Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stealing the Story


Let’s be honest–no one was surprised that Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress in the Oscars this weekend. No one. They even made jokes about it before the show because it was so entirely inevitable.

The question now, of course, is why? Why was it so obvious? After all, there was some pretty stiff competition, and while Anne Hathaway is a wonderful actress (I’ve personally followed her career since her “Princess Diary” days), it’s not as though she wins an award every time she’s in a movie.

My answer, as I’m sure you aren’t surprised to hear, is that it’s all in the story. Hathaway played Fantine in Les Miserables, a role that can be lost easily and steal the show if well done. Clearly, Hathaway stole the show with her portrayal.

For those who haven’t seen Les Mis (which you should), a quick explanation is that it’s a very long musical about part of a French revolution that wasn’t very successful, and more specifically, follows a large cast of characters as their lives intertwine. Fantine, the character Hathaway played, is really more a plot device than an actual character. She serves as a sign to Jean Valjean that in his focus on his own troubles (avoiding the persistent Police head, Javert) he has neglected to notice when a woman (Fantine) who works in his factory is being unfairly treated. Because of his inattention to the state of his factory, Fantine goes through a terribly sad list of events until she goes from a single mother trying to make enough to keep herself and her daughter alive to a prostitute on the verge of death. It is here that Jean Valjean finds her again, and here that he has fatherhood of Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, thrust upon him. Fantine dies and Jean Valjean begins the next chapter of his life as a father raising Cosette.

In the scope of things, Fantine is there to remind Jean Valjean of his duty to other human beings and as a way for him to selflessly end up raising a daughter by himself. I have seen Les Mis performed where Fantine’s death was the end of it and I didn’t think of her again, but Hathaway did something much more important–she made me care about Fantine. Hathaway took a very small chunk of the movie and made it the highlight. One of the most powerful moments of the movie was her singing “I dreamed a dream,” perhaps because it portrayed so well what the song is really about.


Many people sing this song every day for auditions, performances, or to show off their vocal talents in general. Generally when I’ve seen it done outside of the movie Les Miserables I have seen it done in an optimistic fashion. People smile at the end, and they make it seem like they’re about to be saved. When Hathaway sang it I realized what the song is really saying–what’s in the lyrics already, but was brought out by her voice and her acting.

“But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

So in other words, Fantine realizes that everything she hoped and dreamed for in her life never came true. She realizes that things really do suck too much to go on, and that even if she’s physically still alive, her dream and spirit have already died. Inspiring? I don’t think so.

lesmishathaway_620_112612This is a woman who has lost everything in her life and has no one else to turn to. She is at her end both mentally and physically and has fallen as far as she can go. That is the Fantine that Hathaway showed us, and that is why it was an award-worthy performance.

So where does this lead the story as a whole? Well, to be honest I was very disappointed when Fantine died in the movie, because it was never the same without her. The rest of the cast did a great job, but the usually inspiring group numbers lost some of their momentum because of the removed intermission and the poor filming choices. Also, the characters introduced for the second part of the show, namely Marius and Cosette, are never going to be as powerful as Fantine’s story because after watching Fantine’s tragic descent, it’s very hard to care about two rich kids who decide they’ve discovered love at first sight.

Hathaway absolutely owned Fantine’s story, and she was rewarded for it. Really, her short screen time owned the epic that is Les Mis, and that’s something to be truly proud of. To be entirely honest, I have never been overly fond of Les Mis, so it is truly impressive that Hathaway captured my interest so well. Congratulations to Anne Hathaway for making me care about a story within Les Mis that I had previously overlooked. I will never think so lightly of Fantine again.


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The Importance of Gender Portrayal, Part 2: Men


The picture above shows the typical Disney prince. He’s sure-footed, brave beyond reason, and ready to battle any obstacle or creature to save the one he loves. Cute story, right?

I am not here to mock or denounce the traditional knight fairy tale. This was not a Disney creation–it’s been a tale as old as time, and it probably always will be. Sure, there are female twists thrown in, and that’s great. I’d love to see more of them. But what’s really important to this post isn’t the actions the Disney prince actually does, it’s the characteristics he has that make him so “charming.”

