“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” a Book by Susanna Clarke Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 2nd, 2020

The ideals and values of Christianity influence the visions of adherents and their attitudes to the life and their roles in the world. However, I can state that there are many situations when Christians are inclined to discuss the boundaries of their impact and role in the world more clearly and openly. While speaking about the relationship between the person, Christianity, and spirituality, is it important and reasonable to refer to the power of truth and power of grace?

To answer this controversial question, I choose to distinguish between the role of God’s grace influencing the aspects of the people’s life and their spiritual development and the people’s transcendental focus on their own powers. Transcendentalism gives people the power to find God’s grace or transcendence in themselves to make the religious ideals serve the individuals’ ideas. In this, case I am inclined to state that those people who feel and follow God’s grace have this grace in themselves as a kind of the power which leads them to see the truth, and there are few differences between the representatives of the religious institutions who develop this grace and individuals who focus on their spiritual growth, if their activities are fairly oriented to develop their transcendental vision of the grace and God’s power because the religious truth is in the spiritual and fair search of God’s grace.

Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange can argue on the proposed claim and also support it because of the necessity to find the balance between following the individual vision of religious ideals and discussing the grace as available for everyone. Mr. Norrell and Strange know that the grace in the form of magic forces as it is presented in relation to the 19th century is available only for few persons who can choose to use it for serving their own interests or the people’s interests. Mr. Norrell is inclined to support the individualistic vision that the magic should be hidden from the eyes of the other people because it is also the power for the people’s knowledge.

According to Strange, the magic is a kind of God’s grace because using the magic, people become more powerful and less vulnerable (Clarke 28-109, 481). However, can the egocentric nature of Mr. Norrell and Strange’s characters make them focus on right decisions while discussing their magic powers? Knowing that the magic is the power, Mr. Norrell and Strange choose to focus on developing their individual qualities, but they should refer to the magic as the grace and gift to develop their spirituality.

I can state that Karl Rahner’s ideas can be helpful to discuss the problem of the people’s reliance on the magic as the grace to contribute only to the egoistic interests. Rahner states that people are usually opened to a kind of transcendence similar to God’s transcendence because of God’s grace, but their transcendental experience of the infinite should be rather deep to prevent the violation of the religious ideals. In this case, the human transcendence is not the same thing as God’s transcendence because a human has no God’s powers, but only His grace (Kilby 12). Mr. Norrell and Strange can support this view only partially because they are inclined to demonstrate that they focus on finding the truth and knowledge as the power while using magic forces and discussing themselves as more intelligent and powerful in comparison with the rest of the society (Clarke 501-503).

Their transcendental experience is extremely self-focused. Although Rahner is inclined to support the idea of individualism while discussing the human transcendence, he is not oriented to oppose the individual in search of truth and the society because everyone has the right to feel God’s grace.

Rahner states that people receive the grace as the supernatural power or existential to develop themselves to oppose the sin (Marmion 89). I should state that Mr. Norrell and Strange support this idea, however, they do not focus on the opposition between the human’s transcendence and sin, but on the opposition between the good and the evil related to their and enemies’ actions. Nevertheless, although the speakers have differences in their visions, Mr. Norrell, Strange, and Rahner can conclude that receiving the grace as the magic power or other sources of developing the supernatural qualities, humans are obliged to develop their spirituality to understand the truth of God’s love or their inner qualities to oppose the evil and sin.

I am interested in the discussion of the role of God’s grace for people while referring not only to Mr. Norrell and Strange’s individual visions presented in the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but also to Susanna Clarke’s vision as the author’s voice. It is stated in the book that those people who have the magic powers can seem to be rather self-focused and egocentric because of feeling their superiority and excellence, but in reality, they work to serve the people’s interests (Clarke 90-156). I can state that self-focus and self-reliance are the qualities which are typical for magicians as the embodiments of transcendental ideas because these attributes help them experience revelation. In this case, the nature of transcendentalism is revealed in demonstrating the role of the individual powers and God’s grace for the humans’ well-being.

I can respond to the idea that this behavior is typical for those persons who want to feel God’s grace in the form of such powers as the magic. Nevertheless, in reality, these people cannot use the gift or the grace appropriately even after receiving it. This gift makes the owner focus on the power of interpretation of his or her forces (Ashley 881). Is the individualistic approach to using this gift a mistake? The fact is that transcendentalism gives many people the power to receive God’s grace and use it according to their ideals and visions, and only few ones make the right choice. Clarke continues that many people having the magic powers have the right to act, and their acts depend on their spirituality. Thus, “England is full of magicians. Hundreds! Thousands perhaps!” (Clarke 409). These magicians are the real followers of the ideals which are valued in any society as virtues. In addition, these magicians are concentrated on their mystical experience, thus, the focus on inner powers is the first step to feel the grace.

How can thinkers prove the necessity to focus on the transcendental individualism, if there are many humans who concentrate on their transcendental activity, but violate the norms? Referring to the example of Mr. Norrell and Strange, it is important to note that the secret is in pursuing not only individual goals but also in finding the balance between serving the individual and people’s interests. On the one hand, the mystical experience of magicians and followers of transcendentalism makes them superior. On the other hand, each person has the potential to develop his or her powers because God is present in everyone, and the chance to see these powers is to focus on God’s grace.

Mr. Norrell and Strange are the magicians who follow the individualistic vision and rely on their self-confidence while supporting the idea that “To a magician there is very little difference between a mirror and a door” (Clarke 689). However, if everyone has God’s gift in the form of the spirit and grace, can any individual see those things which are noticeable and true only for magicians? It is possible to assume that any person can become open to receive the unique knowledge and to use it to develop spirituality, unusual powers, and serve the people. The problem is in the fact that many people refuse to accept the absence of differences between mirrors and doors because of their fear of unfamiliar.

That is why, these people reject the existence of the world of magicians, but I am inclined to support Clarke in a way, while discussing the possibility of opening the world of magicians or transcendental thinkers. As a result, referring to Clarke’s book and personal opinion, I should state that to have any magic or unique powers means to become ready to accept the individual’s importance according to the transcendental view and the individual’s influence and God’s grace according to the traditional religious view.

Transcendentalism provides people with a lot of opportunities to use God’s grace according to their own visions and ideals while interpreting the traditional religious views. This experience becomes very provocative for people. However, while referring to the example of such magicians as Mr. Norrell and Strange, it is possible to note that those people who receive the gift of God’s grace can use it effectively even after overcoming a lot of challenges and barriers in their minds and society. God’s grace is in any element of the Nature, and the people’s task is to see it and then use it appropriately.

Works Cited

Ashley, Matthew. “Reading the Universe Story Theologically: The Contribution of a Biblical Narrative Imagination”. Theological Studies 71.1 (2010): 871-902. Print.

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. UK: Tor Books, 2006. Print.

Kilby, Karen. Karl Rahner: Theology and Philosophy. USA: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Marmion, Declan. The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.




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