Thursday, January 14, 2016

What do Willa Cather, Madame Bovary, and George Eliot all have in common?

That sounds a bit like an odd warm up to a lame joke.

It's this: they all get the danger of ideals.

Dorothea had Will Ladislaw.
Claude had Enid.
Madame Bovary had. . . way too many people.

I am a little over halfway through One of Ours by Willa Cather and my heart is already bruised a bit for Claude Wheeler. Of course, I'm also a little bit fatigued by his self pity as well. The poor fella has had to deal with one disappointment after another, but the most stinging disappointment is the one he feels in himself. He's convinced the whole world is against him and there is simply no good luck for him in it.

Ain't that a nice way to look at the world. I just want to shake him sometimes.

He could have stood up to his dad.
He could have stayed in college.
He could have married the girl with spunk.

But, he didn't. And it isn't the world's fault. It's his.

In Middlmarch Eliot schools us about the danger of clinging to what you "think" will make you happy rather than pursuing what actually does. Madame Bovary wastes her life away in search of a life fit for thrilling french novels. And now Claude is marching off to war because that's where true happiness must certainly be found.

I'm not there yet, but to quote Luke, Han, and Leia. . . . "I've got a bad feeling about this."