Friday, 30 November 2012

Weekend Quote #21

“There are people who observe the rules of honour as one observes the stars – from a great distance.”

These are the words of Combeferre, one of the Friends of the ABC, when Feully, another member of the friendship mentions the names of people who brag that they would help the revolution, but vanish when the day comes.

I find the sarcasm in it amusing and at the same time sad. It reminds us how easy it is to talk, and how difficult it is to be true to our words. I believe that doing what we say is also part of being honourable. After all, it is better no to say anything than say a lot of things without doing it.

That is my quote this weekend. What is yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra: If This be Love Indeed...

Antony and Cleopatra's main theme is perhaps love. The death of Antony and his lover the queen of Egypt somehow resembles the typical love tragedy in Shakespeare and older stories, such as Romeo and Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, Othello, etc. But for me Antony and Cleopatra has its own uniqueness.

One of them is of course, the political theme in the play. The political theme is so intense that it blurs the theme of love at times. For example, Antony's marriage to Octavia is actually quite a shocking choice from the 'love' point of view, especially after his promise to Cleopatra. But his political motive prevails over his emotional feeling, and he chooses that path to strengthen his position in Rome. Cleopatra forgives Antony anyway.

The ups and downs of their relationship is also unique. They fight, and then they love again, and fight again, none of them loves better than the other. Their love is sometimes selfish, sometimes stupid, and it enriches the plot of the play.

I don't know if I will read the play again, given my dislike to tragedies (with few exceptions), but for me the play is entertaining enough. Here below is the list of my act-by-act review. Please enjoy.  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra, Act V: The Last Empress of Egypt

The last act of the play, for me personally, is not as impressive as the others. Is that because Antony has died? Why, maybe. The queen's interaction with Octavius is somewhat awkward. Octavius is not a merciful and wise king in the old story books. On the contrary, he would do anything to make sure that he holds the supreme power over all the world.

At the beginning of the first scene, Octavius finds out that Antony is dead. He laments his death, admitting that Antony was a great man indeed.

“O Antony!
I have follow’d thee to this; but we do lance
Diseases in our bodies: I must perforce
Have shown to thee such a declining day,
Or look on thine; we could not stall together
In the whole world: but yet let me lament,
With tears as sovereign as the blood of hearts,
That thou, my brother, my competitor
In top of all design, my mate in empire,
Friend and companion in the front of war,
The arm of mine own body, and the heart
Where mine his thoughts did kindle — that our stars,
Unreconciliable, should divide
Our equalness to this.”

Meanwhile, Cleopatra has great desire for death. Yet Octavius, by means of his servants guards her life. Cleopatra desperately calls for death, but she is not allowed to die.

“Where art thou, death?
Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen
Worthy many babes and beggars!”

One other thing that I love from this scene is Cleopatra praising Antony so, describing how she saw Antony from her point of view. She is infatuated with the Roman general.

“His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course, and lighted
The little O, the earth.
His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear’d arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk’d crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp’d from his pocket.
Think you there was, or might be, such a man
As this I dream’d of?”

I cannot imagine the guilt that burdens her heart, since Antony dies because of her lie. From Dolabella, she learns that Octavius wants to lead her in triumph, that is put her on display in his triumphal march back to Rome. For a queen, of course, it's an indescribable shame. She cannot bear it. Moreover, her own servant betrays her, thus adding more pain to her shame. It's more than the queen can bear. She and her maids are resolved to kill themselves.

“Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.”

Death of Cleopatra by Reginald Arthur
Octavius is not surprised to see that Cleopatra is dead. He has known that she would rather die than being humiliated in public. But perhaps Octavius didn't guess that the queen would find means through the poison of an asp. He then gives her and Antony the last gift he can give: proper burial.

“She shall be buried by her Antony:
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them; and their story is
No less in pity than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral;”

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Let's Read Play: Play List

I forgot to make a master post for all my participation in Let's Read Play Event held by Fanda. As you know, I haven't decided what play I am going to read for each month, so I will just leave them blank. They will be filled when I finish the play and the review as well. So, here we go.

Nov '12 Shakespeare's Tragedy

Dec '12 Shakespeare's Comedy

Jan '13. Freebie

Feb '13 Shakespeare's History

Mar '13 Greek

Apr '13 Shakespeare's Comedy

May '13 Shakespeare's Tragedy

Jun '13 Oscar Wilde

Jul '13 Other Author
(to be decided later)

Aug '13 Shakespeare's Comedy

Sep '13 Freebie
(to be decided later)

Oct '13 Shakespeare's Tragedy
(to be decided later)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV: Betrayed and Dead

The fourth act of Antony and Cleopatra is again set in field of war. Not really my kind of play. Yet there are things I want to pay attention to.

Firstly, the sign. Remember the soothsayer that told Antony not to fight Caesar? Well, “divine signs” have been a feature in old classics that must not be taken slightly. Just as Julius, Antony doesn't listen to the soothsayer (or has forgotten his warning) and wages war against Caesar. But then there is another sign coming among his men.

“Tis the god Hercules, whom Antony loved,
Now leaves him.”

To have such a sign like that means things won't work well with Antony. But it has nothing to do with us. We know that he is going to die anyway.

Second, Enobarbus' betrayal and Antony's reaction to it.

“Mark Antony
Who’s gone this morning?
One ever near thee: call for Enobarbus,
He shall not hear thee; or from Caesar’s camp
Say ‘I am none of thine.’”

This betrayal must be a painful blow for Antony, since he counts Enobarbus as one of his closest friends. But Enobarbus doesn't hold the same high principles that Antony has in him. Antony at last feels the pain that Julius once experienced – being betrayed.

But he doesn't lose his temper. Instead he sends all Enobarbus' treasures back to him and even add more to it. Not just that, he even says that it is him that has changed Enobarbus for worse.

“Go, Eros, send his treasure after; do it;
Detain no jot, I charge thee: write to him —
I will subscribe — gentle adieus and greetings;
Say that I wish he never find more cause
To change a master. O, my fortunes have
Corrupted honest men! Dispatch. — Enobarbus!”

Now let's move to Octavius' camp. Octavius accepts Antony's ex-friends with hospitality, but pays not much trust to them. Talking about battle strategy, this is his plan:

“Go charge Agrippa
Plant those that have revolted in the van,
That Antony may seem to spend his fury
Upon himself.”

