Saturday, December 22, 2012

Courtly Love

So, you think your new romance novel is the greatest love story of all time? I'd have to disagree with you there.I can assure you the world of literature holds more for you than a vapid love story.

Courtly love was a greatly explored topic of medieval Europe, in which a man would pine over a woman for his entire existence, hardly speaking to each other, if the woman even recognized the man at all. The woman was seen as an unearthly being, nothing even comparing to a human form.

Dante and Beatrice (in the yellow).

Dante was a great proponent of this movement. La Vita Nuova centers entirely around Beatrice, the woman whom Dante truly spent is entire life writing and living for. The short book contains forty-two chapters, and was abruptly left unfinished when Beatrice died. Dante discusses their first meeting as children, and it culminates in the grief of her death. Dante sets out to write more of Beatrice than any woman in history.

Is it strange that a man can live his entire life lusting over a woman that he hardly speaks to? I have truly been in debates about this, and as a result formed the Dante Appreciate Club (haters gonna hate). Is Dante a stalker, insane, or just plain wrong?

Well, a much more well known story of courtly love would be that of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet experienced very much the same instant love, and Juliet even compares Romeo to the heavens in Act 2, Scene 2:

Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, 
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine 
That all the world will be in love with night 

However, Romeo and Juliet do not pine over each other for the entirety of their lives. They give in. They marry secretly, they rush their passions and defy the wishes of their parents. Is it a coincidence, then, that they both die in the end?

Courtly love is an interesting approach to the chivalry of love in the medieval times. It may seem unusual at first, but what it holds is the most heightened devotion and love in all of literature.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The ULTIMATE Hamlet Playlist (Britney Spears Style)

Because there is a gap in the market for Britney Spears playlists to Shakespeare's plays. 

Hamlet Comes Home: The First Three Seconds of Gimmie More

Hamlet Sees a Ghost: Crazy

Should I really kill the King of Denmark?: I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman

Hamlet tells Ophelia to Join the Nunnery: Womanizer

Hamlet Kills his Girlfriend's Father Thinking he was the King of Denmark: (You Wanna) Piece of Me

Hamlet Jumps into Ophelia's Grave: Hit Me Baby One More Time

Laertes Plans to Kill Claudius (or anyone, really. He's very easily persuaded.): Radar

Laertes Poisons his Sword: Toxic

Hamlet Kills Laertes and Claudius: Oops, I Did it Again    (see Hamlet Kill's Girlfriend's Father...)

Hamlet in Relation to Shakespeare in all of his Protagonists in his Tragic Plays: I'm A Slave 4 U

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I could watch this all day, vote John Green for president of the world.

"I wandered lonely as a cloud" by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The story being told in Wordsworth's poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud" belongs to the narrator and his experience walking beside a lake. He talks about how the water is beautiful, yet the bright yellow, dancing daffodils outshine all of the scenery combined, as if the daffodils are the sun and everything surrounding it is just the black abyss of space.

Wordsworth wrote in a time where nature was the paramount topic for writing, along with love and time. He compares himself to the cloud in the first line, yet later discusses the human qualities of the daffodils, "tossing their heads in a sprightly dance" and "dancing in the breeze".  Here, the unity between man and nature is expressed, so much so that the human and nature can be interchanged between one another. The poet remarks that his "heart with pleasure fills/and dances with the daffodils," and the two dance together as one being.

The picturesque nature scene being described is what the poet reflects on in his "vacant or pensive mood". He says that just one memory of the day will let his heart fly and truly "dance(s) with the daffodils." He did not know how lucky he was and how overjoyed it made him at the time, but he understands, now, every time he remembers the scene.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hamlet the Goldfish

Me: If I had a goldfish, I would name it Ophelia. And then another one named Hamlet.

Emily: But goldfish die so easily!

Me: Well, so do they.

I didn't mean to. It slipped out.

