Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jane Eyre and Real Virtue

Ian looks like a mayor.
Addie wanted everything.
Clare and I just finished up another Valley Performing Arts play ~ Jane Eyre. We already miss the shows and the cast and crew. It truly is a community affair. One of the sweet parts of each VPA show is the themed, interactive lobby exhibit. Last year's Velveteen Rabbit had a Christmas tree with Santa giving away candy canes and posing for pictures. Jane Eyre's crew came up with a people-sized picture frame and black velvet background with a rack full of vintage clothing for patrons to don and snap photos in.

It was wonderful to read the book again after many years and I am so proud to contribute to putting the story on stage. My friend wrote a piece on Jane Eyre over the summer and I wrote for our Frontiersman last month. I've copied mine here in full, as clicking on the newspaper link results in annoying, required survey questions.

Jane Eyre and Real Virtue

"Reader, I married him."

One of the most famous lines in literature, this sentence begins the final chapter of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It is a story of a girl turned lady, a girl who learned through sadness and loss to better herself and to become a lady who held tightly to God's laws of charity and chastity, a girl whose life began unwanted and unloved and ended with knowing "what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth...supremely blest beyond what language can express because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine."

What is it about Jane? Why are we drawn to her story? Why are readers, so pleasantly addressed as such by Miss Bronte, gladdened to see her move from unforgiveness to forgiveness of her Aunt Reed; to see her stand up for Christian morality with her master; to see her call upon Providence in her deepest sorrow, to see happiness and contentment finally visit her, all the while retaining her vibrant personality and quick wit? Why does relationship with Jane change and soften Mr. Rochester until he did "begin to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my pray."?


It's not a word you hear much anymore. From the Latin word virtus, it means, "Habit superadded to a faculty of the soul, disposing it to elicit with readiness, acts conformable to our rational nature." Or, as Saint Augustine thankfully explained more succinctly, "Virtue is a good habit consonant with our nature."

The Church charts virtue into two groups: moral and theological. The moral virtues are prudence (reasoning to discern the good), justice (man regulating himself in relation to others), temperance (restraining concupiscence), and fortitude (moral strength to do what right reason requires). The Catechism of the Catholic Church says about these, "The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love (#1804).

The theological virtues are infused; that is, gifts from God. They are faith (intellect perfected by Divine light), hope (confidence in Divine assistance to life everlasting), and charity (love of God and neighbor). According to our catechism, "The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They have the one and triune God for their origin, motive, and object (#1813).

Jane saw virtue in her Lowood School friend Helen Burns who, when questioned by Jane about vengeance, answered with, "I so sincerely forgive the first [criminal] while I abhor the last [crime]: with this creed [from the Creator] revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low; I live in calm, looking to the end. Why should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress when life is so soon over and death is so certain an entrance to happiness -- to glory? God is my father; God is my friend; I love him; I believe he loves me." Indeed, Helen's life was over too soon. Her gravestone was marked with her precious name and the word, Resurgam -- I shall rise again. Her influence lived on in Jane, though, and made the world a little better.

She also saw virtue in her teacher and friend Miss Temple, who, as well as teaching Jane the liberal
As Miss Temple and Diana Rivers.
arts of language, literature, French, drawing, and mathematics, took every opportunity to smile, to give, to embrace, to listen, and to show a tear. Jane said, "I had imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts. What seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind." Jane carried this virtue, both from God and practiced in life, with her to Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester.

Her virtue attracted Mr. Rochester: "The more you and I converse, the better; for while I cannot blight you, you may refresh me." He delighted in Jane's true, easy, and excellent conversation free of coquetry and shallowness. Their interactions leading to true love are delightful to read. And often funny.

"Tell me now, fairy as you are, can't you give me a charm or a philter or something of that sort to make me a handsome man?"
" 'It would be past the power of magic, Sir'; and in thought I added, 'a loving eye is all the charm needed; to such you are handsome enough; or rather, your sternness has a power beyond beauty'."

When the existence of a secret, lunatic wife was exposed and their wedding called off, a desperate Mr. Rochester begs Jane to move with him to France and live together, for no one would know or care. To which Jane replied, "I care! I will keep the laws given by God; sanctioned by man. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour, stringent are they, inviolate they shall be. They have a worth; there I plant my foot. I will not be yours." Her answer to her love's anguish was to "Do as I do; trust in God and yourself. Believe in heave. Hope to meet again there. I advise you to live sinless and to die tranquil."



Our cast. Our friends.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

I Lived

Several people have forwarded this video to me over the past few months but I never watched it, afraid of sadness or sappiness. But I'm working on an article for the Frontiersman about Respecting Life and thought there might be something I could use so I watched it.

It's perfect.

And it's true for everybody ~ "When the sun goes down through the joy and pain, until my moment comes I'll say, I lived."

Yes we will. Life is still good.
Love, Allison