6 Old Plot Points That Still Make My Blood Boil
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6 Old Plot Points That Still Make My Blood Boil

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | July 29, 2013 | Comments ()


“Little Women” — Laurie And Jo Don’t Get Married And Have A Million Babies?!?!? One of the greatest, sweetest, loveliest love stories of all time is between bookish Jo March and the shy boy next door, Laurie. But, ancient spoiler alert, Jo rejects Laurie (multiple times) and ends up with The Impossible To Like Because He’s Not Laurie Professor and Laurie ends up with Amy. AMY? WHO IS THE WORST. So you can keep your burned jellies and dead Beths, this is the true tragedy of “Little Women” for me. This story is 145 years old and I’m still irate about it.

“Bridge To Terabithia” — Was That Sh*t With Leslie Really Necessary? I mean it’s one thing for an adorable pet to kick the bucket, but what life lesson are we gleaning here? Don’t make friends? Stay sad and and lonely. Don’t, for the love of pete, indulge your imagination. Sure you could make the case that Katherine Paterson, in the last few chapters, writes something rather brilliant and touching on how to survive the loss of a loved one. But I, for one, was too busy bawling my tiny eyes out. So no. F*ck you for this one, Katherine. It still burns.

“Pride & Prejudice” — Lydia Gets Away With It?!?!?! Lydia Bennett, after just being generally the worst for 3/4 of the book runs off with her sister’s boyfriend and just generally causes a heap of trouble for everyone by continuing to be an idiot and the worst. And she gets away with it. He reluctantly puts a ring on it, they get set up financially and yeah, her marriage is going to be a nightmare, but if she’s half as oblivious as her mother she won’t really notice or care. Yeah the better sisters get the better ending (a love match AND Pemberly? OoooOOoo), but that fact that Lydia gets anything to lord over anyone is…repugnant.

“Tess of the d’Urbervilles” — Oh, Really, This Is How We Want To Treat A Rape Victim? You can argue the technicalities of this “rape,” if you want to be a super douchebag about it. I wouldn’t advise it. Suffice it to say that Tess is “taken of advantage of” and left pregnant and desititute. She pulls herself up by her bootstraps and finds a nice fellow and things might maybe turn around for her. But they don’t. Of course they don’t. And you could substitute a whole host of other “Fallen Women” from literature who get my sympathy (Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, fine Lydia Bennett I suppose), but none are quite so innocent in their fall as Tess. And Tess’s death is bad enough, but Angel’s judgment is that much worse.

“Romeo And Juliet” — What In The Sh*t Were The Grown-Ups Thinking? Yes, yes, it’s a beautiful story about the tragic machinations of fate and stupid, impulsive actions of teenagers. But what, what, what were the Nurse and the Friar doing? It’s one thing to enable the young lovers, it’s another to, oh I dunno, suggest a solution that hinges on poison. Idiots.

“Catcher In The Rye” — Why Does Holden Caulfield? That’s it. Just why, with this kid. Why?

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Liz

    A thousand times yes to Jo not marrying Laurie. I mean just what the actual hell. I always think "hmm, maybe I want to reread Little Women". It's been a while. Then I remember this and think "Mmm. Maybe not"

  • profession: none, or starlet

    You know which one still makes me really mad? The death of Lily Bart. And I mean mad at LILY. I'm always like, "Woman, if you can't bring yourself to make up with Bertha even to save your own life, then I don't know what to say to you. Just marry Rosedale, you shallow cow!"

  • anymore

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  • Nana


    "Terabitha": Katherine Paterson's daughter died, her mother than wrote the novel. That's why.

    "Pride and Prejudice": actually, in the novel it's pretty clear (as clear as Jane Austen would make it) that Lydia's husband turns out to be abusive.

  • Classic

    And cheats on her.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    I agree with you on most of these, but I found the book version of Little Women made sense of the Amy Laurie relationship. The movies, not so much, but in the book I get the sense that Amy and Laurie make much more sense. It is just that Amy was too young at the beginning and Jo has such an infectious personality. But Amy and Laurie make so much more sense in the long run. Unlike most couples at the end of books or movies, I actually think those two have a chance at happiness unlike, say, most every romcom match ever.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Because Pete Postlethwaite can give poison to whomever he damn well pleases. And we all know Shakespeare wrote that part specifically for Postlethwaite.

