Thursday, July 11, 2013

the keys are in the lock

The surges in Shirley (the surge in favour of Shirley, for example, the surge against the old main character Caroline), are all contained inside the thrust of the book, the frustration and thrust, but Amanda McKittrick Ros in Irene Iddesleigh does not have the overarching push that would absorb and thereby rationalise her surges, her bursts, her boats of dreamland; extravagance is not her problem I think, it is the absence of a field where extravagance is justified by the force-field of meaning or in other words the intention around the story.

So the surges are there in Brontë's book, the moments when one area of interest emerges onto the page that was not there before, and it has a rulership there; it has some domination for a short while, or a presence anyway.

This is a thought I had in Chapter XXVII, when a process of things entering and exiting came into the story: a sad lover left his room and went into another room, the desk was open, he looked inside, there was a bag, there were gloves. "A bag -- a small satin bag -- hangs on the chair-back. The desk is open, the keys are in the lock."

The small bag, softly satin, is the companion to the word "slightly" in Brontë's description of the conversation between Shirley and Caroline; because of the pushing author there is a pressure behind it, as there is in D.H. Lawrence when he uses a diminutive or decreasing word, eg "very" or "little," which he loves --

The little white feet nod like white flowers in the wind,
They poise and run like ripples lapping across the water;
And the sight of their white play among the grass
Is like a little robin's song, winsome

-- which he deploys like an exquisite pinch when he needs it, and he can strategically overload the last line there with "winsome," pushing the point and punching his pulpit till you understand: the feet are little and they are winsome, they are everything in that direction of meaning.

And I think that, in a story dedicated to power, these littles and slightlies are repressive and compacting agents, holding back the thrust for a moment and keeping it strongly in abeyance to let it come out again with uninhibited force when the word little has gone past. Power is being ignored, it will come forward and make a revelation. The bag will open, the desk will open, a beam of strength is waiting to surge out of the interior. The man contemplates: "A whole garment sometimes covers meagreness and malformation; through a rent sleeve a fair round arm may be revealed."

Entering and exiting and coming in and out, just here, as the climax between Shirley and this man prepares to happen, open-mouthed things coming into the story, interior secrets are inside the current mind of the story now, they are not only in concrete objects, they are in abstracts. "Indeed, through this very loophole of character, the reality, depth, genuineness of that refinement may be ascertained," thinks the man, then he ends the chapter like this: "He locked the desk, pocketed all the property, and went."

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