In other news, I'm enjoying Shakespeare, as always.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hamlet and Britney Spears

During English class today, we were discussing Hamlet's sense of ownership for his actions, in relation to his hesitation to kill Claudius. Someone suggested that this was because Hamlet, only twenty years old, does not want to disrespect an elder like this, because he was not a man yet, and he never has had to prove himself to be one. He was not a boy, though not yet a man. Just like Britney Spears. So, here is the official song for Hamlet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some Favorite Poems

An Analysis of "Bright Star"

After discussing the poem "Bright Star" by John Keats several times here, and having been studying it for Poetry Out Loud, I think it deserves a complete analysis.

What I see when I look at the poem, is the narrating voice, likely Keats, to be first introducing the idea of eternity and consistency in comparison to a star. He wishes to be as "steadfast as thou art," speaking directly to the star. However, he then dismisses all other qualities of the star, not alone, looking from above onto the world below as sleepless creature, something that no human could ever be.

No, this star is unreal to us. "No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable-- Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast," says lines 9-10. What is truly being asked is for the constant nature the star possesses, the eternity it gets to live. Contrasting with the star is the impermanence of life, the "ripening breast" implying change and movement of humans not seen in the lines preceding it in reference to the star.

The eternity being asked for is not the infinite time a star experiences, but a forever of love and passion on Earth. Only in the final line does Keats accept the possibility of dying in pleasure over living in harmony forever.

The poem asks for the lifetime of a star, yet the narrator cannot relate to what the star is, in itself. He is asking for something entirely inhuman and impossible. Keats struggles to cope with the rush of time on Earth as human, when stars existing above Earth live forever. In the final line, he says he will go willingly if he can die in love if he cannot exist forever. Keats died away from his love, Fanny Brawne, at the age of 25 in Rome, Italy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A NaNoWriMo Story

I always loved writing, but all of my writings I start, really trying to complete a long work, I without fail become discouraged and stop. It all feels too forced, most of the time the idea would come to me out of the blue, and I would drop everything to write out what I was thinking before it slipped my mind. I wrote myself into a brick wall, most of the time, which led me to want to write myself off a cliff, when you’re hardly 2,000 words in and you’ve already used up all of your plot points and ideas that once looked so promising.

However, even though this is essentially what always happens, I still consider myself to be a very enthusiastic and optimistic writer. When I get an idea, I can’t wait to start it. That’s why I waited anxiously, counting down the days until November 1st, the day NaNoWriMo began.

Last year, I tried it, but I ended up scrapping it on about the third day of writing. I was so discouraged it took me another twelve months to open another blank Google Doc and just go for it again.

This year, I don’t know what I did, but something in how I write is just different. Maybe I’ve learned more about the kind of writer I am through other novelists, and have been just exposed to more literature now. But most of all, I learned that the biggest, most important part of understanding how to write a novel in a month was to accept that it’s going to be sloppy, it’s going to be, probably, terrible, and it isn’t going to be easy. I never really followed the word limits last year, I was more of a free spirit on that front, but this year, aiming for 50,000 words,  I see how extremely important it is to keep on schedule, and after missing November 1st and 2nd and I’m still trying to catch up from it, twelve days later.

Today was the best day I have ever had writing in my entire life. I wrote, easily and without strain 4,450 words, majorly helping me get back on track to meet my goal by the end of November. You know, I never understood in my childhood years why J.K. Rowling had to kill Sirius Black. I loved Sirius Black, you see. But now, I’m beginning to see that you don’t control a character. Really, you don’t! I never, until this day, understood that. Today I have no idea how it happened, but my keys typed the entrance of a character into my story, and he just became one of the most central and interesting characters in the novel. He says what he says, does what he wants, not what I create for him.

I’ve always loved, just, characters. I love finding this connection to another person, through reading, through books. They have always felt so real to me, and now, finally, my characters are beginning to take on a life of their own, as well. Just sitting down and allowing my characters to work through me and tell their own story is one of the most important, and just plain enjoyable, lessons I think I will take away from NaNoWriMo this year.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Reading of "Bright Star" by John Keats

In preparation for Poetry Out Loud, finding a video of someone reading "Bright Star," the poem I selected, helps monumentally. I think this is the most beautiful video and reading of the poem, and truly does do it justice!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rhyme For Your Life

Binky, of the children's show Arthur, slips into a nightmare after trying and failing to write a poem for Mother's Day. He is transported into a universe where not rhyming is a crime, so he is forced to speak in the  almost foreign language he has so much difficulty understanding. 

