Monthly Archives: January 2017

LOST: A Father’s Love

JAN / FEB 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

While not a main character, Michael Dawson from ABC’s Lost was a complex man, not easily described or put in a box. When Michael and his girlfriend Susan discover they’re going to have a baby, they’re overjoyed. Michael puts his career on hold, working construction to support Susan and little Walt. Over the following months, Michael and Susan drift apart, and Susan takes a job in Amsterdam, taking Walt with her against Michael’s wishes. While overseas, she marries her boss and coerces Michael into giving up custody of his son. Continue reading

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Almost, but Not Quite: Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford

NOV / DEC 2016: BY LIANNE M. BERNARDO

In Jane Austen’s novels, the love stories are presented with such contrasts: the heroine with her hero and with the foil, a man who vies for our heroine’s hand but isn’t suitable for her for whatever reason (Sense and Sensibility’s John Willoughby, Persuasion’s William Elliot, just to name a few). This is certainly the case in Mansfield Park: Fanny Price is in love with Edmund Bertram, but “bad boy” Henry Crawford, who is the complete opposite of Edmund and Fanny in personality and character, vies for her affection. While the resulting romance is a foregone conclusion, the way that Henry Crawford’s affections played out in a way leaves him as the second fiddle, the guy who didn’t get the girl at the end. Continue reading

Harsh Lessons from the Twilight Zone

JAN / FEB 2017: BY LILA DONOVAN

What causes a hero or heroine in a story to choose one person over their rival? A lot of times it’s explained to us as “chemistry” but there are times when plots are more complex. Jess-Belle is an episode of the fourth season of the 1960’s version of The Twilight Zone. It’s a different episode from most of plots that appear on the show. Many focus on science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian societies. This one takes place in the country, we’re not told exactly where, but it’s hinted it’s probably the Blue Ridge Mountains, told as a folktale.

Jess-Belle is a beautiful dark-haired country gal, who had a relationship with Billy-Ben Turner. Their relationship is over and he’s chosen to court Ellwyn Glover, another country beauty with golden hair. Jess-Belle privately confronts him about why he broke things off, accusing him of choosing Ellwyn because she comes from a wealthy family. Billy-Ben assures her that isn’t the reason, he says he loves Ellwyn in a “quiet way.” This implies there was unnecessary drama when Billy-Ben was dating Jess-Belle, and that he got tired of it and chose to have a peaceful relationship with Ellwyn.

In desperation, Jess-Belle runs to the home of Granny Hart, a local woman rumored to be a witch who people seek out to help them with their problems. Jess-Belle asks if she is truly a witch because the people in the village that sought Granny Hart’s help have ended up with mixed results, their problems were sort of solved with side effects. Granny Hart laughs it off. Jess-Belle asks for her help to win back the heart of Billy-Ben. Because Jess-Belle is poor and doesn’t have any money, Granny Hart offers her another deal, and she’ll “know” what it is in time, but warns her the price is high. Jess-Belle agrees and is given a tonic to drink which unleashes a series of unfortunate events that leads to Billy-Ben still choosing Ellwyn.

witchJess-Belle could have ended up with Billy-Ben because he chose her first, but she lost him due to her attitude. I feel like if Jess-Belle would have worked on her attitude and not relied on a witchcraft, she could have improved her relationship with Billy-Ben and ended up with him. This episode reminds me of when King Saul, didn’t receive an answer from God, and went to the Witch of Endor for help, even though earlier in his reign he had driven out mediums and magicians.

Most Christian theologians point towards the actions of King Saul and that he spent a lot of time disobeying God before he went to the witch. I think it’s safe to assume that this is why God wasn’t answering him at this time. King Saul had the same attitude Jess-Belle did, they both wanted quick and easy answers to their problems. In the end, Jess-Belle was her own worst enemy, not Granny Hart, Ellwyn, or anyone else. She could have had her own happy ending and didn’t have to end up playing second fiddle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lila Donovan is a Christian and a university student. She loves to read, draw, write, and has a blog.

Substitute People: A Guide in Healthy Relationships

JAN / FEB 2017: BY CHARITY BISHOP

The world is full of lonely people who “play the supporting role” in relationships, who are the second friend you call (instead of the first), or who seem overlooked in the grand scheme of life. It’s hard to be that person. Every mortal desires an understanding with other people, to be wanted, even to meet, as Anne Shirley so famously put it, “a truly kindred spirit.”

Despite our fast-paced society, with many potential relationships at our fingertips, many people are lonely and unfulfilled in their relationships; sometimes they’re completely alone, because no one has “found” them (or they’ve “found” no one), or they’re in a relationship because it’s always been there but they really aren’t connected to that person in the way they want to be (they “settle” because it’s easier and less scary than starting over or being alone), or they’re in a relationship because it’s good, fulfills them, and teaches them selflessness and ability to put another person first. Continue reading

Anna Karenina: Levin & Kitty

JAN / FEB 2016: BY VERONICA LEIGH

Leo Tolstoy wrote the multi-faceted novel, Anna Karenina as somewhat of a cautionary tale. The romance between Anna and her lover Vronsky was ill-fated from the start, yet since the novel was published, the passion between the two has been glorified as “true love.” Somehow committing adultery and abandoning your spouse and child and living in exile with a lover is romantic. There is a lesser-known story in Anna Karenina, the one of Levin and Kitty. Levin and Kitty plays second-fiddle to Anna and Vronsky, however, it’s their love that endures and survives. While their romance is smiled upon by society, maybe considered “boring” by the world’s standards, and has its ups and down, theirs embodies the notion of “true love” in its purest form. Continue reading

The Mysterious Mary Boleyn

JAN / FEB 2017: BY SCARLETT GRANT

Mary Boleyn has been a curious fixture in the 21st Century. This began with The Other Boleyn Girl (2001) by Philippa Gregory, its television adaption in 2003 by the BBC and the feature length film adaption in 2008. In all of these of depictions, Mary is shown as a shy and innocent young woman who is relegated into the title of “Other” by her outgoing and ambitious sister, Anne.

