Wonder Woman (2017)

[spoiler warning]

I have always been a big fan of strong female characters, in both books and film. And I have to say that Wonder Woman completely met my demands for a movie that depicted a powerful female lead, as well as a powerful female cast. Here, the knight is a woman, sending a message to the world: that we can be heroes just as well as men can be.

In the present day, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) receives an email from fellow secret hero Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) that contains an image of her in her Wonder Woman garb, standing among friends.

Born of clay, young Diana spent her days with her fellow Amazonians, women warriors created by Zeus to protect the world from Ares. Here we can already see the movie’s casting of female heroes, while the main villain is a man. Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) believes that Ares will not return (after his first defeat by Zeus a long time ago) and does not allow Diana to be trained. However, Diana, stubborn from even a young age, learns in secret from Hippolyta’s sister General Antiope (Robin Wright).

Soon Diana grows to become a young adult and has properly mastered the fighting skills of the Amazons. One day, a man washes up on shore, swimming from a crash landing. He reveals himself to be Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), but before they can know each other well Germans come onto the island as well, in pursuit of Steve, who is actually a World War I spy for the British.

A fight ensues between the Amazonians and the Germans, in which Antiope is killed. Steve is taken by the women and is interrogated, forced to spit out the truth when bound by the Lasso of Hestia. He details the ongoings of World War I in the world, and how he stole a valuable notebook from the brilliant German scientist Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya), also known as Doctor Poison, who was attempting to engineer a deadly mustard gas. Diana believes that Ares is responsible for the war and arms herself, preparing to venture into the world with Steve to stop him.

The duo arrive in London, and Diana has trouble fitting in, with her outrageous costume and ridiculous weapons. They successfully deliver the notebook to Steve’s superiors. Among them is Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), who is currently trying to negotiate diplomatically with Germany. Upon delivery, the Allies discover that the Germans, lead by the evil General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), are preparing to release the gas at the warfront. Supported by Sir Patrick, Steve and Diana, along with a couple of friends, head to the front, in Belgium, to stop the Germans.

Naive and ignorant about the true darkness of warfare, Diana is shocked to see the poverty and the hurt the people are suffering from as a result of the fighting. She is outraged, as one should be, and demands to go into battle without a plan. Steve tries to hold her back, but Diana charges out and pushes along the German lines, inspiring the Allied soldiers to move out from the trench and fight behind her. They end up saving the village and celebrate.

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A photo taken during the celebration, which was later resent to Diana by Bruce Wayne.

The group learns about a gala that is taking place in the German High Command. Steve infiltrates it, aiming to find and destroy the gas, while the rest of the group wait in the woods. Fed up with having to stay without being able to help, Diana steals a woman’s dress and goes to the party herself. She attempts to follow Ludendorff and kill him, believing that he is Ares. Steve stops her, and the General manages to get away, ordering a release of mustard gas upon the village, killing all its inhabitants.

Furious at Steve, Diana leaves by herself to follow Ludendorff to a military base with all the gas. She manages to kill him, but strangely this does not stop the war. Confused, Diana feels defeated and does not leave with Steve to help with the rest of the war. However, Sir Patrick Morgan appears suddenly and reveals himself to be Ares, and tells her that although he whispered suggestions and inspirations within peoples’ ears, it was ultimately mankind that caused the fighting amongst themselves. He also reveals that Diana is the proclaimed Godkiller, as she is a deity herself (the youngest child of Zeus), and thus capable of slaughtering another god.

Meanwhile, Steve sacrifices himself by blowing up the plane containing the mustard gas while in the air. Enraged, Diana fights Ares. Ares tries to channel Diana’s anger by getting her to kill Dr. Maru, but Steve’s heroic act reminds Diana that humans still have goodness within them. She allows Dr. Maru to escape and manages to kill Ares, and the war stops.

Presently, Diana has taken residence amongst humankind and keeps a low profile. However, upon Bruce’s email, she decides to continue her duty as Wonder Woman, implying a future with the Justice League.

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Women can be warriors just as well as men.

Wonder Woman shows how women can be just as strong as men. They have the same capabilities to be heroic or evil, just like men; Wonder Woman a hero, while Dr. Maru is evil, and Steve is a hero, while General Ludendorff is evil. It does not serve to show the superiority of a gender, but instead advocates for equality between both. For anyone looking for an inspirational, powerful film, Wonder Woman is a must-watch.

