Miss Havisham presides over Great Expectations like a great, ill-willed fairy queen. She is, by turns, the novel's resident corpse, its ghost, its fairy godmother, and "the Witch of the place"—a fury dressed up in a tattered, yellowed wedding dress. She stands, in the Dickens pantheon, alongside Scrooge, the Artful Dodger, and Uriah Heep as one of his most memorable characters.
The existence of the authors suggested a way to live and work within institutions that didn’t involve giving up parts of myself, and their books suggested that fear was not an inappropriate response to the world — that there was real violence at play, violence felt not just by me, but by everyone.
Emilia isn’t only a mouthpiece for the despair of the viewer; she is a witness to the violence committed against her friend, and an active agent in her own fate. “I care not for thy sword,” Emilia says to Othello, when she discovers what he’s done. “I’ll make thee known, though I lost twenty lives.”
Constance Fenimore Woolson was respected by critics of her day and viewed as a successor to George Eliot and a peer of James and William Dean Howells. In the years since her death, Woolson has become known as a tragic heroine in a story not of her own making, rather than what she really was: a marvelous maker of stories herself.
Art is important. It is an echo of the real world, capturing our perceptions and reflecting them back to us. And what do we discover reflected in the story of Marie-Laure? A well-crafted homage to destructive stereotypes about blindness, softened and made pretty by artful prose.
Name: Mary Lennox, once-bratty orphan who has rather improved in her demeanor Location: Yorkshire, England, where the wind is always wutherin’ Size: Unknown, as owner Mr. Archibald Craven spends most of his time wandering the earth in a vain attempt to escape his sorrows
What I remember: buying a ticket to Hebden Bridge on the train, certain that the conductor would judge me as another American Plath girl if I asked for Heptonstall. The tough climb uphill to the churchyard. The sweeping view across the moors on that bright summer’s day.
EVERDEEN: My father gave me the book as a gift. When I was young, my dad would buy me these really nice hardcover classics as gifts, and I always felt really regal about it, like it was a tome and I was going to become so much smarter. I loved this book immediately. I’ve always been a big fantasy reader, but this was one of the first books I'd read that had such a relatable…
Alexander Chee: I wanted it to have some of the feeling of a fairy tale, but also some of the feeling of the autobiography of a celebrity from that time. Like the autobiographies of Sarah Bernhardt or Cora Pearl or Celeste Mogador, but if they were a little bewitched. Like a story from Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber if it ran off to hide in the autobiography section.
Of all of the genres women have written in, the female Bildungsroman is one of the most important -- for it often grows out of the author’s own lived experiences, providing a map to where women’s lives have been, and where they are going.