“I am glad you are no enemy to matrimony however. Did you ever hear the old song, ‘Going to one wedding brings on another’? I say, you will come to Belle’s wedding, I hope.”
In Young Adult, anti-heroine Mavis Gary returns home to reconnect with old flame Buddy Slade, despite knowing he’s married and a new Dad. As disgusted as views are with Mavis’ homewrecking goals, they cannot help sympathizing with her.
Audiences feel a mixture of disgust and pity for her from the beginning. They’re disgusted with how she lives: she neglects her dog Dolce, ignores calls from her editor and drinks a lot. And yet we pity her situation: she’s lonely, which is demonstrated by the fact she sleeps with a guy she doesn’t connect with, her email and a phone message reveals she’s only one book away from ending a series she’s been writing for years and not by her choice. Then she gets an email from Buddy Slade announcing the birth of his daughter. The photo of a baby, audiences later learn, that could have been hers and Buddies almost two decades earlier if she hadn’t miscarried, and probably spurs her decision to get Buddy back.
Mavis doesn’t delay once she’s made her decision. She packs and leaves with her lover still asleep in her room. Once she’s checked into her hotel, she calls Buddy and leaves a message that lets him know she’s in town and would like to meet up. She then goes to a bar, where she runs into former classmate Matt, whom she’d never given the time of day to in High school. She confides her plan to Matt and the following conversation ensues:
MAVIS. Buddy Slade and I are meant to be together and I’m here to get him back.
Matt laughs, assuming this is a joke.
MATT. Really? Awesome. Buddy Slade, huh?I’m pretty sure Buddy’s married. With a kid on the way.
MAVIS. No, the kid’s here. She had the baby. I don’t care though. I have baggage, too, you know?
MATT. Wait, are you not joking?
MAVIS. I know people won’t understand, but things like this happen. They do happen. Usually they happen in slow-motion. Like, two people are meant to be together and then they slowly get rid of what’s keeping them apart. They get divorced, they reconfigure. And everyone’s cool with that, right?Society’s okay with that–if you take your time like a god damned emotional glacier.
Again audiences are disgusted with Mavis but must admire her ability to go after what she wants and sticks to her guns when someone tries to discourage her. How many times has an audience member given up on a goal because of an obstacle or discouraging word and envies Mavis’ fortitude?
Another trait Mavis has that audiences admire is that she doesn’t get flustered. This is beautifully shown when Mavis is checking into her hotel. Instead of getting flustered when she gets caught in a lie, she remains unaffected.
FRONT DESK GIRL. Is that a dog in your bag?
She’s surprised by her own lie.
FRONT DESK GIRL. We actually allow small pets with a cleaning deposit.
MAVIS. In fact,I do have a dog, but he’s in my vehicle.
The bag wriggles wildly, betraying Mavis instantly.
FRONT DESK GIRL. Okay. I’ll put that you have a dog.
We see her calm again when she’s caught writing in a book at a bookstore.
ASSOCIATE. Are you writing in there?
MAVIS. I’m the author. I’m signing it.
The associate still looks concerned that his merchandise is being
ASSOCIATE. You’re Jane MacMurray?
MAVIS. No. Jane MacMurray just created the series. I wrote the book. I’m Mavis Gary. Crane. See?
She points to the flyleaf, which does indeed read: “Story by Jane MacMurray. Written by Mavis Gary-Crane.”
Although audiences may not use her nonchalance for different reasons than Mavis, they can imagine how much embarrassment they could have saved themselves if they’d had Mavis’ ability to remain unflustered.
As the story progresses, the audience sees evidence that Mavis may be mentally ill. In one scene Mavis tells Matt about her date with Buddy:
MAVIS. Good, good. It was eye-opening though. Buddy–he’s clearly not happy.
MATT. He told you that?
MAVIS. He implied it. You can tell he’s suffering. He looks completely exhausted. He told me he feels like a zombie.
Mavis takes in Matt’s childhood bedroom. A twin bed.A record collection. A desk strewn with Testor’s hobby glue, paint, and disembodied toy figurines.
MATT. I was there, and I suspect he was being flip.
MAVIS. It’s a pretty strong statement to make. A zombie is a dead person, Matt.
The audience can assume she’s purposely misconstruing what he said to further her belief that she and Buddy could get back together. A more aware audience member may suspect something else is going on or that she didn’t misconstrue but simply doesn’t understand the true meaning of the saying. Either way, the former suggests an obsession with Buddy. The latter suggest a lack of societal awareness. In another scene, Mavis is at Buddy’s house, visiting his wife Beth. During the visit Mavis asks about a chart with various expressions on it:
MAVIS. What’s that chart?