Plenty of people complain about the weakness of Disney princesses, but what about the princes? Take some of the best known Disney princes of old:

Walt-Disney-Screencaps-Prince-Charming-cinderella-32064781-2560-1902 Beauty-and-the-Beast-beauty-and-the-beast-261362_1024_680

Take a good long look at these two princes, and then tell me one simple piece of information: What are their names? Do you honestly believe that Cinderella married someone named Prince Charming, and if so, does he actually have a first name, or is that not important as long as we know he’s a prince? Meanwhile, we assume Beast was not an eleven year old kid named “Prince Beast,” but what was his name? Well, for those curious, in the script his name was Adam, but as it was never mentioned in the movie, and Belle apparently never asked, all we know is that she’s going to keep calling this debonair chap “Beast” for quite some time.

Which brings me to my point: In most of the Disney princess films, the prince is there as a plot device. He has no name, little personality, but a shiny title to enjoy. So while the women are not a very flattering view, what does it say about the men?

Many of the princes suffer from extreme stubbornness and foolishness as well. Take Prince Charming from Cinderella and Eric from the Little Mermaid. Both have met their loves once briefly, both will not settle until one particular thing they remember (shoe size/voice) is satisfied. Whatever girl in the world that shows up with these things will be the one they marry. Sure, they try to fix these flaws in later movies, but I’m focusing on the tried and true classic “firsts,” and in those, the men are not known for their cunning.

But then take the Princes of New. I introduce, Prince Naveen–the first prince to have a name, personality, and distinct character transformation.


He is also the first, I would argue, that was specifically modeled as a positive influence for boys, much like Tiana was modeled to be a positive influence for girls.

(Beast arguably also had all of this but the name, but seeing as it gets into the debatable holding-a-girl-hostage-to-make-her-fall-in-love-with-you-and-break-a-spell-thing it gets a lot harder to defend him as a strong male role model. Yes, he was a much stronger Disney prince than the rest, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him ready for children to take after him. Kidnap is NEVER the answer, kids.)

Anyway, back to Naveen. Naveen begins the movie as a flirt and a chronically lazy, spoiled prince. The amazing thing is that he isn’t insufferable with these traits and he’s not oblivious–he fully recognizes that he’s these things, and he thrives in being them. It’s not until he meets Tiana that he realizes that while having fun is good, resisting all forms of responsibility isn’t winning him favors with anyone. From there he decides to buckle down and really comes into his own. He does all he can to help Tiana and he shows a new respect for both her and Charlotte throughout the rest of the film. It’s also interesting to note here that Naveen does not save Tiana. Arguably, Tiana (with the help of Ray, and Louis) saves him. Even so, he is no less masculine, no less of a “prince charming,” and yet shows some remarkable character.

Then there’s the newest prince, Flynn Ryder, aka, Eugene Fitzherbert.


Flynn is the newest Disney Prince, and to be entirely honest, if I was to pick a fictional character I’m most in love with, it’s probably him. Flynn uses the thief who marries a princess stoyline (Aladdin, anyone?), but entirely makes it his own. He’s not a “street rat” dreaming of a home, he’s having a ton of fun just doing what he wants where he wants. Much like Naveen, Flynn has a lot of character development. He’s forced to look at what his priorities are, why they are like that, and what he’s willing to do for the things he wants most. Rapunzel may have her whole mess of problems going on in the movie, but Flynn is every much as big of a character as she is. That’s partially why the movie is called “Tangled” rather than “Rapunzel.” Disney was trying not-so-subtly to have their princess movies appeal to boys as well as girls.

Did it work? Maybe, but when you come down to it, it’s still a Disney princess film, so the boys willing to watch it will watch, and the others will complain as they secretly watch anyway. One great thing about this movie is that it CAN appeal to boys as well as girls, though, because the male protagonist isn’t some lifeless, too-perfect-for-reality guy. He’s an exceptionally funny guy who makes mistakes, but ultimately is a good person and a good role model.

eugene deathFlynn Stabbed

In case hte pictures haven’t given it away, the end is another place Disney showed its growth in gender portrayal. The end of Tangled makes me cry (and VERY few things make me cry) because it’s just so touching! Flynn gets stabbed, and Rapunzel is willing to suffer the rest of her life to save him. That’s true love right there, but it doesn’t stop there, because that wouldn’t be a happy ending. Instead, Flynn turns around and saves Rapunzel by cutting her hair, thereby killing Mother Gothel. Okay, so we’re one-for-one, but then since it’s Disney, and there’s got to be a happy ending, Rapunzel’s magical tears save Flynn.