Macbeth: A Relatable Tragedy

Perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Macbeth tells the tragic tale of King Macbeth, who falls from his heroic status after hearing a prophecy about his golden future.

Macbeth, a noble general of Scotland, is visited by three meddling witches, who prophesize that he will become Thane of Cawdor, and then King of Scotland. Currently, he is the Thane of Glamis, but after winning a war King Duncan awards him the title of Thane of Cawdor, and the first part of the prophecy comes true. This leads to Macbeth and his wife believing that the second part, therefore, must be true as well. In an impulsive act, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (his wife) murder Duncan. After the king’s two sons flee in terror, Macbeth is crowned the new King of Scotland.

However, Macbeth is fearful of what he has done, and attempts to keep his status as king and prevent any possibilities of his own demise. Drowned in his own ambition, Macbeth’s morality begins to burn away as he commits crime after crime in an attempt to maintain his status as king and prevent anyone else from taking the throne. Eventually, his humanity and morality crumbles as he succumbs to his underlying guilt and burning ambition, and ultimately causes his own downfall.

In his play, Shakespeare warns us of the dangers of ambition, and how we must not submit to tantalizing offers and allow them to destroy us. We must not abandon our principles and our morals just to pursue something– nothing in the world is worth throwing away our souls. Macbeth isn’t omnipotent– armed with the prophecy and foresight, he thinks he is, and therefore he tries to control his fate, control what will happen– and all that results in is chaos. In murdering Duncan, he has essentially committed suicide. Perhaps he acted too fast– as natural was his ascension to the position of Thane of Cawdor, he seized the crown by himself; he did not permit it to happen in due time, which, if it did, may have prevented all this mayhem. 

As Stephen Fry recently said, “the enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” We cannot believe that we know everything that’s going to happen, and hammer and twist the universe to fit our vision of the future. Shakespeare reminds us here that Macbeth, like the rest of us, is not God– and that we cannot try to control what we are not supposed to control.

 

 

Sanity in AHS: Asylum

As Ryan Murphy tweeted, sanity is a central theme in Season Two of American Horror Story. Like ‘Cuckoo’s NestAsylum explores the idea of insanity and sin, and who gets to define it.

Insanity, like “good” or “bad,” can be seen as a relative term. Whether or not someone is insane is up to the observer; someone who I deem is insane can be perfectly sane in the eyes of another. But who gets to decide?

Though there are many visibly “insane” patients in Briarcliff– those that have real mental or emotional problems that need to be dealt with medically– there are others that are only there because they are outcasts of society, and are thus considered insane when they really are perfectly straight in the head.

Lana Winters, for example, has been committed for her homosexuality, which was viewed as a treatable sin back in the 1960’s. At the asylum, she is forced to go through “conversion therapy” to try to change her into a straight woman. But like Lana herself says, there is no way to fix the “problem”– she was always born that way, and society just can’t seem to accept that.

Insanity, and the condemnation of it, also prompts conformity. No one wants to be seen as insane; otherwise, you’d get thrown into a filthy mental institution. People hide themselves in an attempt to belong. Lana and her girlfriend, along with their lesbian friends Lois and Barbara, are forced to keep their relationships secret. After her release, Lana reveals her sexuality, and becomes the “sapphic writer”– but Lois and Barbara, caring and kind as they are, are hesitant to be seen in public together with Lana, fearing that people will quickly assume them to be homosexuals as well (which they are). Briarcliff, as a microcosm, demonstrates this tyrannic, oppressive rule of society.

Digressing slightly from the idea of sanity, but along the lines of conformity, we come to Sister Mary Eunice. Mary Eunice, before her possession, spent her entire life being a people-pleaser. As she herself comments, “All I wanted was for people to like me.” And when she is horribly humiliated at a pool party, she joins the Church out of shame. She spends her time at Briarcliff trying to appease Sister Jude and taking care of the patients, happy to spend her time as a obedient staff member at the asylum. Nervous and skittish, we can’t help but feel sorry for her, as if she is a small child only yearning to be accepted– don’t we all have that wish? Many people at the ward come to like her, such as Sister Jude herself and Dr. Arden. However, when she is possessed by the Devil, her demeanor changes drastically, and this causes people to begin to shied away from her in disgust, while the human within the body cries for her fall.  Mary Eunice becomes a promiscuous, smoking, lipstick-wearing church-condemning character. She is no longer pure, no longer innocent, no longer the ideal image of a good girl.

