Jane Eyre, which Charlotte Bronte wrote under the pen name Currer Bell, in an age when it was not decent for women to write, is one of the most romantic stories ever and like the story of Silas Marner involves a fictional blinding, when Mr Rochester’s home catches fire. With the shame of his psychic Grace Poole in the attic, of the past, his marriage and so thwarted love of Jane, he is redeemed and gets his sight back too, spiritually and literally, thanks to the love of the active not the passive and judging feminine, in the understanding, courage and love of the heroine, Jane.
Just as Silas Marner loses his soul to acquisitiveness, then loses everything too, but is redeemed by his love for and parenting of a little girl. That golden haired child he sees through the fog of his own blindness, at first thinking it is his lost money restored, but finding a far bigger prize. I talked of the film Half-Nelson too and the potential agony of an idealistic man getting so lost, and being so shamed too, but also redeemed by his friendship with a teenage girl. Such concepts and words don’t sit so easily in today’s world, but the ‘soul’ and its fears and problems, for men and women, are as real today as ever. We just need a language for that, and the spirit contained inside that, that is not necessarily religious, or split into easy labels and opposites. Out of my novel Fell, and so in the dark, I so cried out for my own Jane, for so long, and she never came. No one has a right to anything, but I am still understanding the why in me and in others. But it is another theme in the book The Seven Basic Plots, on the history of storytelling and its reasons, of why the strong but wildly inflated masculine, like King Lear, can so rage and go so dark when it loses touch with the balanced and honest heroine, like Cordelia. ‘I love you according to my bond, no more, no less.‘ Yes, indeed. That great, tragic play is also about blindings too, types of seeing and imagination, but as ever in Shakespeare how an alchemy is always going on inside people themselves, but most especially with people on one another.
The picture is of the original edition of Jane Eyre from Wikedpedia.