Still she worked successfully as a governess for ve years, published two novels, two poems in magazines, and a joint volume of poetry with Charlotte and Emily, all before her death at age twenty-nine. She was sent to school at all only because Emily was unable to adjust to life away from Haworth and could not nish out her term; Charlotte, who taught at the school, barely mentions her youngest sister in her abundant correspondence from this period. When Charlotte and Emily traveled to Brussels to prepare themselves to open a girls school, Anne Bronte was not invited to go.
Te major joys of her life were the yearly visits to the sea at Scarborough while she was employed by the Robinson family. After her resignation, probably as a result of Branwells indiscretions with Mrs. Robinson, those trips came to an end. It is not believed that she was ever oered an opportunity to marry. Many of Brontes poems use words that express connement: cages, tombs, prisons, dungeons, chains. Tis device is not unexpected since the poetry and novels by women of this era are permeated by what Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have called an oppressive imagery of connement that reveals that the female artist feels trapped and sickened by suocating alternatives, and by the culture that created them What is strikingly unique is that Anne Bronte nds alternative meanings for metaphors that typically express disappointment, bereavement, loneliness, and homesickness.
Most of the Gondal poems were written between and , in Haworth. Ada Harrison and Derek Stanford have called these the imaginary poems because they are by a woman who has not yet been bruised by hard experience Tey are also the imaginary poems because they are infected by Emilys torrid Byronic heroes Harrison and Stanford It is especially illuminating to think of them, however, as the inauthentic poems since they are so heavily inuenced by Emily.
But even in these imitative, edgling poems, Bronte asserts her own views of life that do not share Emilys themes of revenge, rebellion, and scorn. In A Voice from the Dungeon, the prisoner, Marina Sabia, speaks in a resigned voice: Im buried now; Ive done with life; Ive done with hate, revenge and strife; Ive done with joy, and hope and love And all the bustling world above.
Long have I dwelt forgotten here In pining woe and dull despair; This place of solitude and gloom Must be my dungeon and my tomb. Near the poems end, Marina Sabia utters one long piercing shriek, which rouses her from her one consoling dream of child and lover: I looked around in wild despair, I called them, but they were not there; The father and the child are gone, And I must live and die alone. A Voice from the Dungeon is a highly derivative poem and has even been mistaken for Emilys work Bronte Brontes heroines are not usually given to making piercing shrieks, but the joy that the dreaming Marina Sabia feels in being reunited with her darling child is purely Anne Bronte.
Neither 28 Alexandra Leach Charlotte nor Emily seems particularly interested in children and neither expresses the yearning for a child that their sister voices. Te Captives Dream is similar to A Voice from the Dungeon in that an imprisoned woman, Alexandrina Zenobia, who lies wasting in a dungeon, dreams of her lover. Te Byronic inuence is clear in his description: his hollow wandering eyes, his marble brow. And as Alexandrina Zenobia tries to reach him: I struggled wildly but it was in vain, I could not rise from my dark dungeon floor, And the dear name I vainly strove to speak, Died in a voiceless whisper on my tongue,.
She could stoically bear her imprisonment if only it did not bring suffering upon her beloved. Brontes personality emerges in these lines, in her disquiet over anothers grief, even when she speaks in the voices of stock characters and locates them in the Gothic settings of earlier Romantic poetry. Ten the imaginary world of Gondal became largely silent and Brontes experiences as a paid employee in a busy household began to supply the material for her verses. It was also at this time that an attentive man, her fathers curate, William Weightman, entered her life. His death, at the age of twenty-eight, in almost certainly inspired Annes lines on a dead lover.
Her work as a governess ended in and her brief career as a published writer began. Te poem, Te Captive Dove, clearly represents a woman yearning for freedom. A bird in a cage is a common image of a trapped individual, a yearning soul, or a woman with limited opportunities. Te caged bird is also a particularly appropriate metaphor for the Victorian governess, since a governess is an educated lady who is required to work, trapped essentially, within the homes of other people. Te employment of a governess acts as a testimony to the economic power of the Victorian middle-class father and an indication of his wifes leisure and ornamental status Peterson 5 ; it is also living proof that the womans own family and home have failed her.
A governess lives in exile from her own family, yet resides outside the circle of her employers family and apart from the lower world of the household servants. Te scene is so heartbreaking that it has the power to turn the speaker from her own loneliness: 29 Escaping the bodys gaol: The Poetry of Anne Bronte Poor restless Dove, I pity thee, And when I hear thy plaintive moan Ill mourn for thy captivity And in thy woes forget mine own. In vain! Thou canst not rise Thy prison roof confines thee there; Its slender wires delude thine eyes, And quench thy longing with despair.
Although the image is more subtle, the airy cage still represents incarceration. But Bronte does not have escape in mind: Yet hadst thou one gentle mate Thy little drooping heart to cheer And share with thee thy captive state, Thou couldst be happy even there. Bronte recognizes that relationship is crucial to her emotional health; to be condemned to live without a soul mate is almost unbearable Gilligan 8.
William Weightmans early death prevents him from ever rescuing her from her captive state, but his very real spiritual presence in her mind inspires new metaphors of separation and loneliness. In the rst two stanzas of Yes Tou Art Gone, Anne Bronte describes the physicality of her lovers tomb: Yes, thou art gone and never more Thy sunny smile shall gladden me; But I may pass the old church door And pace the floor that covers thee; May stand upon the cold damp stone And think that frozen lies below The lightest heart that I have known, The kindest I shall ever know.
He is doubly entombed: frozen below the floor and shut up within the building itself, and he is doubly dead: lifeless 30 Alexandra Leach as well as frozen. The speakers pacing movements further emphasize the narrow, captive space. The poems mood however is not bleak; it concludes by reflecting on the sweetness of the lovers transient existence and its lasting impression upon the poet. Written a year after Brontes return to Haworth, and at a time that it appears Emily had stopped writing poetry, this pair of verses demonstrates that the themes of Gondal are merging with the themes of Brontes experiential verses, and that Gondals dungeons no longer serve to contain her thoughts.
In the rst poem Zerona argues with another speaker who implores her to cast away her sorrow. But Zerona cannot be joyful when her lover is still imprisoned: For, in the brightest noontide glow, The dungeons light is dim; Though freshest winds around us blow, No breath can visit him. A mental duel such as this is consistent with Brontes increasing use of dialogue and rational argument as a way to refine ideas and present satis- factory conclusions.
The technique reaches its maturity in her last poems. Striking similarities exist in the description of Zerona s prisoner-lover to the dead lover of Brontes bereavement poems. Te lines, What waste of youth, what hopes destroyed, and If he must sit in twilight gloom could easily refer to Weightman. In the answering poem, the imprisoned lover responds, begging Zerona to enjoy nature for his sake: When through the prison grating The holy moonbeams shine, And I am wildly longing To see the orb divine Not crossed, deformed, and sullied By those relentless bars That will not show the crescent moon, And scarce the twinkling stars.
It is my only comfort To think, that unto thee The sight is not forbidden The face of heaven is free. Bronte does not realize her purpose until she provides a convincing counter- argument that offers comfort in a seemingly hopeless situation. In Severed and Gone, Bronte is still reconciling herself to a lost love. Again, she uninchingly surveys deaths abode: I know that in the narrow tomb The form I loved was buried deep, And left, in silence and in gloom, To slumber out its dreamless sleep.
I know the corner, where it lies, Is but a dreary place of rest: The charnel moisture never dries From the dark flagstones oer its breast. Instead, within her silent bedchamber she prays that Heaven will grant her a vision of her loved one, glorious in the afterlife. Bronte craves a visit from such a spiritual visitor, for as long as she can remember him she can keep his memory fresh.
She firmly believes the earthly tomb can be transcended and replaced by the more distant residence of the spirit Harrison and Stanford Bronte is increasingly understanding herself to be the one in exile, far from her eternal home of Heaven. Four poems survive from the late summer of until shortly before Brontes death in May Tese are her most authentic poems and although though they contain some conventional didactic elements, to dismiss them as such is to miss their individuality; for Anne Brontes s didacticism is not commonplace, but is of a passionate kind Ewbank 52 , and the pupil she is most concerned with examining is herself.
She is rarely adamant; her religion is a quest, a patient sifting and internal discussion Chitham, Religion An examination of the extensive revisions and word listings on Brontes manuscripts reveals that she sifts not only religious ideas but words in her eorts to achieve a clearer and simpler vocabulary.
Her choice of hymn and ballad forms also allows the most musical of the Bronte clan comfortable boundaries within which to create. Tese are contours that many writers before her have used, providing comfortable familiarity in their economical rhymes and traditional rhythms Scott Self-Communion is her longest poema dialogue between the poet and an immortal speaker, perhaps Wisdom or Reason. It is a poem so autobiographical in nature that Edward Chitham has placed it among primary sources for understanding Anne Brontes personality Bronte 3.
Te 32 Alexandra Leach questioner asks the poet to look back on her life and search her memory, a step that will provide her with the guidance she seeks. Bronte insists that even as a child she strove to nd the narrow way but her childish prayers and artless cries were scorned by those around her.
In time, the child it grew wiser than her teachers in seeking the path to Heaven: It asked for light, and it is heard; God grants that struggling soul repose; And, guided by his holy word, It wiser than its teachers grows. It gains the upward path at length, And passes on from strength to strength.
She laments the loss of an early friendship, someone who was her sun by day and moon by night. Critics widely believe that Bronte is referring to an increasing estrangement from Emily, whose early literary partnership had brought her so much delight. In Self-Communion, the first speaker echoing Brontes own conscience assures her: Could I but hear my Saviour say, I know thy patience and thy love; How thou has held the narrow way, For my sake laboured night and day, And watched, and striven with them that strove; And still hast borne, and didst not faint, Oh, this would be reward indeed!