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Evil as she is, the Devil tries to convince a young girl to stay strong, and to not listen to society’s expectations.

Though Mary Eunice’s new lifestyle as a more free person is depicted as the Devil’s work, it begs the question, is nonconformity truly a sin? Is it considered “insane” for a woman to have a strong spirit? (see my discussion on this theme here.)

To the society of the 1960’s, it looks like it is.

Although the view on women has changed considerably today, conformity is still very prevalent in our community. Though Asylum can be seen as a horror movie purely for fun and screams, it stands alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Orwell’s timeless novels The Great Gatsby and 1984, with a story and themes that very much apply to the present. Murphy reminds us that no one has a right to demand that others submit to anyone’s rules. It should not be considered insane if someone has aspirations and qualities besides those that are expected of them. No one should be committed into an asylum just because they are different. People should be free to be themselves, whatever they choose to be.

 

The Casual Vacancy: The Civil War of a Small Town

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After years of writing books for the Harry Potter universe, J.K. Rowling is back with a new, brilliantly-written, insanely moving novel, The Casual Vacancy, which tells the story of a small town constantly at war. Friendships hang on a thread, broken constantly by snips of gossip. There is a carefully drawn line between the rich and the poor, the two sides of Pagford so hostile towards each other it’s a wonder that they’re still a part of the same town. Family members fight amongst each other, close only by blood, and husbands and wives argue, grudgingly bound by the legal means of their marriage. Pagford is a town that does not rest.

The catalyst of the biggest fight of Pagford is the death of a council member Barry Fairbrother, a man who rose to prominence in the town by a rags-to-riches story. Serving as the bridge between the poor, drug-addled residents of the Fields and the wealthy, snobby citizens of the rest of the town, Pagford is torn apart as the rich, lead by First Citizen Howard Mollison, urge to redraw the town borders and have the Fields be a part of nearby Yarvil. Animosities spark in the council itself, as factions form within, one in favor of moving the Fields and another in favor of keeping it. Another consideration is the shutting down of the addiction clinic, Bellchapel, that helps the drug-users overcome their addictions.

If you love tragedy mixed with drama and comedy, I highly suggest reading The Casual Vacancy. However, Rowling leaves no stones unturned when it comes to addressing mature themes in her novel. The Casual Vacancy highlights how class can unfairly separate members of a community– for example, Krystal Weedon is a girl who lives in the Fields with a dirty, drug-addled prostitute of a mother and her baby brother, with simple dreams of growing up with her own family and a clean house. Due to her mother’s reputation, however, she is repeatedly looked down upon and this fuels her frustration and temper towards life.

Politics, and how poisonous it is, is also addressed in Rowling’s novel: slowly, Pagford tears itself to pieces, with family members going behind each others’ backs, friends betraying each other, and hostilities increasing amongst the council members themselves as everyone scrambles for the empty seat. It’s a madhouse in the small town that looks so peaceful on the outside.

Societal issues such as drug use, prostitution, and rape are present as well. The higher class citizens do nothing to help rid this issue within their town– in fact, they are advocating to shut down the addiction clinic and push the responsibilities of taking care of the Fields residents to another town. The citizens of Pagford, whether they are aware of it or not, are all interconnected, yet refuse to support each other. As we grow frustrated at this lack of empathy from the higher class, we must remember that this very problem is prevalent in our own communities. We must remember that the poorer, no matter how bad they might seem, are still human, and that they are a part of our communities as much as we are. We must remember not to judge them until we have heard their stories. Rowling’s brilliant quote in The Casual Vacancy sums up this message:

“You must accept the reality of other people. You think that reality is up for negotiation, that we think it’s whatever you say it is. You must accept that we are as real as you are; you must accept that you are not God.”

I myself thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, which speaks a lot to me with its myriad of societal issues. Towards the end, I did tear up– the ending, as the genre (tragicomedy) suggests, is, at most, bittersweet. As the war draws to a close, the members of the town are left to pick up the remnants of memories they have destroyed, and establish new ones.

If you happen to pick up The Casual Vacancy, I urge you to think of how the problems in Pagford may apply to your own community. Like the citizens of Pagford, we are all connected, and we must learn to help each other. Rowling urges us to appreciate the uniqueness of every human being, rich or poor, intelligent or doltish, man or woman, white or other– and together, we can work as a group to create a harmonious and peaceful society. Nobody is perfect– we are not God– but together, we can be.