So where does that leave us on gender portrayal? I’d say tied, which is what makes this ending so perfect. Rapunzel essentially gives up her freedom, Flynn gives up his life–both to save the other. In the end, they also save each other, so everyone’s a winner. What’s great about this is that Flynn can be “Prince Charming” and rush in to save the day, but Rapunzel is just as willing to save him. It’s a partnership, a true love where it goes both ways. And that’s what makes this ending special, because they save each other.

Ultimately, Disney does not make their movies to provide good role models for children, they make them to make money. But what’s wonderful about Disney is that in order for them to be successful, certain things are expected of them now. They are expected to have a happy ending, they’re expected to have a love story, and in today’s society, they’re expected to have both women AND men who can think for and defend themselves. Whether Disney wanted it or not, they have become a platform for millions of children to learn what it means to love, to fight, and to believe. Their stories touch millions of lives.

I grew up watching the Disney princess movies of old, and I like to think I came out as a strong, independent young woman. Just imagine what will happen if Disney continued their trend and the Disney princess movies featured nothing but strong men and women. Imagine a world run by the new Disney generation.

I don’t know about you, but I like the image.


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The Importance of Gender Portrayal, Part 1: Women


I have a confession. I do now, and have always wanted, to be a Disney Princess. The thing is, I didn’t want this highly coveted role for the reason most girls my age did. I had no interest in being swept off my feet or rescued by some faceless prince charming. I didn’t need the castle, or the dresses (although wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a reason to wear a dress like that just once?), or anything that went with it. I didn’t want their lives, I wanted to grow up and become them.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw the flaws in this plan. The Disney Princesses provide plenty of negative images for little girls watching their movies, but they also act as some pretty phenomenal role models. For instance, take my favorite princess, Belle.


Belle has it all. She’s smart, beautiful, and stands up for herself. She doesn’t put up with crap that men from her village throw at her, and she doesn’t let the gossip of other girls get to her. She watches out for her family and friends, and when it comes down to it, she’s a loving person who will give anyone a chance to change.

Yes, there are bad things about the story too, like the implication of abusive relationships, but this post isn’t about the subliminal messages Disney may or may not pass on with their plots. This is about the characters themselves, and specifically, how gender is portrayed in Disney.

What’s really interesting about Belle is that her entire fairy tale is about inner and outer beauty. Yes, it features a main character who just happens to be the most beautiful girl in town and also has a name that means, not-so-coincidentally, beauty. But that’s not what makes her an engaging protagonist. It’s her inner beauty that we care about, and it’s that which takes Belle to a positive portrayal of the female gender.

Looking at other Disney princesses the portrayal is not always so favorable. Ariel, for instance, is adventurous and inquisitive, but is also rash and stubborn. She is perhaps one of the most human Disney princesses simply because of her flaws, and yet the particular flaws she has makes her come off as rather childish. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that she then makes a deal to leave her home and family forever, all for a guy she saved once that never even spoke to her. Not the best role model, is it?

Next take Jasmine. She grew up in the castle, she knew nothing but castle life, and when push came to shove she was a pretty kick ass princess. That is, she was until it came to the end of the story, where she suddenly was made useless so that Aladdin could save the day. I mean sure, she did help. She kissed Jafar to keep him from seeing and killing Aladdin, but that alone says something about the way she is portrayed. Aladdin saves the day by fighting and eventually outsmarting Jafar, Jasmine saves the day by snogging him.


This was the Disney of old. The characters that I grew up loving, and yet in the back of my head, always had a word of warning. Their songs were magical, and many times they had some excellent, strong traits to aspire to. But when it came down to it, the portrayal of women was not an especially positive one in the Disney-verse.

None of this should be a surprise–feminists have been getting on Disney about these problems for years. What I’d like to touch on here is the notion of Disney’s newest movies where they seem to have tried to rectify this ongoing problem. I could easily talk about The Princess and the Frog (I tricked you by putting that picture there… I’m not really going to talk about it) or Tangled, but I am going to focus on those in Part 2 of this post, which will focus on the men of Disney films. Instead I’d like to focus on Disney’s newest princess:


Sure, Merida never broke into song and dance as most of the Disney princesses did, but she is without a doubt part of the Disney Princess canon, and therefore an essential part to this post.

I have heard many grumble that Disney was trying a little too hard to fix their portrayal of women when they made Brave. It was clearly, critics said, a ploy to show that they could have a strong female main character.

To be entirely honest, that’s probably true. Nonetheless, Brave provides a new look at the Disney princess. Suddenly it is Merida, not her father or her love interest, who is the brave one of the film. Although one of the central conflicts of the film is an arranged marriage, the real story lies in the relationship between Merida and her family, especially her mother. It takes two strong-willed women and pits them against each other in a charming, and very realistic fashion. This is not a Disney-fied woman, these are two very real characters who could very well exist in real life.

