Book Review – Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami was someone I first heard of in my Japanese class, back in my first year at University; our Professor was surprised to find that Literature students like us had NOT heard of a contemporary modern writer like Murakami.

Norwegian Wood is the first of his works that I have read, but even when I picked it off the shelf I was expecting something beautiful, and it has not disappointed me. Much like the Beatles song that this novel borrows it’s name from, Norwegian Wood is fast, lyrical, and employs vivid imagery; and by that I mean stunningly vivid, even if it’s tragic in it’s context sometimes.

Norwegian Wood is set up as a love story, but unlike so many love stories – or perhaps exactly like so many of them – it feels like one that is so real and true it can break your heart several times in it’s poetic language and repeated references to other legendary love stories.

Toru Watanabe is in his first year at University when the book begins; an accident re-unites him with the former girlfriend of his former friend, Kizuki; another happy coincidence makes him cross paths with the vivacious, wild and carefree Midori. Over a period of two years, the book takes us through several heartbreaks, and portrays the life of a Japanese student towards the end of the 60’s – one painted with sadness, observant of hypocrisy and hollowness in the middle-class standards of behaviour, even the empty promises of student protests that were prevalent at the time. However, while I point out these events, I must also mention that they do not play any integral role in the plot.

Norwegian Wood is, by and large, mostly a novel about small, cheerful things tinged with sadness and memories of the past. While it may feature some social themes relating to the social perception of mental illness and revolutionary movements, it is inherently a deeply personal tale.

The titular song appears several times, as the favourite song of Naoko, Toru’s love interest. It’s part of what makes the experience so beautiful, and people who have listened to The Beatles will appreciate it all the more.

This is a novel that pays homage to loneliness and to joy and to sweet sadness and to nothingness and loss and the taste of fine wine and memories.

This is a novel that evokes the love all of us have had at some point; the love that plagued the heart deep within and aches still whenever we think about the person it was meant for.

This is a novel that intertwines love and sex and intimacy into one wondrous coil that means everything, and, at the same time, nothing at all.

Norwegian Wood pulls you in through it’s words and it’s letters, quite literally. It’s the imagery and the references and comparisons to other classic novels like The Great Gatsby that draw out the power of everyday moments that we take for granted. A light in a window may be ordinary in sight, but to a person starving for another’s love and happiness, it means everything in the world that is worth waiting for.

Every event means something in the long chain of events that unfold – the love our “ordinary” protagonist harbours for those he is drawn to; his loss and pain and loneliness that finds a similar chord in all our hearts; the suddenness and shock of loss that happens everyday, perhaps to us, perhaps to others.

Norwegian Wood knows there is no cure for loss or heartbreak, whether of a person or a cause we believed in. All we can do is carry it in our heart until it fades in intensity, and then remember what we went through and face the next one in the same way. As The Beatles said,

“And, when I awoke,

I was alone,

This bird had flown…”

Like The Great Gatsby,  This book leaves you dissatisfied, because there isn’t a solution as there is in fairy tales. Our happy ending lies in the ambiguity of the ending.

The note at the end of this book says that Murakami was surprised when he found out that it brought him international acclaim; in my own opinion, I am happy it did. Norwegian Wood is a terribly beautiful homage to life, love, loss, The Beatles, food, sex, and random laughter and inappropriate jokes. Above all it’s a monument of WRITING. Purely lyrical, even in it’s translated form, Norwegian Wood is something I think I will read again.

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Review – Cupid: A free to play Visual Novel

There was a time when video games involved little more than simplistic shooting or climbing; a time when one could easily dash through ten levels in a rush of adrenaline while ignoring the plot. It’s a true monument to the progress of the video game industry that we have emotional, truly moving games like Cupid.

It’s not the first time I’ve played which is based on reading and choices, but still, this game came into my library quite unexpectedly; I was searching for story-driven experiences, and I downloaded it quite randomly this morning. I’m glad I did though. Cupid is a beautiful, vivid game full of rich dialogue and passionate writing.

It’s quite difficult to describe the exact effect Cupid has on it’s reader; and I say reader because, like many story-driven games, it feels more like an experience guided by your choices. It doesn’t depend on buttons and moves to progress; it moves forward based on how you feel, what your perspective is, and how you choose to deal with different situations.