Oppression of Women in AHS: Asylum

Another theme of ASYLUM.

America in the 1960’s was a time of exploring new ideas– however, old ones still prevailed in society, and women found it hard to attain the same independence and respect as men. All of the strong-spirited women characters in Asylum, which takes place during the 60’s, have been victims of society.

Lana Winters’s (Sarah Paulson) main enemy throughout the season is society itself. Poor Lana, with a dynamic personality and ambitious goals, is unfairly committed to Briarcliff for her homosexuality (Sister Jude blackmailed her girlfriend into committing Lana), after attempting to infiltrate it to get a story on the notorious serial killer Bloody Face, who is known for murdering and skinning women. She is the very definition of a woman whom society fears: strong, spunky, and lesbian. At Briarcliff, the nuns attempt to force her to submit to their rules, but nevertheless Lana keeps fighting until the very end, eventually bringing down the asylum with its harsh, barbaric practices. As a patient, she is forced to go through “conversion therapy” with Dr. Thredson, in an attempt to alter her sexuality– homosexuality was largely frowned upon in the 60’s and as viewed as an illness and a borne sin.

Later on, Lana is brutally betrayed by Dr. Thredson, whom she initially believed to be her ally. After getting her out of Briarcliff the first time, Thredson reveals himself to be Bloody Face, and claimed to only be at the asylum to try and frame Kit Walker for the crime, as well as help Lana “convert.” He traps Lana inside his home, telling her about his murder stories, and how his goal is to find the perfect woman to be his mother, to replace the one he never had. Thredson exclaims that Lana is “The One,” and attempts to shape her into his ideal mother, thus reflecting the view society has on women: that they are only there to take care of the house and kids, and are heterosexual and stupidly loyal, and do only what men tell them. When Lana refuses Thredson, he humiliates her, and then rapes her in anger.

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“I don’t think Lana ever gave up. Ever. She still hasn’t, even in the finale… I think I really learned things from Lana. She’ll be in my heart forever. I never really cried at the end of a job from knowing how much I was going to miss the character I was playing. It was like she died. That was it. It’s over.” | Sarah Paulson

We get a bittersweet ending for Lana. After Supreme Mother Claudia releases her from Briarcliff, she goes on to expose Thredson and, eventually, the asylum, bringing a closure to her fight for independence. Lana meets Thredson in his apartment after she goes to the police, and shoots him before he is arrested, finally killing the man who had tortured her so much. She refuses to have anything to do with Thredson, abandoning her child that he fathered, and going on to live her dream: to be a well-respected writer and reporter, with nothing holding her back. Throughout her life, Lana has been a nonconformist, and is one of the strongest characters on the show. I applaud her for her victory over the status quo.

Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) is the stern, no-nonsense head nun of Briarcliff, and can be initially seen as the Asylum counterpart of Nurse Ratched from ‘Cuckoo’s Nest, with a similar condescending and patronizing personality, hardened from her repression of her own sexual freedom. However, despite her strong ruling of the ward, her position is constantly challenged by the men of the staff, and she even unconsciously follows Monsignor Howard around whenever he is present. This is mainly due to the fact that, for all her attempts to cover her persona with a habit, she still has sexual fantasies about him, a sign of the humanity and spirit beneath. She even has a hidden set of red lingerie in a drawer, a symbol of her suppressing herself.

Jude became a nun because of a hit-and-run accident that leaves her ashamed of herself; before she joined the Church, she was a night club singer who smoke, drank, and was a free soul like Lana. Her life begins to spiral downward after her fiance leaves her due to her inability to have a child (she contracted syphilis from him, yet he still blames her)– we can see how the men in her life have already contributed to the pain in her life. As she later says to Shacahath, “all I ever wanted was my own family.” Society, dominated by men, has denied her this dream.

We are inclined to hate her, along with Lana, at first, due to the fact that they are often rude and aggressive towards others. As Jude’s life crumbles, however, we can see that this stems from the frustration they feel from being oppressed by society. Though becoming a nun is perhaps better than the old wild lifestyle she led before, she is unhappy and miserable from the sexual freedom she had to renounce. Throughout the season, she suffers multiple flashbacks that leave her traumatized and guilty. As powerful head nun of Briarcliff, she is holding onto the last bit of her dignity and pride, and we can no longer blame her for trying to be tough, with the circumstances she’s been placed in. Like Lana, she is just another woman bullied by society.

