Last Lines

I recently read an article on the first lines of a novel (http://cristianmihai.net/2014/01/28/opening-lines-2/) and in thinking about those, my mind slowly turned to the last lines of my favorite works.

Some of the most moving, and sometimes simple, lines of text in literature are the finale sentences. They are the culmination of their tales, the punctuation at the end of the sentence. And they can sometimes change the entire feeling of the novel.

Although not a novel, one of my absolute favorite last lines in all of literature is that of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. After five acts of his life, the entire story is summed up and left hanging on two little words, “He died.” I’m not too proud to admit that I cry every time.

(the movie end, slightly different but beautiful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPI5EgqQoy0)

After amazing adventures and death defying acts made even more amazing and frightening due to their small stature, the hobbits return home at the end of The Return of the King and the final line, said by Samwise Gamgee, is this: “Well, I’m Home then.” What simple fervor and contentment this brings to me. He’s home, they are home, and after everything he has been through, Frodo’s faithful gardener and best friend sits in his chair with his family, and is home.

(images courtesy of a convoluted line of repinners on Pinterest)

At the end of Louisa May Alcott’s thriller love story, A Long Fatal Love Chase (published two years before Little Women and well worth the read) Tempest, described as a libertine who resembles Mephistopheles (i.e. a man of low/no moral character who resembles a demon, or possibly the demon), gathers his drowned wife in his arms and stabs himself, declaring defiantly “Mine first-Mine Last-Mine even to the grave” I got chills just typing that up for you.

                                                    (picture via Eleanor Mackender

   Guildford Castle secret garden)

Some books, like Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass leave their reader to wonder exactly what happened, or will happen. Though Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ended with a paragraphical sentence describing how Alice would be when older, Through the Looking Glass leaves us with the questions, “which do you think it was?” I, personally, believe it was all real.

Finally, the sum of everything that happened in one of the most famous book series to have been written in many, many years, J.K. Rowling’s final sentence in the epilogue of The Deathly Hollows is this, “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” Every time I re-read this book, and this line, I feel both a weight on my heart from the losses and a weight lifted because now there is safety. Now both the muggle world, and the wizarding world, are free to exist as they do without threat from a man who wouldn’t just die when he was supposed to.

Yes, I know these are books and not technically reality. However, they are a big part of my life and, hopefully, will be a big part in the lives of many of the children in the world. Books provide escapes, imagination exercises, and just good fun. So now that I’ve shown you mine, why don’t you show me yours? What are some of your favorite closing lines?

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