Part of what makes Cupid so unique is the reader’s identity; without spoiling the plot, let me just say that we play as the protagonist’s subconscious, tinted by the dark experiences of her past to the shade of her dead mother. That is all I shall say about the plot, for to explain further would be to take away the essence of the experience.

Cupid is full of dark, mature themes, and often there is no right answer to the dilemmas we face; much like human life. The novel deals with pain, will, death, lust, passion and fury, regret, memories, and most vividly, the nature of LOVE itself, as some people will doubtless figure out from the title.

People who have read The Picture of Dorian Grey will instantly recognize and appreciate the dark motifs that are placed in this novel; they all serve to foreshadow the dark themes and universal truths that were first shown in Oscar Wilde’s scandalous novel. While Cupid is no cheap rip-off of Dorian Grey, one can tell that it definitely has taken some inspiration from the dark tale.

It’s no typical love story; it takes dark, twisted approaches to desire and love and the maternal instinct; it is so vivid, not in it’s descriptions as in the case of a novel like Jane Eyre, but more in it’s tone and recurring motifs. Hats off to Fervent Studios, the developers of this game/novel, on their soundtrack throughout. The music, the way it throbs and trills and bounces based on the mood of each scene and each chapter, belying humour, sadness, recollections, even allegories, is absolutely enthralling, and captures the player’s mind effortlessly as we’re lost in each new twist of the story.

The story begins in a similar way to a Dickensian novel; poverty and suffering and the question of class, but soon goes into issues even more complex. Why is the mysterious Marquis so distant, yet so passionate? What is the true duty of a parent, and is there truly a right way to go about it? If love brings so great a pain with it, how paradoxical is it that men and women crave it above all else? Throughout the novel, love is expressed in several rich, intoxicating metaphors, and expressed through lust and desire and care and even hatred. It’s decidedly exciting to unfold each new chapter and glance into the different choices characters make by their actions, or lack thereof.

All in all, while I still have much more to see of Cupid(there are four endings depending on which choices you make), I must say it is a refreshing experience. You will remember the first time you play Cupid; it will be unique, confusing, fascinating; you will lose yourself in a miasma of dark colours and sensations. I recommend it for the novelty.

Book Review – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie’s stories have always been about plots of incomprehensible density: there is always more going on than meets the eye. I’ve read a few of her works before this: And Then There Were None, Murder on The Orient Express, The ABC Murders – all of them have been about unconventional solutions to mysteries, with important clues disguised as seemingly mundane tidbits. With The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, one must see why the author got her nickname – The Queen of Crime. She spins a geometric tale of deceit and sin in this novel, which constantly eludes the reader until the end.

Roger Ackroyd is murdered a day after his secret love and guilty murderess, Mrs Ferrars, kills herself. The two murders set off a turbulent week in the village of King’s Abbot, with Hercule Poirot, Christie’s famous Belgian detective, at the head of it, and Dr. Sheppard, the village doctor, at his side.

People whose experience with the Detective genre extends only to Arthur Conan Doyle will find this a very refreshing experience: Poirot is quite different from Sherlock Holmes. There is none of Holmes’s drug abuse or messy living in Poirot’s nature; and while Holmes was a creature of pure rationality and cold logic which serves to bring about him an almost godly halo of detection, Poirot’s methods are, while still retaining logic, also dependent a great deal also on empathy.

The writing is, of course, stellar; it has always surprised me how well detective fiction, set around grim elements of death and deception, can often find well-directed humour at the more frivolous elements of human nature.

The mystery is tough as a nut and the writing is sufficiently elusive to lull even the most observant of readers to sleep, turning them into squirrels amidst the forest of lies that is the plot of this book. Every vital clue is right there pointing to the startling revelation of the truth, and yet it is only at the end that we realize the rug has been pulled out from beneath our feet. A great novel, and it still stands as one of the strongest murder mysteries ever written.

Book Review – The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a strange novel; perhaps it is the strangest I have ever read. It’s hard to describe the way in which F. Scott Fitzgerald’s supposed magnum opus holds the reader: one knows that it is grand and paradoxical, and somehow very beautiful, and yet it is hard to describe because it is like water, slipping away from touch. The Great Gatsby is like that: it embraces the heart like a shapeless blanket of pure feeling, and is gone so quickly that the reader is left…numb, and dissatisfied.

