcott and her characters in Little Women, who also had to find means of support during The Civil War. Burnett set up her own Select Seminary for the children in her neighborhood. They paid in food. An issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book literally changed Burnett’s life, because it opened the possibility of publishing with them and other popular magazines (Resler 6). Burnett had a hard time convincing Godey’s editor, Sarah Josepha Hale [who with Lincoln gave us Thanksgiving as holiday] that she wrote the stories she submitted; Hale apparently didn’t believe someone from Tennessee could write like an English woman. Burnett convinced her she was an English woman, emigrated to TN, and both stories were published, and she entered this type of writing during the 1870s when literature for women and children was rapidly gaining in popularity and the serialized novel was popular, with separate profits to be gained from the serialized work and the later complete published book (7). I. Sara’s first obligation to family and friend, one instance where she pays it forward [Mr. Carrisford’s name = carries forward]. A. Dutiful daughter as a good solider/how Shirley Temple plays her; Shirley Temple film was done in 1939, the year of WH, GWTHW and WOOZ. While the film took dramatic license with much of the plot, including Sara’s appearance [she went from straight black hair and green eyes to the light, carefully tended curls and blue eyes of Temple], the New York Times gave the film a favorable review (Resler 29). And, as Resler notes, the film “exposed a new generation to Sara Crew’s riches to rags and back again story” (30). Indeed, film and TV versions of the book keep the story alive and further the “core storyline” of ALP, which Resler calls “the [e]ffects of loss of a parent on a child and the experiences of the child at a cruel school . . . “(Resler 32). As Resler says, “The movie versions of Burnett’s LP indicate that her story is well-worth maintaining for each generation of children” (31). a. Burnett’s own fortunes changed when her Father, Edwin died after a stroke (Resler 3). Johanna Elizabeth Resler believes that this early loss influenced Burnett, so that in ALP and other works, father’s are absent/fondly remembered or, if still alive, generous with wealth and affection (3) sort of Daddy Warbuck’s figures in the last example. b. In fact, Ann Thwaite says in Waiting for the Party that “ . .Sara was undoubtedly Frances herself” (quoted in Resler 38). c. After a serious of moves to increasingly poorer neighborhoods, Burnett ended up near the mining families of Islington Square, where Burnett did not even understand the native dialect (Resler 3). d. Miss Minchin’s school is based on a school in Islington Square, in the more affluent home the Burnett’s shared; the school was a” Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentlemen” in the home of Mr. Henry Hadfield, run by his daughters, Sarah, Jane, and Alice (Resler 4). e. Resler is quick to note that Hadfield’s was a pleasant school, and not like Miss Minchin’s where “children were scolded for Acting like Children and where Money was more important than education” (Thwaite quoted in Resler, 4). f. Burnett herself noted that in ALP, after the success of the play, that she wanted ALP to be a nicely detailed book, because “Children love detail” and she noted she loved the garret, Melchisedec, Becky, and Ermengarde as “so nice” (Burnett in Gerzina, 238). B. Wealthy child who understand her good fortune and thinks of those less fortunate; perhaps because of her loving personality, most of the characters of ALP are ‘friends, or friendly, with Sara whether they are children or adults (Resler 45), animal or human. Sara’s doll is included as a friend because “she becomes Sara’s confidant even though she is inanimate” and Sara can be herself and seek consolation from Emily alone. a. Shares: The girls at Miss Minchin’s like Sara because she is willing to share, had a good personality, and is a skilled storyteller (Resler 48). b. Kind to Becky; understand her station but gives her things c. Class runs throughout; accepts insults when she is degraded, titles when fortune is good to her like Little Miss, Miss, and memsahib d. Allows girls, little one’s especially, to see and handle Last Doll and other gifts [Footnote; Jumeau employed and educated poor girls to make dolls like this that they could not afford, and Jenny Wren repaired, made, dressed dolls for others/cf how Barbie is made in Asian factories]. II. A doll may have been Sara’s and other orphan’s predecessors; she pretended to “whip” a captive doll, and her mother Eliza explained this pretending as a type of “play,” (Resler 2-3), cf my “ A Literary Shelter for Misfit Dolls.” e. Gives of her time to handle Lottie and other girls, also tutors/teaches them. Like her, Lottie has lost her mother. Sara, however, does not use her mother’s death to manipulate others as Lottie does. Sara provides comfort for herself and Lottie when she induces Lottie to pretend Sara is her mother, “this seems to give comfort to both girls where one can receive attention and love and the other can enjoy looking after another and alos receive affection” (Resler 48). Sara needs to give as well as to receive as a