When Heroes Can’t Save Themselves: Death and Loss in Infinity War

Even if you haven’t yet seen Avengers: Infinity War you’ve probably picked up on the vibe that not everything ends happy. Well before the film’s release there were charts out detailing which characters were safe, which ones in danger, and which ones we definitely expected to die. Even my cousin, who’s outside the MCU Fandom, wanted to see it because she had to find out who lived and who died.

Warning: Mild Spoilers Follow For Avengers: Infinity War

When Heroes Can't Save Themselves: Death and Loss in Infinity War | marissabaker.wordpress.comWhile the film has been well received overall, some are describing the deaths that do happen (and in some cases the whole movie) as pointless because we “know” pretty much how this is going to go. Coulson and Loki have already come back from death scenes in the MCU. It’s something we expect from the genre. And some of the characters that died at the end have sequel movies that are filming right now. We assume they won’t stay dead, and so might conclude that their deaths don’t matter.

It’s also been quite a shock to see earth’s and the galaxy’s mightiest heroes lose such an important battle. This isn’t the end of the story, since a sequel film is coming in May 2018, but the only one who gets a happy ending in this film is Thanos. This isn’t just the Empire scattered the rebellion and Han Solo is frozen in carbonite. This is Darth Vader got exactly what he wanted and retired to Mustafar to spend the rest of his life watching lava bubble.

Second Warning: Major Spoilers Follow For Avengers: Infinity War

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My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier’s Novel My Cousin Rachel

I should never have stayed here. Nay, I should never have left Italy.

If my cousin Philip had not been so like Ambros perhaps I could have left. To see his face — that beloved, tormenting face — staring into my eyes once more was more than I could leave. More than I could resist when he asked me to stay. Or I should say ordered me. They were orders, though I turned a blind eye to it then because I wanted him. Or perhaps not him, but Ambros back in my life. I know not.

My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com
My Cousin Rachel (2017)

I’m in such fear. It was a foolish thing on both our parts, the midnight of his birthday. He knows too little of the world to realize what I gave him was nothing more than a thank you. A birthday gift that would mean more than that stupid little pearl cravat pin. And yes, I wanted it too. A younger, more devoted Ambros to worship me once again if only for a moment.

And how could I have known that he meant marriage by his comment about lacking warmth and comfort? Or that he thought I’d agreed to be his when he took me into those primroses? Or that he would get so drunk he’d announce our engagement to his godfather and poor Louise at dinner?

I still feel the pressure of his hands at my throat. Those big, powerful hands of a man who works on his farm every day and stands a head taller than me. Stronger than the ones Ambros once put around my neck. My cousin Philip could have snapped my neck, though he wouldn’t have had to. The slightest squeeze more and I’d not have been able to draw the thinnest breath.

My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com
My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Should I feel guilty for bringing Mary Pascoe into this house? Surely his fury won’t touch her, too. The worst he’d do is throw her out of the house. While me … I know not what he’d do were we alone now. Would he wrap his hands around my throat again and expect me to make myself his? Would he force me and afterward tell me I liked it and must marry him?

His fantasy is as complete as the paranoia that claimed Ambrose. I half-believe in his mind we’re already married. That he thinks I’m so sure to agree it’s as if I’ve done so already. That his ridiculous present of his entire fortune will surely convince me to stay.

I must get away. I have the means to do so now, though God knows it’s not why I came here. I simply wanted to see the home Ambros talked about. The symbol of what could have been before he turned on me. The idea of our marriage rather than the reality of it. The allowance my cousin Philip gave me was more than enough. More than I expected or even hoped. To have him honor the will Ambros never signed …

Did he think he’d bought me?

Will he let me leave?


This is quite a bit different than my usual review for books I’m reading on my Classics Club Book list. But I think Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel (1951) is the sort of novel that invites you to look at it from different perspectives. The fact that you’re trapped inside Philip Ashley’s mind for the entire novel leaves you guessing at what the other characters are really thinking. He’s an unreliable narrator and he’s hopelessly naive, especially when it come to women, so the motives he assigns to Rachel are likely untrue. But if he’s wrong about her, then what is right? Everything we know of her is filtered through Philip. We don’t know her true motive or any of her thoughts. We can only guess, as I’m doing in my little retelling from Rachel’s point of view (which overlaps Chapter 23 of the original novel).