That’s not to say The Great Gatsby isn’t a good novel or is lacking in story; it has a beautiful story and a compelling message which might have in the author’s time been a cautionary tale against the ultimate futility of wealth against the frivolity and many sidedness of human nature, and the insubstantial nature of the real world before the truth of a vivid, hopeful dream.

The year is 1922, and Nick Carraway has arrived in New York amidst the bustle of post-war business and his own restlessness in craving for fast life and wealth. Moving into a small estate in Long Island Sound, he becomes involved in the social circles of his cousin Daisy, who is married to Nick’s old college friend Tom Buchanan. He slowly befriends Jay Gatsby, a former lover of Daisy, who was also in the war, and who has waited for five years to make a name and establishment for himself, so as to rekindle his affair and fulfil his incessant yearning for his lost love. So begins a tale of love, endless dreams, debauchery and wasteful excess, and the ultimate question that often revolves around Gatsby’s persona: “How much money can a man need before it poisons his existence? What is the past, and must we always seek it, even in the future?”

The novel is certainly a page-turner, but not because it is an endlessly delightful and joyful read. Instead, it is critical, and uses mystery and pathos for Gatsby’s character to keep the reader enthralled. It’s not delightful, because there is an underlying sense of mystery and misery throughout the novel. We don’t know Gatsby will fail, and we don’t know if Daisy will ultimately choose the person who has loved her so purely; all we know is that the love that Gatsby bears hasn’t been in vain, for it gave the two of them enormous grief in the five years they were apart. This grief and misery serve to give The Great Gatsby it’s tragic, sublime beauty.

Gatsby himself has all the qualities of a romantic hero: through the course of nine chapters he is mysterious, generous, understanding, sympathetic and patient; he is endlessly friendly and polite with everyone, unwilling to give anyone a reason to dislike him. We see in him a sort of subdued, hidden passion, buried away from the sight of men but always buried bright within, ready to express itself at the right moment. Before Gatsby’s brilliance and splendor, Nick, and even Daisy, products of snobbery and high-born pride,(thought Nick has these in significantly less degrees) are mere pawns before a knight.

It is Gatsby’s passion for Daisy that propels him upward in the eyes of our observer; it is his patience and innocent ignorance of all modes of snobbery and nuances of the society that the rich inhabit, among whom who has made his place, that make us pity him his fatal nonchalance with everyone and everything.

Tom Buchanan, on the other hand, is aloof, racist, a debauch and a jealous, cruel husband. One cannot entirely despise him, but one can understand why Daisy finds it so difficult to leave him even without any love for him. It’s hard to leave a person of the same social standing as you when that person has filled a hole in your life for a long time, in the absence of anyone else.

Tom and Daisy’s marriage is the subject of much subtle social commentary: their bond, though frayed, is still not broken because they have far too much mutual respect for comfort and the old values of traditional family that they’ve been brought to respect, even though they cannot stand each other’s natures.

The irony in The Great Gatsby comes from the way Gatsby’s realization of the American Dream collapses in on itself: here is a man with so much to his name, a beautiful mansion, servants who fulfil his ever need, and every kind of pleasure available to him; yet in the end none of it gives him the freedom of will promised by the Dream. In the end, despite Gatsby’s wealth and affluence, he can’t escape fate; he cannot be with his love.

I could say much about The Great Gatsby; in the end, I recommend this book for the pitifully short life lived by Gatsby, and his grand failure as both lover and millionaire: his money and dreams are both shattered by the end of this novel. One cannot truly ever understand WHY it happens: it is enough to understand that it does; that wealth and society’s whispers of hypocrisy can tear down even the strongest bonds of love.

Book Review – The Scarlet Letter

When Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was first published, it was named The Scarlet Letter: A Romance. Being an admirer of Romanticism and having Lord Byron as a favourite, I first found it surprising that such a dark tale of loss, passion, and hopelessness could be considered even remotely romantic; however, I was wrong to judge by the first few chapters. The Scarlet Letter is a deeply remorseful, critical, and, in a dark, sad way, beautiful tale of sin and redemption, and the conflict between human passions and the rigid morality of orthodox religion.

