Like wine through water

Like wine through water

A lovely image of something – a dream or an idea – imbuing every part of your being. I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the...
A divine emotion

A divine emotion

I liked this description of a joyous but modulated sense of appreciation. For my part, I am almost contented just now, and very thankful.  Gratitude is a divine emotion; it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms us, but not to fever. Gratitudinously yours.   ...
Miss Mann’s yearning

Miss Mann’s yearning

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. ...
Prize life and enjoy it

Prize life and enjoy it

Caroline goes through a period of malaise and fear for her future, with illness en route. I believe in my heart we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it.  Existence never was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow-trailing...
A delicate attention

A delicate attention

Shirley’s self-doubting friend Caroline renders herself ill to the point that her uncle, the Rector, decides to feed her himself.  Showing her with his words the same tenderness he displays in his actions.  ‘Lift her up, and put a shawl over her.  On my...
A day in the woods

A day in the woods

A moment when the two main characters of Bronte’s less well known novel get to know each other.  Shirley, newly arrived, proposes a day in the woods to Caroline, who knows the land and the calendar of its changes in minute detail, a mental map she is happy to...
Unsullied attitude

Unsullied attitude

Shirley is among the less known works of Charlotte Bronte.  At a time when women had considerably fewer options in deploying their energies and talents, Shirley is a strong character with attitude and resources.   I loved the ‘Pah to all that’ feeling in...
Life-giving elixir

Life-giving elixir

As often happens in 19th century literature and no doubt in reality, freedom could come to women with access to some kind of economic independence, however modest. In a world where jobs were limited (and often galling or exhausting in their nature), this could be in...
Frantic or free?

Frantic or free?

One of the most powerful ripostes to any attempt at ensnarement or wing-clipping, there is something timeless and transcendent in Jane Eyre’s clarity.  Mr. Rochester tries to bind her to him but soon learns that nothing will drive her away faster. ‘Jane,...

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