And YES, this has some relevance to literature...skip to 6:56!

I absolutely find this hilarious, and I'm 17 years old, but you're never too old for Arthur. I think it's aimed more at the parents to keep them entertained sometimes. For example, I had no idea who William Carlos Williams was at seven, who makes a guest appearance in this episode, or the singing moose in one of the episodes being none other than Art Garfunkel.

Gosh, I love this show.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Existentialism in Literature

Existentialism has three outstanding founding fathers, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzche, and Jean-Paul Sartre. These three philosophers have paved the way for many others to follow, which has allowed the field of Existentialism, which centers around finding ones own purpose in life, to grow. This theme has become widely discussed and portrayed greatly as a theme in many works of literature.

Charlotte Bronte's Villette is a Existentialist novel before it's time, before the idea of existentialism was ever created. The novel focuses on Lucy Snowe, an orphan living with her godmother. After a death, Lucy feels overcome with despair and worthlessness. She decides in the span of only hours to leave that very day from Bretton to London. Similar to Jane in Bronte's previous work, Jane Eyre, Lucy describes herself as friendless, and without a relative in the world to turn to. Lucy is completely alone in the world, and sets off to London to find not only a job, but life itself.

She encounters and becomes a part of this vigor of life working in a boarding school as a teacher, but once the children are sent home in the summer, she is completely left bereft of happiness and the passion that once filled her, when she was surrounded by others, including M. Paul and Dr. John, two men she becomes companions to.

From early on in the novel, Lucy proves to be in great search of a purpose in life. She feels that there is a need for her at the school, but when the school lets out, she is lost, once again. This emptiness is similar to the depression she felt which predicated her move to London.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, "Winter Dreams" tells the story of the quest for meaning that Dexter Green sets out upon. Dexter becomes enamored with Judy Jones, a woman who is perfectly elusive and unattainable, and despite that, she still pulls Dexter in.

Dexter quits his job, working at the country club Judy attends. He creates a life for himself, instead,  that is not his own, but one that Judy would want to be apart of. He hates the way he lives, but doesn't realize it yet, as it is complete with a steady and large income. Dexter becomes excessively wealthy as the story progresses. He sees Judy very rarely, and comes to discover that she is married to a man who neglects her. Dexter holds Judy in such high esteem, he is beside himself. How a princess could marry a peasant? But,that not what he was vying for all along?

Dexter and Judy begin a relationship, despite her marriage, and in the end it falls through. Dexter is left with a lifestyle he hates. He comes to hate himself, as well as his fortune. He comes to realize he has been spending his entire life crafting a life for one, single person who let him down. He is completely robbed of his purpose in the end. A true existential crisis.

Bronte's Villette and Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams" are just two examples of existentialism in literature. Although Villette is British Literature and "Winter Dreams," written much later, is American Literature, the theme of existentialism is clearly reflected, not only greatly in literature, but also widespread over the world. This theme defies time and origin, to which these two provide an example. It can be seen from King Lear to Their Eyes Were Watching God, from The Hobbit to Fahrenheit 451. The search for self is an innately human quest, one which we can enjoy reading about from the point of view of another.

Crash Course: Literature

It was a dark and stormy night when John Green sadly ended Crash Course World History after 42 episodes...

The world mourned.

Tears were shed.


It was announced, the new Crash Course topic would be....LITERATURE!

I am very overjoyed with life right now.

                                                 The final crash course World History.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Boxer

Sometimes I think Simon and Garfunkel would have written wonderful poetry, as each song written by them  is, truly, an art.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Bright Star"

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death. 

John Keats

In English class last year, we read John Keat's poem "Bright Star". I always have that one poem that will stand out to me for so long after I read it, and this one is it. Stumbling upon it again, I loved it even more than the first time and am about to watch the movie, Bright Star, about the life and romance of John Keats, himself. So, it's time to hack a friends Netflix and watch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

James Joyce's "The Boarding House" and Irish Culture

James Joyce once famously remarked that "the modern writer must be an adventurer above all". "The Boarding House" in Joyce's collection of short stories, Dubliners, takes place in the center of Irish culture at the turn of the century.

