Reader, I did not marry him.

I went to a recording of Just a Minute at Broadcasting House this evening. Paul Merton and Clement Freud were there so it was really cool. Got soaked waiting for 45 minutes in the rain, though. Also went to St Paul’s Cathedral where the cupola was closed (and therefore rendered my purpose void) and to the Museum of London where I caved to my inner five year old and bought a Paddington Bear at the shop.

To cut a boring story short, I was flicking through the catch up TV list and found something called ‘Reader, I Married Him’ which, as many of us know, is a line from Jane Eyre. It turned out to be a rather inspid documentary about women’s fascination and lasting adoration of certain characters from certain books.

I managed to watch through the drooling over Darcy (including a ridiculous thing where the presenter and a group of women submitted their Darcys to a police photo-fit chap who apparently has nothing better to do), the raving over Rochester and the howling over Heathcliff. I couldn’t take any more when the presenter went to Atlanta and donned a very cheap and tacky antebellum-style dress and started waxing lyrical about Rhett Butler. I turned off and put on the Beatles Anthology instead (see previous post).

Don’t get me wrong. I adore Rhett Butler. His introduction in the film is one of the very greatest moments in popular cinema. I also like Darcy a great deal. Rochester’s brilliant… but I cannot really empathise with these ladies. For all that I like and admire these characters in their own right and as literary creations, I can’t say that I’ve ever been in love with any of them.

Darcy is too perfect. I mean come on! I like the fellow but I wouldn’t want it. He’s too repressed (even by the end of the book), too English, too stiff-upper lip and the rest. Snore.
Rochester is too much of a grumpy bastard. I’m not saying that he’s unlikeable because I think he’s one of the least annoying ‘heroes’, and he has a fair amount of justification for being a grumpy bastard, but he’s too changeable and all too willing to manipulate the people around him.
Heathcliff is just a psycho, OK? I mean, please. I’m sure he really loves Cathy lots and lots and lots, but the man is a vindictive, vicious, dog-killing psycho. Even when played by Timothy Dalton he’s really just unlikeable. I like him as a literary creation, but the personality is just acid.
Rhett. Now Rhett I adore, I really do. Book Rhett and Movie Rhett aren’t all that different because everything in the book that’s omitted by the movie is put across by dear old Gable, whose picture is actually just above my left shoulder right now in the gallery of stars that make up my cathedral of movies. Or as I call it, the front room. Rhett is a good guy. He’s really quite honorable and decent, although his contemporaries wouldn’t agree ("why my dear, he isn’t received!") and I have always admired his ability to stand up with the courage of his convictions. One of his lines: "With enough courage you can do without a reputation" is one of the cornerstones of my own life. However, I never even considered being in love with Rhett. Maybe it’s that he’s just too much in love with Scarlett for me to consider it (I’m horribly honorable that way)… but he’s just not for me.

Now I wonder: if Darcy and the rest can’t pass the Valentino Test, I don’t suppose that anyone else stands much hope either… as the song goes, I’ll surely get a parrot.

There are worse things to be than a mad fool like me.

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8 Responses to Reader, I did not marry him.

  1. sarahkitty says:

    Am a big GWTW fan, and I agree with what you think of Rhett Butler…however I seem to find many similarities between Scarlett and me…so I dont mind loving him. 😉

    There’s a new book out that I saw at the book fair,
    Rhett Butler’s People. I didn’t pick it up because I was stupid – need to do that soon. It looks interesting and whereas the reviews say it doesn’t match up exactly with Margaret Mitchell’s GWTW, it seems to be an awesome character study.

    • apollarock says:

      That book looks interesting – certainly more promising than ‘Scarlett’ which is sat at the back of my bookcase waiting to be scorned at.

      • elseinane says:

        I found “Scarlett” to be the rosetta stone of all bad fanfic.

        EVERY cliche seems to exist within the pages of one novel. Which is something of an accomplishment – but not the one that I think they desired.

  2. sugarjet03 says:

    Paddington! I remember when we went and cuddled the Paddingtons at Harrods, but I wouldn’t by one because I thought they were too expensive. I still wish I had gotten one 🙂

    And I think your character analysis of Rhett is spot-on. I saw the movie at a young age, and it was several years before I read the book, but I remember being really impressed by how faithful Gable was to the book’s depiction when I got around to reading it. It’s still an amazing performance to watch.

    • apollarock says:

      That Harrods thing is EXACTLY what I thought of too. The ones at MoL weren’t uber-cheap but still better than Horrids.

      I’m more than happy to get one and mail it to you!

  3. logansrogue says:

    You know, I really really love Darcy. But I know he’s just a fantasy. And the only time I really love Darcy is when it’s Colin Firth playing him. I really think it’s a Colin Firth thing with me. That’s why I imagine Colin Firth playing the sexy older man father of one of my Carrie and the Magnetism girls, cause he has the presence and the dreaminess to make a potentially fuddy role into an expression of the beauty of being an older person.

    But really, a lot of these characters just do nothing for me. Even if I like Darcy, his behaviour is horrible. Realistically it’s not what I’d want in real life.

    I’m trying to write a character in my book (Amaryllis) that’s got power and sex in his very bones but is, you know, an actually NICE, stand-up guy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. In literature it’s like a rule that there has to be something severely wrong with the character for them to make an impact with people. I just know that when I finally write the thing and start sharing it, people are going to tell me that I put the lead female with the wrong guy, that she should have been with the overly-self-interested pretty boy and not with the guy I do end up putting her with. When it comes to fantasy, women have this strange attraction to men that are in actual fact horrible, and an utter aversion to a decent fucking man.

    Which is why I think that my book will never fucking work in the romance market. I’m hoping the fantasy element shoves it firmly into the fantasy arena, because I don’t really see there being much actual full-on sex in this book. I’m just bitching because I can right now, I think. I’m half out of my mind on pain-killers and I’m still feeling the pain. Fucking codeine.

    You’re a mad, wonderful fool.

    By the way, while I’m talking to you, you should friend my little bro. He’s totally awesome, very funny and sometimes I think you got the other half of his brain or something. The half that doesn’t like Pink Floyd, at any rate. His username is . (It’s a reference to a horrible sex scene in the Terminator novelisation, he’s not a pervert.)

    • apollarock says:

      Ahead of you, darlinks – he friended me the other day and upon realising who he was, I friended back.

      The ‘problem’ I have is that I don’t even love them as fantasies or dreams. They’re just… meh.

      The problem with ‘nice’ is that it’s hard to make it interesting. That’s why in TV dramas where everything is dragged out, characters can’t stay together for any length of time (ie, Ross n Rachel and so on) because it’s not interesting to watch people be perfectly content and happy. That’s why all those stories end with ‘happily ever after’ and don’t show it.

      It’s probably possible to write nice, normal people, but not easy. Ergo, it’s not done.

      • logansrogue says:

        Well, I will always point to the show “Medium” and say that that is a perfect example of an established happy couple being interesting and facing challenges together. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of Joe and Allison.

        Anyway, got to race off to a pain management appointment this morning. BLAH.

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