  • Untamed

    Holden Caulfield is supposed to be flawed and more than a bit annoying. It's OK to
    hate him. But I think if one can not see the transparent need in his
    painful angst then one seems to lack something or lived a golden existence. For a modern outlook of a
    Holden-like creature, watch Igby Goes Down. (Love that film.) As for many of the other examples, they illustrate another POV from another time. Irritating as hell to us. Like we will be to others in the future.

  • Untamed

    I can tell you've been holding all of that in for a while.

  • Az

    I first read Little Women when I was maybe 6-7 years old and am still not over the Laurie-Amy thing.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    i feel like the only person who doesn;t think romeo and juliet is the greatest love story ever told, star-crossed lovers and all that. it;s about a couple of eighth graders who meet, have sex once, get married, and then die. that;s not a love story, that;s a degrassi special. but i was also one of the few and far between who was glad rory didn;t end up with jess, so there you go (seriously, watch season 3 again, he treated her like sh!t the entire time they were dating. he turned it around in season 6, but how does that make how bad of a boyfriend he was okay?!)

  • fartygirl

    it sounds like all of these plots boil your blood because they are not hollywood cliches.

  • Raja

    I feel like I might be the only one who actually liked Catcher.

  • flickfan

    What, nobody wants to change the ending of "Casablanca"? ;>)

  • WarLord

    You're joking right?

    No. I watched it for the first time a couple years ago, and I think the ending was perfect; he loves the girl, but she needs better.

  • apsutter

    This just reminds how at the beginning of When Harry Met Sally how she completely sympathizes with her decision and that she doesn't want to stay in Casablanca in a bar. But then later on when she'd been burned by love she changes her tune and doesn't remember ever feeling that way.

  • annie

    I liked how they did the Lydia storyline in web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries a million times better than in the book. (And if you haven't seen it, do. Because awesome.)

  • JayDubbluu .

    And don't get me started on that idiot Ashley Wilkes. I hate him. He could have nipped that Scarlett thing in the bud, but he was too damn weak.

  • The Mama

    You're bringing me out of lurkdom to say "YES!!! A thousand times YES YES YES!" I haaaaaated Ashley. Hated him. Seriously. Both Scarlett and Melanie could have done a lot better than that simpering little fool.

  • JayDubbluu .

    What about that Bitch Scarlett O'Hara? Just watched GWTW again and damn if it didn't turn out the SAME. People, people, people ... just COMMUNICATE!!! It wouldn't take much - "please don't go", "I really do love you", etc. How HARD IS THAT???

  • apsutter

    There is no limit to my hatred of the whole miscommunication trope in literature, movies, television etc. It's lazy, overused, and terrible.

  • Sofia

    I've always loved Catcher in The Rye (it's a close second to Auster's Mr. Vertigo as my favorite coming of age novels). I understand why most people think Holden is whiny, because he certainly is in most parts of the book. If I read a book about myself when I was that age I'd probably hate it, too. Teenagers are annoying.

    I was 15 when I read Catcher In The Rye, and there was such a sense of relief in realizing that I wasn't weird or wrong for going through a crisis myself. It made me feel normal again and I've always been sort of grateful to the book for that.

  • E Robb

    This is quite... the... specific... collection.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    I could watch Christian Bale finger that book all day long.

  • The Replicant Brooke

    Fucking Lydia, seriously. I -haaaaate- her. Vapid little unappreciative twit.

  • misslucyjane

    When the Winona Ryder version of Little Women came out, a reviewer made the remark about Jo and Laurie that "chemistry was not always destiny." Since I'd read and loved Little Women at a very formative age, and had my moments of scowling at Professor Bhaer, that line put an interesting spin on it.

    I still scowl at Professor Bhaer sometimes, though. Even when he's Gabriel Byrne.

