Five Favourite Literary Characters

We had Women’s Day this week, so let’s talk about our favourite kick-ass female characters from our favourite novels. Has anyone inspired you?

SCARLETT O’HARA

I admire her desire, passion and ruthlessness. Manipulative, vain and stubborn, Scarlett O’Hara knows she is the most stunning and attractive looking woman in her state. The major life lesson we can learn from her is to never give up. You can always find a way to survive because tomorrow is another day. So start fresh. She is passionate, determined and doesn’t bow down to the norms and conformities of society. If you like ruthless grey shaded characters, don’t forget to read Gone with the Wind.

ANNE SHIRLEY

Anne Shirley of “Anne of Green Gables” is an orphan who comes to Prince Edward’s place to live but is an immediate disappointment as they want a boy to help with chores. She has her fits of temper but her flaws will make you love her more. She is always curious, lively and strong willed. She is also smart, ambitious, imaginative and loves reading and writing. She is never afraid to speak up or stand up for herself.

MELANIE WILKES

One of the strongest literary characters, Melanie, the frail and good-hearted wife of Ashley Wilkes, is a silent epitome of strength. Calm and compassionate, she is the moral compass of this novel. Yes, she is another amazing character from Gone with the Wind. Though Scarlett has mostly disliked her for being goody two shoes, Melanie has always loved Scarlett like her own sister. She is kind, loving and fiercely loyal. She has the tendency to see good in people, even when they are clearly not having any good attributes.

JANE EYRE

Jane from the book, ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte, is easily one of my favourite fictional heroines. Though at times you may find her a little weird or eerie, you will eventually fall in love with her. She spends a lot of time as a wallflower. In fact, she even tries to hide herself in the story. Jane lives ‘in her head’ a lot. Though for the initial ten years, she has been bullied and harassed, but then without any support she rises up against oppression. She always stands up for herself and this is something we all should learn from her.

EMMA WOODHOUSE

Emma from the book “Emma”, is a 21 year old Jane Austen heroine. She is lovable but not infallible. Unlike the majority of women, Emma refuses to be influenced by societal norms and expectations of how a woman should behave. Emma is not vain about her looks. If she has an inflated ego, it’s because of her brain.

Drop in your comments stating your favourite literary characters.

Happy Women’s Day

Here’s our guest blogger Shravani, from https://filmcoast.in/ with her poem. She rants that she is tired of the one-day ritual that “Women’s Day” has come to be. Of celebrities and politicians who will milk this to no end. She says everyday is a women’s day. It’s her day.

She is limitless, how can a “day” be enough to define her?
Source: Pexels

“It’s Her Day”

It’s that day of the year again

When noises will crawl
Through the air,
Calling her names,
And wrapping her with tags
She is too tired to wear!
Empowered, strong,
Beautiful, and bold
Are the only hand-picked cherries,
She is allowed to hold.

Free cocktails, glittery make-up,
and apparel discounts,
Internet quotes parroted
And tucked in a gold mount,
Stories of moms and sisters
And friends who beat the odds,
Are fed to her year after year
Because,
This is the day, they say
She can rub shoulders with the gods.

Forgotten are her cracked soles,
Playing even dad’s innings
Day after day,
That’s a mother’s job, they whisper
“So suck it up and play anyway.”

Suppressed, lay her dreams
Her wings tethered to a world
Of their design,
She just topped her school, alright,
But it’s her brother touring
greener pastures, and she is “fine.”

Cubicles, hospitals, schools
Boardrooms and more
Her cries of equal pay
Burn incessantly, till they are cast
Aside on the shore.

She asks for a little rest,
They give her none,
She wants to stop sharpening
Her claws everyday,
And have one less battle hard-won.

She is tired and grumpy
Angry and moody,
Hardly glossy and perfect
As they forever paint her,
She simply exists as in
Many shades as they do,
But branding her bossy, stubborn
Loud and slutty
is all they can do to taint her.

And so, when This Day rolls
Over to the next morn,
She will don her armour, as always
And prepare to be reborn.
The flowers they sent her
Will wilt away in patriarchy’s din
As she drapes herself for the day,
Over toughened bones and skin.
Readying herself for the next climb,
Yet,
Cool enough to pat herself
For the last one conquered.
She will shrug her shoulders
And sip some wine,
And prop her feet up
Over the imaginary “line”

Any day of the year she chooses
Because everyday is Her Day.

Happy EVERYDAY to us ladies!

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OPEN LETTER TO SLUT SHAMERS AND MORAL POLICE BRIGADE

	 
A chance encounter of a moral policing incident on television the other day gave me the impetus I needed to write this. In another bizarre incident, the Tamil Nadu police picked up a few couples who were sitting in a park and took them to the police station as they were unmarried. 

Dear cops, society well-wishers, moral police brigade and other interfering busybodies,

Who gave you a right to character assassinate or demean others in the pretext of “safeguarding Indian culture”?I have witnessed many incidents where a woman is shamed for her clothes.Till a woman is not parading naked on the street (or even if she is) who gives some cop or “society aunties” a right to question her character. Whether she chooses to wear a saree or a gown is her choice. That doesn’t make her any less Indian.

When a woman is molested or abused, people ask her,what was she wearing that day. Isn’t it ridiculous? I mean, does it even matter? Why are we Indians so defensive and insecure about our fragile masculinity and continue to support our patriarchial roots? If a woman is abused because of wearing revealing outfits, then why do infants get raped?Instead of shaming the accused, sadly our society believes in shaming the victim.