These metaphors have merged with a well-known phrase in Christian theology, the straight and narrow path. And when even her dearly loved home is no longer a place of refuge, with Emily alienated, Charlotte pursuing her own ambitious goals, and Branwell wallowing in self-abuse and defeat, she can still envision a path that will lead her to her final destination of Heavenly reward and reunion with loved ones. She affirms a constricted life of disappointments and absent opportunities by transforming it into a pathway that if followed carefully and faithfully will lead to a reconciling God.
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That which was a language of failed expectations and estrangement now expresses a firm conviction that a life lived within narrow borders can ultimately lead Home. Teddi Lynn Chicester draws the opposite conclusion for Emily Brontes poems. Both Elizabeth Hollis Berry and Maria Frawley provide in-depth discus- sions of silence and voicelessness in Brontes poems and novels. The name Alexandrina Zenobia is notable. Emily has nothing to say about this Gondal character in her poems, although Charlotte includes a Zenobia in her juvenile writings. The historical Zenobia was the third century C.
Queen of Pal- myra who was captured and paraded through Rome in golden chains. It would have been typical of Bronte to derive her character from a real person rather than create her entirely as a fiction. See Mary Summers article for an exploration of this issue. Desmond Pacey reported in the Times Literary Supplement his discovery that this poem had appeared in the December issue of Frasers Magazine; many works on Anne Bronte do not include this information.
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it Matt. W C Berry, Elizabeth Hollis. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria, Bronte, Anne. Edited by Edward Chitham. London: Macmillan, Victorian Poetry, 29 : pp. Chitham, Edward. A Life of Anne Bronte. Oxford: Blackwell, British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Stanley J. New York: Wilson, pp. Duthie, Enid L. The Brontes and Nature. New York: St. Martins Press, Ewbank, Inga-Stina.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Fawley, Maria H. Anne Bronte. New York: Twayne, Gilbert, Sandra M. New Haven: Yale University Press, Gaskell, Elizabeth. The Life of Charlotte Bronte. London: Smith, Elder, Gilligan, Carol.
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Harrison, Ada, and Derek Stanford. Anne Bronte: Her Life and Work. London: Methuen, Pacey, Desmond. The Narrow Way. Times Literary Supplement, 18 Aug , p. Peterson, M. Edited by Martha Vicinus. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. Scott, P. London: Vision, Summer, Mary. Bronte Society Transactions, 25 : pp. Daily he announces more distinctly,Surely I come quickly; and hourly I more eagerly respond,Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus! John Rivers, has long struck critics as problematic.
Marianne Thormhlen, for instance, suggests that the shift from the happy domesticity of the Rochesters to the dying missionary has puzzled readers for generations. John Rivers. John acts in an inconsistent manner: he saves Jane from certain death after she has crossed the moor in her escape from Edward Rochester, yet he is also her oppressor in attempting, forcefully, to persuade her to submit to a loveless marriage and a possible early death as a Christian missionary in India. Judith Williams likewise points out the inconsistency, suggesting that St.
John cannot be seen as truly charitable, even though he is an exponent of evangelical char- ity, as Jane describes him. Johns demise. John anticipates his sainthood, rather than achieves it. His lack 36 Essaka Joshua of love, then, may play a part in his possible shortfall. Johns virtuous withdrawal from worldly pleasures is part of his saintly jour- ney.
John without fault and therefore entitled to sainthood? Tormhlen resolves the problem of St. Johns charitable yet destructive nature by proposing that he has dierent attitudes to strangers and loved ones. He is charitable to the former but less indulgent to those who have come into his fold. Tormhlen is, nevertheless, of the opinion that, as St. John is devoid of sympathy for his fellow creatures and takes pride in advocating reason above passion, he is at fault.
Te Christian religion highlights the importance of love, but St. John denies this. Moreover, Tormhlen suggests, St. John is guilty of the sin of spiritual pride. As this would eectively debar St. John from sainthood, Tormhlen considers a range of solutions aimed at understanding his character. Following Jerome Beaty, Tormhlen states that Jane and Edward have acted correctly in having sought and received Divine guidance.
Johns] religion as Jane conceives it at Morton, to say nothing of love for mankind. Johns character by the time he reaches the end of his life, and she acknowledges that the novel does not ascribe a change in character to St. John in order to make him worthy of sainthood. She, therefore, argues for a reconsideration of St. Johns character at the end of the novel on the basis of the words of his closing letter quoted in part above : St. Johns plea expresses an eager yearning for Christ as well as that unques- tioning acquiescence in Gods will which is the peculiar charac- teristic of saved souls.
The Christian it seems, has finally got the better of the man; he is ambiguous still, but his old relentlessness, the fever in his vitals III. Like Rochester, so different from him in so many ways, he has submitted to the Divine order, and now he is preparing to meet his true love, Jesus Christ.
The ending of Jane Eyre is not a closure so much as a balancing of the book, which leaves the reader to contemplate two very dissimilar patterns of human endeavour under the Heaven to which both assign ultimate power. It does not seem necessary to prefer one to the other or to pronounce a verdict on either. John on the other, arguing that Bront does not choose between them. Tere is, in my estimation, however, enough evidence in the novel to suggest that Bront does make a choice, and that the nal sentence of the novel encapsulates its fundamental theme.
Te central religious theme of the novel is the renouncing of idolatry, for which St. John acts as a symbol. John is problematic, however, because a secondary theme of the novel is that rejecting idolatry does not require a rejection of human relationships. Indeed, part of the point seems to be that renouncing idolatry is necessary for good human relationships. Bront approves Janes pattern of human endeavour, not St. In this article I shall try to demonstrate that the ending, far from creating problems for our understanding of the novel, is in fact part of a sustained account of the role of Jesus, the Christian Messiah, in human relationships, and that if read in the way that I shall suggest, Jane Eyre is, despite some of the ways in which it has been presented in the critical literature, a deeply religious novel, and indeed a novel with an orthodox and unexceptionable Christian message.
Te novels idolaters make false gods of other characters; they do this by treating these other characters as if they had Messianic status, or could somehow supplant the Christian Messiah. Much of the evidence for this resides in the Biblical references in the novel, upon which there has, as yet, been little sustained comment. If we look closely at the implicit and explicit Biblical references, it is striking how many of these references overtly or covertly ascribe Messianic status to the various characters in the novel. Te novel frequently does this by applying specic Christological verses.
Tis association between Messianic symbolism and ctional characters is wholly eschewed at the end of the novel, to be replaced by an unequivocal focus on Christ. I shall argue that one of the novels purposesor at least one of the narrators purposesis to show that human relationships are successful only if the partners in the relationship avoid the dangers of idolizing each other. Salvation, as it were, comes not from human relationships and the human beloved, but from Christ, the heavenly beloved. While it is not my main purpose to give an account of the enigmatic role of St. John Rivers in the novel, I shall try to show too that my reading of the religious aspects of Jane Eyre can provide a solution to the cryptic conclusion of the novel, which is, of course, a quotation from a Messianic text.
I shall begin by examining the various Biblical and theological references in the novel, largely in the order in which they appear, highlighting the development of these allusions. I shall not look at all such references, but focus on those that have specic Messianic context, or at least that relate to the general theme of idolatrythe worship of the creature.
At the same time, I shall show how the narrative includes contrary images and cautions the 38 Essaka Joshua reader that these Messianic identications and pretensions are disordered. Almost all of the passages where characters in the novel are associated with Messianic imagery and texts are negative in their general message and eect. Characters assume the aspect of false Messiahs: their actions are consequently dysfunctional, and the eects of these actions disruptive.
But this is not so in every case, and I shall consider the exceptions secondly. On the basis of this examination, I shall try to come to some preliminary conclusions about the Christian message found in the novel, a message which is explicitly found in contemporary religious literature that, variously, either was or may well have been known to Charlotte Bront.
I shall nally relate my conclusion to the novels problematic ending, associated with St. To begin with the protagonists: Edward Rochester implicitly thinks of Jane Eyre as his Messiah from an early stage in their encounter; Jane takes rather longer to think of Edward in this way. A hint of what is to appear later in full-blown form is seen during the second meeting of Jane and Edwardthe first meeting when each is aware of the others identity. Edward commands Jane to Go into the library, but immediately excuses his peremptory man- ner: I mean, if you please.
Excuse my tone of command; I am used to say Do this, and it is done: I cannot alter my customary habits for one new inmate. Obviously, despite his command- ing manner, he is immediately forced to apologize and excuse himself. But the words of his excuse are taken from an episode that occurs in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke: the healing of the centurions servant.
The centurion asks for Jesus help in a way that explicitly links the centurions authority with his unworthiness: The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Edwards description to Jane of his own authority is, then, suffused with ambiguity and qualification. But addressing Jane in the terms used by the 39 Almost my hope of heaven: Idolatry and Messianic Symbolism centurion to address Jesus anticipates Edwards later attitude: Jane is indeed, as he sees it, his Messiah.
Te next time Edward makes Messianic allusions is again in relation to his own actions and status. He attempts to justify his proposed bigamy by arguing that his love for Jane is sucient to atone for the wrongdoing, in the way that Christians understand Christs atoning work to be an expiation for human sin: Again and again he said, Are you happy, Jane? And again and again I answered, Yes.
After which he murmured, It will atoneit will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at Gods tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the worlds judgmentI wash my hands thereof. For mans opinionI defy it. Edward believes his actions to be sanctioned by God, asserting that Janes happiness will be adequate reparation for bigamy. He justifies the importance of his role in Janes life by echoing Johns gospel: I will not leave you com- fortless: I will come to you.
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Throughout this speech Edward presents himself as the saint who has his eyes firmly fixed on Heaven, rejecting earthly reputation in favor of the salvation he can bring to Jane. This is, nevertheless, a disordered image of a Messianic mission: the committing of a sin in order to atone for a wrong. In justifying bigamy in this way, Edward displays spiritual pride.