The Scarlet Letter‘s story is one that is innately human by it’s suffering, yet also magnificent by the strength and noble suffering of it’s principal characters. For a proper understanding of the events that take place in the course of the story, however, the reader must have an idea of the historical background in which it is set.

It is 1642, in the city of Boston, founded a short while ago by the Puritans, a group of pilgrims who aim to set up a haven for the relatively new Protestant faith. Our story follows Hester Prynne, a young bride who has been in the colony for two years, without her husband, who sent her on first and never arrived. Having never truly loved her husband, and being of a lovely and headstrong nature, Hester conceives a child with Reverend Dimmesdale, the local priest. What follows is a deeply pathetic, heartfelt tale of the consequences of sin, it’s perception of society, the vivid remembrance of it that fades but never disappears, and the question: what is man’s sin, before love? Is it truly God that sends Men to the pit of fire for a moment of weakness, passion, or greed? Or is it society’s judgement, born of hypocrisy and always needing victims as an examples, that never forgets an individual’s folly, no matter how much repentance or atonement has passed before?

To fully understand this novel one must understand that the Protestant faith, in and immediately following it’s conception, did not believe in forgiveness; and this point is often expounded upon by Hawthorne in several passages throughout the novel, in which he uses the behaviour of the Puritans towards the wayward, to make a contrast with Catholicism. Whether or not Hawthorne wrote the novel simply as a critique of the Puritan laws(closely intertwined with religious principles), or whether he preferred Catholicism, with it’s principles of forgiveness, but similar intolerance for individual thought and action, is not clear; the novel’s unclear stance on religion is ambiguous at best. In the end, the question on religion is decided by the reader: is it religion that must make a man good, or is it man that twists and turns the details of a religious order for his own motives?

In terms of plot, The Scarlet Letter‘s mood and symbolism are sufficiently dark and morbid: dark cells, forests and black omens, are used often; yet all is not dark, because of childish bliss and mirth which comes in the shape of Pearl, Hester’s daughter, in the course of whose childhood the majority the novel unfolds.

While all characters in The Scarlet Letter win some degree of affection and respect, it is easily Pearl who is the most perceptive of them, if not the most pitiful. As a bastard child born of a sinful passion, Hawthorne’s depiction of Pearl as a playful child, who is seldom sincere, yet even so mature beyond her years(so much so that Hester often doubts her humanity) is so vivid and supported by beautiful, heartfelt instances of mock-play, is absolutely gorgeous. Hawthorne’s childishness and jolly cynicism at the Puritan laws shines through in Pearl, a child who sees much more than is shown to her.

And if Pearl is the most playful and critical character in The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale, her father, is the most sympathetic, as we see his guilt at his mistake, and his disgust at his own frailty and daily hypocrisy, slowly gnaw away at his soul, and render him to a pitiful state of weakness. Dimmesdale is a true man of faith: he respects and trusts in God for the peace it brings him. And yet this truth in his breast gives him all the more hatred of himself. He knows himself to be a fraud and a failure in God’s mission; and yet every day he must put on a mask for a calling that is based on truth. His love of God’s truth, the truth of Man’s destiny, and the truth of ascension based on purity and righteousness, give him a hatred of himself and his two faces, unable to be reconciled because of his love, and moment of weakness. In fact, while much of the story revolves around the Puritans’ criticism of Hester, it is Dimmesdale who wins our sympathy, and our hearts, by his constant moral turmoil, and his eventual avowal of it.

If Dimmesdale’s gradual decline into weakness and pathetic self-loathing is where this book won my heart, Hester’s emergence as a loving, and admirably headstrong person won my respect. Hester endures abject loathing through a course of seven years: at her own hands, by depriving herself of everything save what she needs to get by, and at the hands of Puritans in general, whose intense fervour in their upright and rigid values cause even the beggarly to scorn Hester’s efforts for atonement. Hawthorne gives us an idea of the severity of the moral code of the time:- “…it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigor with which society frowned upon her sin.” Hester, as a result of her repentance, and the constant disgust with which the members of a “religious” society, spurn her, make her open to alternative perspectives, and the constant distance other people put between themselves and her make her cynical and questioning of her faith. In an era when the position accorded to women was mostly given to subservience and unquestioning loyalty(Indian readers should definitely pick this up!), Hester’s character would have been a welcome break from tradition, even though it was muted and subdued sometimes. Thus, the love that two sinners bear each other, and their mutual “sin” makes different people out of both, without once breaking their bond of familiarity.

