Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top 5 Common Misconceptions

There are some things out there, some universally accepted things, that are just flat out wrong. And they baffle me. Here's a few:

1. Romeo and Juliet is a romance.

It's just... it's not! It's not! It's a tragedy! And yes, the fact that it's a tragedy does preclude it from being a romance. Here's why: a romance is defined by the fact that it has a "happily ever after", whereas a tragedy is defined by the fact that the flaws of its main characters bring about their eventual demise. The reason something is tragic is because a person brings an entirely avoidable situation upon themselves.

Plus, I really just fail to see anything romantic about Romeo and Juliet's relationship. It's a couple of tweenagers who get the hots for each other after meeting at a party. Did you find American Pie romantic? Well then.

2. Napoleon was super short.

I wish more people would use this Jean-Léon Gérôme painting
when they talked about Napoleon.
No, British people are just too lazy to convert into metric. At the time, French inches were longer than British inches. Napoleon was 5'2" in French inches, which made him 5'7" in British inches - not only was he not short, he was actually above average height for the time.

But he was all conquering everything, so the Brits needed something to make them feel better, I guess.

3. Pride and Prejudice is a romance.

Also not a romance! It's a social commentary that revolves around the social station of one family, and in particular the situation of Lizzie Bennett, who happens to draw the eye of Mr. Darcy. Their relationship goes from adversarial to a sort of friendship to romance, but the book isn't really about their romance; love is more like the deus ex machina that saves the reputation of the Bennett family at the end. Darcy and Lizzie spend maybe 30% of the novel together at best. And remember that famous line from the novel - "In vain I have struggled; it will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire you." I wonder how many people remember that Lizzie rejects Darcy after that speech?

It took me a long time to like Pride and Prejudice because I went into it expecting a romance. It's not. It's a brilliant social commentary, but when your heroine falls in love with the hero out of gratitude for saving the reputation of her little sister... not so much with the knee-buckling.

4. Anastasia and Thumbelina are Disney movies.

Nope, they're just blatant rip-offs! Back in the early 90s Disney was making bank off The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, so famous animator Don Bluth basically sold out and tried to copy Disney. It worked, too, sort of - Anastasia was Don Bluth's most successful movie, although it didn't stop Fox Animation from going under anyway.

5. Cleopatra was beautiful.

It's an unfortunate commentary on society's lens that it's assumed if a woman is powerful and attractive, she must be conventionally beautiful.

Plutarch: "For her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse with her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with the persuasiveness of her discourse and the character which was somehow diffused about her behaviour towards others, had something stimulating about it."

Translation: She had plain looks but a brilliant mind and a charming demeanor.


  1. Correct! Why is it that people want to place literary works into one of the commercial genres? Romeo and Juliet was definitely a tragedy. Two people hooking up does not constitute a romance. :)

    1. People seem to find the story romantic for some reason that I have yet to discover.

  2. I know right! Romeo & Juliet were two silly kids who tragically mis-communicated. There is nothing romantic about that. American Pie was so not romantic. I still haven't seen that entire movie. It's okay. Lol!

    I wonder where the height complex came from. I see a lot of guys under 5'10 with mild height complexes. I can understand if they're 5'3, but 5'7 or 8...*shrug*

    That first Mr. Darcy proprosal was hilarious! I love it so much. He insults her every which way imaginable. And her response was perfect. Love that book so much! ^_^ Jane Austen is brilliant.

    Ooh, I loved Anastasia. I knew that wasn't a Disney movie, but it was a while before I found out Thumbelina wasn't. I still remember those songs. I have both soundtracks, but I only own Anastasia. It sticks out like a rock in my Disney collection, but I don't know where else to put it. Lol!

    Aw, now that last one is disappointing. Lol! Still, if she was attractive and charming, I think that still makes her beautiful, with enough lovely Egyptian makeup anyway. Yes? ^_^

    1. Hell yeah, Cleopatra was awesome! That's the best part! She didn't need to be beautiful; she was too busy knowing like fifteen different languages and having all the most powerful men of her day chasing after her.

  3. These are great. Knew the ones about Napoleon and Cleopatra. Never thought about the movies. Another common historical misconception concerns Catherine the Great having sex with a horse. Just a nasty rumor circulated about her because she did indeed have a lusty appetite.
    (FYI, I clicked over here from the AW blog thread.)