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While she outwardly loathes Lana for her spunky spirit, she was once just as strong, and, towards the end, respects Lana for her ability to keep fighting. Secretly, she also admires Sister Mary Eunice, much like Dr. Arden does, for her purity and innocence– two things stripped early from Jude– and hates Shelley, the nymphomaniac who may remind Jude of her own shameful history (pointed out by Poetry Pundit).

As a patient, Jude (now Judy Martin) is just as rebellious as Lana in the beginning, determined to fight against the Devil and its new tyrannic authority over Briarcliff. Consequently, she is given a max dose of electroshock therapy, which leaves her disillusioned and disoriented, and is also thrown into a dirty, isolated cell when Lana (now a famous reporter) comes to visit the asylum, a move by the Monsignor to prevent Jude from spilling the horrible secrets of Briarcliff. He has also informed Lana that Jude hung herself and has died, presenting a legitimate death certificate, when, in reality, Jude’s name has been changed to Betty Drake. Jude rejects his offer to release her (something he suggests only after he has been promoted to Cardinal of New York, and is able to leave his responsibilities at Briarcliff), commenting:

“It’s an extraordinary thing, you know that? You throw me in the madhouse, you strip away everything I have, everything I know. You treat me like a rabid dog, like a mad woman… And you know what happened? I’m blessed with the gift of total clarity. I am more sane now as a madwoman than I ever was as the head of Briarcliff.”

Forced by the asylum (and possibly from her syphilis), however, Jude gradually starts to go insane. She then begins see a new committed woman physically resembling Shacahath (the Angel of Death) and, terribly frightened and intimidated of this strong patient, fights her, in an attempt to avoid death. It is later revealed that she was beating a harmless woman who was not at all the Shacahath, and it was all part of a elaborate hallucination she has been going through for two-and-a-half years.

Eventually, Kit, the moral compass of the show, the only man who does not try to see women as stupid, childbearing tools of society, rescues Jude, after she has been committed as a patient and stripped of her title from the Church. It is he who constantly visited Jude at the asylum and helped her through her insanity. It is only after she leaves both institutions that she finally finds happiness with Kit’s family (she has achieved her dream after all), and peacefully accepts Shacahath’s kiss of death in Kit’s house, away from the critical eyes of society. Though she can be seen at first as the main antagonist of the show, we eventually come to see her as just another victim of the true enemy: society.

We can see a demonization of females after Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) becomes possessed. As a human, she is innocent and pure, and only wants people to like her. She becomes a nun after being hazed at a pool party. Many people, like Dr. Arden and Sister Jude, find her chastity precious. However, after the Devil gets a hold of her, Mary Eunice’s purity begins to burn away. She shows up at Sister Jude’s office one day wearing lipstick, and Jude (still a nun) is disgusted. She then begins to slowly overtake Jude in authority, eventually becoming head of Briarcliff, and takes up drinking and smoking habits. She tries to seduce Arden (leading him to stop loving her, though he later becomes aware of her possession), and proceeds to rape the Monsignor, physically stripping her of her virtue. Here, Mary Eunice’s new sexual freedom and strong personality are portrayed as, quite literally, the work of the Devil.

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Shelley complains about how men can be promiscuous with impunity.

Perhaps a more obvious example is Shelley (Chloë Sevigny). The very reason she is committed to Briarcliff is because of her obsession with sex. She began touching herself at the age of five, and her parents forced her to wear mittens to bed to stop this habit. She expresses her anger at her husband, who cheats often but isn’t reprimanded and shamed of his sexual freedom like she is. Her husband admitted her to the asylum under the diagnosis that she was a nymphomaniac, and that she doesn’t obey his wishes for her to be an obedient, devoted wife. At Briarcliff, Shelley begins to wield her body as a weapon, giving sexual favors to the guards in order to get what she wants. Like all the other strong-spirited women of the show, however, she is punished; after laughing at Arden after he attempted to rape her, he amputated her legs and made her into a Rasper, turning her into a horrifying creature. We can see, again, that the female sexuality is paired with monstrosity. Shelley can be seen as a fallen hero; she sacrificed herself in order to allow Kit and Lana to escape, only to be mutilated by Arden and disposed of carelessly by Mary Eunice in the woods. Later, she is taken to a hospital after being discovered at a schoolyard, and the Monsignor visits. Disgusted by her form and unable to save her, he strangles her with his rosary, a symbol (and I admit that I may be guilty of imposing meaning upon a scene with no merit) of the Church and society smothering the female.

