It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Book #2 – Middlemarch, by George Eliot

I read Middlemarch for the first time when I was 19, an assigned book in The Most Boring Class of my University Career. The book was a highlight of the class, but that would be damning it with faint praise. I loved it enough to reread it about once a year for several years.

What was its appeal? At the time I would have said simply that I enjoyed the multiple plot strands, a 19th century soap opera. Looking back, I can see that Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of my favourite – and the central – plot line, was a figure for myself at that time.

Dorothea, a young and lively woman, through an excess of Mental Purity, Moral Principles, and misguided High-Mindedness, marries herself to an elderly scholar. In her youthful pride, she rejects the wise counsel of her younger sister, who attempts to warn her off this union – what has a Serious Young Woman like Dorothea to learn from a frivolous little airhead like Celia? With all the fervour of her passionate being, she subjects herself to her new husband, and to supporting him in his noble studies, thus, she believes, assisting in bringing Good to the World. Gradually, she realizes that her elderly husband is neither particularly noble nor good, and that his studies, even should they ever reach fruition – an unlikely possibility – will produce only a dessicated tome, a fitting memorial to the self-absorbed egoist that is her husband.

Looking back, I think the appeal of Dorothea to me were our similarities. She honestly strives to live according to laudable principles; her desire for moral and spiritual self-improvement resonated with the 20-something me; but her self-abegnating arrogance and naivety lead her to choose a path of emotional self-destruction – ‘course, I didn’t see that at the time.

She escapes, and the tale ends happily for Dorothea, but it’s a near miss.

I made a few significant life decisions out of similarly good, but completely misdirected intentions and misapplied principles. It took me far longer than Dorothea to extricate myself, but I, too, have achieved my happily ever after.

Nice when that happens.

© 2006, Mary P

January 4, 2007 Posted by | books, memes and quizzes | 5 Comments

Just Post Awards


Like many of my friends, I have a vaguely benevolent attitude to the rest of the world: I feel sad that there are homeless, I am pleased that gays have the right to marry in my province, I am angered by the plight of abused women and children. But, I confess, it rarely goes beyond feelings. We have foster kids in third world countries, I routinely drop a loonie or a twonie in an outstretched hat, or buy them a sandwich and a coffee and talk, and I make regular monthly donations to a couple of charities that matter to me.

But what do I do? Not a whole lot, really. Thus I was delighted when the ever-compassionate and passionate Jen of Girl Plus Two joined forces with a Mad friend of hers to create the Just Post Awards. This award will go to a post you’ve found about social justice or activism, that touches you. What a great idea, huh?

Here’s how it works:

1a. Send your nominations to Mad, at madhattermommy (at) hotmail (dot) com, or to Jen at girlplustwo (at) yahoo (dot) com by the 8th. All nominated posts will appear on both sites on the 10th.
1b. In your email, please include the url for the nominated post and the url for your blog as well.
3. When they send you the code for the button, you get to give it to your nominee!
4. Then on the 10th, you write a post explaining why the nominated post spoke to you and link your post back to Jen and Mad.

I’m thinking that by getting exposure to different thoughts on the idea, by seeing what other people are passionate about, what others are doing, I might be inspired, see how I can cast a little more light in my bit of the planet, physically, practically, in my here and now.

So, be on the lookout! Or better, be inspired, and maybe write a post that might be nominated. Let’s enrich the blogsophere – and the Real World, too.

© 2006, Mary P

January 4, 2007 Posted by | memes and quizzes | 5 Comments