BUDDY. Beth teaches special needs kids.
BETH. A lot of my kids learn emotions cognitively. It doesn’t come naturally to them the way it does for you or me.So we need to show them: This is what happy looks like. This is what
anxious looks like. And so on.
Mavis is fascinated with the chart.
MAVIS. How about, like, neutral? What if you don’t feel anything?
BETH. That’s kind of how they are a lot of the time, so. Yeah. Don’t need to teach it.
This allows the audience to infer that Mavis frequently feels neutral and that is like the children Beth teaches. This revelation in no way excuses Mavis’ behavior but it does deepen her character in a way that softens her, especially when she confesses to her parents that “I think I’m an alcoholic” and confesses to Matt, “I’m depressed,” and both parties disregard it. At one point, Matt even jokingly tells her “You’re mentally ill.”
Despite the implications in such scenes, author Diablo Cody do not make excuses for what Mavis says and does. Their is no apology presented when Mavis asks her mother mother, “Have you seen it? Up close?” The it being Buddy Slade’s daughter or when Mavis tells the Macy’s employee she needs an outfit to make an impression on the wife of her “former flame.” They show Mavis how she truly is, which is part of her appeal.
Mavis Gary is unlikable and her goals despicable. Their is no reason to like Young Adult. However, due to some admirable traits in the character, some hints in the story and a blunt characterization, audiences can sympathize with anti-heroine Mavis Gary.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower is about a teenage boy, Charlie, experiencing high school. Although Charlie experiences a lot of “typical” teenage experiences throughout the book, Charlie is not the typical teenager. Throughout Stephen Chbosky’s Young Adult novel, Charlie shows signs of being on the autistic spectrum. Specifically, he shows a lot of signs of having Asperger’s. Asperger’s according to Medical News Today is “a developmental disorder that impacts on the individual’s ability to communicate and socialize, among other things.”
According to myAsperger’schild.com, teenagers “may be uncomfortably blunt.” We see this with Charlie, when, Within a week of meeting a high school senior, Sam, Charlie writes to his unknown friend: “I told Sam that I dreamt that she and I were naked on the sofa, and I started crying because I felt bad, and do you know what she said? She laughed (21 -2).”
To say he’s blunt is an understatement. To say he lacks finesse isn’t quite right either. He has the social understanding of a seven-year-old, blurting out anything that comes to mind, appropriate to mention or not. This also matches up with what myAsperger’schild.com says: teenagers with Asperger’s “may be immature for their age and be naive and too trusting, which can lead to teasing and bullying.”
Charlie also demonstrates a lack of control and understanding of his own emotions. He cries at the drop of the hat for seemingly no reason. One example of this is when he’s at a party with Patrick and Sam.
I was sitting on the floor of a basement of my first real party between Sam and Patrick, and I remembered that Sam introduced me as her friend to Bob. And I remembered that Patrick had done the same for Brad. And I started to cry. And nobody in that room looked at me weird for doing it. And then I really started to cry (38).
Again this is another Asperger’s trait. As, according to Asperger Syndrome Behavior, “Individuals with Asperger syndrome have trouble recognizing their own emotions and especially expressing them in a proper way.”
Despite his social and emotional skills being that of a seven-year-old, Charlie proves to be quite intelligent. We see this whenever he mentions his Advance English Class.
My advanced English teacher asked me to call him “Bill” when we’re not in class, and he gave me another book to read. He says that I have a great skill at reading and understanding language, and he wanted me to write an essay about To Kill A Mockingbird.
I mentioned this to my mom, and she asked why Bill didn’t recommend that I just take a sophomore or junior English class. And I told her that Bill said that these were basically the same classes with more complicated books, and that it wouldn’t help me. (9-10)
“Bill” continually gives Charlie books and essays to write outside of normal class assignments to challenge him, proving that Charlie may be too advanced for even the advance class when it comes to literature. But this is not necessarily unusual in children with Asperger’s.
According to myAsperger’schild.com , autistic “adolescents may be extremely smart in specific areas, such as writing, math, or some form of the arts.”
A lot of Charlie’s behaviors and “symptoms” can be very off-putting to the reader, especially the frequency of how much he cries. But to discover there is a reason for these eccentricitieswould make these annoying quirks forgivable to most readers. However, Chbosky never reveals the reason behind these idiosyncrasies. He lets readers know Charlie was molested as a child. And boys who were molested are not likely, according to what I could find on boys who are molested, to behave the way Charlie does in The Perks of Being A Wallflower, leaving readers to wonder if Charlie has Asperger’s and was molested…or if something entirely different is going on with him.