In washing his hands of the worlds judgment, he echoes Pilates self- absolution and complicity in the crucifixion in Matt. Edwards general inclination is to identify Jane as his Messiah, rather than present himself as Messianic. Jane, his angel and comforter, causes him to be healed and cleansed, 17 just as Jesus heals and cleanses the sick as a metaphor for his healing and cleansing the human race of its sin. Rochester, you must neither except nor exact anything celestial of me, for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you; which I not at all anticipate.
A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?
They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? We cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Perhaps the echo of Johns Gospel indicates that on some level Jane accepts Edwards worship of her as his Savior, but Jane ostensibly distances herself from Edwards misunderstanding of her role.
Later, after the aborted wedding and Jane is in flight, she is tempted for a moment to think herself into this role as Edwards Savior: I could go back and be his comforterhis pride; his redeemer from misery; perhaps from ruin. Redeeming is obvi- ously a Messianic function; but so too is comforting according to John I [ Jesus] will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol. The passage marks a crucial change in Janes view of Edward. Just as Edward has inclined to view Jane in Messianic terms, he is now her Messiah, her God, and, as Jane realizes but is powerless to avoid, he has replaced her Christian belief with, indeed, something altogether more pagan. One theme that runs through the scenes between Edward and Jane in volume 2 is that of the Fall: as the relationship between Edward and Jane develops, the narrator brings in imagery of the Garden of Eden, and reports Edward as likening Jane to Eve.
Most strikingly, Edwards proposal of marriage takes place in a metaphorical Eden, complete 41 Almost my hope of heaven: Idolatry and Messianic Symbolism with fruit. Jane describes the scene in great detail. It begins with an opulent mid-summer sun setting at the sweetest hour of the twenty-four, burning with the light of a red jewel.
No nook in the grounds was more sheltered and more Eden-like; it was full of trees, it bloomed with flowers: a very high wall shut it out from the court. I look round and I listen. I see trees laden with ripening fruit. I hear a nightingale warbling in a wood half a mile off; no moving form is visible, no coming step audible; but that perfume increases: I must flee. I make for the wicket leading to the shrubbery, and I see Mr. Rochester entering. He strolls on, now lifting the gooseberry-tree branches to look at the fruit, large as plums, with which they are laden; now taking a ripe cherry from the wall; now stooping towards a knot of flowers, either to inhale their fragrance or to admire the dew-beads on their petals.
A great moth goes humming by me; it alights on a plant at Mr. Rochesters foot: he sees it, and bends to examine it. The scene takes place in Eden, and Edward has already eaten the fruit. The month, which makes a further appearance later in the scene, is used frequently in the Bible to indicate destruction: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth cor- rupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth cor- rupteth.
The honey, fruit, flowers, fragrance, enclosed garden and latched door are present in both. Representing Torneld as Eden alludes to the post-lapsarian nature of Edward and Jane. When Adam and Eve are cast out from paradise they live amongst thorns: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the eld.
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Edwards proposal of marriage addresses Jane in terms reminiscent of the language used to describe Eve in Genesis: I ask you to pass through life at my sideto be my second self, and my best earthly companion; I love you as my own esh. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
His advice against this warns her not to be an Eve, a poisoner of their good relations; Jane playfully replies in a way that makes it clear that she is, or could be, not only this but something more: Edwards tempter, and someone who can vanquish him: You are welcome to all of my confidence that is worth having, Jane: but for Gods sake, dont desire a useless burden! Dont long for poison dont turn out a downright Eve on my hands!
Why not, sir? You have just been telling me how much you like to be conquered, and, how pleasant overpersuasion is to you. Dont you think I had better take advantage of the confession, and begin and coax, and entreateven cry and be sulky if neces- saryfor the sake of a mere essay of my power? Te novels suggestions that the whole marriage proposal and the relationship that develops are like the Fall of mankind are paralleled by another equally disturbing set of images at this point: that Jane is a witch, an image that its itself carefully grounded in Biblical texts.
Te story of Samson is alluded to, with Jane explicitly likening herself to Delilah:. The conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can win. Why do you smile, Jane? What does that inexplicable, that uncanny turn of countenance mean? I was thinking, sir you will excuse the idea; it was involuntary , I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with their charmers You were, you little, elfish 33 And a little later Jane reports, He said I was a capricious witch.
Te most curious Messianic allusion, very dierent from the sort of reference that I have been considering so far, occurs during the night- 43 Almost my hope of heaven: Idolatry and Messianic Symbolism time visit of Edwards mad wife to Janes bedroom on the night before the marriage ceremony:. Presently she took my veil from its place; she held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own head, and turned to the mirror.
It removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them. Paul identifies as lead- ing to sin and deserved condemnation. The destruction of the wedding veil symbolizes and anticipates very neatly the narrators subsequent assessment of this sinful, bigamous marriage: it is only when both the marriage and the disordered relationship between Jane and Edward are abandoned that both characters can order their affections in such a way that they can form a suc- cessful bond.
Te events immediately after the interrupted marriage ceremony include several relevant Biblical references. Most interesting are the quotations from Psalms 22 and 69 that Jane makes immediately after the failed wedding ceremony: Be not far from me, for trouble is near: there is none to help. The first verse of Psalm 22, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, is one of Jesus last words on the Cross, and the whole psalm is traditionally understood as Christological indeed, as specifically related to Christs crucifixion.
Given this, it is striking that Janes only scriptural allusions immediately after the humiliation of the wedding ceremony are to these two psalms, so closely associated with Christs passion and death. Furthermore, Jane refers to Psalm 69 indirectly at this point in the narrative: 44 Essaka Joshua I seemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a great river; I heard a flood loosened in remote mountains, and felt the torrent come: to rise I had no will, to flee I had no strength. I lay faint; longing to be dead.
Te rst page of volume 3, a dialogue internal to Jane, contains another reference to Psalm that in turn leads to a further Messianic allusion: Let me be torn way, then! I cried. Let another help me! No; you shall tear yourself away; none shall help you: you shall, yourself, pluck out your right eye; yourself cut off your right hand: your heart shall be the victim; and you, the priest, to transfix it. Compare for example the Epistle to the Hebrews: But Christ being come an high priest.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writ- ing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Margaret Smith notes that the exhortation to purify by self-mutilation occurs elsewhere in the gospels, but significantly it is in this particular passage that it is associated with condemnation of adultery. On the one hand, the close association of Jane with these Messianic texts could lead the reader to suppose that she is still being portrayed in a fundamentally negative light.
Janes departure, for instance, is linked to Edwards redemption. Presumably, the point is that Jane already perceives that the correct course of action is not to be Edwards Messiah. It is, rather, to be Christ-like in a theologically acceptable way: to take up her cross and follow [Christ].
John Rivers, in his nal letter from the mission-eld, presents to Jane the Christians duty, and in spite of St. Johns defects, it is quite clear that this is how the narrator leads us to understand his mission too. During these developments in Janes religious personality, Edward fails to change in any way. He twice alludes to himself as damned. During the wedding ceremony itself, he notes that his attempted bigamy sends him to Hell: Mr.
Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly: Bigamy is an ugly word! I meant, however, to be a bigamist: but fate has out- manuvred me; or Providence has checked me,perhaps the last. I am little better than a devil at this moment; and, as my pastor there would tell me, deserve no doubt the sternest judgments of God,even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm.
Janes morally prudent decision to leave leads to earthly wretchedness for him, and his own actions have led to his spiritual damnation. Jane attempts to redirect him: Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven. Hope to meet again there. You snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on lust for a passionvice for an occupation?
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But this is, in Christianity, the role of Christ alone: Jane is still understood by Edward in Messianic terms. Jane, contrariwise, has realized that the only cure for their malaise is the renouncement of idolatry: I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than 46 Essaka Joshua I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. One drear word compromised my intolerable dutyDepart! Jane counsels Edward accordingly: I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil.
Almost immediately after Janes initial abandonment of this idolatrous attitude, she feels an assurance of Edwards well-being too, an assurance that originates not from her own idolatrous worship of Edward, but from her well- ordered worship of God. Jane discovers this as she wanders across the moor. Worn out with this torture of thought, I rose to my knees. Night was come, and her planets were risen: a safe, still night; too serene for the companionship of fear. We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us: and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence.
I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr. Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty milky-way. Remembering what it waswhat countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of lightI felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should per- ish, nor one of the souls it reassured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiv- ing: the Source of Life was also the Saviour of Spirits. Rochester was safe: he was Gods and by God would he be guarded. The right ordering of her relationship to God has as its consequence the well-being of Edward, and thus perhaps the inchoate possibility of a right relationship with Edward too.
Jane cannot be Edwards Savior; but God can. In this wilderness, Jane takes on the role of John the Baptist, rather than that of Christ who is tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 47 Almost my hope of heaven: Idolatry and Messianic Symbolism Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. John Rivers who is presented physically as a potential idol with his Greek face 60 , has further religious development to undergo: I was sure St. John Riverspure-lived, conscientious, zealous as he washad not yet found that peace of God which passeth all understanding: he had no more found it, I thought, than had I; with my concealed and racking regrets for my broken idol and lost elysiumregrets to which I have latterly avoided referring; but which possessed me and tyrannized over me ruthlessly.
But Edward is not the only idol that Jane is in danger of worshiping. Te powerful inuence of St. John Rivers presents itself to her as a further, serious temptation to idolatry, and it is only after this idolatry is resisted that Janes relationship with Edward is restored. I will discuss St. Johns troubled role in the novel in the nal section below. But it needs to be made clear that one of the reasons for the problematic status of St. John is Janes disordered attitude towards him, an attitude that he has encouraged as much as Edward caused her earlier idolatry.
Jane begins by equating St. Johns physical beauty with his spiritual beauty, understanding her relationship to her idol in these terms. In taking on St. John as her mentor, Jane tries to emulate him. Janes inability to become beautiful is seen by her as a metaphor for her inability to achieve the physical and spiritual perfection that St. John stands for: He wanted to train me to an elevation I could never reach: it racked me hourly to aspire the standard he uplifted.