“She should have dressed decently”
“She shouldn’t have partied with men”
“She drinks and smokes so she must be available”
“She asked for it”

Our society has a rule book for how “decent women” should behave (which is nothing but oppression against women and ways and means to do so) but why are there no such guidelines for how men should behave?

I always tell my mother, when I have children, I am never going to teach my daughter to cover herself and dress “decently”, instead I’ll teach my son to not objectify women and to respect them.

Regressive thinking is ingrained in our society which strips our freedom to dress and behave as we please.
Our constitution gives us the right to freedom. Freedom to live life the way we want with our head held high. When these “Slut shamers” character assassinate us, they don’t realize that how prominently they display their narrowmindedness and in turn destroy the image of our nation.

Why should people assume that when a girl wears a short dress she wants men to ogle at her? Why is the length of someone’s dress considered a measure of her consent? Sadly “moral policing” and “slut shaming” has become a norm in our society.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH FAT SHAMING?

Though obesity is a serious health issue, and there is a need to educate people to eat a healthy balanced diet, ridiculing and fat shaming is offensive and a sign of bullying. In a recent interview to Filmfare, Bollywood Actress Vidya Balan shared,” Years ago, I stopped watching my shots on the monitor at shoots because I would look at the monitor and be thinking, am I looking fat? Even at my thinnest, I have always felt fat. When I was a teenager people would tell me, You have got such a pretty face,why don’t you lose some weight?

As opposed to general assumption that “Overweight people = eat a lot” , obesity could be due to medical conditions like PCOS, hormonal imbalance etc.

Blame for fat shaming

Unfortunately, there are many sitcoms, movies and web series where fat-shaming is rampant. If you are still wondering whats wrong with fat shaming , then let me tell you something. Constant messages regarding why a slim body is a sign of perfection is drilled in our minds through advertisements and internet which unfortunately causes low self esteem. Insecurity leads to misconception that being skinny is beautiful and vice versa. Recently, Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia retorted, “Fitness is a priority and not ‘fitting into’ society’s standards regarding looks” to a fashion magazine for an article fat shaming her.

Being overweight during my teen years, I have always felt ugly, under confident and ended up with low self esteem. It took me a lot of time to love myself and accept the way I am . Self-acceptance is crucial. Instead of killing ourselves over looking slimmer or a shade fairer, we should learn to accept ourselves the way we are.

(Pic Credit – MsChanadlerBong/IndiaForums)

STOP Chasing Confidence

I have always been an under-confident girl in my childhood. In some ways, I still am. The “Stop Being Shy ” and ‘Be Confident’ advice from my parents, friends and teachers didn’t help me one bit. I have always been an introvert, feel drained while talking to people and always feel recharged when alone.

I think we need to stop chasing self confidence. Of course it’s nice to be a bold and confident woman who is life of every party, but what if you ain’t cut for it?

Let’s stop being critical and become compassionate. The pressure to be above average, if not something unique, is daunting. We need to be kind to others and ourselves too.

Don’t let anyone bully you. Don’t give others a chance to decide for you. And most importantly, Do not let anyone treat you like shit or demean you.

Do things which make you happy. If you like reading novels, read them. If you are fond of swimming , then do it. Do things which make you happy. And most importantly respect yourself. Atleast for me, Self respect and self compassion holds more importance.

Ode to Soldiers

This year India celebrated its 70th Republic day, but unfortunately, we also witnessed Pulwama attack. I pen down this prose with immense pride and love for my country and countrymen

Here's an ode to all martyrs and servicemen. Jai Hind !!

Facing adversities, soldiers risk their life, 
Remember,they too could have stayed back and enjoyed with family and wife.
Family, holidays and pursuits of pleasure sacrificed in a trice, 
Nation is in safe hands but at what price.
Cats have nine lives, A soldier has only one, 
Beyond the call of duty, that’s sacrificed even.
Sometimes he gets a mention depending upon the occasion, Pardon the pun, the deed is done.
The bugle has played the last post, the deed is done,
A mother has lost her brave son.
All those in places mighty and high, once in a while, why can’t you think it could have been ‘I’?
A soldier has done what he must,Let not his sacrifice go to dust
Nation is safe at a price,
Let’s honour the supreme sacrifice.

SELFIE OBSESSION – Vanity or Empowerment ?

Phone gallery filled with duck- face pouting selfies? If this sounds like you, Then High Five ! Same here . And I use filters too. Cannot even imagine clicking a picture without one.

Trying to look a shade brighter, removing those dark circles and stubborn acne marks, or adding a little glow to our face; we all have been there. And then we post those selfies on social media and WhatsApp status, smiling to glory seeing “Likes” and comments. Basically what we are actually searching for is validation. Just like how a drug addict needs his supply, we tend to get our supply in the form of approval from others.

But, is it possible to look drop dead gorgeous all the time? Atleast I cannot. So then, I straighten my hair, apply make up and only then do I click my selfie and that too with filters. Because like every other girl, I too want to look pretty all the time when I know in reality, I can’t.

Well, to be honest, Selfies aren’t all that wrong. I mean, it creates memories and is an effective way to communicate. I can choose how I want to look, so the idea of expressing oneself the way we want to look is empowering and let’s not deny, a good selfie does give confidence boost.

So are selfies a tool of empowerment or vanity? It depends. It’s a boon because it is a tool that enables self expression but a bane, if used exclusively for seeking validation.

We have created a false self or the ideal perfect illusion of us. It’s time to drop our masks and embrace ourselves. Our real self, not the perfect false self which we have created.