The Yellow Wallpaper and Jane Eyre

I was going to write a post or two on “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and discuss it in comparison with Jane Eyre. But honestly, all of the comparisons I could make seem a bit too easy.

“The Yellow Wall-Paper” is an American short story, and in some ways the characters and plot are very different from Jane Eyre. But on the other hand, whenever I read it, I can’t help thinking about Mr. Rochester and Bertha Antoinette, or even Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. The gas-lighting and manipulation, whether it’s intentional or simply because the husband thinks he knows best, is terrifying.

If you haven’t read this incredible short story, please do so! You can do so here at Project Gutenberg.

Here’s a brief write-up on female “hysteria” and insanity in the 19th century.

Have any of you read this story? What do you think of it? Does it make you reflect on Jane Eyre differently in any way? If so, how?

 

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: [Dead] Authors I Would Like To Meet

If given the chance, I’d like to take the following authors out for a cup (or five) of coffee:

  1. Diana Wynne Jones. Filed under: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien. Filed under: I Have Prepared A List of Questions Do You Have a Few Hours To Spare?
  3. The Brontes. Filed under: Any Of Them
  4. Henry James. Filed under: Are You Single (Asking For a Friend)
  5. Edith Wharton. Filed under: Marry Me
  6. Mary Shelley. Filed under: Bring Percy and Byron and Keats and We Can Have An Orgy
  7. Rosemary Sutcliff. Filed under: Mess Me Up My Dear Rosemary
  8. Christopher Marlowe. Filed under: Just Don’t Tell Will
  9. Mary Renault. Filed under: I Want To See Your Head Explode When I Call Alexander The Great a Genocidal Megalomaniac
  10. Dorothy Sayers. Filed under: Dorothy Deserved Better 2017

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Myth Monday: Cursed With Monsters

Previously on Myth Monday!

Last month we went through the monsters and creatures mentioned in Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Today we will do the same thing with the next book, The Titan’s Curse. This is one of my favorite Percy Jackson books, because of the introduction of the di Angelo kids (children of Hades), the hilarious Apollo cameo, the Dionysus scenes (he’s craaaaaaaaazy but also really unimpressed with shenanigans) and all of the involvement with Artemis and her immortal lady Hunters.

But besides all of that, The Titan’s Curse continues in the fun tradition of lobbing monster after monster at our heroes.

The Monsters

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Very normal-looking animal called a manticore. Source

Manticores: I can’t even blame this one on  the Greeks, even though the ancient Greeks really liked to put all of creation in a blender and see what crazy combinations they could come up with. These bad boys from Persia have the face of a human, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion. In The Titan’s Curse, a terrifying teacher named Dr. Thorn turns out to be a manticore in disguise. I’d like Rick Riordan to explain why a Persian monster is serving a Greek Titan; Dr. Thorn is pretty invested in Atlas’ future success. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Atlas, aka “The General”: Atlas is one of the Titans, predecessors of the gods. There was a big war between Kronos/Cronus, king of the Titans, and his son Zeus, who led the gods against their evil parental overlords. When Zeus and Co. won, many of the Titans were destroyed or punished in a variety of horrifying ways. Atlas got the necessary but uncomfortable job of holding up the sky (because as everyone knows, the Sky wants to reunite with his lady-love the Earth). Talk about a third wheel. Atlas is the primary villain of The Titan’s Curse and spends most of his time recruiting monsters and tricking gods/demigods into dealing with his curse for him. As a Big Bad, he does very well. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

The Ophiotaurus: This half-cow, half-serpent monster is mentioned once by Ovid – apparently if you slaughter it and burn the entrails, you’ll win. At life? At war? IDK but you’re a winner. In The Titan’s Curse, the Ophiotaurus is an adorable baby cow-serpent that everyone either loves or wants to murder for their own gain. Classic. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because it’s not even scary and sounds kinda fake. BUT IT’S SO CUTE. [PS what if the expression was Deus ex ophiotauro instead? That would be hilarious, we should make this so.]