So it's not good at all for those who deserted Antony in his hour of need, eh? It's just natural for Caesar not to trust traitors. Who knows that nest time it is him they would betray when his luck runs short? 

Enobarbus now starts to understand that it was a bad decision to leave Antony, and he feels guilty about it. His feeling of guilt and shame becomes even more immense when he finds out that Antony has given him back his riches, despite his treason. The traitor then kills himself just like Judas.

I don't understand Cleopatra. Putting Antony to the test, she asks her servant to tell Antony that she is dead. Antony, then, kills himself. What kind of drama is this? But the noble Antony never forgets the important things. He tells Cleopatra to seek peace with Octavius, and to get back her honour and safety. Then as befits a king, he says goodbye, telling Cleopatra not to grieve upon his death, because he dies honourably.

Pompeo Batoni's painting depicting Antony's death
“The miserable change now at my end
Lament nor sorrow at; but please your thoughts
In feeding them with those my former fortunes
Wherein I lived, the greatest prince o’ the world,
The noblest; and do now not basely die,
Not cowardly put off my helmet to
My countryman — a Roman by a Roman
Valiantly vanquish’d. Now my spirit is going;
I can no more.”

The story is nearing its end. What will happen between Octavius and Cleopatra then? 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra, Act III: Love is Indeed Blind

If he were Caesar, and Caesar Antony, we would be compelled to rewrite every article of history since the death of Julius Caesar.

The Battle of Actium by Lorenzo A. Castro
Just a thought. The third act of Antony and Cleopatra has been emotional for me. It might be my bias for Antony, but I do admire some of his grand qualities. I have written about one of it in the review of the first act. Now let me continue to the second.

When he hears that Octavius wages war against Pompey, Antony becomes furious. Firstly, he starts to feel than Octavius doesn't count him as Roman co-ruler in the triumvirate. Secondly, he doesn't think that the war against Pompey is fair.

“Nay, nay, Octavia, not only that—
That were excusable, that and thousands more
Of semblable import—but he hath waged
New wars ’gainst Pompey; made his will, and read it
To public ear;
Spoke scantly of me; when perforce he could not
But pay me terms of honor, cold and sickly
He vented them, most narrow measure lent me.
When the best hint was given him, he not took ’t,
Or did it from his teeth.”

Given the fact that Pompey helped Antony in the past, thus making a link between the two, the murder of Pompey is utterly unacceptable from Antony's point of view. It enrages him to know that one of his subordinates killed Pompey.

“He’s walking in the garden — thus; and spurns
The rush that lies before him; cries, ‘Fool Lepidus!’
And threats the throat of that his officer
That murder’d Pompey.”

Another thing that I still like of him is kindness towards those who fight with him. Knowing that there is no longer hope to win, he offers his ship and the treasures in it to his soldiers, and also advices them to move to Octavius' side.

“Friends, come hither:
I am so lated in the world, that I
Have lost my way for ever: I have a ship
Laden with gold; take that, divide it; fly,
And make your peace with Caesar.”

The more I know Antony, the more I like him. And yet to me he is the same and both different man from what he is in Julius Caesar. His love to Cleopatra is almost mounting up to madness. He cannot think clearly, and also refuses to listen to Enobarbus' sound advice, that is to fight Octavius on land.

All these things cannot be good. I'd happily finish the play soon and make an elaborate review about it.

PS: The analysis done in this article is based solely on Shakespeare's work, regardless of its historical accuracy.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader and will be held along 2013. The point is to read 12 books from your TBR pile during the year.

I'd like to combine this challenge with other challenges that I have joined such as Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Let's Read Plays, and also a challenge I host myself, Narrative Poem Reading Challenge. Here's my list for this particular challenge:
  • Conrad, Joseph – The Secret Agent
  • Defoe, Daniel – Robinson Crusoe
  • LeBlanc, Maurice – The Hollow Needle
  • Pushkin, Alexander – Eugine Onegin
  • Queen, Ellery – The Chinese Orange Mystery
  • Spencer, Edmund – Faerie Queene
  • Sheridan – School for Scandal
  • Wilde, Oscar – An Ideal Husband
  • William Shakespeare – The Rape of Lucrece
  • William Shakespeare – Othello
  • William Shakespeare – Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • William Shakespeare – Venus and Adonis

  • Wilde, Oscar – The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Euripides – The Trojan Women

Huft! Let's hope I can do it.  

Friday, 23 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra, Act II: Two Types of Women

Now let's continue our journey to the second act of Antony and Cleopatra. There are many interesting things in this act, including the conversation between Antony and Octavius and his marriage with Octavia. This act also features the pact between Pompey and Octavius and reveals the personality of Pompey a little bit more. 

But those things are not my focus here. I'd like to focus only to the two women that surround Antony's life: Cleopatra and Octavia. Let's see the Roman lady first.

Octavia's name first comes into the conversation when Agrippa, with all political skill that he has, proposes a way to “tie” Antony with Caesar, in order for both to be brothers by way of marriage link. Octavia is Caesar's sister, praised highly by all for her 'grace and beauty'. Octavius seems to love his sister greatly. Here's what he says himself:

“There is my hand.
A sister I bequeath you, whom no brother
Did ever love so dearly: let her live
To join our kingdoms and our hearts; and never
Fly off our loves again!”

But what kind of woman is Octavia? Here's what Enobarbus says about her:

PS: The analysis done in this article is based solely on Shakespeare's work, regardless of its historical accuracy.
“Octavia is of a holy, cold, and still conversation.”

Aha! So in Enobarbus eyes, which try to look at her from Antony's eyes, Octavia is far too 'ladylike' for such a great general as Antony. She has the grace of the goddess and also a beautiful appearance, perhaps, but she is not capable of exciting conversation.

Such consideration will bring us now to the Queen of Egypt: Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is a strong-willed woman. That's enough to describe the difference between her and Octavia. She is not the type that wants to be 'governed' by men. She does what she can to get what she wants.

Another difference worth noting is the way she expresses her emotions. She expresses rage, love, happiness and other emotions in tempestuous way. If Octavia is pure, gentle water in a pond, Cleopatra is the stormy sea. She has more spirit in her, and that attracts people around her. She might not be as ladylike as a Roman women of high lineage, but she has fighting spirit inside her. It must be exciting to converse with her, to see her changes in mood, to guess what she would do next.