  • Yehudit Hannah Cohn

    Since Little Women is mainly autobiographical, the story is what it is, in the end. As for Tess, well, keep the story in its historical context. I mean, we wouldn't treat people as they are treated in, say, Uncle Tom's Cabin, but we understand the truths of the time in which it was written.

  • Maev

    There are no words for the hate that I hate when I hate Angel Clare, that complete, unrepentant motherfucking douchebag. You are not being a Christian hero when you make the ACTUAL RAPIST WHO STARTED ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE look like a good guy, you mincing, craven hypocrite. (I'm done now).

  • Gayle

    Not enough upvotes in the world for this comment. The seething rage that the mere mention of that hypocritical, bible humping, waste of organs causes in my mother and I is actually pretty funny to watch.
    Well, I think it must be, I don't know, I'm in the middle of a rage blackout.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I will not slut shame. I will not slut shame. I will not slut shame. I will not slut shame. I will not sl- LYDIA IS A SLATTERN!

  • Salieri2

    Was she untidy?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    one of my favorite facts that I came across doing research is that another name for dustbunnies is "slut-wool."

    I bet Lydia wouldn't do so a great job keeping her house tidy.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It's days later but I didn't want this to go unacknowledged. AWESOME!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Man, if I told you the show I was trying to write that involved such research...let's just say there's a reason it's not written yet. But maybe one day.

  • Siege


    Particularly to 'Little Women'. I LOVE the sequel, "Little Men" but I'd trade it immediately for Jo/Laurie.

  • Anna von Beav

    UGH, TESS.

    Edit: By which I mean, UGH, everyone else in that novel.

  • Kate at June

    suddenly filled with Amy Marsh rage

  • Mrs. Julien

    Try pinching it with a clothes peg.

  • AnnaKendrick'sLoveMuffin

    Being unfamiliar with the book, we went to Terabithia expecting Narnia type movie. Instead we got the story of two mentally ill children who don't get the help they need-even after one of the dies! It kind of messed up the rest of the day for us.

  • Michelle

    Hahaha, YES to the Little Women. I read the book and was pissed they weren't together, and THEN I saw the movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale and was even MORE upset about them not ending up together.

  • AudioSuede

    So, you're really frustrated by period pieces.

  • msjennijennjenn

    Ms. Alcott wrote the ending to Little Women that way as a protest to her publishers who insisted that Jo get married. She wanted to keep the character single and free spirited.
    Doesn't stop it from sucking though.

  • Linda Lupos

    The fans demanded it, too! And then were upset Jo married the Professor.
    19th century shipwars, I love it.

  • thewatcher

    How is that possible? She marries the Professor, and then wrote the boring Little Men.

  • msjennijennjenn

    The publishers and her fans wanted Jo to marry Laurie, Ms. Alcott wanted Jo to stay single to show a woman didn't have to get married and depend on a man.

    So, she created the Professor for Jo to marry and matched Laurie with Amy as her own personal "hee hee."

    American Masters did a fabulous documentary on Louisa May Alcott that talks about her reasons for ending Little Women they way she did. It's called " Louisa May Alcott the Woman behind Little Women"

  • thewatcher

    Might have to check out that Docu. thanks.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    so basically all the literatures that demonstrate how life is unfair and surprising?

  • Fireplace Girl

    Hah; I agree with pretty much every one of these. I am an AP English teacher, so I have to admit that my BRAIN gets the point of Jo/Professor, but my heart still wants Jo with Laurie. To the extent that, when I saw the movie pictured above (I was 19 at the time), I was actually *hoping* they would change the story from the book. Which usually makes me pretty angry.
    I do think, though, that without Leslie's death, "Bridge to Terabithia" would not be as hugely popular as it is--it may have just sunk into obscurity like so many other books.

  • emmalita

    I loved Bridge to Terabithia. One of my classmates died when I was in 3rd grade. The Principal read the book to us after we went as a class to the funeral.

  • PaddyDog

    This Joanna having a laugh right?

