In the early pages of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, the young Jane is whacked upside the head by a book. A book hurled by her evil cousin and proving the hypothesis that words can hurt. This scene got me thinking—what better way to kill a fictional character than by beating her to death with a novel. And that thought led to a thought about a battlefield of letters. On one side of the hill were the large and muscular consonants and on the other side of the hill, the small but agile vowels. The only weapons that either side carried were punctuation marks. The consonants seemed to have the advantage with their sharp and very loud exclamation points, but the vowels had armfuls of commas which they could whip through the air like silent boomerangs. The letters charged to the top of the hill and suddenly it was all gibberish.
No matter how the letters maneuvered no one could form a single meaningful word. And then, as if by a twist of fate, three vowels squared off against two consonants and after a dramatic pause, they threw themselves into each other and after much kicking and punching and scratching, they fell to the ground exhausted. Five letters lay on the ground moaning and bleeding and when the other letters looked upon them they froze. Something about the position of these five letters brought the battle to a screeching halt. The five—as they would become known—had fallen in such an order as to spell out the word ‘peace.’
There is no moral to this tale, it is just stream of consciousness. You see, as I attempted to begin writing a play about literary heroines, the words of Charlotte Bronte kept leaping off the page and once off the page they began jumping up and down on my keyboard and running all over my desk. It took me a long time to catch them and when I finally had them all gathered together they were telling a different story. I hope that story still retains some of the power that I found in the character of Jane Eyre—her resilience and intelligence, her strong will and great compassion. And I hope that her story that led me to my story—willlead you—to yet another story.
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