In marital cohabitation one must "learn to lose": to give in, to forgive, to give oneself freely, without seeking material gain or reward, without counting hours of work or services rendered, to sacrifice oneself willingly for others... The novel by Charles Dickens Bleak House shows that he who loses in appearance, wins. Also the glorious cross of Christ, which might be considered a failure, in reality, supposes the complete triumph of love.
Bleak House ("Gloomy House") is the somber title of one of Charles Dickens' greatest novels. It contains several intertwining stories, with a thrilling suspense plot and a wide gallery of characters from very diverse social backgrounds.
Stories of overcoming
As usual, the author severely criticizes personal and institutional hypocrisy and corruption, especially of the judicial system, which in the brilliant opening of the story is compared to the London fog ("Fog everywhere..."). Moreover, he describes with psychological subtlety each moral character.
Along with the profuse collection of subjects who behave vilely, portrayed with crudeness, sometimes to the point of exaggeration or histrionic caricature, there stand out some men and women capable of overcoming very adverse circumstances with admirable courage. Their perseverance in doing good in the midst of difficulties always finds reward, if not in history, at least in the narrator's judgment.
Thus, Caddy Jellyby manages to overcome the burden of a chaotic home, in which the mother is obsessively and ridiculously occupied with missions in Africa while completely neglecting her disastrous family. She marries Prince Turveydrop, a kind and hard-working dance teacher, who patiently tolerates the burden of a manipulative, deceitful and shameless father, who spends his good son's income on eccentric whims.
Another sweet woman, the beautiful young Ada Claire, faithfully accompanies her husband, Richard Carston, in his downfall and degradation, as he puts his trust in obtaining an inheritance entangled in a tortuous and interminable judicial process, while he abandons professional work and sadly loses his health. His uncle, the charming John Jarndyce, always excuses the grievances he receives by refusing to listen to his prudent advice, and benevolently welcomes the one who brings about his own ruin and that of his unfortunate wife. Mister Jarndyce is also the guardian of the young orphan Esther Summerson, who heroically risks her health in the care of the poor brickworks workers and their families, afflicted by lethal epidemics.
On the other hand, there is the simple and noble Colonel George Roncewell, who does not hesitate to jeopardize his modest shooting academy to maintain loyalty and to take in Jo, a miserable street child persecuted for no reason by the authorities. Or, finally, Baron Sir Leicester Deadlock, capable of coming down from the pedestal of his noble arrogance to mercifully and tenderly help his wife in a tragic and dishonorable situation.
All these "losers" from the pragmatic or utilitarian perspective, in the end win: they find the reward of their honest and kind behavior.
He who loves always wins
In married life, too, we must "learn to lose," to accept minor defeats for a greater victory: to give in, to forgive, to understand, to forgive, to forgive, to give our all, without seeking material gain or reward, without counting the hours of work or the services rendered, to live the joy of gratuity, to willingly sacrifice ourselves for others... He who seems weak or foolish in the race for success or worldly dominion and power is in reality wise and consistent in his discreet and altruistic self-giving. For the Master has already repeated that the last will be first (cf. Mt 19:30).
In reality, he who loves always wins: he who knows how to resist with courageous patience in the way of justice and love, in the midst of tribulation; he who responds to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21); he who does not let himself be carried away by discouragement or sadness, hatred or resentment, without taking account of grievances, but who maintains peace and inner joy with fortitude, with a smile on his face, even when he suffers; he who knows how to be grateful, affectionate, positive, meek and humble of heart... In short, as Jesus Christ teaches, he who loses his life for love will be the one who will find it in the end (cf. Mt 10:39).
The greatest paradox in history
The glorious cross of Christ constitutes the greatest paradox in history. Apparently it can be considered a failure, a curse. In reality, it is the complete triumph of love, the greatest blessing. It is the destiny of the grain of wheat that dies in order to rise again and give life (cf. Jn 12:24). Spouses and parents also have to die, to spend themselves, to give their lives for their neighbor, to sow the seed of their fruitful communion with full hands, in order to leave their children and the generations to come a trail of light and hope.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta recalled the wisdom hidden in the Hindu saying that she proposed as a rule of life: "What is not given is lost". For only what is given flourishes. Only he who participates in the annihilation of Jesus Christ, the divine Redeemer, will produce fruits of holiness for this world and receive the gift of eternal resurrection.