Often it is said that heroes are only as strong as their villains, but in The Scarlet Letter this would be wrong. There are no clearly defined villains in The Scarlet Letter, but the one who fits the description the most – Chillingworth- is rather one-sided, though he does have a moment of guilt in one chapter.

All in all, The Scarlet Letter is a terribly beautiful novel; terrible, not because it is always heartbreaking, but because the events that set it in motion leave behind bittersweet ripples of guilt and repentance; and beautiful, because it has a sweet kernel of truth buried within all the guilt and suffering: all love comes to fruition in the end, perhaps in unexpected ways, and so all life has meaning, even if society sometimes deems it unworthy of any. I have only one complaint, and that is that Roger Chillingworth could have been better-developed; however, the atmosphere and beautifully fleshed-out characters make it a beautiful novel nonetheless.

Book Review – The Iliad of Homer (Penguin Classics)

It took me a long, long time to finally complete reading The Iliad; I bought it many months ago, along with The Odyssey, but somehow I never got further than the first two or three chapters; it was too large and too confusing.

However, as I have come to realize from The Iliad’s fascination with names and deeds and large, panoramic scenes of battle, there is really only one word to describe it GRAND.

Homer did all of it on purpose – all the names and nationalities, the Gods of Olympus and their favourite champions on Earth, the past and the future blended into the narrative so as to give us a clear, complete picture of the Trojan War and the 9-year siege of Ilium, Troy’s capital city and home of Priam, father of Paris.

The story itself is straightforward and will be remembered by anyone who has read Greek Myths and Legends in their school library: the Greeks lay siege to Ilium for nine years, and in the tenth, Agamemnon insults Achilles, their best warrior. Achilles, a proud man and the son of the goddess Thetis, asks her to supplicate Zeus, the Father of Gods, to make the Greeks suffer for the insult dealt to him. Achilles’ pricked pride and his resulting anger kick off a sequence of events that lead to his madness and eventual death, as foretold by the Gods even upon his birth.

While the plot itself is straightforward and easily recalled by anyone who has read the abridged stories – why is The Iliad so special? What makes Homer’s epic poem such a great – but difficult – work to read?

The answer is quite simple – The Iliad is a great masterpiece of grandeur and scope, coupled with powerful descriptive moments of vivid beauty, and of course, some excellent characters.

In all the 24 “books” that The Iliad consists of, there are some extremely powerful moments that give one delightful chills all over, and are the main attraction for The Iliad. Poseidon racing over the ocean in his golden armour, Diomedes and Odysseus on their midnight adventure, and – possibly the most pathetic – Achilles tearing at his hair in despair and heartbreak at the death of his companion Patroclus: all these are the moments of grandeur and beauty that The Iliad conveys in breathtaking details.

The battles and action itself are not so appealing as they are descriptive. Homer gives names to every great lord of the Greeks and Trojans, their lineage and their line of domestic work, before they commit some act of valour or are killed in action. While all these names and lineages may be confusing(they were one of the reason I couldn’t start enjoying the book in earnest, when I first bought it) they also serve a two-fold purpose: they give us a scope of just how difficult it is for so many men to leave behind homes and families for a war they must fight, and also how grievous it is that so many families lose able sons to war. The Iliad’s scope and characters serve as a forerunner of an idea Shaw described in his Arms and the Man, thousands of years later: War is neither heroic nor brave; men do their best to kill each other at the behest of great men’s quarrels, and are glad to give it up when it’s over.

So, while Homer’s characters are able warriors, none are senseless killing machines. Odysseus, Diomedes, Ajax and Menelaus: all of them radiate a longing for home, after the war is over. They want to win immortal glory but not at the price of their lives. One can sense that they are mere men, forced by Gods and folly to kill and loot. And such characters! Complexity and many-sided minds make for compelling narratives for all of them – especially Achilles and Hector, the two rivals between whom much of the conflict thrives.

A word about the Gods of Olympus. They are just as human as the men they are worshipped by. They are like any other family in this right: they share a home, have differences of opinion, yet eventually come together and act on what they agree is the common good. Yet even the Gods’ flawed humanity is, in a sense, endearing, as they look down upon the mortals, and feel a strange combination of pity and admiration for these short-lived heroes and their sacrifices – for there are many.