What I especially loved about Brave was that it wasn’t about one of them learning a lesson and being wrong, it was about them growing together to understand one another. What I loved even more was that at the end of the movie the happy ending did NOT INVOLVE A MARRIAGE. It defied all Disney sanctioned “happily ever after”s and simply ended with a non-romantic relationship as the one that was resolved. Because the simple fact of the matter is that Merida did not need to get married to be happy, and she did not need to get married to bring peace between the different clans. She needed to accept her role as a peace-maker, and to listen to her mother’s experience and guidance, but this did not involve a one-time marriage contract. Instead it involved learning how her mother could stop a mass of brawling men simply by walking in the room. Seeing Merida master that skill, and seeing her later fight for her family (because who can forget this scene?)


was simply priceless. I love Brave, and I love Merida, because even though I’m a college student now, when I saw this movie I was ten years old again, and Merida was my hero.

I hope that Disney continues to make movies with strong female protagonists. More than that, I hope that Disney realizes that the reason fans love Merida is not just because of her impressive fighting skills. In the movie Brave Merida’s course methods were in sharp contrast to her mother’s excellent diplomatic negotiations, and by the end, the two have grown to appreciate both as equally important. What I sincerely hope is that Disney picks up on the message of their own movie.

A female protagonist, or more specifically, a Disney princess, does not need to save the day every time. She can get married at the end. She can be a “traditional” woman. What’s important is that these things don’t define her. She shouldn’t have to get married for it to be a happy ending, and she shouldn’t have to be saved. She should be strong, indpenedent, and distinctly herself even in the face of adversity. That’s what we want our kids to remember, and that’s what we want them to aspire to. When I someday have a kid, I hope to show them new Disney movies that show just how wonderful they can be as a person, not as a damsel in distress.

Follow the blog for updates every Tuesday and Thursday. Part 2, which will look into the portrayal of Disney Princes, will be out Thursday. Thanks for reading!


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Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

In spirit of the holiday, I decided a romantic picture was in order. This is one of the most memorable kisses in America!
Remember, a photograph is a one-shot story!

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February 14, 2013 · 5:15 pm

“Everything’s Been Done”

People constantly tell me that “everything has been done” and that “there will be nothing new” when it comes to storytelling. Sure, some people are convinced that 3D movies will someday be cool enough to be the “new” popular medium, but in my opinion 3D is more spectacle than story. There are very few elements to story telling that are enhanced by cheap tricks of things “jumping out” of the screen.

However, this does not mean that it’s all be done. The internet is huge, fast-changing, and free to anyone who has a way to access it. With this relatively recent innovation comes entirely new ways of storytelling. One such way is the vlog.

Ture, vlogs sometimes get the unfortunate reputation of being for a teenage girl whose diary is online for everyone to see, and in this way, I feel like the vlog has been relatively under represented in true storytelling. That was, I thought it was under used until I found this gem of a website courtesy of a good friend of mine:

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries!


This cleverly created web series is one of the best adaptions of Jane Austen’s book “Pride and Prejudice” that I have ever seen. It is a modern twist on the classic story, taking each of the characters and situations and putting them in a more relatable, current light so that the story becomes more acceptable to a wider variety of people. The story is told entirely through a series of Youtube videos, with other forms of social media such as Twitter and Tumblr used to enhance the story. The fans range from the Austen obsessed to those who’ve never considered reading the book, and it helps bring people together over a book thats themes really are universal.


The main character, Lizzie Bennet, is a sarcastic college graduate student who, like Elizabeth Bennet from the books, is often quick to judge and slow to change her perceptions. She could easily be any of us, and the dilemmas she faces throughout the blog are relatable and interesting to a modern audience.

The show is set up as a video diary for Lizzie, who is using the vlogs as her thesis project. Much like Pride and Prejudice, the early sections of the blog focus heavily on her sister, Jane’s, love life with the new neighbor. Unlike the book, there is extra attention and time spent with each of the relationships, especially with the Bennet sisters and that of Lizzie and her best friend, Charlotte.