  • thewatcher

    I remember being 11 years old and being pissed as hell that laurie and jo didn't end up together. As good as the book is, it will never me on my "must" list because of it. I've watched all the film versions, and the casting of gabriel byrne should entice me, but it still leads to my initial reaction. HELL NO!

    On a side note, when I read Anne of Green Gables and she rejected Gilbert at first...I thought "oh God, here we go again." At least Montgomery knew how to end the book correctly.

  • Anne At Large

    I remember being angry about Jo/Laurie when I was younger and now that I have reread it as an adult Amy/Laurie makes much more sense. But I also remember watching Sabrina as a little kid and thinking it was too bad that Audrey Hepburn had to end up with that old man. And upon rewatching, that also makes sense to me now.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I remember liking Bridge to Teribithia as a kid. It helped me deal with some things. Maybe it didn't hit me as hard because I read it really young and my mom had read it so I think she supported me through it and might have even spoiled the ending so that I was prepared. Or maybe I just have blocked out the damage. Re-reading it as an adult was a huge mistake. Huge! I sobbed off and on for a full 24 hours and might have even torn at my hair dramatically. Children should, as a rule, be invincible both in real life and literature.

    And she wrote the book because her son's friend died and she wanted to write something to help children through this kind of event. I looked this up while crying "why? Why would someone write this? Dear God."

  • Brooke

    The very first time I read Bridge to Terabithia, it was actually read to me. And my entire fifth grade class. My teacher was so wicked, reading that to a room of 30 fifth graders. The day we listened to Leslies death the room was nothing but a sobbing mess for the last half of the day.

  • the other courtney

    Tess d'Ubervilles is the Coyote. ACME bomb explodes at the wrong time, avalanche directly overhead and speeding truck out of nowhere to finish you off. For what? Why? Hate that story.

    And don't get me started on the Bronte sisters. That f*ucking Byronic hero bullshit is directly responsible for legions of girls falling in love with abusive, unemployed boys on motorcycles. Or drummers.

  • Anne At Large

    To be fair, I just watched the Fassbender/Wasikowska Jane Eyre last night and dear God is Broody Byronic McTightPants pretty in that movie, even with sideburns and a mad wife in the attic. SO PRETTY.

    And I like that Jane has a spine.

  • Salieri2

    That's the whole point, Jane does have a spine. Fassbender was a little too blue-collar for me--helping the servants pull bushes up by the roots?!--but otherwise perfection. Broody, arrogant, needs-his comeuppance awesomeness. Wasikowska nailed it too. Good shit, Maynard.

  • Anne At Large

    I did like blue-collar Fassssbender, authenticity be damned. But I was really impressed with Wasikowska.

    The third s was a typo, the fourth was because he really did look good in the period outfits.

  • Amen. If I could time travel, I'd introduce the Bronte sisters to Stefanie Meyer and scream "THIS - THIS IS WHAT YOU ULTIMATELY BEGET- ARE YOU FUCKING PROUD OF YOURSELVES? ARE YOU? Look, either Heathcliff dies violently on the moors, his head mounted on a broad sword by a man who doesn't suck and carried triumphantly back to Catherine, or I leave Stefanie here with you guys. I'm serious. Do not test me."

  • Nicole Childress

    I would be willing to help figure out time travel if we could somehow accomplish this.

  • WarLord

    sign me up for that as well. I'll gladly help and get rid of her and the Bieber in ye olde englande

  • Classic

    Okay I just choked.

  • Bea Pants

    I have similar feelings about Wuthering Heights and fuckinggoddamnHeathcliff (because that's how I say his name).

  • emmalita

    I refused to finish Wuthering Heights and had to give a report justifying my refusal to finish it.

  • minxy

    I really loved Wuthering Heights, but even as a kid I always thought she was condemning Heathcliff's behavior.

  • competitivenonfiction

    God, I love me a good drummer who rides a motorcycle. Sorry, what were you saying again?

  • Bodhi

    My mother read Little Women to me (and, eventually all of Louisa May Alcott's books) & I thought she was kidding me when Laurie & Amy got married

  • the_wakeful

    Because if Holden Caulfield hadn't, then who would millions of douchebags name their dogs after?