Again, let's look at what Enobarbus says about her:

“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.”

I'd like to note the phrase “infinite variety” that she has, that makes other women seem boring compared to her.

In Mark Antony's case, in my opinion, Cleopatra stands higher than Octavia in his heart. Again, Enobarbus shows us why that is so.

Who would not have his wife so?
Domitius Enobarbus
Not he that himself is not so; which is Mark Antony.”

Enobarbus states that Antony would love better someone who is more like him. Octavia then, is not a logical choice. On the other hand, Cleopatra, with all her riddle seems more interesting, especially with a general who loves to travel and to experience new things. Cleopatra would be a challenge equal to his taste, while Octavia would be tedious.

PS: The analysis done in this article is based solely on Shakespeare's work, regardless of its historical accuracy.

Weekend Quote #20

“O, then we bring forth weeds
When our quick minds lie still, and our ills told us
Is as our earing.”

I know I have mentioned this quote in my review of Antony and Cleopatra's first act, but I love to look closer to it and specifically write what I think about this sentence.

Antony likens an idle mind to an uncultivated land. A land uncultivated is a fertile medium for weeds to grow, and weed is not useful at all for food or market. Therefore Antony compare his faults with weeds, that grow much when he is idling in Egypt with Cleopatra.

I'd like to point out that as a fertile land cannot be fully unused, the human mind cannot be fully unemployed. You cannot ask someone NOT to think. It's human nature to do so. But it will be useful to look at what lies in our mind and what comes out of it. Is it weed, or is it grain? It's better to use our brains for something beneficial rather than just let it become idle and grow 'weed', both in mind and deed, right?

Antony also says that when our mistakes is shown to us, its like an 'earing'. It means that like weeds in a land can be removed by ploughing it, we can remove our faults easier when somebody points them out to us. The problem is, how do we respond when somebody gives us advice?

Antony is a great example. He says it clearly that he accepts correction, critics and advice from people, even from his subordinate. He realises that such correction will bring him much benefit. Not all advice is good, but at least listening to it, we can see some of the things lacking in us, and we can do something to make ourselves better.

That's my quote for this weekend. What about yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Les Miserables, Vol V: Everything Must Come to An End

“Listra,” said one of my friends, “I bet you will cry reading Les Miserables. I am a man, and I cried when I read it.”

It doesn't need a prophet to predict that I did. I did cry reading the finale of Les Miserables. There are so many things happen, and everything moves its way towards the conclusion. I don't even know how to start relating what's going on in this last volume. But I will try my best.

The Insurrection

The people of Paris, tired with all political insecurity and inadequate life standard start to move. The Friends of the ABC leads in the front line. That night, Paris is a living storm. Javert is captured, Marius and Jean join the people's army. Enjolras, Combeferre and other friends are on fire, Grantaire soundly sleeps, and everything seems right. Then one by one people die.

Almost all those who stay in the barricade die; Enjolras and Grantaire are the last of them. Jean however, manages to slip away, carrying Marius, heavily wounded, on his back and goes through the sewer.

The Marriage

Jean is sure of Marius' love and state, and decides to give Cosette to him. On the other hand, Marius and his grandfather are now reconciled. The marriage arranged as soon as possible, and the couple are now finally married, happy, and rich – thanks to Cosette's inheritance from her kind foster father.

Jean, on the other hand, sinks into the darkness again. He has lost his reason for living. He still lingers in the old memories when Cosette was just a little girl, wearing black dress to mourn her mother. He doesn't have anyone else in the world, but he doesn't want to either drag Cosette to his world of drag himself to hers. Both are, in his eyes, wrong. He at last makes a decision on which I can't agree – separate himself from Cosette's happiness.

Jean's Confession

Jean, being sure that Cosette will be happy with Marius, confesses to him that he is an ex-convict. Marius at first states no objection, but later he realises that Jean's situation could bring danger to him and Cosette. He allows Jean to meet Cosette, but Jean slowly withdraws himself from the happy couple.

I'd be very glad if I could say that Jean's decision is stupid. But there are times when you feel that withdrawing yourself from people you love would bring them more happiness, especially when you feel that there's nothing you can do to help them, or that you will just be a burden to them. Perhaps that thought lingers in Jean's mind.

Marius, doubting the source of Jean's fortune, decides to live a simple life with Cosette. We all know how stubborn he is in financial matters. Marius even begins to think that Jean has not only committed a thief, but also a murder. He doesn't know that Javert commited suicide.

Light can emerge from the most unexpected place, even the darkest place we can imagine. Such light enlightens all matter in Les Miserables. Thernadier, thinking that he could discredit Jean, tells Marius that Jean didn't kill Javert or steal from M. Madeleine. He then tells Marius of the sewer episode, not knowing that it was Marius that Jean brought with him that night.

Marius and Cosette dash to Jean's place, when the old man is already dying. Before his death Jean wraps everything in Les Miserables to a conclusion, and then he leaves Cosette to live happily with Marius.

It would be a lie to say that I'm not sad. But I'm satisfied that Jean dies with much satisfaction, because he knows that he has done the right thing, not always in the right manner, but with the right motive. I'm happy that he has fulfilled his promise to M. Myriel and Fantine. I have nothing to complain.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Character Thursday: Javert

Another death allows me to take this character into analysis and present him as one of the Character Thursdays. The Javert I am talking about, if there any other Javert somewhere out there, is the one in Hugo's Les Miserables. He is one of the few characters that appears since the first volume of the long story.

I will make this clear first: I have never hated him, never, and never will. It's true that I really wish he would just leave Jean alone and mind his own business. But then Jean is his business. Javert is an iron bar of the prison itself, that cannot be torn apart by the filthy hands of the prisoners, that answers to neither rage nor tears. He just stands there, upholding the law.

Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert
But we all now that iron can melt.

Javert is a police officer, and a very respectable one. Among his qualities are intelligence, determination, courage, and justice. Those are good qualities in human being. But he lacks one thing – mercy. His duty makes him just as heartless as the law.