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Grace refuses to apologize for killing her molester of a father.

Lastly, we come to Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré), who was committed for her axe murder of her father. However, she is not at all insane, and only killed him after he had molested her for many years. She is then ordered to be sterilized– literally, purified of her feminism– after being caught with Kit in the bakery. Grace is first killed after she jumps in front of a bullet Frank shoots at Kit. When Shacahath kisses her, she exclaims, “I’m free.” (Later, she is captured by the aliens and is resurrected and re-impregnated by them.)

Asylum raises awareness about the way women were treated back in the 60’s. There were many campaigns to fight for women’s rights. Around the time Asylum took place, there were many feminist movements, largely inspired by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. However, isolated from the society that was changing (albeit slowly and grudgingly), Briarcliff could still forcefully oppress women and keep them imprisoned within its walls. We can see the dangerous tyrannic power of the asylum as it destroys woman after woman, from Sister Jude to Grace Bertrand. The only victorious one is Lana, who retains her strong spirit after she leaves, and bravely comes back ten years later and ultimately shuts it down with her exposé. Lana is an inspiration to us all, and reminds us that even through the hardest of times it’s important to remain strong and keep fighting. And, we should remember all the other female characters who were brave enough to stand against the status quo. Though Asylum is very much fiction, the sufferings of the what the women went through at Briarcliff represents the hardships of real women in history.

The Help: One Small Step for Woman, One Giant Leap for Society

A novel I read on the side. Made me tear up.

[spoiler warning]

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Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is a moving novel about small-town women in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, who band together to voice their opinions about the inequalities of blacks in southern society. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is a young white woman with aspirations to become a writer (just like our Lana Winters in AHS: Asylum!), but her mother scorns her dreams and instead wants to get her married. Aibileen Clark is a black maid who works for Skeeter’s friend Ms. Leefolt, and primarily cares for her daughter Mae Mobley (who frequently views Aibileen as her mother instead of Ms. Leefolt). The death of her 24-year-old son Treelore often weighs upon her. Minnie Jackson is Aibileen’s best friend and another black maid who works for Ms. Walters, the mother of the snobby and prim Hilly Holbrook, the ringleader of Skeeter’s group of rich girlfriends.

Skeeter, with distant, unanswered hopes of her own, sympathizes with Aibileen, Minnie, and the rest of the black maids’ situations after learning the truth about the disappearance of her own maid, Constantine, who had brought her up as a child, just as Aibileen currently does so with Mae Mobley. She realizes the unfair working conditions for African American employees, and convinces Aibileen and Minnie to team up with her and to embark a dangerous and ambitious project: to write a book about the suffering of black maids in Mississippi.

With her growing support towards racial equality, Skeeter begins to get ostracized by her friends, but continues to work on her interviews with Aibileen and Minnie nonetheless. They initially have trouble convincing other maids to contribute, but after witnessing Hilly’s maid Yule Male get arrested for stealing a ring to pay for her twin sons’ college tuitions, the maids agree to help with the book.

Eventually, the book gets published, albeit anonymously, and secrets of maids’ unfair treatments by their white employers are exposed. The book contains both positive and negative views of southern society, but becomes a huge hit. Many of the white women start to recognize themselves in the various stories. Hilly herself is furious after one embarrassing moment with Millie is exposed. The book, a national bestseller, gives a voice to the black maids of Jackson, and forces the community as a whole to reflect upon the inequality prevalent in their society.

The new book sparks changes within the three women as well. Empowered by it (titled The Help), Aibileen sets out to seek a new life after being fired by Ms. Leefolt, while Skeeter moves to New York City on a new job offer, and Minnie finally finds the courage to leave her abusive husband.

I often don’t cry when I read books, but The Help is one such novel that made me tear up towards the end. It is guaranteed to be a heartwarmer to anyone who reads it, and the three women’s boldness and strength is highly admirable. Unlike some books where the heroes of the plot have an unusual amount of audacity and wit, the characters of The Help are portrayed very realistically. For anyone looking for an inspirational novel to read while sick in bed, on the go, or purely for leisure, look no further than The Help. (It is also, perhaps, one of the few that also has a fantastic movie adaptation, with a wonderful, award-winning cast.)

Stockett reminds us that it doesn’t take much to create a change, and we don’t have to be anyone extraordinary to do it.While everyone have dreams, it takes true courage to pursue them– and that potential is within all of us.