  • Enrique del Castillo

    John Galt? (there must be some overlap between those kind of douches, right?)

  • TCH

    Galt! Get out of the toilet doesn't have a ring to it though.

  • Bodhi


  • Linda Lupos

    #1 - no. Amy and Laurie and Jo and the Professor are much more suited to one another than Jo and Laurie would ever be. They WOULD quarrel all the time. Book!Amy grows up and becomes the kind of refined woman Laurie should marry - and she helps *him* grow up, too. Jo would have been entirely miserable in a big fancy house with big fancy parties. And Laurie doesn't appear to 'get' her literary aspirations the way the professor does.
    Laurie/Jo was a childhood infatuation, Laurie/Amy and Jo/Professor is for the grown-ups. :p

  • WarLord

    agreed. only watched the movie (the good one with Batman in his younger years) and I can say that Jo and Laurie was at best childhood infatuation, and at worst, a crush because she needed a father-esque figure and he showed up. Laurie is a great guy, but Amy needed someone solid in her life. and as contrived as the plot seems, it works out in the end.

  • CoconutHaag

    It's Hubbell! I truly believe that Laurie loved Jo and wanted a life with her. Buuuuuuut she was too "complicated" (c-c-curly hair) and so he chose the "simple girl" (straight hair).

    Full disclosure; I hate child Amy but adult Amy is somewhat less of an asshole. And yes, I know I'm segregating two interesting women into archetypes..... but come on. It's so Hubbell.


  • Berry

    My twelve year old self would have agreed with Joanna. My adult self wants to agree with you and knows you're right.

  • apsutter

    Yes! Laurie was always going to be the guy who ended up doing what was expected of him and Amy was the perfect match and provided him some balance in his life. Jo would have been absolutely miserable in that life. She needed a man who challenged her intellectually and completely accepted and loved her. Not sure if you saw but we talked about Little Women on the hatred thread and how we loved Susan, Winona, Christian, and Gabriel Byrne in it.

  • Cree83

    I love this. And I know it's a bit of a departure from the book description, but when the Professor is played by Gabriel Byrne, that just kind of cements the fact that he's the better choice,

  • Linda Lupos

    Laurie is cute and all (c'mon, young Christian Bale) but yeah, Gabriel Byrne... :p And he takes her to the opera! Come on!

  • kirbyjay

    When I read Little Women as a kid, probably around 9, the way the professor was described kinda grossed me out. Middle aged, bearded, German ( you know, Nazis) and my childhood fantasies of love didn't include a fat hairy Nazi so I mourned the loss of Jo/Laurie love and thought Amy quite the man stealing bitch. I reread it years later and understood the professor's appreciation for Jo's writing and it gave me a new perspective.
    The moral of the story? Always reread the book.

  • WarLord

    back then, a "romance" like that wouldn't have been unheard of. unlike nowadays.

  • Samantha Klein

    Oh, thank goodness, I'm not the only one.

  • Classic

    Exactly! I got into a debate about this in a bookclub that people felt Jo had been robbed by her sister and I went 12 rounds arguing with someone why would Jo marry Laurie and have to give up who she is. She would never have fit in at his social level and did not want to. Amy was the one since she went to stay with Aunt March that had been trained to be a proper young lady who would catch a wealthy man. It just happens that Amy also grows up and realizes that marrying a rich man without love would not do for her and she realizes she has fallen in love with Laurie.

  • Nicole Childress

    I really like Amy and Laurie together. I think the whole point of that match was that they made each other better people.

  • Tinkerville

    Hear, hear! I love Jo and the Professor together. They're a perfect match. I always thought that Jo and Laurie would eventually become very bitter and resentful towards one another.

  • Miss Kate

    I read somewhere that Louisa May Alcott originally didn't want Jo to marry at all, (she herself never married), but was pressured into writing a conventional "happy" ending. It makes me look at the whole Jo-Amy-Laurie situation quite differently now.