My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com
My Cousin Rachel (2017)

I watched the 2017 film adaptation of My Cousin Rachel before reading the book. I suspected I would still enjoy the book after seeing the movie, but knew if I read the book first there was a good chance I’d spend the film grumpy about how they’d adapted it. It turned out to be a very faithful adaptation, though.

*Spoiler Warning* The only major changes were made at the end. The film provides less evidence of Rachel’s alleged guilt, pointing viewers towards the idea that she was not poisoning Philip. And it also has Philip sending her to ride along a dangerous path rather than choosing not to warn her about a dangerous bridge in the garden. The film pushes you toward believing he intended her to die where the book leaves it a little more ambiguous. But then again, Philip’s the one telling the story. Of course he’d make himself look as good as possible.

Philip wants us second-guessing his cousin Rachel. But I suspect Du Maurier wants us to look at Philip just as closely. Because even though we’re getting his perspective on things and he’s certainly not putting any blame on himself, there are things about being in his mind that make me as scared of him as I think Rachel is.

My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com
My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Repeatedly, Philip says he wants to isolate Rachel from everyone but him. And that’s before he starts becoming overtly controlling. And when he puts his hands around her throat, it’s not in the heat of anger. He presents it as a calculated decision to add fear to the list of reasons she should marry him. Later, he barely contains his fury and indignation when (after he’s given her all his property and she still hasn’t married him) she states that she can and will invite whoever she likes to stay with them because the house belongs to her and she doesn’t feel safe alone with him.

So instead of just asking, “Did Rachel poison Ambros and/or Philip?” I think we need to ask whether such an act could be considered self-defense. Abuse does not justify murder, but even if Rachel killed someone she may not be the evil and/or misguided character that Philip (who describes himself as feeling a strange compassion for her once he makes up his mind about her guilt) makes her out to be. It might have been more of an act of desperation and fear than calculating malice.

But that’s assuming she’s guilty at all. And there’s no clear evidence that she is. Laburnum (the plant Philip settles on as the murder weapon) isn’t even all that poisonous. The most common symptoms are nausea and vomiting, and that’s after eating several seeds. “Higher doses can produce intense sleepiness, convulsive possibly tetanic movements, coma, slight frothing at the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. … [However] the MAFF publication ‘Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man’, says that all stories about laburnum causing serious poisoning and death are untraceable” (The Poison Garden).

My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com
“Laburnum” by Neil Turner

Perhaps Du Maurier believed her chosen poison really was deadly based on the rumors that have made it one of the most feared garden plants. But perhaps she did her research and knew that Philip was jumping to unjustifiable conclusions. Maybe she would have known, as Rachel surly did with her expertise in herb lore and gardening, that most gardens are home to far more reliably deadly plants (like foxglove and oleander). Perhaps Du Maurier meant for her readers to realize that a brain tumor (for Ambros) and a relapse of meningitis (for Philip) are the most logical explanations for symptoms both men attribute to “Rachel, my torment.”

There’s an argument to be made that Philip isn’t really concerned about whether or not Rachel poisoned Ambros at all. He decides her guilt based on whether or not she “conforms to his desires and whims” (from “My Cousin Rachel (2017) and Male Entitlement“). After all, he already possesses everything else that belonged to Ambros. Why not Rachel as well?

The question of whether or not Rachel poisoned Ambros consumes Philip only until their first meeting. After that he’s quite certain she’s innocent until she makes it clear she won’t marry him. All his worry about whether or not she’s guilty of murder covers the fact that his inability to deal with rejection brings out a desire to posses and control her. He and Ambros call Rachel “my torment” because she brings out the ugliest side of their natures and they blame her for their darkness rather than looking to the true culprits. Themselves.My Cousin Philip: Examining Perspectives In Daphne Du Maurier's Novel My Cousin Rachel | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Click here to get a reading copy of My Cousin Rachel, and here for the movie. Please note that these are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.

In The Age of Piracy: Reading and Watching Captain Blood

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I have something of an obsession with tall ships. This is probably a result of my love for stories set during the Age of Sail. One such story is Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini, first published in 1922.