I still remember what happens in M. Madeleine's office back in the first volume. Javert comes in and admits that he has made a 'mistake' by thinking that M. Madeleine is Jean Valjean, an ex-convict (which is actually correct). He then asks to be dismissed. Thus we can see how justice takes hold of his heart. He commits a wrong, and by the law he should be punished; he doesn't run from it, in fact, he asks for it.

Jean doesn't grant Javert his desire. He asks Javert to retain his duty. Here's what the officer says:

“I have often been severe in the course of my life towards others. That is just. I have done well. Now, if I were not severe towards myself, all the justice that I have done would become injustice. Ought I to spare myself more than others? No!... Mr. Mayor, I do not desire that you should treat me kindly; your kindness roused sufficient bad blood in me when it was directed to others. I want none of it for myself. The kindness which consists in upholding a woman of the town against a citizen, the police agent against the mayor, the man who is down against the man who is up in the world, is what I call false kindness. That is the sort of kindness which disorganizes society. Good God! it is very easy to be kind; the difficulty lies in being just.”

Javert has my respect. He remains the same man during the first four volumes, unshakeable, devoted, and dutiful policeman that holds the law above all else. He hunts Jean with all his might, but fortunately, fails to capture him. He turns his face from any kindness and mercy that the ex-convict does, including saving a child from domestic slavery and dropping bread to those in need of food. But something is going to open his eyes.

In the fifth volume, Javert is captured by Enjolras and his friends. There with the barricades, he meets again his old acquaintance, Jean Valjean. Both of them exchange nothing more than a glance. Later on, Enjolras and his friends decide to kill the police officer, and Jean offers himself to do it. Javert has every reason to believe that he is going to die, but we know Jean. He releases Javert, even gives him his address.

Javert's heart melts. Later on, Javert helps Jean to save Marius. Better than that, he lets Jean 'escape'. He doesn't drag him to the jail again.

“Of course,” you may say. “Javert owes Jean his life. It's just natural that he lets him go.” The problem is, we're talking about Javert. He doesn't restrain from even punishing himself. It would take more than the simple logic of paying one's debt for him to understand it all. He experiences exactly the same thing that Jean experienced that occupies almost one book in the first volume: the battle of conscience.

“A terrible situation! to be touched. To be granite and to doubt! to be the statue of Chastisement cast in one piece in the mould of the law, and suddenly to become aware of the fact that one cherishes beneath one’s breast of bronze something absurd and disobedient which almost resembles a heart! To come to the pass of returning good for good, although one has said to oneself up to that day that that good is evil! to be the watch-dog, and to lick the intruder’s hand! to be ice and melt! To be the pincers and to turn into a hand! to suddenly feel one’s fingers opening! to relax one’s grip,—what a terrible thing!
What! an honest servitor of the law could suddenly find himself caught between two crimes— the
crime of allowing a man to escape and the crime of arresting him! everything was not settled in the orders given by the State to the functionary! There might be blind alleys in duty! What,— all this was real! was it true that an ex-ruffian, weighed down with convictions, could rise erect and end by being in the right? Was this credible? were there cases in which the law should retire before transfigured crime, and stammer its excuses?—Yes, that was the state of the case! and Javert saw it! and Javert had touched it! and not only could he not deny it, but he had taken part in it. These were realities.
He himself, Javert, the spy of order, incorruptibility in the service of the police, the bull-dog providence of society, vanquished and hurled to earth; and, erect, at the summit of all that ruin, a man with a green cap on his head and a halo round his brow; this was the astounding confusion to which he had come; this was the fearful vision which he bore within his soul.”

The light is too much for Javert. His mind cannot endure it. Javert chooses to kill himself rather than to live up to the new kind of law that he has just met in Jean.

Did I cry when I read it? No, I was enraged. I'm sick of reading people die bitterly. I was mad that Jean and Javert don't live as friends since that day on; I was mad that Javert dies, because he's not a bad guy at all. He just couldn't understand that above the law of the state, there is the law of God, which revolves around love.

Character Thursday
Adalah book blog hop di mana setiap blog memposting tokoh pilihan dalam buku yang sedang atau telah dibaca selama seminggu terakhir (judul atau genre buku bebas).
- Kalian bisa menjelaskan mengapa kalian suka/benci tokoh itu, sekilas kepribadian si tokoh, atau peranannya dalam keseluruhan kisah.
- Jangan lupa mencantumkan juga cover buku yang tokohnya kalian ambil.
- Kalau buku itu sudah difilmkan, kalian juga bisa mencantumkan foto si tokoh dalam film, atau foto aktor/aktris yang kalian anggap cocok dengan kepribadian si tokoh.
Syarat Mengikuti :
1. Follow blog Fanda Classiclit sebagai host, bisa lewat Google Friend Connect (GFC) atau sign up via e-mail (ada di sidebar paling kanan). Dengan follow blog ini, kalian akan selalu tahu setiap kali blog ini mengadakan Character Thursday Blog Hop.
2. Letakkan button Character Thursday Blog Hop di posting kalian atau di sidebar blog, supaya follower kalian juga bisa menemukan blog hop ini. Kodenya bisa diambil di kotak di button.
3. Buat posting dengan menyertakan copy-paste “Character Thursday” dan “Syarat Mengikuti” ke dalam postingmu.
3. Isikan link (URL) posting kalian ke Linky di bawah ini. Cantumkan nama dengan format: Nama blogger @ nama blog, misalnya: Fanda @ Fanda Classiclit.
4. Jangan lupa kunjungi blog-blog peserta lain, dan temukan tokoh-tokoh pilihan mereka. Dengan begini, wawasan kita akan bertambah juga dengan buku-buku baru yang menarik

Monday, 19 November 2012

Narrative Poem Reading Challenge 2013

I've been very interested in challenges lately, and I myself have joined several of them, and still, am planning to join more. But that's another business.

I have always loved narrative poems. I do, I like them. But somehow reading narrative poems is more challenging than reading normal poems or normal narratives. Looking at my TBR list, there are many narrative poems that I promise to read, both from the Classic Club's Project, and also from my own curiosity.

So, to share the joy of reading narrative poems, I'd like to propose a challenge: What about reading narrative poems in 2013?

I know that some of you must have joined several reading challenges by now. It can be hectic, reading all those book in a year. To make sure that everybody has fun instead of burden, instead of giving a number of poems you have to finish, I'd just give the levels of reading. Feel free to read just as much as you can. The point of all this is having fun, anyway.