The thing was as impossible as to mould my irregular features to his correct and classic pattern, to give my changeable green eyes the sea blue tint and solemn lustre of his own. Johns role as an idol is perhaps emphasized more so even than Edwards, in that it is an overtly religious choice that Jane is making. Marriage to St.
At this point in her troubled relationship with this pseudo-Messianic figure, St. John dominates Jane in the same way that Edward manages to, and this is highlighted in the repetition of the reference to the healing of the centurions servant. John uses Matt. In presenting herself as the sick servant, and St. John as the centurion, Jane hints that she is aware that St.
John should not stand in place of the Messiah. Nevertheless, Jane is bat- tling with the confusion that the religious element of his authority presents. Even though Jane hints here that she is waiting for the real Messiah to heal her, realizing that St. John, in spite of his authority, is not to be seen as a Messianic figure, she is tempted to make an idol of him, as the following passage confirms: By straining to satisfy St. John till my sinews ache, I shall satisfy himto the finest central point and farthest outward circle of his expectations. If I do go with himif Ido make the sacri- fice he urges, I will make it absolutely: I will throw all on the altarheart, vitals, the entire victim.
He will never love me; but he shall approve me. John, but to him; it is an attempt to earn his approval. But the offering of sacrifices to creatures is the paradigm case of idolatry in the Old Testament. John himself equates Janes refusal of him with her damnation, as if he himself is not just one possible route to the salvic work of Christ, but that work itself. On the night before St. Johns departure for Cambridge, he begins family prayers by reading Rev. Henceforward, I knew what fate St.
John feared for me. John leaves Jane a note that explicitly identifies mar- riage to him, and the subsequent missionary work, with salvation: You left me too suddenly last night. Had you stayed longer, you would have laid your hand on the Christians cross and the angels crown. Johns offer because she rightly perceives that his understanding of human love is deficient: I scorn your idea of love 68 partly because it is insufficiently 49 Almost my hope of heaven: Idolatry and Messianic Symbolism emotional, but, more importantly, because it fails to value Jane as the dis- tinct human being that she is: There would be recesses in my mind which would be only mine, to which he never came; and sentiments growing there fresh and sheltered, which his austerity could never blight, nor his measured warrior-march trample down: but as his wifeat his side always, and always restrained, and always checkedforced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vitalthis would be unendurable.
John accepts only one part of Jesus two-fold love commandment: he loves God, but not his neighbor. This notion of love is almost as disordered as that of the idolatrous characters earlier in the novel. Equally, Janes refusal of St. John marks her final salvation from the dangers of idolatry. Te night before St. Johns departure, Jane hears Edwards voice calling from afar, and experiences a Mighty Spirit: not Edward though she hears his voice too but God himself, and from this point in the novel all relationships are rightly ordered: all idolatry has been denitively forsaken, but not at the expense of well-ordered human relationships: I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet.
I rose from the thanksgiv- ingtook a resolveand lay down, unscared, enlightenedeager but for the daylight. Jane is as if liberated from prison: The wondrous shock of feeling had come like the earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul and Silass prison: it had opened the doors of the souls cell, and loosed its bandsit had wakened it out of its sleep, whence it sprang trembling, listening, aghast.
His blindness symbolizes the abandonment of idolatry, and is thus not emasculation or castration, as has been suggested elsewhere, but a positive symbol for his religious well-being. Edward describes his conversion: He [God] sees not as man sees, but far clearer: judges not as man judges, but far more wisely. I did wrong: I would have sullied 50 Essaka Joshua my innocent flowerbreathed guilt on its purity: the Omnipotent snatched it from me.
I, in my stiff-necked rebellion, almost cursed the dispensation: instead of bending to the decree, I defied it. Divine justice pursued its course; disasters came thick on me: I was forced to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. His chastisements are mighty; and one smote me which has humbled me for ever. Of late, Janeonly of lateI began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconciliation to my Maker.
I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were, but very sincere. The scene ends with frag- ments of Edwards thoroughly traditional prayer: I thank my Maker, that in the midst of judgment he has remem- bered mercy. I humbly entreat my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done hitherto! We should recall too Janes role as mediator between Edward and the world during his blindness: I was then his vision, as I am still his right hand.
Central to this analysis is the identication of Edward, St. John, and Jane as false Messiahs. Other characters, including Jane as a child, occasionally receive something like Messianic status in ways that lack negative implications. Te very young Jane suers in a way that is likened to the suerings of Jesus. Te elder Janethe narrator of the story comments about her treatment at the hand of her guardian, Mrs Reed: I ought to forgive you, for you knew not what you did: while rending my heart-strings, you thought you were only up-rooting my bad propensities. But this comment is from the older Jane, from someone who, like the rst Christian martyr, Stephen, can use Christs words from the cross merely as a way of following the example of Jesus.
Te only real exception is the remarkable Helen Burns. Helen Burns is identied as a Christ-like gure by means of some implicit scriptural quotation found in Janes rst conversation with her, a conversation that takes place on the same day that she has seen Helen ogged. Jane is puzzled that Helen does not want to retaliate. Helen immediately cites Jesus teaching: Te Bible bids us return good for evil, 81 and implicitly places herself in the role of recounting Jesus teachings: Learn from me, she exhorts Jane, just as Christ exhorts his disciples learn of me. What does he say? Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you.
Pilate says I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. Why is Helen Burns not a false Messiah? Helen is not a substitute for Christ in the sense of being an idolized object of adoration. She merely takes on Christs teaching role, and can represent Christ in this way without thereby becoming the object of an idolatrous and dysfunctional devotionthe very problem exhibited by the other Christ-like characters. The novel does not, however, counsel that human relationships should be abandoned altogether; it suggests that relationships should not stand in the way of the worship that is due to God.
If this is the message of the novel, then it is a 52 Essaka Joshua standard orthodox Christian one which was readily available to Charlotte Bront herself. A similar message can be found, for example, in Isaac Wattss volume, Discourses of the Love of God This Principle of divine Love will grow jealous if any meaner Love rise too high, and become its Rival, or make too near Approaches to its Seat and Throne. A sovereign Love to God will limit and moderate all inferior Love.
Remember that excessive Love to the Creatures hath often provoked a jealous God to embitter them to us terribly by remarkable Providences, or to cut them off sud- denly in his Anger. The way to keep our Comforts, is to love them with Moderation. The doctrine can also be found in an interesting collection of sermons by the anti-Calvinist G. Woodhouse, published in and owned by Patrick Bront and thus readily accessible to Charlotte at Haworth. If, without any misgiving or uncertainty, we were assured, that as we have often met together in peace in this house of prayer, so hereafter we should all meet together in peace in the presence of God, joyful indeed would be to us the prospect of eternity.
In that case we should have little difficulty in complying with the admonition of the text [Col. Our prayer would then be the expression of our hearts sincere desire, when we said, Thy kingdom come: Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. He does not believe, however, that they should take the place of the Christians primary relationship with God.
Conventional religion is a tiresome succession of words droned out by dull-witted Pelveys. Love is mere itch and ennui. Patriotism is absurd. Mass education has simply increased the number of semi-literate gullible people who delight in whatever inanity the advertisers provide for them. One lives as Mrs. Morality is a meaningless concept, because one cannot accept any absolute standards against which to measure conduct. It was a word people only used nowadays with a kind of deprecating humourousness. Beyond good and evil? We are all that nowadays.
Or merely below them, like earwigs? I glory in the name of earwig. In such a world, only pleasure can stir human beings or keep them from ending their pointless lives. Gumbril therefore sets out to find pleasure, in the arts, in sex, in living comfortably, in science, in politics. Huxley gives us a picture of each of these activities, but each is a picture of futility. His artist is a self-deceived mediocrity. His amorists, Mercaptan and Coleman, find pleasure only when the circumstances are witless and sordid.
Bojanus, wants a revolution not because it would accomplish anything but because it would provide a change and a little excitement. The scientist, Shearwater, grafts ovaries into roosters and produces beetles that cannot crawl straight because their heads have been cut off and replaced by heads from other beetles. His bored wife passes through the beds of several of the characters while 16 Clyde Enroth the scientist himself pedals a bicycle desperately on a treadmill so as to lose himself in experiments and thus not think about his passion for Mrs.
The novel ends in an aimless circling taxi ride during which Gumbril and Mrs. Viveash see in the garish, idiotic electric advertising signs in Piccadilly Circus symbols of the utter pointlessness of modern life, the antic hay in which they are engaged. Amid all this idiocy, Gumbril finds two possible sources of meaning. The second source of meaning, though Huxley does not press the matter, offers at least the possibility of a means for finding some lasting purpose in existence.
In a remarkable passage, Huxley presents an experience that is to recur in Time Must Have a Stop, one of the clearly mystical novels. In any case, the experience can only be described as mystical. Deliberately —to put a stop to the quietness. It is beautiful and terrifying, yes, terrifying as well as beautiful. Something inexpressibly lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressibly terrifying. There would be an end of bandstands, and whizzing factories, and one would have to begin living arduously in some strange, unheard-of manner.
Viveash and Mercaptan and Coleman, Gumbril muses. She was native to that crystal world; for her, the steps came comfortingly through the silence and the lovely thing brought with it no terror. Can one fit the information that one receives about an order of being not perceptible to the senses into the view of the world that an intelligent, educated, skeptical man of the twentieth century must hold? Having had a mystical experience, what move does a reasonable man next make? Leave it there, and let the dogs lift their hind legs over it as they pass.
Given a choice between the absurdity of mysticism and the pointlessness of life without mysticism, Gumbril chooses the latter and resigns himself to continuing the antic hay. Thus we may conclude that Huxley, the most autobiographical of novelists, had as early as seriously entertained the possibility of obtaining information by mystical means about an order of existence entirely hidden to the senses or the intellect. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that Huxley himself had had a mystical experience of the sort that Gumbril describes but that, like Gumbril, he was not yet prepared to make the tremendous changes in his view of the world that embracing anything so foreign to the Western mind as mysticism would involve.