Scythian dracaenae: These are dragon-ladies: human up top, serpent down low. Echidna was a famous one, who bribed Hercules into sleeping with her. They had kids. Don’t think about it too much. The dracaenae show up in The Titan’s Curse as servants and soldiers of Atlas. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Dragon-teeth spawn: Sometimes known as the Sparti/Spartoi, the hero Jason had to face them during the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece. When the Argonauts reach the land of King Aetes and ask him for the Golden Fleece, the king can’t turn them down outright because they’ve become his guests. So he tells Jason that he has to perform a task for him: yoke some fire-breathing bronze oxen, sow a field with dragon-teeth, and kill the crop of armed men that spring up. Jason is a little taken aback by this very specific and lethal request, but he’s the one who signed up for the quest, after all. In The Titan’s Curse, Atlas makes soldiers of his own by planting dragon-teeth, and Percy and his friends have the undead, implacable stalkers on their tail for quite a while. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Nemean Lion:

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Source

The hero Hercules had to perform twelve impossible tasks, known as the Twelve Labors, to make up for the fact that he went crazy and murdered his wife and children. I don’t make the rules. The first impossible task was to kill the lion of Nemea, which was bullet-proof, sword-proof, etc etc etc. So, after wasting a lot of time experimenting with different weapons, Hercules finally just strangled the lion. Percy Jackson has to fight the (reborn) Nemean Lion in The Titan’s Curse, but he’s not super-powerful like Hercules, so instead he gag-chokes it by stuffing astronaut food down its throat until dead. Don’t tell PETA. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because its skin turns into a very fashionable weapon-proof coat.

 

Ladon and the Hesperides: The eleventh (I skipped a few because they aren’t relevant) impossible task that Hercules had to complete was to steal the golden apples of the garden of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were nymphs, and daughters of Atlas (you know, that Big Bad we mentioned above). Ladon was a great dragon that guarded the tree. So between the dragon and the nymphs, Hercules had a bunch of problems to overcome (including the fact that he didn’t know where the garden was – see Nereus below for the explanation of how Hercules gets his information). There are different versions of this story – in some, Hercules goes to the garden himself and fights Ladon in order to get to the apples. In others, Hercules goes to Atlas and persuades Atlas to go get the apples from his daughters, in exchange for Hercules holding the sky for him for a while. Of course, Atlas has to be tricked into taking the sky back again (honestly I’m surprised Hercules managed to trick anyone but I’m showing my bias). In The Titan’s Curse, Percy is guided to the garden by Zoe, an ex-Hesperide and current Hunter of Artemis, in order to find Atlas and rescue their friends. I love how the PJ books combine bits and pieces from different myths to make a great story! Fortunately, Percy doesn’t have to fight the dragon (although someone else does). 4/5  Monstrous Rating because dragons.

Bonus Round!

Nereus the sea-god: This guy was infamously smelly – I guess he liked hanging out around rotting fish or something. If you grab him and wrestle him and hang onto him while he shape-shifts, he will answer whatever question you ask him. Hercules used this Wrestle-Nereus technique to find out where the Garden of the Hesperides was (see above). Percy Jackson uses this technique to find out information of his own. Nereus probably should hang out in the ocean more so demigod heroes can’t find him? 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Titan’s Curse. Disney Hyperion, 2007. Print.

Scripture Sunday (19)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

-1 Samuel 12:19-25

Why I chose it:

What I love about this passage is that even though the Israelites have been REAL DISOBEDIENT LATELY, they’ve realized and repented and Samuel, their mentor/advisor/priest/judge guy, encourages them to look toward future choices, not past ones. They can’t think, “Wow, we’ve made all of these mistakes and probably made God hate us…we might as well run from Him and find some other god or thing to serve who can take care of us since we clearly aren’t worthy.”

Even when I make one mistake, or ten more in a row, that doesn’t mean I should just keep on making more because “it’s too late.” Now is always a good time to try to do better and do the right thing.