Mrs. Mooney runs a boarding house for mostly men who come to stay while working. Polly is her nineteen year old daughter who attracts all these men by flirting and singing to them by the piano. As a manipulative and strong figure, Mrs. Mooney has no qualms about asserting herself, made clear after she leaves her dangerous and alcoholic husband. As a very controlling woman, it is somewhat surprising that Mrs. Mooney allows her daughter to be so flirtatious with all these men. It is odd that she seems to be putting her daughter in the same situation she had to escape herself, believing that a woman must marry.

Mr. Doran is an older, Catholic wine merchant who becomes romantically involved with Polly. After Polly confides in Mr. Doran and her mother that she is pregnant, Mrs. Mooney insists that the two marry, and even speaks with Mr. Doran, himself, to assure that he keeps her honor. Mr. Doran then goes through extreme conflict with himself. He recognizes that the right thing to do is to stay with Polly and marry her. However, he also seriously contemplates running away, knowing that Polly is part of a lower social class and a baby means serious commitment. Here comes the subsequent theme to maintaining honor, the weight of consequence.

Mrs. Mooney eventually convinces Mr. Doran to stay and marry Polly. As a story completely run by the two females, mother and daughter, Mr. Doran is completely at the mercy of the two. Polly sits waiting upstairs and has the typical epiphany Joyce writes into many of his stories, such as "Araby," where Polly realizes what she has been waiting for, the  husband that Mr. Doran proves to be. This ending leads to the question of Joyce's attitude to Irish culture.

In my opinion, I do not think that Joyce supported this notion that Mr. Doran had to marry Polly to maintain her honor. I believe he saw Irish culture as hypocritical and wrong, how Polly can seduce this man and force him to retire his entire life to succumb to her will. Also, I feel that Joyce questions how Mrs. Mooney can leave her husband after being the victim to terrible abuse, yet still push Polly into a marriage. I see Joyce on the side of Mr. Doran, supporting the man in the situation of the two controlling women. James Joyce surely does write dangerously in "The Boarding House," making a strong statement on not only a controversial issue of pregnancy out of wedlock, but also by posing the question of the values in the Irish society.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Fahrenheit 451" and Why it Works

John and Hank Green announced their book club selection of Fahrenheit 451 this past July with the purpose of getting people to read not only more, but read quality material. This selection came about after the death of author Ray Bradbury, and the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more copies in three months than Ray Bradbury has sold of all of his books in his lifetime.

When this novel was announced as the book John and Hank would be talking about, I was thrilled and stopped everything to read it. These videos about the novel have helped develop my understanding of the novel, but what I wonder the most, does this plot really work, and if so, why?

Fahrenheit 451 is a story of what happens when books become outlawed, and men are not firefighters, but rather firemen, in that they set fires to books to destroy the "weapons" that books are. Guy Montag is one of these firemen, and begins to struggle with the reality of the treasures that books hold and the consequences of what he's doing. Although this is an epic tale, is this dystopian novel believable, and if so, what makes it work?

In my opinion, Farenheit 451 does have a working plot, in that  the characters are believable, and we can see what happens to the characters happening to our own society, because it already has. Mildred is Montag's wife, and she becomes so engrossed in the world of the "family" the parlor walls contain, she forgets reality entirely. These characters provide a false sense of closeness that is easy and more simple than what life truly proves to be.

We see this in our own world everyday. How long can we go without our iPhones, our laptops, or our television? We become so easily pulled in by technology, it even causes fatal accidents that can be seen in crashes caused by texting and driving, where we are more captivated by our phones than our lives on the line.

Fahrenheit 451, ultimately, has an unrealistic plot, but it works because it has such relatable characters and situations that make it work. When you can give readers a story that they can clearly envision and put their minds into as something they've known themselves, it provides a reading experience that can set out to touch the lives of their audience to make an impression on contemporary society and the minds of the readers.

Senseless Violence in "The Secret Agent" and Why it Matters to Us

Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent is a story of espionage, deceit, and Conrad's truth about society. The story takes a primary focus on Mr. Verloc, the secret agent, and the narrator spends very much of the novel focusing on his character and agenda. Winnie, his wife, as well as his brother-in-law, Stevie, lie in the background, so much so that in normal circumstances, Verloc will be chatting with his friends while Stevie and Winnie take to a separate room.