In the books I’ll admit, Charlotte was never really my favorite. I got her purpose in the story, but I never really thought much of her as a person. This vlog series has changed my perception of her tremendously, and I am eager to go back and reread the book once the show has finished to see if I like Austen’s Charlotte any better because of it. Changing views of characters is a common theme to fans of this webseries because while the characters are for the most part faithful to the originals, by getting a closer look at each of them through the three-to-eight minute videos we get a view into a few moments of their lives.

Which reminds me… While most of the characters are seen on the vlogs at some point, many times Lizzie uses costume theater to impersonate them. Usually this is done in a mocking way, particularly when she pretends to be her mother, who she complains is always trying to set her daughters up for marriage (much like the book). The costume theater is an extraordinarily amusing addition to the series, and really helps to further Lizzie’s prejudice against the other characters, turning her opinion somewhat into ours until we can see the situations for ourselves.

Are you ready to start watching yet?


Okay, okay. So what’s the point of this post besides ranting about one of my newest obsessions? It’s to point out that it HASN’T all been done. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries provide a fresh look at an old story, and they do so with a relatively underused medium. The videos are short, addicting to watch, and tend to have just the right mixture of serious and funny to make a truly enjoyable show.

It’s also a refreshing look at the beauty of exploring your options. I love books, and I love movies, but there’s something about an entirely free, expertly made story that really makes my heart happy. I would love to see this done more often on such a professional scale, and perhaps in the near future it will be the “next big thing.” But you know what? Even if it is the “next” thing, it won’t be the last, because as innately curious and adventurous human beings, we will always be looking for a new way to tell a story.

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The Catch of Being a Companion


Today I’d like to spend a few moments on one of my favorite television shows–Doctor Who. This is one of those shows that has everything a really good story should. The characters are strong and rarely stereotypical, the dialogue is snappy, and the images and messages are important. While all of this is important, what ultimately drives the show is the plot.

It could be argued that because the entire show centers around The Doctor, the character is most important, but in the case of this show, I think The Doctor acts more as a plot element than as a character in what makes the story good and what makes the show popular. After all, the show is brief looks into a very long life of one extraordinary person. We laugh, we cry, we love him with all our hearts, but in the end, the personality of The Doctor changes often, almost as if he is another person (which, technically, he is to a certain extent when he regenerates). Additionally, the entire plot rests on him and drives every episode– “Will The Doctor save the day?”

An astonishing number of episodes later, and we’re still asking ourselves that. By this time in the show’s run all fans, new and old, know The Doctor does save the day. In fact, he does so every time. It’s like watching a Disney movie in the sense that whatever happens, when the day is over and done with, the world will be saved.

The biggest way Doctor Who differs from this disney-esque storyline is that unlike most children’s stories, any character is expendable. If The Doctor has a companion, there is a fairly good chance they will at some point die, lose their memories, be sent to an alternate dimension, or otherwise be semi-permanently separated from The Doctor. As heartbreaking as this is, the reason it happens is simple–to allow for a new companion.

And as sad as it can be, it really is necessary. Having a character be the driving force of a show is dangerous because it means that unless you want to end the show, that character is NEVER expendable. Harry couldn’t die in Harry Potter until the 7th book or there would be no book. We’d all be sitting around depressed because evil triumphed. Similarly, The Doctor cannot die in Doctor Who because there would be no show. Sure, he can have close calls, and he does, and they can tease us like they did recently with the notion that they could kill him if they wanted to, but it’s just not the same. There’s only so much suspense to be captured if the stakes can’t be high.

This is the role of the companions. They are disposable characters that are around just long enough for you to really identify with them–because you do, of course you do. They are, after all, the humans of the show. They are the ones you could dream of being. No matter how much you dream, you will never be a time lord–but then the characters disappear in awful ways. You know that at any moment during any season, the companion could die (although this predictably seems to happen at the end or mid-point of a season, but that’s television for you). This element of the plot raises the stakes. It invests you in the story. It’s no longer a story about a man who will never die–it’s a story about the man who continues living and tries to stop his friends’ inevitable endings.

That’s what this show is really about. It’s not really about “Will the Doctor save the day?” because we know that he will. The question really isn’t about The Doctor saving everyone, it’s about the characters we really know and love. It’s a question of whether he will save them. And what really keeps us on the edge of our seat is that sometimes the sad truth is that he won’t. Just like real life, things happen, and even if he saves the whole universe, losing his friends will never get easier. It will never be easier for him, or for us.


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The Perfect Ending



Recently one of my friends introduced me to the wonderfully refreshing Bartimaeus Trilogy. Now many of you probably read these books when you were a kid (that is technically when they’re meant to be read…) but somehow this series never crossed my path until now. Because of this, I’ve had an interesting opportunity to look at a series meant for children and to analyze what exactly makes it such a good story for such a variety of ages. 