Levels of reading:
  • Homer (< 4 narrative poems)
  • Orpheus (5 – 8 narrative poems)
  • Muses (9 – 12 narrative poems)
  • Apollo (> 12 narrative poems)

  • You don't have to follow this blog to participate (though I would love it if you do).
  • The challenge will start on January 2013 and end on December 2013.
  • Only narrative poems will be counted. If it's just a good poem, but not a narrative poem, it doesn't count (though I would happily read your reviews about poems).
  • The length of the poems may vary, from long epics such as Illiad and Odyssey to Poe's The Raven. Don't worry about it. If you read a collection of narrative poems, you may write a review for each poem or as a group of it. But please put all reviews in the master post that will come later on.
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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2013

This challenge is hosted by Bev@My Reader;s Block and will take place on January – December 2013. I have decided to try joining it, since my classical journey started with Sherlock Holmes, which is also one of the mystery solvers. Sadly, I don't know much about mystery, and I hate scary stuff. So I put things here that hopefully are not very frightening, so that I can read them with much easiness of mind.

I pick 8 books to start, but I will add it to 16 if in later time I see that I can do more than that. Here's the list:

2. Murder by the Numbers: LeBlanc, Eight Strokes of the Clock
3. Amateur Night: Queen, Adventures of Ellery Queen
4. Leave It to the Professionals: Conrad, A Secret Agent
7. World Traveler: LeBlanc, The Hollow Needle
8. Dangerous Beasts: Hammet, The Maltese Falcon
12. Murderous Methods : Sayers, Strong Poison
15. Cops & Robbers: LeBlanc, The Crystal Stopper
16. Locked Rooms: Queen, The Chinese Orange Mystery

I am curious about LeBlanc's Lupin, since I have tried to read it but find little delight in in that I didn't even finish my first book. I like Ellery Queen, though, but I have only read the short story collection, so I will try to read some more of him. What? No Sherlock Holmes? Well, let's see if I can add him to the list later on.  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Antony and Cleopatra, Act I: Introducing the Two Lovers

Following the fine example set by other members of LRP Event, I try to make my review more elaborate by doing it per act. After reading Julius Caesar, I decided to read Antony and Cleopatra. Those who know me well must be aware that I love Antony dearly, for his cleverness, military skill and also loyalty. Will Antony and Cleopatra change my opinion (and dotage) on him? Let's see.

Is Antony still Antony?

Reading the first few lines of Antony and Cleopatra brings out this huge question: What happened to my Antony?

“Nay, but this dotage of our general's
O'erflows the measure. Those his goodly eyes,
That o'er the files and musters of the war
Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn,
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front. His captain's heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper,
And is become the bellows and the fan
To cool a gipsy's lust.”

I love how Philo says that Antony's eyes once “glowed like plated Mars”, thus praising him for his military glory. But he also says that his “dotage” – unreasonable affection towards Cleopatra – is now greater than his wonderful qualities of a general and has made him no more than a “strumpet's fool.” Oh, no!

Wait, that's not all. Octavius himself says this when he has meeting with Lepidus:

“From Alexandria
This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike
Than Cleopatra, nor the queen of Ptolemy
More womanly than he;”

Another proof of this unexpected degradation of Antony's personality comes from his own mouth. That same noble Antony, who offered himself to die with Caesar, in “Caesar's death hour”, with the same dagger, that same noble Antony who stirred people of Rome to rise against Brutus and Cassius, who fought them in Philippi and conquered them, the patriot of his country, he now says these lines to the so-called beautiful Queen of Egypt:

“Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the rang'd empire fall!”

Anyway, Antony sometimes regains his sobriety, when he is alone, without Cleopatra nearby. He admits that Cleopatra is cunning and that he shouldn't even have met her. Also he finally realises that he needs to go back to Rome and take care of it instead of sitting idly in Egypt having fun with its queen.

“I must from this enchanting queen break off.
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch.”

So he doesn't really mean it, eh, when he says he'd rather have Rome melt in Tiber than leaving Cleopatra?

Another thing worth noting is Antony's reaction when the messenger sent to him almost says something that will probably offend him. Instead of being angry he says:

“Speak to me home; mince not the general tongue;
Name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome.
Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase, and taunt my faults
With such full licence as both truth and malice
Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds
When our quick minds lie still, and our ills told us
Is as our earing.”

He says that it's actually fine to scold him for being idle, to show him his faults, to give him advice and correction. He compares himself as an uncultivated land that is full of weeds and needs to be ploughed in order to cleanse it. Such humility is quite rare among generals, isn't it? I respect him for such fine attitude.

Her Majesty the Queen of Egypt – Cleopatra 

Painting Cleopatra and Caesar by Jean-Leon-Gerome

Introducing the Queen of Egypt with her legendary beauty – Cleopatra. I've written much about Antony, so make this one brief. I don't like the way Cleopatra deals with Antony.

“See where he is, who's with him, what he does.
I did not send you. If you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick.”

The next lines show how she sulks and whines to Antony, asking him to stay. Since this is the first time I read this play, and since I'm not so well-acquainted with Roman history, I have no idea whether Cleopatra's persistence is based on amorous passion or political reason. If the latter proves to be correct, I would view it as a smart stratagem, and nothing more. But if it's 'love', let me assure you, Your Majesty, your obsession is foolish.

Another thing that I dislike from her methods in enticing Antony is that she pays little attention to Antony's interest and welfare, as if “the matter of Roman state” is not important at all. It sounds so selfish. Were I Antony, I would find her messengers coming once a day disturbing enough, but she sends even more messengers to Antony.

“He shall have every day a several greeting,
Or I'll unpeople Egypt.”

I can't wait to read how things will develop in later Acts, especaially with Octavius and Pompeius. I also want to know more about the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. One more thing. Is it cruel to wish for Enobarbus' death at the end of the play? Haha, just thinking.

PS: The analysis done in this article is based solely on Shakespeare's work, regardless of its historical accuracy.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Weekend Quote #19

“Harmodius and Aristogiton, Brutus, Chereas, Stephanus, Cromwell, Charlotte Corday, Sand, have all had their moment of agony when it was too late. Our hearts quiver so, and human life is such a mystery that, even in the case of a civic murder, even in a murder for liberation, if there be such a thing, the remorse for having struck a man surpasses the joy of having served the human race.”