One thing that is a slight bit of a put-off: Homer uses many repeated epithets over and over again when describing similar events. These were necessary when the poem was in it’s original form, as a song sung by bards, but in text they feel far too tedious to read, especially as they are repeated many, many times.

The Iliad, in retrospect, is a beautiful epic about compelling characters, the question of fate and destiny, the great moments of beauty described in exquisite detail, and, most of all, an enduring message: are pride and anger worth the price a man must pay to keep them alive? What is a man’s life worth, when he has lost everything dear to him?

Book Review – Jane Eyre

It is a very strange thing that unlike so many other distinguished novels of the Victorian Age, Jane Eyre was received poorly both by critics and the general public at the time of it’s publication. However, my reading of it confirmed my belief in the notion that the greatest artists are never recognized in their own time, but must wait for posterity to give them their due.

From the beginning of Jane Eyre until the end, there is a strong sense of shared identity that the modern reader feels; a strong sympathy with the child who is never understood, seldom pitied, and often oppressed. Jane Eyre is not Oliver Twist – she is not suffering at the larger hands of society – rather it is the forbidding eye of Fortune that she seeks, independence and recognition in a world that seems, in her eyes, only to favour those higher than her, while those people – and others around them – are unaware of their own hypocrisy towards Jane.

Jane Eyre is a deeply personal tale, not just because it is told from Jane’s own perspective, but also because that perspective is deeply colourful; practical but not devoid of virile emotions; discerning but not incapable of vivid imagery. In fact, throughout the text it is Jane’s emotions, rather than her sound judgement, that plays out to the reader her inner musings. One vivid image after another pervades Jane’s vision; and rapid, pointed questions she puts to satisfy her innate curiosity.

No novel is tasteful without rich characters; and Miss Bronte delivers; Jane Eyre is full of the serene, the argumentative, the passionately cynical and sarcastic, and the downright heroic. From the deeply(but not boastfully) pious Helen Burns, who is Jane’s foil and moral compass in the opening chapters; to the beautifully realized Mr. Rochester, Jane’s love interest who is at once cynical, grim, playful, and at times mournful; to the superhuman Mr. St. John Rivers(the name is hardly coincidental), with not a string of weakness in him to deviate him from his accepted purpose; and, of course, Jane herself, such a delightful blend of playful rebellion and diligent duty, a paragon of individuality – for individual she is; all this and still room in her visions for adventure and romance; these people are the blood of Jane Eyre.

And if there is blood, so must there be flesh; and the chipped, mouldering walls of Lowood, and the quiet, foreboding yet beautiful Thornfield Hall and it’s environs make a splendid, if somewhat subdued, locales for Jane Eyre. One would feel the same way about grandeur and rich taste were they listening to Jane’s account of the paradoxical way in which all the different aspects of Thornfield make her feel: solitude and disquiet in equal parts mix, and we cannot help but wonder how such a vast and beautiful property can inspire both wonder and foreboding.

The plot is the air that breathes life into Jane Eyre; it is distinct without being ridiculous or unrealistic; in fact, the emotional monologue of Jane, peppered with her craving for romance in spite of her expectation for sordid monotony, make this novel a highly realistic, and deeply moving one.

And throughout all the locales, through the different shades of the clouds, the blossoming of the crocuses, and the ripening of the cherries, Jane’s voices of reason and sentiment blend, driving it forward. Not many times have I felt such deep kinship to a Victorian protagonist, as I do to Jane Eyre. Every tear, every joy, every rending of the heartstrings, every passionate sigh, every demand of equality, every assertion of self-respect and independence, and every single step taken to ensure her upright position on her ladder of morality, no matter how much it hurts: all these I have felt just as deeply as Jane does. It is Jane’s voice that gently lures us in with it’s captivating many shades; one cannot doubt that it is Charlotte Bronte’s spirit made flesh by way of words, in Jane.

Jane Eyre is a masterpiece, both of storytelling and of character. Not many Victorian novels convey what it meant to be poor, friendless, and passionately in love yet striving to deny it in search of position and moral virtue, all at once; this one does. And it does so very well – so well, in fact, that the great horse-chestnut in Thornfield’s orchard, split apart by lightning, blossoms once more.