truly loving child, and this way, she pays her “debts” for being wealthy and well educated. f. She is a friend to Ermengarde who is slow and otherwise friendless, sort of the female Neville Longbottom of Miss Minchin’s, not Hogwarts. She also barters with Ermengarde; she is allowed to read Ermengarde’s books and uses her skills as a master storyteller to communicate the knowledge in them to Ermengarde, who learns better this way and who can now tell her father what is in the books (Resler 53). Sara can add effective teacher to her other talents; she knows how to impart knowledge so that others can understand it on their own level. g. Melchisedec; and king he is named for; Sara is kind and befriends a lowly, common rat, not only anthropomorphizing him, but romanticizing him and imagining his family. In creating ”a persona” for he little rat, and by feeding him crumbs, no matter how hungry she is, Sara hopes to minimize her own miserable situation. “Sara can deal with the dismal surroundings in her room and imagine a tale around her life in the attic” (Resler 49) and M can give back to her the unconditional love only animals as pets can give. h. Is she a ‘Poor Little Rich Girl?” II. Sara as debtor: III. Miss Minchin tells her “You are a beggar . . . It appears that you have no relations and no home, and no one to take care of you) ALP 92 IV. Anne Scott MacLeod notes in “From Rational to Romantic: The Children of Children’s Literature in the Nineteenth Century,” that: By the 1850s, authors were harnessing children’s literature to the cause Of social protest, using sentimentality toward children to arouse Public concern for the young victims of what they saw as a crisis in American Urban society (144). Resler adds that “An influx of immigrants stressed the cities and lead to poorer living conditions. Children were seen dirty and forlorn begging for money and food in th e city streets (McLeod 144 cited in Resler 9). As a result of the changes an variations in children’s lives brought on by immigration, war, and poverty, Childrens literature became more “multifaceted” (Resler 9). These changes coincided with Burnett’s own life changes, and became catalysts in her later writings, including ALP. A. Brief overview of poorhouse where the poor were sent because their poverty as seen as a result of their own bad character and shiftlessness. Sara in SC is much younger when she loses her father, Capt. Crewe; in SC, she arrives at the school when she is seven, and loses her father when she is around eight. In SC, the explanation is that he does after “a friend loses his money ins a business deal in India. Sara is left penniless and without any family and is made to work as servant at the school” where she must run errands, keep up with her studies, and help the other girls with their French (Resler 25). By the time she writes ALP, Burnett spends more words and pages developing Sara’s character into an “intelligent and beloved little girl, while more characters are added and Lottie and Ermengarde further evolve as foils to Sara (Resler 26). B. Why didn’t Minchin turn her out in the poorhouse? [cf Annie Sullivan growing up in Tewkesbury, Massie, Helen and Teacher]. Tells her at p. 92 ALP in Resler 68 that it “appears” Sara has no relations, but Miss Minchin may not be quite sure of that. She subconsciously wants to hedge her bet, and not burn her bridges, but she does not know how to be compassionate or kind, and keeps Sara as a sort of Ransom, just in case a Rich relative can come to pay her bills, which is basically what happens later. a. Miss Minchin in SC: “Now listen to me . . and remember what I say. If you work hard and prepare to make yourself useful in a few years, I shall let you stay” “You are not a parlor boarder now. Remember that if you don’t please me, and (I send you away, you have no home but the street (SC 1888 17). b. In the play, Minchin: “if I do not choose to keep you out of charity you have no home but the streets . . Then listen to what I say. If you work hard and try to make yourself useful I may let you stay here (play 1911 29) c. In ALP, Minchin, “you can do anything you are told . . You are a sharp child and pick up things readily. If you make yourself useful, I may let you stay here” (ALP 1905 93). C. Why isn’t Minchin punished at the end; she mistreated a child of a class above her, regardless of child’s wealth. See end in 1995 movie where she ends up broke as a chimney sweep. a. Minchin is “horrified” to lose Sara at the end, after Sara’s fortune is restored (54). D. Why not call it even after she confiscated her possessions? E. How cruel to take Last Doll, and why not take Emily? Resler notes Sara cannot keep LD because Crew had not paid her bill before his death. “The inclusion and loss of the Last Doll as a character magnifies the importance placed on Sara’s doll Emily and the connection she has with her before and after her father’s death” (Resler 49). F. Why allow her to go to school? a. CFJane Eyre or Oliver Twist: why not send her off to a Lowood or a workhouse? [1944 Jane Eyre with Eliz. Taylor as Helen]. G. Resentment: Sara was kind and generous, gracious and respectful a. Why is cook so mean? Why does the rest of the staff resent her? b. Why is Minchin so mean? Minchin only interested “in the tuition she receives from Sara’s father, this is why when Sara’s fortune is lost Miss Minchin sees no us e n being nice to her any longer—it is no longer advantageous” (Resler 48). 