Locus Focus: Take Twenty-Four!
First announcement: Remember that next week's theme is Scary Settings: The Movie Edition! You’re welcome to link up any post about the memorable places in Horror movies. And as I told a certain Horror blogger friend, you don't have to use the girly badge. =P
Second announcement: The next challenge is Non-fiction in November, scheduled for 6 November 2010. (I'll also be doing Narnia in November on the last weekend of the month, but that's not an official theme, just something I want to do. You’re welcome to write about Narnia, too, if you like--and just as welcome to link up something totally different.)
What I like about my Theme Challenges is that when I extend them to all the weekends of the month, my Locus Focus posts don't merely stand alone, but have the added dignity of being links in a chain. This personal game of connect-the-posts makes them twice as much fun to write. I like throwing seemingly unrelated things together.
What I don't like about my Theme Challenges is that when I extend them to all the weekends of the month, I have to put off writing about a really great setting from a recent read that doesn't belong on the existing chain. The following setting, rediscovered early last month, doesn't really go with what I've been writing lately about amusement parks of evil, circles of hell, and imperial suites of death . . . but at least it's still good and Gothic.
by Charlotte Bronte
It was three stories high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman's manor house, not a nobleman's seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery, whose cawing tenants were now on the wing: they flew over the lawn and grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which these were separated by a sunk fence, and where an array of mighty old thorn trees, strong, knotty and broad as oaks, at once explained the etymology of the mansion's designation. Farther off were hills: not so lofty as those round Lowood, nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from the living world; but yet quiet and lonely hills enough, and seeming to embrace Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected to find.
You probably didn’t bother to read the above block of text that I chose for my epigraph for this round of Locus Focus . . . and that’s kind of okay. It's not what Thornfield looks like that matters most, but what Thornfield can make you feel.
There is just something about Thornfield Hall that makes everyone believe he could be happy there. Jane certainly thinks so, although she has never really been happy in her life and doesn't really hope to be. So I guess it would be closer to the truth to say she knows she won't be miserable there--which still counts for something!
But the real vote of confidence comes from Mr. Rochester, whom you think would avoid the place like the plague for the rest of his days. Even he can't stay away. And the grip Thornfield has on him is almost--judging by the imagery he uses--supernatural.
One day, while walking about the grounds with Jane, a wild look enters his eye and he falls silent. Then he explains:
"During the moment I was silent, Miss Eyre, I was arranging a point with my destiny. She stood there, by that beech trunk, a hag like one of those who appeared to Macbeth on the heath of Forres. 'You like Thornfield?' she said, lifting her finger; and then she wrote in the air a memento, which ran in lurid hieroglyphics all along the house-front, between the upper and lower row of windows, 'Like it if you can! Like it if you dare!'"
If your home took the form of a person, what would he look like? And what does it say about Mr. Rochester that the spirit of his home appears in his mind’s eye as a malicious, wizened hag and yet he dares to love it still?
Ironically enough, there is a very real "hag" on the premises--but he doesn’t care about her. It is his tragic failing in more ways than one. Thornfield, for its part, seems to feel okay with being Bertha Mason's home, perfectly content in its mistress who is squirreled away in secret on the third floor. And it doesn't seem too happy about the interest the master is showing in the new governess. Still, it doesn’t wish her any real harm and even keeps conspiratorially silent on the night she sneaks away and leaves her would-be husband to his legal wife.
Thornfield is a cruel sort of house--but like Jane herself, it is cruel to be kind, and very rigidly moral. And as loyal as it is to its first mistress, it admits that Jane could have been very happy there, had things only unfolded differently.
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
This Week's Other Loci Foci:
J.K. Rowling's Defence against the Dark Arts Office @ Null Epistolary
John Milton's Pandaemonium @ Birdie's Nest
Image Source: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte