This post was written in response to Charlie Mills’ Carrot Ranch Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt
March 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed. It could be a small story or a dystopian vision. Is there a power struggle over art? Would the general public miss it? Is the end of art a natural evolution? Go where the prompt leads.
An Unfavourable Ancestor
‘Destroy it, Brigs,’ Rochester said, pointing to the portrait.
‘But it’s your most glorious ancestor, sir, Damer de Rochester, who died at the Battle of Marston Moor.’
Jane gazed admiringly at the portrait and the man she loved, seeing a likeness. ‘You must be very proud of such a brave ancestor.’
‘Brave but foolish, Jane. The Rochesters have been on the blacklist since the Restoration, thanks to him.’
‘It’s a grand work of art. I beg you to reconsider,’ pleaded Rochester’s administrator.
‘I want no trace of him. The new Queen mustn’t know, and I will have my knighthood.’
A little bit of English History may be needed to capture this flash in its entirety.
The portrait of Damer de Rochester, who was slain at the Battle of Marston Moor, is mentioned in Jane Eyre, as one of Mr. Rochester’s ancestors.
Marston Moor, in North Yorkshire, is famous for the battle fought on 2nd July, 1644. The Parlamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Royalists. After this defeat the Royalists left Northern England.
It is not known for sure if Rochester’s ancestor was a Royalist or a Parlamentarian, but my guess is that his family were associated with the Parlamentarians, and so when the monarchy was restored in 1660, the family was not awarded a knighthood for their loyalty and service, as would probably have happened if they had been faithful to the monarchy.
Two hundred years later, a member of the landed gentry, such as Rochester, would probably want all reference to his Parlamentarian ancestor destroyed, because the new Queen, the young Victoria, of German origin, might not know enough about English history to continue with the veto on the family. This is why Rochester is so keen to have the portrait destroyed, because he wants no evidence of his family’s lack of allegiance to the monarchy.
Charli’s flash includes the lines, “Your art is my history, Danni.”
Art does indeed record history. It is a historic document, and as such can be subject to manipulation or destruction. Rochester, in my flash, would destroy a work of art because it reminds anyone who sees it that his ancestor fought against the Monarchy. He wants this fact to be forgotten.
My flash is a fictional reinterpretation, based on the painting and the characters in Jane Eyre. I have used it to illustrate the point, that art can be inconvenient for future generations as a permanent record of events.
A world without art that Charli envisages, would be unbearable.
I believe a world without music, dance, literature, fine art, photography, theatre and cinema etc. is impossible, however, a world where past and present art is manipulated or censored is unfortunately possible.
Nevertheless, I’m optimistic, because artists have always found a way to express their true feelings through their art.
Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media: