Jane Eyre and Aurora Leigh end on similarly Biblical notes. Both conclusions allude to specific Biblical passages and incorporate blindness as a means to understanding how the novel”s plot concludes. Whereas Jane Eyre envisions the cure of Rochester's blindness as a Christian miracle, Aurora Leigh seems to infer the main couple”s union as an elucidating event that will usher in a new age of artistic productivity. By comparing these two endings and the differences in their use of the biblical allusions, we can zero in on the two endings as expressing biblical typology differently.
Yet breaking, I felt conscious, from a smile, —
'Thank God, who made me blind, to make me see!
Shine on, Aurora, dearest light of souls,
Which rul'st for evermore both day and night!
I am happy.'
Now press the clarion on thy woman's lip
(Love's holy kiss shall still keep consecrate)
And breathe the fine keen breath along the brass,
And blow all class-walls level as Jericho's
Past Jordan; crying from the top of souls,
To souls, that they assemble on earth's flats
To get them to some purer eminence
Than any hitherto beheld for clouds!
What height we know not, — but the way we know,
And how by mounting aye, we must attain,
And so climb on. It is the hour for souls;
That bodies, leavened by the will and love,
Be lightened to redemption. The world's old;
But the old world waits the hour to be renewed:
Toward which, new hearts in individual growth
Must quicken, and increase to multitude
In new dynasties of the race of men, —
Developed whence, shall grow spontaneously
New churches, new economies, new laws
Admitting freedom, new societies
Excluding falsehood. HE shall make all new.'
My Romney! — Lifting up my hand in his,
As wheeled by Seeing spirits toward the east,
He turned instinctively, — where, faint and fair,
Along the tingling desert of the sky,
Beyond the circle of the conscious hills,
Were laid in jasper-stone as clear as glass
The first foundations of that new, near Day
Which should be builded out of heaven, to God
He stood a moment with erected brows,
In silence, as a creature might, who gazed:
Stood calm, and fed his blind, majestic eyes
Upon the thought of perfect noon. And when
I saw his soul saw, — 'Jasper first,' I said,
'And second, sapphire; third, chalcedony;
The rest in order, . . last, an amethyst.'
— Aurora Leigh
Not only is their union productive, but it seems to confer upon Romney a certain religious sight. Their union does not merely function as a type of Christ - it seems on the verge of ushering in a new order of artistic and societal productivity. This productivity can even be construed as creating a kind of kingdom of heaven that will make their union not only eternal but potent.
Questions for consideration
1. Reynolds cites line 945 as part of a greater evolutionary narrative. How can we reconcile this reading with the deeply religious imagery depicting the new coming? Is Browning looking to rectify or bridge the two?
2. The work ends with Revelations, as indicated by Reynolds. How does their union seem to lay the foundation for New Jerusalem?
3. How is this ending in dialogue with the Biblical ending of Jane Eyre?
4. How can we construe the blindness motif here? In Jane Eyre? Is blindness something productive?
Last modified 16 March 2011