The relationship between Stevie and Winnie is very complex and important, as readers will discover as they reach the final chapters of the book. Stevie becomes such a likable character to all of us, and we feel a deeper connection with him if not from the beginning, than as the story progresses, than we have ever felt with Verloc. Winnie also becomes a shock to most of us, and we may be appalled at this other side of her personality she reveals when she becomes a person of rage and ferocity and kills her husband, but can't we all imagine being as devastated and furious as Winnie (but take it out in a more legal and socially acceptable way)?  The reason that we as humans can connect so strongly to characters can happen in many ways, including  a strong connection we feel to a character, personally, or we experience an event or happening that we are passionate about, and that is what fuels most of my feelings on The Secret Agent.

I believe that Conrad set out writing The Secret Agent to make a statement on what he thought of society. Stevie is the personification of innocence and purity in the story. He was tricked by Verloc, his most trusted role model, to transport a bomb. Not only was he putting Stevie in the exact danger that killed him, he was involving this immaculate human in his own malicious and nefarious plot. Stevie was a victim of senseless violence.

For Conrad to write a character like Stevie, he is indirectly telling the story of the other virtuous victims who had their lives taken from them by the acts of terrorism. Stevie is written to be the true hero of this story, as the only character to not commit any crime, and to stay pure in the midst of evil.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Kindles

I was the previous owner of a lovely Kindle that I affectionately called Mr. Rochester (I know, I really am getting new material, I promise). I really did love my Kindle. I loved being able to bring it everywhere with me, and be able to read anything. I've had it for about two years now, and I've read so many books with it, it's been a really great experience to own one.

Until I broke it.

It was a tiring Thursday afternoon after school. Rochester sat on my nightstand, and as I always do I went to put my phone beside it. The phone slipped out of my grasp, and landed on the screen. Nothing happened, I thought Rochester was fine. I tried to turn it on, and the screen just had lines running across it. It was that day I became a murderer of literature.

My life flashed before my eyes. I had everything Charles Dickens has ever written on there. I had Pride and Prejudice, The Hunger Games trilogy, everything gone.

I was beside myself. I could not believe I just broke my Kindle of all things. I called Amazon immediately and they agreed to send me a different Kindle for a reduced rate. I bought it, and Mr. Darcy, the new Kindle, came a few days later.

Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester have been getting along, they are very similar characters, you know. Darcy and Rochester share the same arrogant pride which is eventually worn away by their true loves they find. In my opinion, they would have been the best of friends if they were written together in one story.

Unfortunately, Rochester must be sent back to Thornfield, and Darcy must stay here with me, and I will protect this Kindle as if it were Fort Knox. I will miss Rochester very much, but I'm grateful to have another Kindle at the same time.

Oh, and on the bright side I now own a moose named Darnay which is a much less fragile thing apply literature related names and feelings towards.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Motivation and Conflict in Faulkner's "Barn Burning"

Faulkner's "Barn Burning" tells the story of the young Sartoris, who lives under his controlling and angry father, Abner. Abner is portrayed as an overall deceitful and desperate person, doing whatever he can to get by and not caring who he hurts in the process. One of the best characterization examples Faulkner provides us with is that  Abner was a mercenary in the Civil War, not fighting for the Confederates as he should have been, as a Southerner. He stole from both sides, and didn't care about what he was fighting for at all. Ironically, Abner was shot in the war by a Confederate.

The major conflict in "Barn Burning" deals with Abner's rage. He seems to be figure of complete power and force, as we are reading through Sartoris's eyes. He is as uncontrollable as the fire he eventually ignites to DeSpain's barn. Sartoris is caught between right and wrong, knowing the difference between the two, but kept in line with what his Father insists. This creates the conflict Sartoris has against himself, torn between the doing the right thing and keeping in line with his family. Sartoris also goes against his Father, being ruled by an iron fist and forced into submission. I would say that Sartoris  is influenced heavily by his Father, as all young children are, and feels a sense of loyalty through family lines. The greatest role model a child has is the same gender parent. His Father's influence seems  pressing only while Sartoris is surrounded by him, being punished by him, or speaking with him, however, when Sartoris is free from his Father, he breaks into the person who I think he really is, the boy who fantasizes about running away to avoid persecution and evil.