Myth Monday: The Bacchae

Last week on Myth Mondays: meet Dionysus, god of wine and madness! See other Myth Monday posts here.

I ran out of time for a proper post today, so I will leave you with a quote, or rather a monologue. This is from The Bacchae, an ancient Greek play by Euripides. As we will see later on, theater is a huge part of the worship of Dionysus. In this monologue, Dionysus goes over his backstory (which we talked about last week) and announces his modest goals of world domination. Translated by Gilbert Murray. I put some words in bold – they’re important names or motifs in Dionysus’ myths.

Behold, God’s Son is come unto this land
Of Thebes, even I, Dionysus, whom the brand
Of heaven’s hot splendour lit to life, when she
Who bore me, Cadmus’ daughter Semelê,
Died here. So, changed in shape from God to man,
I walk again by Dirce’s streams and scan
Ismenus’ shore. There by the castle side
I see her place, the Tomb of the Lightning’s Bride,
The wreck of smouldering chambers, and the great
Faint wreaths of fire undying—as the hate
Dies not, that Hera held for Semelê.
Aye, Cadmus hath done well; in purity
He keeps this place apart, inviolate,
His daughter’s sanctuary; and I have set
My green and clustered vines to robe it round.
Far now behind me lies the golden ground
Of Lydian and of Phrygian; far away
The wide hot plains where Persian sunbeams play,
The Bactrian war-holds, and the storm-oppressed
Clime of the Mede, and Araby the Blest,
And Asia all, that by the salt sea lies
In proud embattled cities, motley-wise
Of Hellene and Barbarian interwrought;
And now I come to Hellas—having taught
All the world else my dances and my rite
Of mysteries, to show me in men’s sight
Manifest God.
And first of Hellene lands
I cry thus Thebes to waken; set her hands
To clasp my wand, mine ivied javelin,
And round her shoulders hang my wild fawn-skin.
For they have scorned me whom it least beseemed,
Semelê’s sisters; mocked my birth, nor deemed
That Dionysus sprang from Dian seed.
My mother sinned, said they; and in her need,
With Cadmus plotting, cloaked her human shame
With the dread name of Zeus; for that the flame
From heaven consumed her, seeing she lied to God.
Thus must they vaunt; and therefore hath my rod
On them first fallen, and stung them forth wild-eyed
From empty chambers; the bare mountain side
Is made their home, and all their hearts are flame.
Yea, I have bound upon the necks of them
The harness of my rites. And with them all
The seed of womankind from hut and hall
Of Thebes, hath this my magic goaded out.
And there, with the old King’s daughters, in a rout
Confused, they make their dwelling-place between
The roofless rocks and shadowy pine trees green.
Thus shall this Thebes, how sore soe’er it smart,
Learn and forget not, till she crave her part
In mine adoring; thus must I speak clear
To save my mother’s fame, and crown me here
As true God, born by Semelê to Zeus.

Coming up on Myth Monday: more Dionysus, Percy Jackson, and reviews!

Scripture Sunday (18)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

Next Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. Abimelech went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.

Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me,so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home.

Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

-Judges 9:50-57

Why I chose it:

Tag yourself; I’m the millstone.

In all seriousness, though, every time I read Judges it’s like I’m reading it for the first time, and I am completely blown away by how wild and dark it is. A few people make good choices but mostly it’s just a long series of bad choices. Even Gideon, famous for routing an enemy army with only 300 men because the Lord is with him, winds up (accidentally???) leading his people into idolatry and then one of his sons (Abimelech) murders all of his other sons.

So like, make good choices, and if you wind up in a tower surrounded by a murderous army, don’t lose hope!

Myth Monday: Dionysus’ Fun Beginning

Last week on Myth Monday: book recommendations of myth retellings

This is the first of a few posts I will be doing on Dionysus, Greek god of the vine&wine, fertility, madness, and other similarly fun things. Why did I pick this guy to focus on?