In the movie, Charlie doesn’t have these oddities in his behavior. He doesn’t cry at a drop of a hat. He’s smart. He makes jokes. He isn’t blunt. He has the awareness of a neurotypical person his age. The only real oddity in him is the one or two times he blacks out in the movie. And that fits better with Charlie having been molested, as he could have easily been in a fugue state at the time.
Chbosky had a great opportunity and did a great job setting up a story about a character who is on the Autistic spectrum but undiagnosed. Unfortunately, he fumbles it by not following through, or perhaps, simply deciding to go with the ‘shock value’ of a molestation.
“Asperger Syndrome Behavior.” Asperger Syndrome Behavior. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2013.
Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: Gallery, 1999. Print.
Hutten, Mark. “My Aspergers Child: Problems Experienced by Teens with Aspergers.” My Aspergers Child: Problems Experienced by Teens with Aspergers. Mark Hutten, n.d. Web. 20 July 2013.
Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 July 2013.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Dir. STEPHEN CHBOSKY and JOHN MALKOVICH. Prod. LIANNE HALFON and Russell SMITH. Perf. Emma Watson,, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller. Roadshow, 2013. DVD.
Vampire Eli is Let In The Hearts of Audiences
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s “Let The Right One In” is a story about a bullied twelve-year-old boy who happens to meet a vampire.
The book gets into a lot of heads and offers a lot of different POVs: Tommy’s, Håkan’s, Oskar’s, Jonny Forsberg’s, a squirrel’s. There are even chapters from an omniscient point of view, illustrating things going on in the larger world, like the fear over a Soviet sub that runs aground on the shoreline, and the ongoing reaction to Håkan’s—Eli’s caretaker—murders. Although some segments are written from Eli’s point of view, little is revealed about her. Despite that, Eli is easily humanized in both the book and the movies.
The third time Eli and Oskar meet in the book Eli is hungry, needing blood. Oskar and she are alone in the courtyard playground, and he is easy prey, trusting he’s safe with her. The scene shows that Eli is prepared to kill him however.
His voice was not even a whisper. Only an exhalation. The girl’s face was close. His gaze was drawn to her butter-knife cheek. That was why he didn’t see her eyes change, how they narrowed, took on another expression. He didn’t see how her upper lip drew back and revealed a pair of small, dirty white fangs. He only saw her cheek and while her mouth was nearing his throat he drew up his hand and stroked her face.
The girl froze for a moment, then pulled back. Her eyes resumed their former shape; the city of light was back. (70)
The fact Eli could kill someone she has met, spoken with twice before shows that she doesn’t think like a human. The interactions they had are not enough for her to hesitate, like a human normally would. After all, it’s one thing to kill a complete stranger, another to kill someone you’ve met.
In both movies, Let The Right One In and Let Me In, this doesn’t happen. Eli seems to recognize Oskar as a kindred spirit from the first meeting. She instead bonds with him, gives him advice on how to handle the school bullies Oskar is tormented by. A few pages later, we even see their deepening bond when Oskar and Eli start walking home from a candy store:
They walked back. Before Oscar had even had any himself he held the bag out to Eli. She shook her head.
“Don’t you eat candy?”
“What a drag.”
“Yes, no. I don’t know what it tastes like.”
“You haven’t even tasted it.”
“Then how do you know that…”
“I just know, that’s all.” (123)
Eli doesn’t give into Oskar, because she knows nothing good would come of her eating the candy. However, her interaction with Oskar also manages to humanize her, because most people know what it’s like to want to try something that they can’t have, be deprived of experiences, whether due to a health issue, circumstance or something else. At the same time, viewers know the reason she can’t eat the candy, is because she’s not human.
In both movies however, the scene plays out differently. In Let Me In, Eli, known as Abby, gives into Oskar, known as Owen:
Abby watches as Owen collects his candy, trying to hide his disappointment. She feels bad.
ABBY: Well… maybe I could try just one…!
Owen looks up, suddenly excited. He opens a package, gives her a piece. She puts it in her mouth. He watches for her reaction. She smiles for him, nods. He grins, so pleased — (42)
Both movies show Abby throwing up after she eats the candy. The movies allow readers to see Abby trying to please Owen, which is a very human urge. The effect humanizes Eli to viewers more than the book does, but at the same time, since she can’t digest the candy, reminds viewers she is in not human.