Let us now skip over two novels, Those Barren Leaves , in which the mysticism hinted at in the earlier Crome Yellow and Antic Hay is openly discussed, though Huxley draws no conclusions in the novel, and Point Counter Point , in which, according to the received opinion, Huxley sees the error of his mystical ways and adopts instead D. Brave New World, which appeared in , when Huxley supposedly was still under the influence of Lawrence and had outgrown mysticism, will illustrate the second of the two points of this paper, that a strong undercurrent of mysticism is to be found even in the novels in which Huxley had supposedly repudiated mysticism.
In Brave New World, Huxley shows that any society that has set happiness and material well-being as its goals must, for the sake of stability, deliberately cultivate mediocrity and perpetual adolescence in all but a tiny portion of its numbers. If, on the other hand, it wants to make its members fully human, individual, and independent, it must abandon the economic, political, and social structures that impose conformity—in a word, it must revert to primitivism, with all of the attendant disease, intolerance, and ignorance.
In the novel, the only two choices are the brave new world and the savage reservation; man has the choice, Huxley says in his preface, between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other. But Huxley hints at a third alternative. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. Nothing in the idea of happiness suggests such an alternative, as motion suggests rest or silence suggests sound. Mustapha Mond, offered early in his career a choice between exile in the chaotic intelligent society and life in the orderly stupid one, does not regret having chosen the latter, despite his powerful intelligence.
Presumably Mond is speculating about the possibility, at least, of developing a latent faculty in man, his mystical intuition. All silences rejoice, Weep loudly or low , Speak—but with the voice Of whom, I do not know. Something seems to be coming to me. Evidently Watson has had a mystical experience. Having had that experience, Watson knows that he will be exiled, but he looks forward with pleasure to exile and the solitude that will make the operation of intuition possible.
To conclude: the examination of these two novels, one written at a time when according to the usual view Huxley had not yet become a mystic, and the other written at a time when according to the usual view Huxley had been convinced by Lawrence that speculation about mysticism was useless, shows that from the very beginning of his career Huxley has been strongly drawn toward the mysticism avowed openly only in the later novels.
Though he has certainly been influenced by Lawrence and others at various times in his career, as he has himself acknowledged, Huxley has shown in his career a steady and consistent development of mystical tendencies and has not undergone the two conversions of which the critics speak. Mysticism, 12th ed. New York, , xiv. New York, , — London, Page numbers are given in parentheses. New York, J ames H. The Philosophical Phases of Aldous Huxley T he philosophical phases of Aldous Huxley may be traced in terms of a cycle which ranges from negation to affirmation.
All the characters except Rampion in Point Counter Point drown in their own subjectivity. Rampion retains just enough contact with the natural world to be converted into a searching mystic in Eyeless in Gaza. Propter who identifies time as evil and conversely identifies the timeless world of the mystics as the good in life. In Time Must Have a Stop and The Genius and the Goddess, the world outside of time is equated with love and becomes recognized as the ground of all religious experience.
Huxley demonstrates the human necessity for transcending time by showing in an ironic and often ludicrously funny way that modern man continually falls short of the very psychological and spiritual condition that he sets out to secure, and he falls short of it simply because he applies the wrong standards in attempting to attain it.
What then, we may ask, is this condition Huxley believes modern man to be searching for? It is difficult to discover a Huxleyan character who does not demonstrate in his actions a search for peace. Inner peace is secured only by abolishing the illusion of the identity. The peculiar nature of the Huxleyan absolute has been dealt with rather technically by such critics as John Atkins and S. But because Huxley has done a great deal of research in Eastern mysticism and written books on the relationship of drugs such as mescaline to extra-sensory perception and has subsequently engendered some of these concepts into his novels, it does not follow that his important contribution to literature can be summed up in terms of his present philosophical scheme, nor does it follow that his novels have been merely projected images of a worn idealist carrying on a series of tautological grumbling sessions with himself without any causal connection between the grumbling sessions whatsoever.
I submit that Huxley does explore several metaphysical worlds before arriving at his present commitments, but that he does this in rational terms, that all the early philosophies that he examined are important in relation to his over-all method of structuring a complete metaphysics, that there is a clear line of cause and effect between each of his novels, ranging from Crome Yellow to The Genius and the Goddess, and that it is more important to examine the method Huxley uses in structuring his system rather than to attempt an analysis of his current beliefs.
By observing the methods used by the characters in attempting to secure inner peace, a trial and error system is constructed and the principles of finding inner peace are reached inductively. The first method, whereby man seeks to secure inner peace by a hypocritical religious position, is satirized unmercifully by Huxley in his early novels. In Crome Yellow, for instance, Mr. In the same novel, Huxley presents Mrs. Wimbush in the same ludicrous manner. Her notion of immortality is constructed on rather shoddy pragmatic principles.
Astrology, thinks Mrs. Their insights into the nature of reality tend to disclose that there is some kind of vague power present in the universe which at its best can help them write a better play or acquire wealth or even aid them in looking mysterious enough to be successful in seducing their next potential lover. Thus it is that the failure of an egocentric interpretation of the universe to give the truthsearcher inner peace may cause him to arrogate more and more power to himself and thereby attempt to control those outside himself by cultivating his supposedly specialized powers.
This leads us to a consideration of the second method by which modern man seeks to secure inner peace: that of self-deification. Self-deification is most prominently evidenced in the character of Theodore Gumbril, Jr. Gumbril, having committed himself to skepticism finds it difficult to trust in any ideological group. He becomes afraid of the loss of his identity and is driven by his need of internal strength to conceive of the complete man.
The Complete Man is to be objectively characterized by his all-too noticeable, fan-shaped beard and his oversized, padded coat. Sitting in his office one day, Gumbril glues the fan-shaped beard onto his face. He then undergoes a pseudo-spiritual metamorphosis: The effect, he decided immediately, was stunning, was grandiose. From melancholy and all too mild he saw himself transformed on the instant into a sort of jovial Henry the Eighth, into a massive Rabelaisian man, broad and powerful and exuberant with vitality and hair.
Such is the nature of the complete man. The process of deification is now complete. All that is left now is for Gumbril to assert himself in the form of the Complete Man. Rosie, herself, manifests narcissistic tendencies. One evening, while contemplating her adulterous behavior, she slips her hands into her kimona and begins to fondle her own arms. Then she begins thinking of herself as a beautiful pink serpent. As long as Gumbril conceives of himself as the Complete Man, the Rabelaisian man, and as long as Rosie conceives of herself as a beautiful serpent, pink or otherwise, they cannot spiritually know one another.
In Point Counter Point, for example, which Huxley described as his vision of hell, Spandrell is the supreme representative of Satanic evil. Spandrell is bored by ordinary evil. He therefore spends a great deal of his time trying to convert people to Christianity with the intention of later corrupting them. Harriet leaves him, filled with hatred for him and for herself. Spandrell is left to meditate upon his own misery, which in his terms can be alleviated only by finding another innocent victim.
Then the cycle will repeat itself, only to create more misery. The third method, considered by Huxley, whereby man might secure inner peace, is that of identifying himself with nature. Huxley has this philosophy verbalized in Point Counter Point by Rampion. Rampion recommends unmediated experience as a solution for stabilizing the identity. The hierarchical framework of traditional systems should be eliminated. Here intellect has been sacrificed for feeling, and although there is some dignity in the freedom of the savages, they cannot be eulogized for having found inner peace any more than can the Brave New Worlders who represent the logical extension of placing ultimate value on material gains, the deification of pleasure, and the deification of themselves.
This brings us to the fourth method by which man attempts to secure inner peace; that of placing ultimate value on material gains. Jo Stoyte is completely identified with the temporal world, so identified in fact, that he is constantly tormented by the idea of death. Stoyte is a California millionaire who seeks to secure a kind of mortal immortality by taking hormone treatments from his private physician, Dr.
Obispo takes Stoyte to England with him where he intends to examine the home of a certain Earl who in the year had discovered the principle of increased longevity by eating the intestine of fresh carp. In the cellar of the old house they find the Fifth Earl: On the edge of a low bed, at the center of this world, a man was sitting staring, as though fascinated, into the light. His legs thickly covered with coarse reddish hair, were bare. With one of his huge and strangely clumsy hands, he was scratching a sore place that showed red between the hairs of his left calf. Obispo describes the creature as a foetal ape.
Obispo tells Stoyte that he can start taking the fish intestines the next day if he feels ready. Stoyte observes the creature before him, then replies: How long do you figure it would take before a person went like that? And once you get over the first shock.
I mean in their own way of course. On the other hand the identity cannot find stability in material objects because these objects are subordinate to time and will therefore decay. Seemingly, the individual is trapped between placing emphasis upon himself or placing emphasis upon objects outside himself, neither of which methods produce inner peace. They are afraid to ground their identity in anything, for they realize how easily they may be destroyed. The extreme disadvantage to this method is that the person becomes literally unable to act for fear of having identified himself with the wrong object.
This explains why Anthony Beavis is unable to act in the first part of Eyeless in Gaza; he spends most of his time meditating. Huxley is not saying as Sartre has said that the meditation of religious verities leads to inaction. On the contrary, he is saying that meditation is crippling only when it leads the individual to vegetate on the nothingness between the deification of material objects and the deification of himself.
The cycle must be broken somewhere and it is this necessity that leads us to the sixth and final method of securing internal peace; that of transcending time and concretely identifying the self with the world that is common to all religious experience. In Eyeless in Gaza Anthony Beavis has a mystical experience and gains the ability to act out of the spirit of love rather than restricting himself to his usual method of laborious abstraction.
