Sunday, March 06, 2011
There is a scene in Jane Eyre in which Jane saves Mr. Rochester's life by dousing a fire that caught in his bed while he was sleeping. His response is to say the following to her:
"You saved my life; I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an obligation; but you, it is different – I feel your benefits no burden, Jane ... I knew ... you would do me good in some way, at some time; I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you; their expression and smile did not ... strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies; I have heard of good genii; there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good-night!"And what do you think he would say if he was in a modern novel instead of a classic?
"You saved my life! I owe you one! You're my guardian angel, babe!"The language of the classics is so rich. It conveys so much more depth of emotion. No matter how many classics I read, I doubt I will ever be able to speak or write such rich language, and frankly it would be hard to be take someone seriously these days if they spoke or wrote that way anyway. Just one more reason I love reading the classics.