In traditional vampire books and movies, vampires are clean, efficient killers, the ultimate predators. Vampires are written differently in Let The Right One In and the movies. In them, Eli and her adult companion make sloppy and sometimes ineffective attempts at killing people. These slipshod attempts make the attacks seem more realistic, more possible, more frightening, and at the same time, humanizes Eli. We see her not as the efficient killing machine we expect from vampire lore. She doesn’t have the practice of a skilled predator. And the fact audiences know that like an animal, she has to kill to eat, makes her sympathetic to readers, even as she murders someone.
Although the different mediums often use different techniques, both the movies and the books, remind audiences that Elli/Abby is a vampire even as she is efficiently humanized. The result is a well-told story that can easily stand up to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Whose Who In The Princess Bride
For most people the terms main character, protagonist and hero are interchangeable and belong to the same character. However there are intricacies to the terms that do cause them to be different. In fact, in The Princess Bride, a story about Westley fighting to be with his true love Buttercup, the terms belong to different characters.
The term ‘Main Character’ usually refers to who the story is mainly about. By this definition it is possible to have over thirty main characters in a story. In this case, however, the true main character would be Westley.
Westley is who drives home the plot, the character who the story circles around. He gives Princess Buttercup hope and a reason to stand up for herself. He gives Prince Humperdinck someone to fear and ruins his plans. Westley is the reason Inigo Montoya gets revenge on Count Rugen for his father. Without Westley, we would have a different story. However, if you removed a different character, the story would change but multiple plot lines would remain the same. Although Westley is the spider that weaves the story together, he is not the hero.
According to John August, the hero “is the character who you hope to see ‘win.’” As noble as Westley’s goal is—fighting for true love—audience members already know that Buttercup loves Westley, so half his battle is already won. All he needs is to defeat the bad guy and with the level of skill he demonstrates throughout the movie, we know it’ll be inevitable that he will. This leaves Inigo to fill the role of hero.
Early on, Inigo reveals he studied sword fighting until he believed himself skilled enough to defeat the six-fingered man that killed his father. In the book, Inigo comes to believe that he obtains the skill level of wizard, which is the level above a master swordsman. After acquiring that level of skill and believing himself the only living wizard in existence, he searched for his Father’s , murderer. Eventually he works for Vizzini ‘to pay the bills.’ It’s while working for Vizzini that he meets the ‘man in black,’ later to be revealed as Westley.
Westley beats Inigo in a sword fight which makes the audience wonder if Inigo truly has the skill to defeat the six-fingered man, especially since Westley has had significantly less time to study fencing than Inigo. This question is juxtaposed with another when Inigo finally learns that the six-fingered man is Count Rugen: How would he be able to get close enough to his father’s killer?
The uncertainty raised in the audiences minds make the audience more invested in Inigo’s goals than in the certainty that Westley will succeed.
Despite the importance of their roles in the story, neither Inigo nor Westley can technically be called a protagonist. According to John August the protagonist is “The character who changes over the course of the story.”
There really is no such character in the book The Princess Bride. None of the characters really change or learn anything new. However, a protagonist can be found in the movie/screenplay. The protagonist is never named, but in the screenplay he’s identified as The Kid.
Although the kid has very little screen time, his presence is felt throughout the movie. The story, Princess Bride, is interrupted by the grandfather telling the story or the boy himself.Sections of the story are skipped at the boys insistence. The grandfather also narrates part of the story, reminding the audience that the story is being told to the boy. The boys persistent presence and the fact he is the reason the story is being told, makes him a lead character.
The boy also changes. At the beginning of the movie he dreads his grandfather’s arrival. He asks his mother: “Mom, can’t you tell him that I’m sick? (p.1).” And he’s not too interested in the book his grandfather gives him as a get well gift. However he grows more interested in the book as his grandfather reads it. By the end of the movie, however, he appreciates the book and asks his grandfather, “Maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow (p. 124).” As such, he fits the protagonist role best.
In The Princess Bride, Westley is the main character, Inigo is the hero, and the kid is the protagonist. Not one character in the book or movie fits the definition of all three terms. But the terminology that one may use doesn’t affect the quality of the story. It simply brings better understanding to the characters roles.
August, John. “Johnaugust.com.” Johnaugustcom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2013.
Goldman, William. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007. 37-358. Print.
Goldman, William. “Princess Bride, The (1987) Movie Script.” – Screenplays for You. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2013.
The Princess Bride. Dir. Rob Reiner. ACT III Communications, 25 September 1987. DVD