Another quote from Hugo's Les Miserables. It is spoken by Combeferre, following the early deaths of the night. Perhaps the quote gives me more meaning because I have just finished reading Julius Caesar. The mentioning of Brutus' name catches my attention.

This quote reminds us all that homicide is still a wrong thing to do, regardless the motive that lies behind it. Enjolras has killed someone in the name of revolution, in the name of general welfare. Does it sweep away his feeling of guilt? No. Just as Brutus, killing Caesar for the people of Rome, does it make him feel better? No.

I respect Jean Valjean for his decision. He insists on not killing anybody, no matter what. He warns them, his shots never miss, but no one's hurt. It's better to do so than carrying a guilty conscience with you.

That's my quote for this week. What about yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Character Thursday: Enjolras

Volume V, Book 1, Chapter 24 of Les Miserables starts with the sentence, “Marius was, in fact, a prisoner.” As I read it, I told myself, “Enjolras is dead. I care no longer about Marius.” I closed the book and slept. My eyes were red. Yes, Enjolras' death is the first thing that makes me cry in Volume V.

Who is Enjolras? He is patriotism personified.

Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras in Les Miserables
He appears first on the third Volume, when Hugo is talking about the friendship of the ABC. He is the leader of them. Enjolras is but 22, he is “angelically handsome”, but very serious. When we read about him we forget everything, including the fact that he has parents, that he is rich, that he has grand future in front of him if he just sits silently at home or satisfies himself with the pleasure so many youths occupy themselves with. We start seeing him as a single person who has nothing in the world but an idealism. The young man's mind is full with one thing only – the Republic.

Alright, my grief is still so new. I will just put some quotes from Hugo and try to show why Enjolras, despite being a minor character, wins my heart more than Marius does.

It was Combeferre, and this is what he was singing:—
“Si Cesar m’avait donne (If Caesar had given me)
La gloire et la guerre, (The glory and the war)
Et qu’ il me fallait quitter (And I am obliged to quit)
L’amour de ma mere, (The love of my mother)
Je dirais au grand Cesar: (I'd say to great Caesar)
Reprends ton sceptre et ton char, (Take back your sceptre and your chariot)
J’aime mieux ma mere, o gue! (I prefer my mother's love)
J’aime mieux ma mere!’ 
At that moment, he felt Enjolras’ hand on his shoulder.
‘Citizen,’ said Enjolras to him, ‘my mother is the Republic.’

Thus he explains to Marius why he loves the Republic and not Napoleon, great as he was. No matter how great a person is, society is still greater than him. Enjolras holds freedom of the people as something far immense than both the royalty and the empire. Yes, he prefers the Republic to Caesar.

Then the revolution begins, in the form of street war. Enjolras becomes the leader by will, and Marius somehow becomes a co-leader by chance. Enjolras fights out of love for his country, Marius out of desperation. Enjolras puts his heart in every gesture and every glance in that battle. Marius puts his heart in Cosette's dream.

In one Chapter of the first book, people start to say that Enjolras is a queer fellow, who is “as cold as ice but as bold as fire.” They say Enjolras is cold because he has no mistress (even with a mistress I don't think he could mend his coldness). And then he mutters his mistress' name – the love of his life.

Enjolras did not appear to be listening, but had any one been near him, that person would have heard him mutter in a low voice: ‘Patria.’

His mistress is his country.

Should I tell the manner of his death? The barricade falls down, he, unscratched, surrounded by the furious National Guards who want revenge for their comrades. He admits everything, and is ready for everything. Grantaire asks permission to die with him; permission granted. The two friends die together. Borrowing a phrase from Shakespeare, I would love to say, “What a fall was there, my countrymen.” Enjolras' death is a sad, but beautiful death.

It is easier, however, to be just like Grantaire, who adores the star without being part of it, who revolves around the gravity without touching the planet itself. He likes Enjolras' conviction without being convinced himself. He dies, not for the Republic, but perhaps solely for the sake of dying with his friend. Such a nice person.

Character Thursday
Adalah book blog hop di mana setiap blog memposting tokoh pilihan dalam buku yang sedang atau telah dibaca selama seminggu terakhir (judul atau genre buku bebas).
- Kalian bisa menjelaskan mengapa kalian suka/benci tokoh itu, sekilas kepribadian si tokoh, atau peranannya dalam keseluruhan kisah.
- Jangan lupa mencantumkan juga cover buku yang tokohnya kalian ambil.
- Kalau buku itu sudah difilmkan, kalian juga bisa mencantumkan foto si tokoh dalam film, atau foto aktor/aktris yang kalian anggap cocok dengan kepribadian si tokoh.
Syarat Mengikuti :
1. Follow blog Fanda Classiclit sebagai host, bisa lewat Google Friend Connect (GFC) atau sign up via e-mail (ada di sidebar paling kanan). Dengan follow blog ini, kalian akan selalu tahu setiap kali blog ini mengadakan Character Thursday Blog Hop.
2. Letakkan button Character Thursday Blog Hop di posting kalian atau di sidebar blog, supaya follower kalian juga bisa menemukan blog hop ini. Kodenya bisa diambil di kotak di button.
3. Buat posting dengan menyertakan copy-paste “Character Thursday” dan “Syarat Mengikuti” ke dalam postingmu.
3. Isikan link (URL) posting kalian ke Linky di bawah ini. Cantumkan nama dengan format: Nama blogger @ nama blog, misalnya: Fanda @ Fanda Classiclit.
4. Jangan lupa kunjungi blog-blog peserta lain, dan temukan tokoh-tokoh pilihan mereka. Dengan begini, wawasan kita akan bertambah juga dengan buku-buku baru yang menarik

A Classic's Challenge: November Prompt

We're ready for the month's prompt from November's Autumn. Here we go.

One of the books I
immensely enjoyed.
Of all the Classics you've read this year is there an author or movement that has become your new favorite?
New favourite? Well, I have always loved Dumas, so I guess it's not a “new” favourite, but I've been enjoying more books from him, namely The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. I'd like to say also that I like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, long as it is.

Which book did you enjoy the most?
I immensely enjoyed Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. I also enjoyed Ivanhoe, but not as much as the former two.