In The Genius and the Goddess Mrs. Maartens has an adulterous relationship with John Rivers in order to secure spiritual strength to save her husband from death. Paradoxically, Mrs. Maartens does derive spiritual strength from her act of adultery and the next morning she is able to save her husband from death. Old Beulah, who has prayed all night, insists that Mrs. Maartens has received grace from the Christian God. Rivers applies a Pickwickian interpretation; uses a hodgepodge of Christian and mystical terminology to explain the regeneration.
To Mrs. Maartens, who is not a Christian, the new energy and psychic health is simply a function of life. Later Mrs. Maartens gets killed in an auto wreck. Huxley leaves the cause and The Philosophical Phases of Aldous Huxley 29 effect sequences leading up to her death hanging on a tenuous thread which is suspended between naturalism and Predestination. However God is interpreted in this novel, it is obvious that He acts, and His presence is most clearly manifested in the regeneration of Mrs.
Maartens and her subsequent death. Her death is at once a martyrdom and an atonement. It is a martyrdom in the sense that her initial intention is to secure strength to save her husband from death; it is atonement in the sense that her naturalism evokes suffering, not only for her but also for her child and finally for Rivers.
In this novel, Sebastian Barnack, a young intellectual who has been haunted all his life by a desire for wealth and for sensual gratification gradually comes to realize the necessity of positing religious verities. Miller in Eyeless in Gaza. In conclusion, it may be said that Huxley defines the world outside of time as absolute reality. It is the world of all the great mystics, and the principles that can be deduced by an identification with it embody the general ethics of Christianity, as well as some of the Oriental religions. It has been objected by some critics that the reality recommended for worship by Huxley is too cold, too inanimate, too impersonal.
Such criticism, it seems, suggests a kind of theological or moral coercion on the part of the critic rather than an attempt at literary analysis. In all the historic formulations of the Perennial Philosophy it is axiomatic that the end of human life is contemplation, or the direct and intuitive awareness of God; that action is the means to that end; that a society is good to the extent that it renders contemplation possible for its members; and that the existence of at least a minority of contemplatives is necessary for the well-being of any society. He is apparently like Henry Wimbush in Crome Yellow , an amateur historian who devotes himself to research on lavatory sanitation in the Middle Ages; or like Gumbril Senior in Antic Hay , an architect who squanders his competence on plans to rebuild London according to the drawings of Christopher Wren.
He has seen, as has Huxley, the break-up of communal society into an amorphous collection of tangential egoists, each of whom inhabits his own private world. This break-up is, for him, such an actuality that to live anywhere except among eccentrics and as an eccentric would constitute escapism. Through Chelifer, Huxley shows that eccentricity and unreality have become so firmly established that the artist can only deal with life by becoming unreal himself. Chelifer insists that normality, centricity, and all who speak of such things Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, Volume 7, Number 3 Autumn : pp.
To live among their works is to live in a world of bright falsehoods, apart from the real world; it is to escape. Escape is cowardly; to be comforted by what is untrue or what is irrelevant to the world in which we live is stupid. The first tries to graft a tail onto the leg of a newt, the second wants to write the biggest book ever written on democracy.
Unable to cope with reality, Hercules sets up a private world built to his own dimensions: a dwarf-size house, a dwarf wife. He becomes increasingly fond of his limitations and writes poems exalting the small and classifying height as abnormality. But his hopes of filling the world with people his own size collapse when his wife gives birth to a normal-size son. As he slices open his veins and allows the blood to flow freely in the warm water of his tub, Hercules personifies the futility of the eccentric escapism practiced by Gumbril, Wimbush, and all who fly off from the center to build up their own private world.
As Huxley observes in Point Counter Point, instruments meant for harmony emit cacophony: The parts [of the orchestra] live their separate lives: they touch, their paths cross, they combine for a moment to create a seemingly final and perfected harmony, only to break apart again. Each is always alone and separate and individual. And all are equally right and equally wrong; and none of them will listen to the others. For him, life is sheer water. In addition to the orchestra image, Huxley continually presents society as a collection of parallel lines, none of which ever cross.
He tries to confide in Mary Bracegirdle who is simultaneously trying to confide in him: Denis: The individual. There are times when he comes into contact with other individuals. Mary: True. When one individual comes into intimate contact with another, she—or he,. Mary was not listening. Each is a parallel line talking about itself only. Though Denis realizes what is wrong with society, he is part of the problem rather than a solution to it.
Beckett inserts his characters in ash cans, but Huxley, drawing on the novels of Thomas Love Peacock — , puts his around a dining table or in a garden of some country house such as that of Crome Yellow and satirizes their isolation effectively. But in the Chelifer section of Those Barren Leaves, Huxley achieves an irony almost Swiftian in its convolutions, as reality and unreality, the normal and the deviant, the rule and the exception, all change places.
The writing of poetry is a normal pursuit and hence to indulge in it would be eccentric. Like Keats, Chelifer exercises negative capability, but his capacity for sympathetic projection leaves him worse off than Descartes. To annihilate himself and become all that others are means he must become, 34 Jerome Meckier like those around him, an egoist and an eccentric. By identifying with others, he becomes imprisoned in himself. And Chelifer, fully conscious of his predicament, makes a world from which everything extraneous to rabbit fancying is excluded.
The world, as Huxley sees it, is without a center and its inhabitants are fragmentary. Each flies off from the center and sets up a world of his own in which be cultivates his ego. In a disintegrated society, the artists, who should see life steadily and see it whole, are, Huxley complains, incurably split.
They cannot converse with each other because they have all gone off on separate tangents and because each is in himself a battleground of mind against body. Each is either a Houyhnhnm or a Yahoo, all intellect or all genitals. Nineteenth-century ideals have broken down, and, with the exception of a spokesman whom Huxley inserts into some of his novels, no one calls for integration, for the creation of new standards. The First World War stands as the culmination of the breakdown of nineteenth-century ideals, and characters such as Mr.
Cardan in Those Barren Leaves, a man who functions like Mr. We were all wonderfully optimistic then; believed in progress and the ultimate explicability of everything in terms of physics and chemistry, believed in Mr. Gladstone and our own moral and intellectual superiority over every other age.
The same topic is filtered through two or more characters of dissimilar outlook and is refracted in each case according to the sort of background the character represents. Of the two resultant opinions, one seems more reasonable and becomes more readily acceptable by contrast with the other.
The era believed everything to be explicable in terms of chemistry and physics. The age as a whole felt superior to its ancestors. The uncertainty Calamy finds so exhilarating about the present age encourages each person to seek security in a private world. Huxley and Cardan approve not the ideals of the nineteenth century but the desirability of a set of standards that serve as a blueprint for a communal society. What is needed, then, is not another Victoria, but a new set of standards and ideals that can invest society with a centric quality.
Huxley agreed with Wyndham Lewis The Art of Being Ruled that the artist, as ally of the intellectual, must form and guide society; and that where he does not, intellectuals begin to pursue their specialties in ever-increasing isolation. The eccentric artist breeds eccentric intellectuals and an eccentric society.
And an eccentric society, like the one that envelops Chelifer, produces more eccentric artists. But the artist has clearly failed society. If, as we observed earlier, Huxley satirizes the eccentric in general, be satirizes the eccentric artist in particular. Francis, really attains happiness only when he takes baths with women. The artist, even more than society, exists in a state of mind against body, is either a man of intellect or a creature of lusts.
Twelve of them ready to be made one, waiting to come together, to be fused, to lose their twelve separate identities in a larger being. Mark Rampion, who strongly resembles D. Lawrence, calls for a refusing of flesh and spirit that will permit man to join his animal with his rational functions.
The strong and complete spirit must know what the heart knows as well as what the mind knows. Man is both Houyhnhnm and Yahoo and exists ideally when these two elements in his nature are balanced, when, instead of point against point, they are in the true counterpoint of equilibrium. The early lizards died of having too much body, just as Old Bidlake is almost all flesh and no mind. He becomes fully human. He obtains, as Rampion says the ancient Greek did, the benefits of his animality and his humanity. By refusing to kill any part of himself, he strikes a balance. In the manner of Peacock, be accumulates characters at a country house or around Aldous Huxley: Satire and Structure 37 a dinner table, and, as they talk, each reveals his eccentricity by trying to override the others, the way each instrument of the orchestra seemed to be doing in the image we examined earlier.
A typical Jonson play begins with the author conceiving a set of humour characters and then simply setting one off against another. And Huxley continually sets them off against one another. Chainmail Crotchet Castle wishes to live in the twelfth century. Asterias Nightmare Abbey searches for mermaids. When, in Crotchet Castle, the question arises as to what constitutes the summum bonum for society, each character unhesitatingly proposes his own brand of eccentricity. In the midst of the eccentrics, Peacock often inserts a spokesman whose voice is that of sanity and reason.
The same confrontation device—the assembling of talkative eccentrics and the addition of one or more rational spokesmen—forms the basis of most Huxley novels. In Point Counter Point, Rampion glances around the assembled group and labels the eccentricity of each character: Spandrell is a morality-philosopher pervert, Quarles an intellectual-aesthetic pervert, and Burlap a pure little Jesus pervert.
One sees everything in terms of morals and another transforms everything into mind and art. Each has made for himself an entire world out of one aspect of life. And every subject that arises in discussion will be twisted by each pervert until he makes it fit into his private scheme of things.
In effect, theme has become structure. What is being satirized and what makes the novel go are one and the same: the eccentricity of the characters. Structure, technique, and theme show the characters to be the uncrossing parallel lines Denis and Mrs. Viveash described. As a discussion topic passes through one eccentric after another, a series of variations appears as each eccentric bends the topic to suit his own eccentricity. Counterpoint in music occurs when a 38 Jerome Meckier melody is added to a given tune until plurality results; that is, a melody not single but attended by one or more related but independent melodies.
In the society the discussion group represents, no communal theme exists. Thus if Rampion speaks for a balance of mind and body, each of the other characters will pervert his statement to favor either mind or body since each is somewhat off center, being either all mind or all body or being more of one than of the other.