First, the characters. Now my friend and I never really agree in regards to the main protagonist, Nathaniel. She thinks he’s an inspiring person who makes a huge effort to change considering how he was raised, I think he’s a twit who needs to develop a LOT more before I’ll be satisfied. Even while I have fun arguing about it, I realized the other day that this is exactly what makes these books so great. The characters aren’t purely good or evil, they aren’t perfectly “fixed” at the end, but they all have development. The other main protagonist Bartimaus is a quick-witted, smart-alek djini who I positively adore. In many ways he’s unlikeable, considering he spends the entire series mocking essentially every other character as much as possible. But even so, you can’t help but root for him. He’s just that funny. 

Next, the medium: I’m sure everyone has their own opinions on the best part of the trilogy, but for me what really turned it from a “cute” book to a work of brilliant story telling was the way it was written. It utilizes a variety of perspectives going from third person when following most of the characters to first person while following Bartimaeus. This is also key because when Bartimaeus is narrating the story he uses footnotes to an amusing, highly effective method. Many important word-building details reside in the footnotes, but they’re never preachy or boring. Instead, they’re usually full of bragging, snide comments, and quips. Similarly, the dialogue in all three books is excellent and natural, particularly in conversations between Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, whom always tend to bounce off each other like a tennis match. 

Lastly, the ending: Now if you haven’t read the last book and intend to, you should stop reading RIGHT NOW because you really have got to read this ending for yourself. For a children’s/young adult book it’s surprisingly sad. So those non-Bartimaeus fans reading this know what I mean, here’s a quick summary. At the end Nathaniel, the main protagonist, finishes his transformation from a cold, distant, almost cruel magician back into the caring boy he began as just as the book is dwindling to a few pages. Although he never admits he’s friends with Bartimaeus, the reader definitely knows that he has finally recognized the friendship. In the last bit of the book Nathaniel is the only one who can save the day and knows he will die in the process. To make a bad situation the best he can he sends his friend/girlfriend Kitty out of harms way, making an empty promise to follow her. He then has the option to keep Bartimeaus with him as he dies, killing the djinni too, or to release him. Obviously, Nathaniel releases Bartimeaus. That’s not the sob worthy part. If he didn’t do that, you pretty much would HAVE to hate him for killing someone unnecessarily. It’s the dialogue that he uses right at the end that really seals the deal: 

Nat: You’ve been a good servant. 

Bart: (with comments of general outrage in response to this less than satisfactory last goodbye) Well, um, you’ve been just dandy too.

Nat: I didn’t say you were perfect.

Bart: What?

Nat: Far from it. Let’s face it, you’ve managed to cock things up.

Bart: WHAT? Well, since we’re doing some straight talking, let me tell you, buddy–

Nat: Which is why I’m dismissing you right now.

Bart: Eh?

Nat: Don’t take it the wrong way… It’s just that… We’ve got to break the staff at the right moment here. You’re holding it in check. But I can’t rely on you for something as important as this. You’re bound to mess it up somehow. Best thing is… best thing is to dismiss you. That’ll trigger the staff automatically. Then I know it’ll be done properly. 

Bart: Nathaniel–

Nat: Say hello to Kitty for me. 

[Dismissal and death insues]

Now what’s truly beautiful about this ending is the fact that it could have ended with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus realizing they have become friends and giving tear-filled goodbyes. It could have ended with Nathaniel giving a long speech about how wrong he was, about how much he didn’t appreciate Bartimaeus and Kitty. It could have ended with them both teary-eyed and mumbling apologies. Instead, it ends the way it starts. They are friends, and they know it without saying. In the last moment when Nathaniel really needs to change and return to the good person he used to be, he does. He redeems himself when it counts. 

This ending stuck in my mind since I read it, word for word circulating in my head. Simply because it was tragic, and to a certain extent, fairly original. Mostly, however, because of the last few lines of the book:

“A typical master. Right to the end, he didn’t give me a chance to get a word in edgeways. Which is a pity, because at that last moment I’d have liked to tell him what I thought of him. Mind you, since in that split second we were, to all intents and purposes, one and the same, I rather think he knew anyway.” 

Endings to a book are possibly the most important element. If an ending leaves a lasting impression with the reader, it’s successful. I’d say that this is one of the most successful endings I’ve ever read. 

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