Charlotte Bronte reminds us of a deep longing often hidden beneath layers of life. A few weeks ago, we visited a medieval hamlet in Sardinia, which despite a few tourists and sights, was apparently showing signs of abandonment. We saw an old man sitting on a bench. When we greeted him, he responded so warmly, I wondered if anyone had spoken to him all day.
Miss Mann felt that she was understood partly, and wished to be understood further; for however old, plain, humble, desolate, afflicted we may be, so long as our hearts preserve the feeblest spark of life, they preserve also, shivering near that pale ember, a starved, ghostly longing for appreciation and affection.
Source: Charlotte Bronte, Shirley (London: Collins, 1968), p. 154
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