While Sartoris is sitting in the back of the store, surrounded by other people and away from his Father, that is when Sartoris plans to speak on the harm his Father has done. I think Sartoris is young and confused as to whether doing the right thing means telling the truth or sticking with his Father. I think when he plans to speak on what really happened, Sartoris is absolutely justified in going against his Father. Just because Snopes is the caretaker to Sartoris does not mean that Sartoris has to lie on his behalf.

Abner and Sartoris do share one similarity which leads to a common theme: rebelling against what appears evil and rebelling for that sole reason. Abner hates the rich, as he is struggling to get by. That is his main motivation to burn the barn, a symbol of wealth and DeSpain's privileged livelihood. Sartoris, in return, rebels against his Father, by telling DeSpain what his Father has done, which leads to Abner's death. Sartoris seems very upset after this happens, standing up and proclaiming that his father was a good man. However, the story ends with Sartoris walking away, describing his stiff leg, as his father had, but how "walking would cure it". Leaving this toxic situation and family will allows Sartoris to become a man different than his father.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thoughts on Sheri Reynold's "A Gracious Plenty"

A Gracious Plenty is about Finch Nobles, a girl who realizes that she can speak to the dead after a horrific accident that left half of her body burned. Working in the cemetery, Finch shuns the society that rejects her. This half burned is the reason she is ignored and disliked, but the underlying truth of her sexuality is prominent in this piece, and is what I think Finch is seeking to discover about herself throughout the novel, and what this book is really about.

William Blott, much like Finch, is ostracized from the town for being gay. “God don’t love no queers,” remarks Leonard, who is a friend to Finch. Leonard here is representative of the entire town, as a policeman and son of the mayor. Society does not accept homosexuality in this small and religious community. One day, William’s grave is defaced by people in the town, and covered in profanities. Finch sees this when she is with Leonard. She becomes very adamant in exerting her stance on the injustice of the situation. William was still a human being at the time the townspeople knew him, no matter his sexuality, she would argue. However, before this, Finch expresses to her best friend Lucy her uncertainty, just like the rest of society, about her feelings towards homosexuals. When Lucy tells Finch that she believes it to be okay, Finch lets down her barriers and from then on embraces her own love for Lucy. She defends William so fiercely because she sees herself in him.  The side of Finch that has been burned is the very same side of Finch that is in love with Lucy, and both are rejected by society. 

Yes. I went there.

But, well, competing with this other half is good old Leonard. Leonard is just as mediocre in the eyes of the town as Finch. He is the son that is forgotten about and has failed in life. He is compared to Marcus, his younger brother who died as an infant, yet still showed infinitely greater promise than he does. The two find solace in each other, recognizing that they are equals. As the novel progresses, the two grow increasingly fond of each other. It is impossible not to question if there is an underlying romantic interest. Finch is seen calling Leonard and hanging up once she hears his voice on the other line. Leonard rushes over to save Finch from a terrible storm, like a knight in shining armor. However, Finch tells Leonard eventually that the cemetery, her family of the dead, and ultimately, Lucy, is where her home truly is. 
So, here it goes a bit less like Cinderella and more like Mulan, if you will.

Finch often wishes that she knew Lucy when she was alive, so that she could “kiss her and wipe her tears dry”. In the final scene, Lucy does kiss Finch, and although it was only a gesture, as only one is alive, Finch “knew what it meant”. However, I suppose readers can understand this kiss in a million different fashions.

I read A Gracious Plenty to be story not only about the desire to be wanted and accepted, but a love story between Finch and Lucy. Finch made this perfectly clear to me, as a reader, when chooses to risk her life in a storm to remain at the cemetery with Lucy, recognizing that her death would only create a lifetime with Lucy, in the mysterious other side of life, death. All Finch needs in the novel is a feeling of being alive, to be cherished and respected, that she only finds in the dead, a sign that Finch will never be happy anywhere else but with Lucy.