This book wasn’t on my original Classics Club list. I’d already read it and hadn’t intended a reread, especially after being disappointed by Sabatini’s Bardelys the Magnificent. But I ended up with a digital copy on my phone a year or so ago and started reading it while in a waiting room. So of course I had to finish it — one simply doesn’t abandon an adventure novel in the middle of the story.In The Age of Piracy: Reading and Watching Captain Blood | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I’m (once again) in the midst of a pirate obsession, for which we can thank the recent release of Daughter of the Siren Queen (sequel to my 2nd favorite novel of 2017, Daughter of the Pirate King). So I started reading a book on the history of pirates in reality and fiction, which prompted me to watch the 1935 version of Captain Blood. And that brings me to my decision to write a post for the classic novel.

But first, a brief digression about the film, which is really quite impressive. $1 million went into its production (to put this in perspective, online estimates tell me that $1 in 1935 has the same buying power as $17-18 today). It launched Errol Flynn’s and Olivia de Havilland’s careers and made an overall profit of $1.5 million. And it was scandalously realistic for a 1930s audience. In fact, a screenwriter named Robert Lord wrote to the producer, Hal Wallis, asking “Why do you have so much flogging, torturing, and physical cruelty in Captain Blood? … Women and children will be warned to stay away from the picture — and rightly so” (quoted in Under The Black Flag by David Cordingly, p.174). Read more

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart – Part Two

Last week I posted my chart with Disney villains Myers-Briggs types. It turned into such a big post that I finally split it in half — Sensing types in Part One and Intuitive types today in part two (some of you probably saw the whole post last week. It was live for a few hours before I decided splitting it up would be more manageable). To re-cap, here’s my criteria for which villains are included in this chart:

  • All Primary Members of the Disney Villains franchise show up here, except Chernabog.
  • I then added a few other popular villains, paying special attention to the villains from films where I’ve already typed a Disney heroine.
  • To keep the number of villains manageable, I decided not to type any of their side-kicks or secondary villains.
  • I’m only typing the animated versions. This is mostly to maintain consistency, since sometimes the type changes in live-action reboots (such as Maleficent becoming more INFJ when she got her own film).

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart | marissabaker.wordpress.com

As I mentioned last week, if you compare this chart to the ones I made for Disney Princesses, you’ll see they’re almost opposite each other. The spots on the chart that stood empty for the Princesses (ENFJ, INTJ, INTP) now have at least one occupant and some of the spots bursting with princesses don’t have any villains at all. The biggest trend seems to be Feeling types equal “good” and Thinking types equal “evil” (which really bugs me, but that’s a rant for another time).

There’s not much to go on for typing some of the villains. They’re often caricatures of personality types rather than fully-fleshed out characters. By necessity, associating a villain with a certain types means looking at the most negative stereotypes of that type. But Disney typing is fun, so even when we don’t have much to work, I’m going to take a guess at the character. You’re welcome to shout-out in the comments about what you do and don’t like! Have fun 🙂

Hans — ENFJ

Hans - ENFJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesI love NF type villains. They’re not the typical choice for a fictional bad guy and their motives aren’t always immediately understandable, which is part of makes them an unexpected and unpredictable character.

  • Fe: Types that lead with Fe often have the easiest time connecting with people. Which means they can be the most charming, manipulative villains you’ll ever see. Hans’ entire plan is based on charming one of the sisters into marrying him (which he does easily by creating an instant connection with Anna). He’s also writing a narrative that makes him “the hero that’s going to save Arandel” as he manipulates all Elsa’s advisors until they’re begging him to be king.
  • Ni: This shows up in his long-term thinking. As the youngest of 13 brothers, he decided that taking over a different kingdom was better than the life he could see continuing on in the future at home.
  • Se: Typically a fun-loving and risk-taking aspect of personality, which helps him charm Anna initially and also shows up in his physical skills like dancing and swordfighting.
  • Ti: Logic is not an ENFJ’s strongest suit. Hans’ entire plan rests on getting people to feel the way he wants them to rather than not on something concrete and he doesn’t have a backup plan.