1. True, but Resler has no reason for why Minchin is so mean. ii. What were English laws holding children as debtors? iii. Where else could Minchin make a claim? iv. Was her crime one of malice and asserting involuntary servitude because she was jealous of Sara? c. Why Lavinia and her friend? Lavinia is jealous; she was somewhat of a star before Sara came, though she was not a parlour border. She is unkind to Sara and is trying to ruin Sara’s reputation as “being the kind and perfect girl,” which she kept even after her fortunes fell. Sara is as genuinely kind and well liked as Lavinia is genuinely resentful and spoiled. i. Resler says that Lavinia is a child instigator (46) and Minchin is “the adult who has become the ultimate authority” (46) and who abuses that authority. ii. The two share different power advantages (46). iii. Both “create an environment in which Sara, is not only belittled and ridiculed, but one in which she must arduously work to receive a pitiful amount of food and rest” (46). d. Why is Amelia so passive/aggressive and timid? She is not a friend, and neither is Jessie, because neither tried to stop the abuse, (Resler 46), though Amelia does stand up to Minchin later. e. Why starve Sara? How were servants fed? H. Burnett’s stories, especially Sara’s, “have the element of the fairly tale” (Resler 14). A. With ALP, Burnett joined a popular Victorian writing tradition,[ actually a 19th Century tradition shared by Charles and Mary Lamb with their tales of Shakespeare for children] ,that of retelling fairy tales (Resler 22). B. Peter Hunt writes that “FHB’s work embodied fantasies of wish fulfillment, consolation, or reconciliation often drawn from fairy-tales or popular romantic form” (168). C. With Sara and FHB, death of a father “is the catalyst that changes both of their lives “ (Resler 67). B. Yet, as in the Fairy Tales, and even the Greek Myths, Sarah is a beggar in disguise. Also stories in the Bible. This is a moral test or tale where she is sorely tried, but maintains her dignity and princess statute through using her imagination, her friendships, and remembering her station. i. The large family calls her The Little Girl who is Not a Beggar j. Ram Dass notices right away she is not a servant or working class k. Cook and toher servants are crude because they steal food but don’t know their place or recognize their station; cf Upstairs Downstairs, Manor House, Dowinton Abbey. l. Sara says, in ALP, “everything’s a story. You are story—I am a story.” m. Parallel to Cinderella: Burnett relies on (Bixler 75 in Resler 70) n. Burnett writes “escapist literature, and reflects early love of romance. Ibid. Calls ALP “another version of the Cinderella tale for children” (Bixler 75 cited in Resler 70). o. Princess defined: “In the Sara tales, a princess is one who acts kindly toward others, who is pleasant and helpful, and doesn’t look down on someone because of their social station in life” (Resler 71) p. Sara “pretends to be a princess to help her combat the negative encounters she must have every day with other servants and her new superiors” (71). As a princess, she can spare Minchin :the executioner’s block, showing the teacher is a poor stupid old thing who doesn’t now any better” (Thwaite 105 cited in Resler 71). III. Sara’s true friends are true to her in her misfortune, but also indebted to Sara for her kindnesses to them. Sara and Lottie remain her friends, even when she loses her fortune and humiliated by Miss Minchin (Resler 26). Becky also remains her friend, and through observing Becky and interacting with her, albeit inadvertently, Sara learns to cope as a servant in a cruel and parsimonious household. a. Lottie-her father absolved his debt to her by sending his motherless child away b. Ermengarde-debt to her father and grandmother she can’t fulfill; se is not a good student, like boy in Harry Potter, Nigel? c. Becky d. Ramdass and the Indian Gentleman e. Anne and the Baker f. Melchisedec, see his name, lowly rat; Sara is kind to him, though Victorians sentimental about animals, not usually rats. Others would be cruel to him, but she, though not used to such things, is kind. A. Other stories of prisoners befriending rats or small animals, Elizabeth George, and The Bird Man of Alcatraz. IV. It’s all relative B. Sara has an obligation to continue to be a princess; keeps up her studies and continues to treat people well (Resler 59). She thus “stands apart form the other servants even while being one” (60). Her carriage is different (60). C. Debt to her father’ memory/his guilt over financial failure led to is death and abandonment of his daughter. D. He made no provision for her E. Becky is always worse off and suffers more. Resler writes “The addition of the scullery maid, Becky, exemplifies the dichotomy that exists between Sara and the servants, including Becky, before and even after Sara becomes a servant . . . Becky is treated kindly by Sara before the death of Captain Crewe. Sara and Becky become closer and develop a friendship after Sara is made a servant: (Resler 59). F. Anne the beggar