Or were baffled by?
I'm a little baffled by Ivan Denisovich. It's my first time reading Russian literature, and even now I haven't written its review. I don't know where to start. I mean, it's truly only a day of Ivan's life, but the book has very intense air and so long for a diary.

The best character of my choice, Athos
Who's the best character?
I don't need to think twice – Athos, aka Comte de la Ferre. He is a wonderful character – with flaws. Just perfect, for me. If I could marry a fictional character, I would marry him. (In two months time, my favourite will change, trust me.)

The most exasperating?
Thernadier in Les Miserables. He's more than annoying – he's unbearable!

From reading other participants' posts which book do you plan to read and are most intrigued by?
Margaret's post mentions Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. I think I'm going to read it next year. This year's reading is too much already.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Les Miserables, Vol IV: Different Shades of Love

The fourth volume of Les Miserables is about love. It talks much about love and little about anything else. My reading was not as joyful as the other volumes, perhaps because I read it with less concentration and speed than the previous volumes.

This volume feels a lot longer than the others I have read. Fifteen books! There are so many things worth noting, too many things that it's so difficult to determine what I should be talking about before anything else.

So I will talk just about love.

The first love is paternal love so intense and so deep that it becomes possessive and selfish. Jean's love for Cosette is undoubted. He refuses all luxury for himself but denies Cosette nothing. Cosette is his pearl and treasure. He is also very protective but kind to her. It's a pure fatherly love, like the love from God to His children – but a little bit too much. Jean, tasting love for the first time, begins to fear the possibility of not being loved any longer, as if love is divisible, as if love is a finite thing which amount will decrease when ir is given to more people. Also, because he well knows that he is Cosette's nobody, his fear becomes even bigger.

“ I have been first, the most wretched of men, and then the most unhappy, and I have traversed sixty years of life on my knees, I have suffered everything that man can suffer, I have grown old without having been young, I have lived without a family, without relatives, without friends, without life, without children, I have left my blood on every stone, on every bramble, on every mile-post, along every wall, I have been gentle, though others have been hard to me, and kind, although others have been malicious, I have become an honest man once more, in spite of everything, I have repented of the evil that I have done and have forgiven the evil that has been done to me, and at the moment when I receive my recompense, at the moment when it is all over, at the moment when I am just touching the goal, at the moment when I have what I desire, it is well, it is good, I have paid, I have earned it, all this is to take flight, all this will vanish, and I shall lose Cosette, and I shall lose my life, my joy, my soul, because it has pleased a great booby to come and lounge at the Luxembourg.”

This love materialises into series of inquiries, series of suspicion, and ends in hatred towards the rival: Marius. Happily, though, such hatred doesn't go further, because Jean thinks that Marius is going to die anyway, and his rivalry will end. It won't be so, will it?

Marius' love is another shade of affection. It's a gentle and warm love. It's amorous, but neither fierce nor ardent. The love in him is so deep that it overcomes lust, because lust is a lesser form of love.

“They touched each other, they gazed at each other, they clasped each other’s hands, they pressed close to each other; but there was a distance which they did not pass. Not that they respected it; they did not know of its existence. Marius was conscious of a barrier, Cosette’s innocence; and Cosette of a support, Marius’ loyalty. The first kiss had also been the last. Marius, since that time, had not gone further than to touch Cosette’s hand, or her kerchief, or a lock of her hair, with his lips. For him, Cosette was a perfume and not a woman. He inhaled her. She refused nothing, and he asked nothing. Cosette was happy, and Marius was satisfied.”

What I object, though, from Marius' love, is lack of determination in his part. Marius easily gives up to obstacles. As we can conclude form the last volume, Marius is a proud young man, and the same pride costs him his grandfather's blessing for his marriage. If he could just stay and say why he loves this lady so, his grandfather who loves him so much would surrender to his will. Also to choose death as an escape from his problems is not a very commendable thing to do. Marius is such a gentle person, and I like that, but he's not yet mature enough to be called a man.

The other shade is Eponine. She loves Marius dearly, and at least the does something to get him from Cosette. She fights for her love for Marius in a better determination than Marius, fighting for Cosette's. Eponine dies sacrificing herself for Marius' life, thus declaring herself as a better lover of the two. Marius loves as a scholar does, Eponine, as a knight.

“Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead.—I shall feel it... And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in love with you.”

The 4th volume of Les Miserables is a volume of love. There are too many love to write completely here. There is love for the country, for the people, that materialises in civil war; Enjolras and his friends are agents of it. There is love of a boy to other children whom he hardly know, and yet love doesn't withhold its kindness. That boy is Gavroche.

I still hope that somehow the end will be happy. Let every man gets what he deserves, not by the law of men, but by the greater law, the law of love.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Weekend Quote #18

CASSIUS. You love me not.
BRUTUS. I do not like your faults.
CASSIUS. A friendly eye could never see such faults.
BRUTUS. A flatterer's would not, though they do appear
As huge as high Olympus.

Following the LRP, I take a quote from Shakespeare's Caesar that attracts my attention. It's from the 4th Act and 3rd scene of Julius Caesar. In that scene, there arises a dispute between Brutus and Cassius, and a very fierce one.

Brutus accuses Cassius of dishonesty and corruption, while Cassius denies everything. He says that in a time like that, “it is not meet that every nice offense should bear his comment” - you cannot be too strict on little things like that. Brutus is too idealistic and less practical; he cannot accept such excuses.

Cassius then says that a friend should not be so angry upon such a small matter, and that Brutus should have overlooked it. I like how Brutus answers. Friends should see faults, flatterers do not.

I agree with that. It is a friend's duty to look at faults and warn someone of its consequence. It's better to hear a critic from a friend than a praise from an enemy – you now which one you should believe. A friend that is so passive and just stay still while seeing his friend making wrong decision is not a true friend.

That's all from me, and I'm waiting for your participation. What's the best quote you've got this week?

Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Bad Translation: Julius Caesar

Just a break. Here's Act 1 Scene 2 of Julius Caesar for those who need relief from the complex language of Shakespeare.

