Monday, August 30, 2010

Inspiration: Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë was a wild woman -- who lived quietly. One of my favourite quotes from her is:

 “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”

I use it on my main Facebook page because it captures that derangement of the thoughts that proves essential to creation. What seems like disorder is really a calculated chaos, one from which I can choose the things I need and put them into a coherent format in my writing. But that step into madness is needed. I suppose the important part is coming back from that state.

Brontë's best known work, Jane Eyre, is a wonderful book, originally published under the pseudonym Currer Bell. A middle child (third of six), she wrote elaborate narratives of imaginary lands with her sisters and brother -- the best early training. While we tend to think of this talented family as alone on the Yorkshire moors, Charlotte acutally worked as a governess and a teacher at a boarding school in Belgium, the latter supplying inspiration for Villette and The Professor, which supplies another of my favourite quotations:

"I must follow my own devices -- I must till the day of my death; because I can neither comprehend, adopt, nor work out those of other people." 

That attitude infuses her most famous character, Jane Eyre. While some people find Jane harsh and unsympathetic, I've always admired her zeal to achieve what she will -- will being an important word -- and her unwillingness to compromise her values, while at the same time refusing to bend to society's requirements if it did not reflect what she knew to be true in her own heart.

Hurrah, Charlotte!

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