  • Leigh

    That makes more sense in that I always felt that her ending up with the Professor seemed rushed and insincere.

  • kinoumenthe

    Good to know that. That's one ending I wouldn't mind reading, at least now. I'm not sure I would have welcomed it when I read it as a girl.

  • Linda Lupos

    Yes! They would end up in some kind of vicious circle, at first egging each other on with playing pranks and being silly, but it wouldn't work out in the long run, when Laurie has to take responsibilities and children enter the picture. They would end up annoying one another to no end, one of them would have to be the 'grown-up' and start resenting the other for not pulling their weight (or pulling their oar, would be a particularly appropriate expression!) and it would end in disaster.
    Plus, I always got the impression that while Jo said she wanted to go to France (and probably truly did, then), in the end she would be much happier at home, in a kind of second Orchard House (or, well, Plumfield). While Amy is much happier in the kind of Society open to Mrs Laurence.

  • Tinkerville

    Definitely! It became pretty evident that as Jo grew and matured, her love of adventure never left her but she did discover a whole new love and appreciation for her quiet home at Plumfield.

    I always got the impression that Laurie saw her writing as something that was interesting and another of Joe's quirky, rebellious habits that endeared her to him, but he never truly understood it in the way that Baer did.

    People love to rag on Amy but I've always thought she was an underrated character, and she really was best suited for the kind of life that Laurie was always destined to lead. If Amy hadn't pursued a society life then it wouldn't have been true to her character, and by pursuing that with Laurie she was able to stay close to her family. Amy eventually matured in her own way but still stayed true to who she was, which I always found fascinating.

  • Linda Lupos

    Yes! about the writing. Laurie would have been *totally fine* with the pseudo gothic horror stories Jo wrote. He would have seen them as tremendous good fun. But nothing more than that: fun. Professor Bhaer on the other hand saw the potential in Jo for deeper stuff and he started stimulating her to be the best she could be.
    Amy is really one of my favorites since it kind of subverts the stereotype of girly girls being boring. Yes, she likes pretty dresses and being ladylike, but she manages to turn it into an art and is not at all snooty about it (well, eventually anyway :p). Jo the tomboy is easy to like and identify with, but I ended up preferring Amy (and Meg, for that matter) since they found strength in a 'traditional' life, and are not mocked or shamed for it while at the same time being acknowledged as capable women in their own right.
    Um. Does that make sense?

  • apsutter

    Completely agreed about Amy. She got to grow up and mature and was also able to live the kind of life she wanted and maintain closeness with her beloved family.

  • $27019454

    Totally. I always thought Jo was sort of hard to take. Small doses, maybe. A lifetime? Fuck no. It's all about her, no matter what. LOTS of navel gazing. Energy sap.

  • Bodhi

    Hush with the logic!

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Well, isn't the whole point of P&P that Lydia is, essentially, what happened to many girls in England and since their sisters did not end up marrying some Lord Charming, their lives really were socially ruined? P&P is a well-versed critical document on the lack of mandatory education for women and their powerlessness in society.

  • Classic

    Very true. Wickham though a total POS would still have been fine if he had not married Lydia. She would have been shamed, ostracized and in effect killed any social standing her family had at that time. I still did not like Lydia since her total selfishness and obliviousness towards the fallout her family would have suffered if she had not married just ticked me off. I will always love Darcy for stepping up.

    Also I disagree about one thing the author of the article said about Laurie and Jo. It would have been like a brother and sister marrying (blech) and as Marmie said they were too similar. If you read Little Men and Jo's Boys you can see how well Jo and Professor Baer did together.

  • Jifaner

    Little Men is the BEST.

  • Classic

    I LOVED Little Men. Jo's Boys killed me though.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Though Lydia serves a useful function as a character, pointing out how unfair it is that her actions would tarnish an entire family.

  • Classic

    Agree and I do want to add though that I always thought that Lydia really shows how mindless some young women were back then and how marriage just whitewashed a person's reputation.

  • BWeaves

    And yet, today she would have gotten her own reality TV show and her family would be living the high life in LA. Keeping up with the Bennetts?

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