Rampion is seen both as Huxley presents him and as Quarles describes him. And Quarles exposes his own limitations while writing about the other characters. The abrupt transitions as many as five or six a chapter from one set of characters to another allow us to see all the parallels in operation even when they are not gathered at the same table. He shows us many layers of unsatisfactory love and inadequate wholeness. The absurdity of each layer that sets itself up as a totality is thus stressed, and each layer or divergent melody is continually and ironically juxtaposed with the others and with the ideal Mark and Mary Rampion represent.
In them, Huxley personifies integral living. In them and through the variations on them, he attains another kind of wholeness: he treats his themes and events from all aspects, in every possible form be can think of. Philip uses art to protect himself against life, and his brother-in-law, Walter, expects life to resemble art.
Thus, Huxley manages to get everything into the novel. Paradoxically, he sees the unity of life at the same time that he presents its complexities, for the divergent melodies, though off the beat, are clearly related to each other and Aldous Huxley: Satire and Structure 39 to the central melody. Huxley becomes the re-integrating artist incarnate, the man without blind spots. The breach between mind and body must be closed before the egotism that separates one man from another can be quelled. Nowhere in the modern novel are the functions and failures of the artist subjected to such scrutiny.
Like Peacock, Huxley examines romantic tenets. Like his own Mr. Huxley was fond of taking his titles from poets, using, among others, lines from Shakespeare and Tennyson. Those Barren Leaves, Chapter V. Antic Hay, Chapter V. Chapter XIII. Antic Hay, Chapter VI. In Huxley, everyone does go his own way and the result is parallel lines. Brave New World, Chapter V. Antic Hay, Chapter XI. After Point Counter Point, though many of the same themes occupy him, Huxley seems to move from discussion novel or novel of ideas towards the more frontal approach of the essay.
Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, May 3, The life of the main character, Anthony Beavis, from childhood to the age of forty-two, and to his final adoption of a new philosophy of life, is not described in a continuous and orderly progression. The fifty-four chapters that make up the novel, each chapter being usually restricted to a simple scene or a brief episode, are disconnected, in the sense that Huxley does not provide transitions and leaves the reader to infer what happens in between. Besides, the time-sequence is completely subverted; the scenes belonging to different periods are all mixed up, as if the novelist had shuffled his pack of fifty-four cards and was now dealing them out one after the other as they turn up.
The reader is thus placed in the unusual situation of having to travel back and forth in time and to re-order the chapters mentally if he wants to make sense of the novel—and he naturally wonders what can justify such a treatment of the story, and of him. Some sort of justification will be immediately apparent. If he is at all responsive, he cannot fail to notice that the sentence Chapter 3, p. But the reader may still find that the price he has to pay for some limited artistic effects of that kind is too high. And to approach the problem I would like to quote from one of the early critiques of Eyeless In Gaza, by the novelist Phyllis Bentley, who is mostly concerned with the question of the structure.
It confuses the reader almost to the point of madness; after all, a card index should not be necessary for the understanding of a work of art. Also—and this I think Mr Huxley has not sufficiently discounted—it does not permit the slow development of personality. It is useful to start with a brief summary of the main events in chronological order.
All the events recorded fall into six periods. B : —, ten chapters. Anthony is at Oxford, full of intellectual curiosity, and has already adopted the attitude of the detached, dilettanteish observer of life. But Mary, who has a twisted sense of fun, and also an urge to run down all high sentiments, blackmails Anthony into kissing Joan.
Anthony manages to cover it up as an accident, but breaks with Mary, who would pry out his secret. C : —, and again ten chapters. They describe Anthony at work on his Elements of Sociology. D : , and two transitional chapters. E : —February , in thirteen chapters.
First, four non-consecutive but early chapters 1, 3, 8, 12 describe the events of a single, crucial day, that of 30 August: Anthony finding a pack of old snapshots—he and Helen sunbathing on the roof of the villa—the dog flung at them from an airplane, crashing beside them and splattering them with blood—Helen reacting with puzzling violence and breaking off with Anthony. In the meantime, Helen has taken up with a young Communist refugee, and seen him captured by Nazi agents in Switzerland. F : April —February , and fifteen chapters, mostly very brief. The diary, however, merges into the 44 Pierre Vitoux narrative form for the final sequence, when Anthony is preparing to deliver a pacifist speech at Battersea under the threat of physical violence from a group of nationalists.
Let us make first a few remarks on minor formal points. There is discontinuity gaps in time not merely between the periods, but also between separate scenes: for instance, between July Chapter 19 and May Chapter 27 , that is two consecutive scenes in what has been defined as period B. There would be a problem for Huxley even in a chronological arrangement; but, on the other hand, since he has no objection to speeding up the narrative Chapter 15 moves in a few pages from January to January or even to putting in transitional chapters Chapters 25 and 29, of , the technical solution lies near at hand.
And the rearrangement would not be too difficult, since the chapters forming each sequence are, if not consecutive, at least placed in the right order; a sequence, covering a period, can be defined as a series of chapters following one another chronologically, though they are mixed up with chapters belonging to other sequences. It would have been necessary for Huxley to cast his material into another form, and a less suitable one, since whatever happens at that stage is interesting only for its impact on the mind of Anthony, and is interpreted in the light of his new philosophy of life.
But those extracts were few, and relatively scattered because the novel followed up different stories at the same time: the Quarles sequence with the bits of essay was interrupted by the Walter Bidlake sequence, and a few others. Here, the technical difficulty is that Anthony, at the end when the essay form is needed , tends to become the focal consciousness, or conscience, so that any splitting-up of the diary is precluded.
Even in a classical novel like Point Counterpoint classical, that is, in terms of structure the reader is expected to perform some mental gymnastics, jumping from side to side, from one strand of the story to another. In Eyeless in Gaza, he has to jump forward and backward in time, which is more unusual, but not really more exhausting.
What he is likely to miss at first is, of course, the motivation, the sense of the purpose of the exercise; time gives us the reassuring feeling that things follow from, and because of, one another—and where are we if we get the effect before the cause? This takes us back to the first scene of the novel, on the morning of the epochal day. Anthony Beavis is now forty-two, and affected by a melancholy sense of the passing of time, as he looks at the old snapshots of his mother, of Mary, of Gladys who was his mistress in For Proust, what we have experienced and felt is never really obliterated, and any chance incident it could be just this coming across a pack of old snapshots can suddenly bring back to life some fragment of the past: and it will not be simply remembered, but restored, giving us an intuition of the submerged but permanent past below the level of our present consciousness.
But there, of course, is the difference. The intensity and the form of the wish are explained some time later Chapter 9, p. Meanwhile, in the first scene, Huxley has clearly set the central theme of time and memory, of continuity and discontinuity in the individual, and of the role of the will in the shaping of the personality. All through the day, Anthony tries and fails to lay the ghosts of an importunate past. His drowsy meditation on the flat roof of the villa is obviously the psychological equivalent of the narrative method of the novel, and its justification: the remembered pictures are forced upon his mind without any chronology, without any visible principle of selection and arrangement.
Think if one could fully remember perfumes or kisses. How wearisome the reality of them would be! And it is true that there is nothing fundamentally Proustian about the novel apart from the process of association ; but the past has other ways than re-creation for making its impact felt. Those snapshots. His mother and Mary Amberley. This will turn out to be true: not in the sense that a supernatural providence is at work, but because the past can be re-activated in a crisis and force us to become conscious of what we are. But before acknowledging the truth, Anthony has to work out the implications of the break with Helen.
The point has been well made by Peter Bowering: The return to the experience of the past, beginning with the snapshots and memories on his forty-second birthday is thus the start of a process which eventually restores meaning to his life. In spite of this, most critics felt when the novel appeared that the method was unjustified. Her problems are similar to his the book has a real thematic unity below the technical ambivalence, or inconsistency, if one chooses to see it that way , but she lives them out on her own. It is only at the end of the novel, in the diary parts, that the dramatic method with independent focussing characters is abandoned for the I-narrative, a dogmatic one, and Anthony becomes the all-engulfing consciousness.
Obviously, then, all the scenes cannot be recorded as remembered by him. But there is another reason for the objective treatment. This agreement was accepted by Helen, though she longed for more warmth and feeling, and really imposed by Anthony, because it fell in with his mode of life: intellectual curiosity, no time or energy for emotions and responsibilities, an epicurean determination to enjoy each passing moment. The connexion between this attitude and his conception of personality is obvious enough from the first, but it is made explicit in Chapter 11, inserted just before the last chapter of the focal sequence.
Among the moderns, Proust 48 Pierre Vitoux is mentioned presumably in his destructive capacity , and also D. He is in fact rather curious to see what she will be like at forty-three—not suspecting that at the same age he himself will have to face the main crisis of his life and reform his views about the individual. He cannot foresee that a shocking but minor incident will unaccountably to him bring their relationship to an end. But the fact is that Helen herself is going through an identity crisis. When the dog crashes on the terrace and covers her with blood, she is suddenly possessed by a nauseous revulsion—from the blood, but also from Anthony, and her whole life.
The violence of her reaction is obviously related to an incident previously narrated Chapter 6, of , when she had forced herself, out of pride and defiance, to steal a kidney in a shop, in spite of her disgust for the blood-oozing, pulpy thing; and it will later emerge that the dog and the kidney are parts of a complex of images, with the dead kitten on the day Gerry seduced her, and the foetus after her abortion, associated with physiology and sex. When he drives to the hotel to tell her that he has been a fool, and that he cares for her, she is gone.
When he sends his love-letter, it comes too late: Helen receives it in a mood of reckless cynicism and turns it into ridicule. Later on, as the chapters present one after the other the pictures of the past, objectively seen in the novel, and also objectively present in the mind of Anthony, who has so far refused to recognize that they relate in any significant way other than mechanical remembering to his present being, he is slowly compelled to admit that all these pictures, as they are passed in succession, reveal the same pattern of response and behaviour that has been his on the decisive day, and the behaviour of an Anthony who is inescapably him.