CASCA. Narik-narik jubahku mau ngomong apa?
BRUTUS. Tadi ada apaan? Kok mukanya Caesar ga enak?
CASCA. Lho, bukannya kamu tadi sama dia?
BRUTUS. Ya kalo tadi aku di situ ga usah nanya kamu dong.
CASCA. Tadi dia ditawarin jadi raja, terus dia nolak, terus orang-orang heboh deh.
BRUTUS. Terus yang ribut-ribut kedua apaan?
CASCA. Itu juga.
CASSIUS. Yang ketiga?
CASCA. Itu juga.
BRUTUS. Mereka nawarin mahkota tiga kali?
CASCA. Iya. Dan dia nolak tiga kali, makin lama makin ga niat nolaknya. Tiap kali dia nolak, sesamaku rakyat jelata itu pada bersorak.
CASSIUS. Yang ngasih dia mahkota siapa?
CASCA. Antony.
BRUTUS. Cerita dong.
CASCA. Ga jelas lah, konyol banget pokoknya. Jadi Antony nawarin dia mahkota, terus dia taruh lagi, Tapi kata aku sih sebenernya dia pingin banget ngambil. Terus ditawarin lagi, terus dia taruh lagi. Tapi kata aku sih, dia kayanya benciiii banget ngelepasin itu mahkota. Terus untuk ketiga kalinya dia ditawarin lagi, dia taruh lagi, dan orang-orang langsung heboh, tepuk tangan, dan ngelemparin topi mereka ke udara. Saking udah ga jelasnya bau keringet dan bau mulut mereka Caesar sampai tersedak, trus pingsan deh. Aku sih nahan ketawa supaya ga ngehirup baunya.
CASSIUS. Caesar sakit apa?
CASCA. Dia jatuh, mulutnya berbusa.
BRUTUS. Epilepsi-nya kumat.
CASSIUS. Nggak. Yang epilepsi itu aku, kamu, sama Casca di sini.
CASCA. Aku nggak ngerti kamu ngomong apa, pokoknya Caesar pingsan.
BRUTUS. Terus waktu udah sadar dia ngomong apa??
CASCA. Ya sebelum dia pingsan, waktu dia nyadar bahwa orang-orang itu seneng dia nolak jadi raja, dia buka jubahnya terus ngasih tenggorokannya buat dipenggal. Kalo aku rakyat jelata yang ga punya kerjaan sih pasti udah aku lakuin. Terus dia pingsan. Waktu udah sadar, dia bilang kalo tadi ada khilaf, itu gara-gara penyakitnya. Tiga atau empat perempuan di situ bilang, “Ya ampun, kasian banget ya,” dan maafin dia setulus hati. Peduli amat lah, mereka. Kalaupun Caesar abis nikam ibu mereka juga kayanya dia dimaafin aja.
BRUTUS. Trus abis itu mukanya jadi serius gitu??
CASCA. Hooh.
CASSIUS. Tadi Cicero ngomong sesuatu?
CASCA. Ya. Dia ngomong pake bahasa alien.
CASSIUS. Ngomongin apa?
CASCA. Ga tau. Tapi yang ngerti dia ngomong apa senyum-senyum, terus geleng-geleng, tapi buat aku sih rasanya kaya dengerin bahasa alien.
BRUTUS. Perasaan dulu di sekolah dia rada pinteran dikit.

And here's Act 2 Scene 2 condensed.

CALPHURNIA. Caesar, aku udah tiga kali mimpi kamu dibunuh, Jangan berangkat.
CAESAR. Gue ga takut. Namanya juga orang ya pasti bakal mati kalo udah waktunya.
SERVANT. Kata para imam juga mendingan Caesar ga usah keluar rumah hari ini.
CAESAR. Bah. Takdir aja takut sama gue. Gue berangkat.
CALPHURNIA. Ya ampun! Udah jangan kepedean gitu. Jangan pergi. Bilang aja aku yang takut terjadi apa-apa, bukan kamu. Suruh Antony bilang kamu ga enak badan.
CAESAR. Ya udah, suruh Antony bilang aku ga enak badan, biar kamu tenang.
DECIUS. (manas-manasin)Masa sih Caesar ga datang gara-gara istrinya mimpi buruk. Nanti Senat bilang apa? “Rapat ditunda sampai istrinya Caesar mimpi indah, gitu?” Belum lagi ntar anggota-anggota Senat bisik-bisik, “Caesar takut ya?”
CAESAR. (kesel sendiri)Siniin jubah gue. Gue berangkat.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Character Thursday: Portia in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Have I ever taken anyone from Shakespeare to be my Character Thursday? I can't remember. But the lady whose name is written clearly up there certainly deserves a place in this, or any other, blog. Portia – Cato's daughter and Brutus' beloved wife.

Portia's part is quite minor in the play. She appears after the conspirators' meeting in Brutus' house. She is anxious about the well-fare of her husband, and insists upon knowing the secret that Brutus keeps, promising that she won't leak it out.

What's interesting about Portia is the words she uses to convey her feelings to Brutus. As his wife, she demands Brutus to think of her as half himself, that she should partake in everything Brutus must face.

Within the Bond of Marriage, tell me Brutus,
Is it excepted, I should know no Secrets
That appertaine to you? Am I your Selfe,
But as it were in sort, or limitation?
To keepe with you at Meales, comfort your Bed,
And talke to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the Suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus Harlot, not his Wife

In Portia's mind, marriage is more than just living together, having meals together, and have fun together. It includes being “one flesh”, not “in limitation” but in all things. Being married to someone means that you are ready to share everything – good or bad – with your spouse. And to listen to such a thing from a woman, moreover, in Shakespeare's era, is something quite modern.

Another point worth noted from Portia is her opinion about herself. She admits that although there are many “weak women”, Portia is certainly not one of them.

I graunt I am a Woman; but withall,
A Woman that Lord Brutus tooke to Wife:
I graunt I am a Woman; but withall,
A Woman well reputed: Cato's Daughter.
Thinke you, I am no stronger then my Sex
Being so Father'd, and so Husbanded?

She says that being a daughter of Cato and the wife of Brutus, she must be a strong woman worthy of her father and husband. By saying she's “stronger than her sex,” she underlines that she can handle things other women cannot. She proves it first by deliberately wounds herself and later, by swallowing fire – committing suicide.

Brutus admits that her death is a great lost in his part, and yes, such a woman deserves not only love but also respect from her husband. She may be a minor character in this play, but not weaker in characterisation.