girl is at the bottom the heap; she gives the girl, who has no name till the Baker woman names her, her food to pay it foreword because she realizes that she is still has some roof over her head, and though often hungry, she has some promise of a meal, and friends. Anne makes an impression on Sara, and realizes that there are others like Anne. The book ends with Sara and Mr. Carrisford going back to Mrs. Brown’s bakery to ask her help in implementing a plan that will fund the bakery to feed hungry children like Anne. Chapter where Sara first meets “Anne” as a filthy, hungry begging child is significantly titled “One of the Populace” The Bakery owner was so impressed by Sara’s selflessness, that she takes in Anne and feeds her, then gives her a job and a placed to live, as well as a calling. She has been feeding other hungry children because Sara made her notice them and roused her pity and her actions. i. Women of white chapel from Rumbelow ii. Little Match Girl G. Makes Baker notice her H. Poor at this level are not noticed I. Even servants like Becky aren’t considered to have feelings J. Why is Ram Dass so shocked? He is a servant and there is a caste system in India/Monkey does better than Sara i. What happens to Melchisedec/ [research is name] K. Indian gentleman caused Capt. Crewe’s despair; he is debt to him to find and rescue Sara V. The Indian Gentleman A. Profile B. The Large Family and why Sara is The little girl who is not a beggar C. Queen’s larger brood; must be well off and he is a lawyer; different from cliché of lawyers D. Sara is then charged with looking after The Indian Gentleman. She assumes her role on mistress of the house. E. Wants to check on Ann, the beggar girl at the bakers, and this time, she arrives as a princess in full princess attire. F. Indian Gentleman restores her to heiress state G. Story gets around Miss Minchin’s, but other than Becky and Sara, no girls are removed. Why? H. In the movie, 1995, Minchin is reduced to being a chimney sweep and loses all. Vi. Sara as Princess and Persephone myth/her allusions to being a prisoner in Bastille, like Marie Antoinette Conclusion: Why isn’t Minchin punished more? Because she was correct on the facts she had that she was owed a debt, so though a villain, she is a villain like Shylock who is indeed owed something. She is herself a single woman trying to run a business in patriarchal Victorian society. Capt. Crewe left her with a burden, and Minchin made it worse by worshiping money and putting Sara on a pedestal. They didn’t like each other in the first place. Use Burnett, Cinderella, Prince and Pauper De Maupaussant The Necklace, Little Match Girl, Mill on Floss, Little Dorrit, Jenny Wren, Fairy Tales, even Persephone owes a debt, Kate Douglass Wiggins, Uncle Tom

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving: Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. E and all her Blogs! Proclamation of Thanksgiving Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863 This is the proclamati...

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving: Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. E and all her Blogs! Proclamation of Thanksgiving Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863 This is the proclamati...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: To the Muses of my Blogs

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: To the Muses of my Blogs: Our beloved Anne Rice has her People of the Page, and I have my readres/viewers, my extended family which I call The Muses of my Blogs. For...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have it on good authority that the 2008 Czech film "Bathory" is at Redbox. You can get it on Netflix, but it is the DVD itself, not the Internet version. More later by John Donne on his wife, and other views of 16th abd 17th c. women. I write tonight in memory of my grandmother Marie, who died 31 years ago today. My YiaYia was a living saint, who never said a bad word about anyone. She wore black most of her young life because she lost her father as a little girl. She was a seamstress, and went to school with my other grandmother, Ellen, and with her sister Voula. She only went to the sixth grade, but she loved poetry and used to cut out poems with her pinking shears and clip them toghetr with safety pins. She was best friends with her mother in law, my greatgrandmother Clara Agglaia, and when she died, my grandma used to spend all night on the porch, rocking and crocheting. She suffered terribly in war, from loss of children, grief, and illness, but she never complained. She made the best cookies, and baked the best pies. I used to stand with her, wrapped in a little apron. She dressed naked dolls as she found them and quilted. She used to send me cards with a dollar inside, and was the family peacemaker. She grew up in Calamata, where the olives come froml May she rest in peace; I will always love her.

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Where else can you find Dr. E's Doll Museum?

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Where else can you find Dr. E's Doll Museum?: You can find us on Twitter, hashtag "Dr. E's Doll Museum." Facebook: Dr. E's Doll Museum We show up on Linked -in under my name, too. or ...