Analisis: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

Categories: LovePassionPhilosophy


True love goes on multiplying, passion diminishes with time,

The waiting time in love, makes it   sublime!

Love is a bird with colorful wings, in the heart ever caged,

It moves with tantalizing speed to make one a bard.

If it were that easy to bear the pangs of love,

Thousands of fireflies’ wouldn’t have thrown their lives at the glow of light!

If one is able to understand the plight of the hearts of those in love, one will understand the position of Henri and Villanelle.

‘The Passion’ by Jeanette Winterson, is not that chilly as her name suggests. It has many profound ‘summers ‘ingrained in it. Henri is the dedicated young man and he has devoted his life to the service of Napoleon Bonaparte, during years of war.

He falls in love with Villanelle, a Venetian woman, who can not reciprocate his love, because strangely she has given her heart to a noble woman. This is the typical crossroad of love, wherein some retreat, but the love of these two souls is something special, is not mere passion of the titillating bodies.

Winterson probes the hearts of these two lovers in her own profound style. Her poetic language makes the story highly interesting and it touches each and every molecule of the reader’s heart.

Walking for life, with the heart afire….

You might have heard about the fire-walkers, who walk on the cinders of fire, barefooted. They are individuals of faith or miracle-mongers, as the case may be.

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But the author says she knows someone (the character in the novel, Henri) walking for life, with his heart afire! He is unable to extinguish that fire of love, in spite of his best efforts.  It is the same old story through the ages; it is between HIM and HER. Love is not a subject; love is not a lesson; love has no definition; each one sees a new horizon.

The pangs love can not be explained, they are to be experienced. Love can happen to any one in situations of war or peace, at the most unsuspected moment. The most adverse circumstances between the two lovers still make it happen. Whether it will ultimately fructify in both, joins them together or not, is altogether a different issue; true love is such, that it doesn’t expect to be loved back.

The life of lovers depicts the craving for common destiny of Henri and Villanelle, but that ends in singular destiny. They are obliged to take different paths in the opposite direction. Will those paths ever meet again?—this is the philosophical question and the question related to the soul. It has to be understood in the context of the totality of the circumstances. To find answers to such questions, one has to cross the mind-barrier. Mind, with its limited capacity has no power to provide solutions to such riddles.

Now coming to the question proper, ‘Henri and Villanelle both imply you have to give up your heart and that you can make sense of life’. The ending of the text support this conclusion-this is the typical spiritual question and let us try to find the answer for this through an allegory.

–The full moon is shining in the sky. It’s full moon day. Seeing the beauty of the moon, a tempest rises in the ocean beneath. The ocean, in its efforts to reach the moon, sends the roaring waves one after another. But alas, can the waves reach the moon, howsoever big they may be? Can the moon ever come down to the Earth, whatever is the intensity of the wish? –The normal answer would be, let the waves continue to rise and lash for Ages to come. The ocean can never be united with the moon!

But this is not the reality—seeing the plight of the ocean and the moon, a small twinkling star (the soul star-the Truth knowing star- the Reality-knowing star) thinks to itself. Worry not, lovers! The space in between you, which you think is the separating issue, is in fact the uniting force; the cosmos is full of light vibrations. The hearts of both of you too, are full of light vibrations and therefore, you always stand united. Nothing can separate you! Only you need to understand your position in the God’s scheme of things in the correct perspective.

The ending of the story is comparable to the plight of the ocean and the moon in the above allegory. Even the initial passion in an individual may evolve as the sublime love. In the end, Henri, incarcerated on an island of madmen, becomes aware of his passion, “even though she could never return it, showed me the difference between inventing a lover and falling in love. The one is about you, the other about someone else.”

Henri explains the plight thus: “She thought I was a young man. I was not. Should I go to see her as myself and joke about the mistake and leave gracefully? My heart shriveled at this thought. To lose her again so soon! And what was myself? Was this breeches and boots self any less real than my garters? What was it about me that interested her? You play, you win. You play, you lose. You play.”( Winterson, 1997, p. 65)


Winterson is a very sensitive author. Many of her sentences need to be understood through the feelings of the heart, not through the thinking waves of the mind—Like, “Could a woman love a woman for more than a night?” and “There is no love when you get up next to a person by chance.” In her unique style “Winterson blends reality with fantasy, dream and imagination to weave a hypnotic tale with stunning effects.”(Back Cover of the Book) Henri and Villanelle, do you understand? It’s your own story.


References Cited:

 Winterson, Jeanette, Book: The Passion Paperback: 176 pages Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (August 7, 1997) Language: English ISBN-10: 0802135226 ISBN-13: 978-0802135223

Cite this page

Analisis: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from

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