But just how accurate is all of this? Was Mary such a virtuous young lady? And was she pushed into historical obscurity because of her good conscience? The answer is simply no. Continue reading

The Hitter and the Thief: Leverage’s Might-Have-Been Romance

JAN / FEB 2017: BY JESSICA PRESCOTT

“These people you’re with now . . . would you leave any of them behind? Ever?”

Pause.

Eliot Spencer grips the cellphone a little tighter, turning his head to glance over his shoulder at the young, blonde girl in the soft gray sweatshirt; and the look in his eyes says it all.

Leave her behind?

No.

Not Parker.

Not ever.

You can call it a romance. You can call it a platonic friendship. You can call it a pseudo-sibling love/hate dynamic. Whatever your personal opinion regarding its exact nature, pretty much anyone who’s ever watched the TV show Leverage will agree that there’s something special about the relationship between the man known as Eliot Spencer and the girl who simply calls herself Parker.

Opposites. Yet, in some odd fashion, soul mates.

The hitter and the thief.

The bitter loner and the naïve outcast.

Mr. That-Thing-You-Do-With-Your-Eyes and Miss Twenty-Pounds-Of-Crazy-In-A-Five-Pound-Bag.

They were meant to be a couple. No matter what anybody says, they were meant to be together. Destined from time immemorial.

For Pete’s sake, guys, will you just look at his eyes when he watches her?

And yet, even though I will rail until my dying day against the hard-heartedness and cruelty of the TV writers who chose to keep them apart, I’ll admit—grudgingly—that the choice did have a certain logic. As a former hired killer, Eliot Spencer has the darkest, most violent past of any of the Leverage gang, with a fair share of bloody secrets weighing heavily on his conscience. And, even though I’d argue that his strenuous efforts to redeem himself from that dark past have actually made him the most selfless, most heroic member of the team, Eliot himself doesn’t view it that way. When Eliot looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a hero; all he sees is a man who can never be clean of the evil he’s done. Parker, on the other hand—despite her traumatic, abusive upbringing and her subsequent life as a successful thief—still remains fundamentally innocent, naïve, even childlike; and Eliot knows it. And, sadly, he simply can’t bring himself to believe he could ever deserve a girl like that.

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But Eliot is still Eliot; and, being Eliot, he’ll never abandon Parker… even though he knows she can never belong to him. He’s always there to protect her, no matter how tough the job gets or how much danger he has to put himself through to keep her safe. If anybody tries to take advantage of her—even to treat her the least bit unfairly—Eliot never fails to step up and call them out.

And he does more than just protect Parker. He understands her, in a way that precious few people in her life ever have or ever will. Parker can definitely be a handful—maybe even two handfuls—at times; due largely to the deprivations and abuse of her childhood, she lacks even basic social skills and finds it virtually impossible to communicate her emotions. To top it all off, she’s weirdly addicted to physical risk-taking, routinely pulling stunts which would kill a normal human and still walking away unscathed. Although she doesn’t really know how to express it, Parker’s very much aware of these “abnormalities” in her character, and believes herself to be a hopeless misfit; somebody who can never fit in or find acceptance. But that’s not true with Eliot. Although he may grumble at her wild recklessness and shake his head bemusedly at a few of her more egregious faux pas, at the end of the day, Eliot still offers Parker wholehearted, unconditional acceptance—flaws, quirks, and all. And that’s not the kind of love you’ll find just anywhere.

Even as “just friends,” Parker and Eliot form an epic partnership that’s an absolute joy to watch. They work hard, and they play hard. They fight and they bicker and they argue. They tease and poke and prod each other to distraction. They laugh at each other’s jokes, they watch each other’s backs; and they will never, ever let each other down.

Although there are many Eliot/Parker moments that make me smile—and some that make me want to cry—my all-time favorite comes in the episode “The Snow Job,” when Parker, finding herself trapped in an upstairs room, takes a flying leap out the window and lands right on top of Eliot . . . who’d sprung to catch her the instant he saw her jump. As they collapse side-by-side on the grass, each struggling to catch their respective breaths, Eliot demands, “How’d you even know I’d be there?” Parker simply responds, “I didn’t.”

To me, this scene is a perfect symbol of Eliot and Parker’s overall relationship: Even though she herself may not know it, no matter how high Parker jumps or how far she falls, Eliot Spencer will always be there to catch her. Always.

Because that’s just how you roll, when you’re a born watchdog and when the girl you love is twenty pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Prescott is a former homeschool student and current graduate student, pursuing a master’s degree in American history with a focus on immigration studies.  In her (sadly limited) free time, she can usually be found listening to “Hamilton” or Celine Dion or Twenty One Pilots and dreaming up new ideas for historical fiction novels.  Which, she hopes, will someday make her famous.  Someday . . .  She also blogs.

 

Femnista Jan / Feb 2107: Playing Second Fiddle

Everyone plays second fiddle at some point in their life. You aren’t chosen… as the one to love, to one to play on the team, as the best friend. It hurts. It makes you tougher. It teaches you a lesson. Or it burns your soul.

Characters sometimes become “sidekicks” instead of the main attraction. They don’t get the girl, save the day, or have much screen or page time… but we notice them, we care about them, we feel for them, sometimes we even secretly think they should have been the hero or heroine. They need to be the leading lady or man of their own life, right?

Over the next two months, in this issue of Femnista, we celebrate the sidekicks… the lesser-knowns who may spend more time in the background than at the forefront but who are never forgotten. Continue reading