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Are you like a fictional character?As I was reading some of the postings on eNotes the...

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 16, 2008 at 1:58 PM via web

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Are you like a fictional character?

As I was reading some of the postings on eNotes the other day, a horrible thought occurred to me. A revelation, really. An epiphany.

I have become a Tennessee Williams spinster. I've never married and live alone with my two cats. I teach English to kids who could care less, and I dream too much about lost loves. Horrors! I haven't started relying on the kindness of strangers yet, though (and I don't spin, so I won't call myself a spinster).

Are you like any character from literature?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 11, 2013 at 6:03 AM (Answer #1)

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Somewhat bizarrely I find myself identifying more and more with Isabel Archer from The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. This is because I relate so much to how Isabel was presented before she married Gilbert Osmond and had a rather rude awakening to what life is unfortunately all about. I identify with her very strongly in my younger, idealistic days, and quotes such as the following description about Isabel's beliefs still ring true to how I used to think:

She had a theory that it was only on this condition that life was worth living; that one should be one of the best, should be conscious of a fine organization, should move in the realm of light, of natural wisdom, of happy impulse, of inspiration gracefully chronic.

Of course, the comparison doesn't stop there, as I find that Isabel's choice to meet the sufferings of life head on rather than take the easy option out and constantly flee for the greener grass to be inspirational. We see in this novel her move as a character from idealism to the gritty reality of experience and pragmatism, and yet she makes this transition with a dignity and elegance that should be an example to us all. Even though I am male, I think there is so much that all of us can learn from Isabel Archer, and I do seem to identify with her more and more as I grow older. I end up reading this book at least once a year as I find my appreciation of it develops with every reading. 

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