Chapter 19: The Greening of Brooke
When the Green Man visits Brooke’s university office, he begins to pursue
her romantically, giving her gifts of poetry and plants. But she is very
afraid that her miserable romantic history will repeat itself and her heart
will be broken again. Milly tells her to “explore the god.” She finally
gives in, and she and Matthew go out to the ranch and make love in the
The greening of the chapter title is a reference to the concept of
veriditas, given to us by the great medieval abbess and scholar
Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179). In 1141, she had a vision that changed her life: “the
heavens were opened and a binding light of exceptional brilliance flowed
through my entire brain … and it kindled my whole heart and breast like
Houdini was of course one of the most famous stage magicians who ever
Harvey is of course an allusion to the 1950 movie starring James Stewart
as Elwood P. Dowd, the man who has fought with reality and won and whose
friend Harvey, the invisible rabbit, is a pooka.
Many of us will recognize and identify with Brooke’s fear and denial behaviors,
including compulsive cleaning, shopping, reading, eating chocolate ice
cream, and watching
Dirty Dancing (which was released in 1987). It’s too bad DVDs
weren’t invented yet; she could have watched the movie all night. I’m told
that now (in 2011) there are more than thirty
Xanth novels by Piers Anthony.
Dr. Balls-for-Brains. Brooke has obviously not lived a cloistered academic
life. When I had a post-doctoral fellowship in Women’s Studies and facilitated
consciousness-raising groups, I heard numerous stories about “distinguished”
faculty members who seduced graduate students. Thank Goddess that’s one
grad school adventure I avoided.
The professor taught classes on the various revolutions in Europe in the
19th century and Brooke’s life revolved around him. There’s a line I love
Oklahoma! when the men are talking about staging a revolution and
Aunt Eller (I think) says, “All right, boys, revolve!”
As Brooke tells Matthew the history of the ranch (basically, the history
Irvine Ranch), we learn why the land is so magical and how it is hidden
from Orange County’s numerous and powerful land developers (including,
presumably, the Irvine Company).
The long quotation is from John Donne’s Elegy XIX, “To His Mistress Going
to Bed." Brooke’s reply is from Donne’s “The Cannonization.”
All of Matthew’s names are symbolic. Most of the other names are symbolic,
too. Which ones can you identify? What do they tell us about the characters?
Are you familiar with Hildegard of Bingen and her concept of
veriditas? What greening has occurred in your life?
What is different about the way Matthew casts the circle? Does it work
for you? Why or why not?
Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Permission
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