My, my, haven’t we been blogging quite a lot lately. Of course, you know that means that I have some sort of paper due. Right now, I am staring quite uselessly at Washington Square by Henry James. I have a paper due on it by 5:00, but I really want to finish much earlier than that. Firstly, I have a class at 1:25, and if I finish my paper before 12:00 or so, it means that I won’t have to lug my very heavy very warm computer to campus in order to finish my paper after my class. Yes, I am aware that there are these thing called jump drives, and I could bring my paper on that and use a computer in the library, but I hate the library computers. I only use them because I have to print, and even then they can take upwards of ten minutes to boot up. Heaven forbid you want to use the Internet because that’s another five to ten minutes to get a browser to launch. Also, I can only get Internet Explorer to open. I think Firefox is too modern for the ancient Gateways. Secondly, I have another paper due at 5:00 tomorrow, and that one is a fifteen page research paper. I got so desperate to avoid the paper on James that I actually started doing my research for the second paper (on Samuel Johnson’s annotated Shakespeare). I was pleased to find a whole lot of articles on the subject. I was also pleased to find large books that have one relevant chapter. I’m actually not too worried about that one now. Still, there is still the matter of writing the full fifteen pages which always seems to take far more hours than I want it to, and I have to factor in work on Tuesday morning from 6:00am to 10:30am. Protip: If you’re counting hours before a paper is due and subtracting time you’ll be at work in order to see if you can finish the paper, your level of procrastination is too damn high.
How many memes do we think I can cram into one sentence? Anyway, my point is that I have a ton of shit to do, but I cannot think of what to write on for Washington Square. You know what my problem is? It’s too easy! Henry James is supposed to give you a headache, but this book is so simple. I mean, it was a fun read, and I sped through it (Fun fact: Apparently James hated it), but it means that I’m at a loss on what to write. Right now, my plan is to simply discuss the final chapter and what it means for Catherine in terms of the rest of the novel (Honestly, I shouldn’t bitch. Neither of these essays really even need a thesis. I just have to analyze the hell out of stuff, which, let’s be real, is what I do best. What is killing me is that I want to trade paper topics with Cuddles, who is currently sleeping off the effects of two Ampeds and trying to keep calm and graduate).
SO! Just for you, I’ve decided to talk about Washington Square. There will be spoilers, if any of you care. I know that the novel is over a hundred years old, but I still don’t like being spoiled for shit. (Fun fact: The beginning of “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot spoils a little bit of Heart of Darkness proving that even famous poets can be Internet trolls.)
Washington Square is the tale of Catherine Sloper, a painfully dull and stupid girl who is actually not that painfully stupid, and what, precisely, is wrong with being a little dull? Her father, Austin Sloper, is kind of a dick, and by that I mean that he is a huge dick who is constantly disappointed that A) His daughter is female and not a son and B) That his daughter is so plain and average and stupid (“as intelligent as a bundle of shawls”). Catherine’s aunt and Dr. Sloper’s (he’s a well-respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively and also a very intelligent, well-loved physician) silly sister is named Lavinia Penniman. She’s a giddy, romantic widow who kind of fucks shit up. She lives with Catherine and Dr. Sloper. Mrs. Elizabeth Almond is Sloper’s other sister. She seems to be the only character who is as sharp as Dr. Sloper without having the same level of douchebag. I severely wanted to know more about her. Morris Townsend is another asshole, but he’s the asshole that Catherine loves (other than her father, who she is pretty terrified of). Morris loves Catherine…’s money. And that’s the plot. Catherine is plain and in her early twenties. Morris wants to marry her, and she wants to marry him. Dr. Sloper knows that he’s a mooch, but instead of being a decent human being, he’s a huge dick and makes the whole thing really hard on his daughter. Mrs. Penniman gets all up in the “romance,” and generally causes problems and annoys Morris, who is pretty clearly after Catherine’s money. See, Catherine’s dead mother left her ten thousand dollars a year (in 1840 or so, so a damn lot) once she married, and Dr. Sloper was going to supplement that with an additional forty thousand dollars (I don’t think annually, but still, damn that’s a lot of money). However, if she marries Morris, he won’t give that to her. She doesn’t care about the money, but she is afraid of her father and desperately seeks his approval, so she wants him to like her husband. Morris doesn’t want Catherine without the money. Mrs. Penniman thinks Morris is a romantic and defends him for way too long, even after he essentially states that he won’t marry Catherine because he’s worth more than ten grand a year (he isn’t). The story centers on Catherine’s development from a shy, scared girl who craves her father’s blessing into a shy, strong girl who accepts that both her father and her only love screwed her over. Essentially, she has to realize that her father is hideously disappointed in her and that he will never like her. Then, she has to realize that Morris doesn’t want her either.
By her middle age, she does. She defies her father, and, when Morris comes for a final visit, she shuts him down. He continues to suck, Dr. Sloper continues to suck, Mrs. Penniman continues to pave the road to hell with her good intentions, and Catherine “picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again—for life, as it were.” The last chapter is pretty interesting because she finally gets to confront Morris, so I think that I’m going to go with that as my topic. I’m a little concerned that the heavy dialogue will make my block quotes (this teacher requires lots of block quotes) a hot mess. I had an idea to compare Morris to a character in another book we read, but I can’t find the passage where they are essentially described in the same way, and I also don’t ever want to read anything by Hawthorne again.
I just don’t know what my “point” will be. I know that it’s an exploration, but even a silly exploration of a single chapter has to have some significance, otherwise why bother writing a paper on it? I mean, it’s very theatrical. The whole book is theatrical. There are some references to “liberty,” and the book seems to have an undercurrent of the political to it. I kind of see Sloper as the ultimate politician. After all, he knows what’s best for you, and he’ll take your choice away as best he can. If he can’t, he’ll cut off your funding in some way, but despite all his wrongs, the public loves him. Morris proves himself to be a right jackass, and Catherine simply sits down to the quiet life of sewing things alone in the parlor. I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS TEXT, MAN!
If that weren’t enough, if I double space this blog post, it’s four pages long. The essay is only six. What the hell is wrong with me?
NEXT TIME ON MY BLOG (probably) I have plans to talk about The Hunger Games movie, and I want to review the last two books. There may be more Shakespeare! (Spoiler alert: The Taming of the Shrew can die in every fire.) There may be Shakespeare AND Samuel Johnson (He wrote the dictionary mostly by himself in like, seven years, I think. He also beat people with folios and had a cat named Hodge.) I may even review a single episode of something! Who knows what wild and crazy adventures I’ll have next?!
PS: My apartment is making me pay them rent again. I do not like this.
PPS: But I went shopping for the first time in about a year and a half. I have no money, but I do have some business casual clothing AND some boss business inappropriate shirts. I do like this. So, you know, it evens out to me having no money.