Hades — ENFP

Hades - ENFP. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesThere’s little disagreement that Disney’s Hades is an NP type and none at all that he’s an extrovert. People just can’t agree on Thinking or Feeling. Both ENxP types lead with Ne, so it comes down to whether he uses Fi/Te (ENFP) or Ti/Fe (ENTP) to make decisions. Read more

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart – Part One

It’s finally here! The baddest evildoers to ever oppose animated Disney heroism — now with Myers-Briggs types. There are a lot of villains that show up in Disney stories so I had to whittle it down to a fairly short list. Here’s my criteria:

  • All Primary Members of the Disney Villains franchise show up here, except Chernabog.
  • I then added a few other popular villains, paying special attention to the villains from films where I’ve already typed a Disney heroine.
  • To keep the number of villains manageable, I decided not to type any of their side-kicks or secondary villains.
  • I’m only typing the animated versions. This is mostly to maintain consistency, since sometimes the type changes in live-action reboots (such as Maleficent becoming more INFJ when she got her own film).

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart | marissabaker.wordpress.com

If you compare this chart to the ones I made for Disney Princesses, you’ll see they’re almost opposite each other. The spots on the chart that stood empty for the Princesses (ENFJ, INTJ, INTP) now have at least one occupant and some of the spots bursting with princesses don’t have any villains at all. The biggest trend seems to be Feeling types equal “good” and Thinking types equal “evil” (which really bugs me, but that’s a rant for another time).

There’s not much to go on for typing some of the villains. They’re often caricatures of personality types rather than fully-fleshed out characters. By necessity, associating a villain with a certain types means looking at the most negative stereotypes of that type. But Disney typing is fun, so even when we don’t have much to work, I’m going to take a guess at the character. You’re welcome to shout-out in the comments about what you do and don’t like! Have fun 🙂

  • Please note: there were so many villains to type that I split them up into two blog posts. Part One covers the Sensing Type villains and Part Two will cover the Intuitive types.
  • One more note: I mostly type by function stacks, so if you’re not familiar with that part of Myers-Briggs theory you can click here to read The Simplest Guide To Myers-Briggs Functions Ever.

Lady Tremaine — ESTJ

Lady Tremaine - ESTJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesMost people type her as a TJ type (at least in the animated version), but beyond that there isn’t any agreement about her I/E or S/N preference. I’m pretty sure she’s a Sensor, but I’ve gone back and forth between introvert and extrovert. I’ve gone with extrovert because she’s very inclined to take-charge in the outer world and we don’t really see her spending any time alone.

  • Te: The opening narration describes her as “cold, cruel, and bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty.” While not a fair representation of TJ types, “heartless” is an accusation stereotypically leveled against them, especially women. She’s very outwardly judgemental and her communication consists of authoritative orders.
  • Si: My guess is that Lady Tremaine married Cinderella’s father for security. She already had a “good family” so she wasn’t social climbing. While we do see her trying to forward her daughters’ interests, it’s not really as part of a N-type’s long-term planning. She’s working within traditional roles to control and manipulate people.
  • Ne: A pattern-recognition function, Extroverted Intuition helps Lady Tremain put the pieces together and realize Cinderella was the mystery woman at the ball.
  • Fi: As an inferior function, Introverted Feeling can show up as outbursts of emotion and a fear of feeling. Lady Tremain is a very detached character, never showing her feelings for the people around her unless it’s in an angry outburst.

Queen of Hearts — ESTJ

Queen of Hearts - ESTJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesThe Queen of Hearts is one of the more exaggerated Disney villains. ESTJ nicknames include Supervisor, Executive, Overseer, and Enforcer. Take that to a villainous extreme and you just might get someone who lops off subordinates’ heads when things don’t go as they ordered. Read more

The Promise

Exactly 102 years ago today, Ottoman authorities arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Constantinople. April 24, 1915 became the start date for what the relatively few people who even know about it now call the Armenian Genocide. When the massacres and deportations finally ended in the early 1920s, about 1.5 million of Turkey’s 2 million Armenians were dead. That’s 3/4 of the entire population.

I wasn’t planning on writing about The Promise. After first seeing the trailers, I hadn’t even planned on seeing it until it was out on DVD. Then I found out that there were tens of thousands of negative reviews for the film online when it hadn’t even been released yet. That caught my attention, because often the stories people work hardest to silence are the ones it’s most important to tell.sometimes the stories people work hardest to silence are the ones it's most important to tell | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Having seen the film now I’d say that’s definitely the case here. And not only is it an important story, it’s a well done film despite what critics are saying. Read more