All the episodes tell the same basic story in different forms. But it was almost at a run that he made towards the door and hurried down the stairs. Anthony hesitated a moment, then went. After all, she wanted him to go. Still feeling guilty, but with a sense of profound relief, he closed the front door behind him. Anthony will never taste to the full the bitter consequences of his escapism: he will have no way to know that, by leaving Helen to her own devices and to her squalid abortion in Paris, he has helped to build up the disgust that will shatter their relationship.
But a pattern, based on moral cowardice and the incapacity to go out of himself in an act of generosity, begins to cut across the division in time, and Huxley uses the juxtaposition of scenes to good effect. What stands revealed and naked is his personality, what has slowly usurped the place of a possible better self: and the wish to ignore it was the half-unconscious motivation behind his philosophy of mental discontinuity.
To some extent, he has been the victim of predisposition. But we cannot become persons unless we make ourselves self-conscious. Here, given the peculiar structure of the book, the two phases are made to overlap—but it is also true, in fact, that they are not separate phases, for guilt attends consciousness from the first, and is already part of the process of change.
The words said by Helen on the roof a few days before have been impressed on his mind. That state of mind explains the temporary attraction of Mark Staithes, whom Anthony is going to follow on his Mexican expedition. Staithes is only briefly sketched as a character, but his contribution to the meaning of the novel is important. He soon recognized that no discipline of conduct, or even training of character was enough. The one led to automatism, the other to that bleak pride which is at best tragic and more often ruthless. The outcome is made clear in two contrasted scenes.
First, Anthony is threatened by a young Mexican, and paralysed by his cowardice, which assumes the form of abject physical fear Chapter Later in Chapter 51, near the end of the novel Staithes gives an account of the way he crushed out all fear in him, of his exhilarating sense of power when he stood alone in front of a hundred armed peons, and then turned his back on them to walk slowly back to the house, knowing that his will had mastered them, and that they would not dare to shoot him.
He has reached the state which is not yet within the reach of Anthony, and made his will an instrument both of self-control and of mastery over others. The themes of his meditation are many, and closely related. I am not going to discuss these ideas for their own sake, though no reader should feel inclined to take them lightly; I only wish to note their relevance to the central theme of personality, and comment on the diary form and the way the diary is grafted on to the novel. One could obviously take a dogmatic stand and pronounce that any novel fails in so far as it does not exclusively rely on an objective treatment which leaves the meaning implicit in the action—or again uphold consistency, and maintain that a combination of different approaches here, the narrative and the meditative impair the integrity and the credibility of a novel.
But such narrow views about a genre which has flexibility for its main asset would leave out of the pale of genuine fiction not merely Huxley, who uses the device of the diary several times and most notably in Point Counterpoint, but a score of others, including D. Lawrence with his very outspoken spokesmen. It is far more useful to accept the device, and see how well or badly Huxley uses it.
Besides, these short sections are not fragments of a systematic essay: they truly have the character of personal notes jotted down, connected with the central theme, but leading up to it in various ways. And the style is often racy, sometimes brilliant. The reader may complain that the later Huxley, as essayist, or indeed novelist, tends to become dull, with all the old sparkle gone.
It cannot be the result of a decay of powers, since in Ends and Means already, one year later, the style tends to be colourless and repetitive. One feels that Huxley is making a conscientious effort to write plainly and usefully: and the result is hardly an artistic gain. But here, the writer, for all his seriousness of purpose, is still in touch with the old irresponsible, playful self whose conversion he is describing—and he is still pleasantly infected by his manner.
They belong to an accepted terminology. I know that my readers will understand what I mean. But this kind of shorthand is never permissible for the novelist, with his mixed and highly sceptical audience. How am I to prove that X is not merely insane when he turns his back on the whole scheme of pleasures, rewards, and satisfactions which are accepted by the Joneses, the Smiths, and the Browns, and goes in search of super-conscious, extraphenomenal experience?
The only way I can see how to do this is with the help of the Joneses themselves. I must show that the average men and women of this world are searching, however unconsciously, for that same fundamental reality of which X has already had a glimpse. Clearly, this method has the disadvantage of destroying most of the suspense about what is going to happen, but Huxley does not intend to arouse that form of interest and rather wants his reader to concentrate on the psychological and spiritual processes involved.
Still, the bare facts of death and guilt are soon given, even if the details are not filled in; and besides there is some psychological justification for the delay, since the past is remembered as 54 Pierre Vitoux well as narrated, and these are the images of the past and the part of the truth about himself that Anthony tries most hard to fight down and keep buried; and of course the delay enables Huxley to place in significant juxtaposition, or close proximity, the moment of deepest guilt Chapter 52 and the hour of victory Chapter But what Huxley achieves instead is giving depth to our vision.
The reader sees Anthony caught between Staithes and Miller, showing no reaction, but watchful and impressed by the newcomer; and he feels the invisible working of grace that prepares him for the final choice. Besides, the diary itself is not a cold statement of the wisdom acquired but the dramatic record of a struggle to master the principles of a better life and to put them into practice.
In the first entry Chapter 2, p. Self-knowledge an essential preliminary to self-change. His first reactions are those of fear: for his own safety, and lest his degrading weakness should harm the cause he wants to serve. But Anthony is able to recognize the small voice of temptation which he had heard before in , now urging him again to stay away, to go to the South of France for a while compare Chapter 36, p.
So, after a short meditation which recapitulates the main themes of the diary, he feels serenely ready to face whatever may be in store for him. The past finds its meaning, it makes sense, in the consciousness that embraces it and sees it as a puzzle where at last every bit of the record has fallen into its appointed place. And this finality which Anthony had tried to dismiss as unbearable, is in fact our best hope. The past is preserved not in order to torture us, but to lead us through self-torture to salvation.
It must take us from the meaningless succession of our becoming to the consciousness of a pattern cutting across time, which we acknowledge as our consistent being in time, and to the conviction that this being is to be transcended by a timeless act of the will. I do not imply that the structure has been assembled and adjusted by Huxley with meticulous craftsmanship all the way.
The early sequence, which is important as an introduction but has less bearing on the crisis, is dismissed quickly Chapters 4, 6, 9, After that, the chapters can be mixed more freely, and Huxley seems to have mostly in mind the principle of significant proximity, with a view to bringing out thematic connexions again Chapter 24 of , Chapter 26 of , once more on personality , to stress a dramatic point the contrast between the two pictures of Mary in Chapter 33 of and Chapter 34 of , or to throw light on what is going to be important Staithes explained in Chapter 22 before he begins to play a central role in Chapter 26 and after.
But all this is bound to be felt as being mere cleverness if the purpose of the thing as a whole is not clearly grasped. And it is a pity that too many readers have been put off by a structure they held to be pointless and have refused to take the novel on its own very acceptable terms: for it has much to offer to those who are willing to get along with it. Mary Amberley is every bit as good as Lucy Tantamount, and is all the more effective for being tracked down to the bottom of her too credible degradation.
Staithes is much more subtly and convincingly characterized than his melodramatic counterpart, Spandrell. More generally, the structure gives us the full shock, the pathos as well as the meaning, of getting older in moving from the gay twenties into the anxious decade of depression and international tension. It offers ideas, true, and the story itself is organized for a purpose. But Eyeless In Gaza is a genuine novel, not an essay on good and evil using the narrative form to provide a fable.
Transcendence is self-destruction, ultimately: there is a contradiction between the aspiration of the personality and the very condition of its existence as personal; pure being is unconsciousness, and all consciousness is self-consciousness, that is consciousness of a self in separation.
There is no way out; and indeed the whole novel gives us the permanent sense that no pattern, however elaborate, can hold and contain life, that there are areas of experience that can never be fully rationalized and spiritualized, that the conquest of the self is an endless task, because it is a contradictory one, that there is more to life than is filtered through into the final wisdom. And the very fact that the structure of the novel, elaborate as it is, leaves room for chance in the arrangement and a superfluity of meaning besides or against the abstract purpose of the novel, which it is designed to bring home, shows that Aldous Huxley is still doing the job of a real novelist, describing people not in circumstances arranged to fit a preconceived interpretation, but struggling with a reality that can never be fully controlled, in the novel and beyond it.
All references are to the Penguin edition of the novel; but the number of the chapter is also given, and since the chapters are fairly short any quotation should be easy to trace. Harold H. Watts, Aldous Huxley New York, , p. This division is to some extent arbitrary as well as convenient.
What I call D consists of only two chapters and can be taken as a mere introduction to E ; there is only a gap of three months between E and F , the difference between the two being technical from narrative to diary more than chronological. So, one can choose to lump together D , E , and F into a single period. But the only objective definition of a sequence is that given below a sequence is in chronological order and it does not apply if you take D and E , or E and F , as forming one sequence. Good books on Huxley being few, it is worth noting that this one is excellent.
The chapter devoted to Eyeless in Gaza is a very perceptive and comprehensive study of more aspects than I deal with. Huxley had been co-editor of The Letters of D. Lawrence in I have no space to develop this idea, but wish at least to refer the reader to Chapter 38, where Anthony in his phase of transcendence meets Helen who is in her phase of awareness. Point Counter Point edition, p. Ends and Means , edition, p. Christopher Isherwood, in an article published among other essays including some by Gerald Heard and Huxley himself, in Vedanta For Modern Man, edited by Christopher Isherwood London, , and collected in Exhumations London, , pp.
Occasionally these names had an allusive quality. It sounds like quarrel, appropriate for a character who argues with his wife and debates with friends. But did Huxley read The Hermit? Anyone familiar with the range of his reading will find the question impertinent. Nevertheless, there is more evidence than the striking similarity in the names of Quarll and Quarles, both with the Christian name Philip.