Red Caps, Eagles and the Sparrow

Complicated: the best word to use when describing England’s change to greater democracy. What could they do, with the French Revolution so close at their heels? Fear dictated much of the lawmaking. At the forefront, they wished to avoid the terror from across the channel. Undercurrents of resistance to change, the noble class’s feelings of superiority, and an uncharted course as to how to go about change kept things moving at status quo for hundreds of years longer than was necessary.

Theme. Authors talk a lot about theme.

I think most of the time, theme just happens without meaning to. It’s all tied into the author and her voice and the things she innately cares about.

But sometimes we do it on purpose.

In The Nobleman’s Daughter, some important moments in history helped dictate the theme. Reading about the working class rallies and hopes for rights and freedom helped me to see a character who could help them.  Someone who was privileged but had her own limitations of freedom: A woman in Regency England.  Peterloo was devastating. Horrified lawmakers, poets, human beings all reacted in disbelief that such a thing could happen. But from that beginning, the great pendulum began to creak awake. “They say” it swings. I wonder if it hadn’t stalled for a thousand years or so in England before this moment. But Regency England marked a time of change. In fact, if you look at history all over the world, change defines the era on every continent, a brief echo beginning in London.

The red cap of liberty: a symbol used in France during the revolution. Also used in England, but not with violent intent. Lord Nathaniel calls himself red. And the Liberty Seekers use the cap as a symbol among them.

Eagles: At rest and in flight. Eagles are majestic. And they fly free. And they fly high. Strong and rarely seen, they rule the air as a large predator. I love the idea of an Eagle. No one stops him/her. No one gets in their way. H/she goes where she pleases. Fiercely protects her own. Lord Nathaniel is a brilliant Eagle at rest, presiding over his own. Charlie is THE eagle in flight, doing the work, tireless, taking the risks.

The Sparrow. First I researched to see what small birds the English had as pets during the time period. And turns out they came over from the Netherlands and people would provide an early version of a bird house for them, as well as keep them in cages indoors. So the Duke purchased some for Lady Amanda when she was a little girl and she immediately set them free. And it became a tradition between them. He would order more and she would set them free, until as she grew older, she kept some, because they seemed happy in their cage and that encouraged her when she felt a bit trapped by all the RULES and expectations in her society. But the sparrow is really the perfect bird. Small, non-assuming. And mentioned throughout time in literature. Sparrows have made their impact on the great tomes of time and in much international folklore.

The prevailing thought about sparrows centers around their small, unassuming physical appearance that nevertheless accomplishes great things. This article gives many examples of the use of a sparrow in story and literature. I most like the last idea: “It symbolizes that no matter how big or tiny you are, you can conquer the world with your hard work.”

And in the Bible: Luke 12: 6-7 “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are numbered…”

And so Lady Amanda is my sparrow. Known. Strong. Influential even though she is the smallest.

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