A. He’s a personal fave

B. I’m reading this incredibly wild book called Dionysus: Myth and Cult by Walter F. Otto and I wanted to talk about it

C. He’s the patron of theater kids everywhere!

D. All of the above

Spoilers: the answer is D. Which stands for Dionysus. Obviously.

For this post, I’m going to talk a little about my sources, introduce you to Dionysus’ family, and go over his early life – both as a character in old stories and as a Greek cult.

Sources

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Source

Dionysus (or Bacchus) has been around for a bit – just how long is a matter of conjecture. He isn’t mentioned by name in Homer’s mainstream poems, although elements of his myths are (like the Maenads, his crazy band of girlfriends). He is also mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony, a real old Greek poem and a sort of Who’s Who of Greek gods and such. Dionysus pops up now and again in the Homeric Hymns as well, which are ALSO real old Greek poems that are dedicated to this that and the other Greek god. Dionysus has a big role in at least one play by Euripides. I’ll talk more about Euripides and Greek drama a bit later.

The books I’m drawing on from these posts are more of compendiums of all the old myths and songs and poems and plays. Primarily, they are:

  • Mythology by Edith Hamilton: This is my favorite mythology retelling collection so far. Hamilton does a good job of condensing everything but still telling a good story and telling it well, so that it’s entertaining and terrifying, but still getting across all of these random details and encompassing all of the many characters in Greek mythology.
  • The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch: This does the same job as Edith Hamilton’s book, but his writing style isn’t as poetic or engaging. He includes details and stories that Hamilton doesn’t, though, and he tries to be as comprehensive (I was tempted to say “unbiased,” but no one ever manages that) as possible.
  • Dionysus: Myth and Cult by Walter F. Otto: Otto likes Dionysus. A lot. So much. It’s a little terrifying. Anyway, this book delves into the cult that worshiped Dionysus, the different rites and versions of Dionysus’ story, and the cultural and religious impact of the Greek god.

The Fam, The Birth, The Legacy

Dionysus is one of the twelve Olympians, the most powerful and important of the Greek gods. He’s the son of Zeus, king of the gods, god of thunder and, I don’t know, adultery probably. One of Zeus’ many girlfriends is Semele, a princess of Thebes. Hera, Zeus’ wife (and goddess of marriage, because the Greeks are just really ornery), finds out about Semele, because Hera always finds out about all of the girlfriends. Hera disguises herself and convinces Semele that her boyfriend isn’t really Zeus, king of the gods – Semele will have to prove it somehow. Semele, in a sort of Samson-and-Delilah adventure, persuades Zeus that if he really truly loves her, he’ll give her whatever she wants. He makes an unbreakable vow to do so, and Semele asks him to reveal himself in his true form. Zeus is like, “um, honey, but-” “YOU PROMISED.” Zeus reveals himself, and Semele is so lit she catches fire and burns to death because mere mortals can’t look at gods.

So that’s a fun story.

The part where it gets really weird is that Semele is pregnant, and to save their kid, Zeus pulls the baby out of Semele’s womb and puts him in his side. Then, a few months later, Dionysus is born! Because a dude’s side is exactly like a womb! I don’t know, maybe Zeus magically spawns a temporary womb for a while. Supposedly, since Dionysus spends some time in his human parent AND in his godly parent, that makes him more special than your average demigod (half-god, half-human) kid.

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Source

In any case, Zeus isn’t sure he wants to bring this kid home – Hera might set him on fire, after all. So Dionysus is raised by the rain-nymphs of Nysa, otherwise known as the Hyades. Dionysus grows up in the wild, which might be important later.

However, Hera isn’t ready to let this go just yet. Hera finds him and curses Dionysus with madness, so he leaves Nysa and travels the earth as a lunatic. He is eventually found by Rhea, a Titan and queen of the earth, and also Zeus’ mom. So Dionysus’ grandma takes him in, cures his madness, and teaches him many helpful things about the earth and how to grow plants in it, including the grapevine. She may or may not throw in some helpful hints about fermentation.

TO BE CONTINUED on future Myth Mondays!