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[Abstract] This paper attempts to explore the novel The Thorn Birds, which shows the different values of love between women and men around the Clearys. The goal of exploring it is not only to state that women’s faith is love, while men’s faith is anything but love, but also to set off the heroine—Meggie, who longs for love and strives perseveringly for love in all her life. Although Meggie suffers a lot when searching for her faith, she always keeps loyal to love. What’s more, in order to create the beautiful and moving voice of her love, she would rather offer her life as the greatest sacrifice. The paper also aims at tracing back to Western women’s faith by describing the heroines’ love stories in some great works written by some famous women novelists. Compared with other heroines’ attitudes and behaviors to their faith, Meggie is stronger, braver, purer and nobler to her faith, for she enriches love with endless vivid vigor and color. She is a perfect woman. However, although Meggie dedicates her life to love, what she gains is just a tragedy; although the Western women go all out for their faith, they are always deeply hurt by the cost of great pain. Therefore, this topic subtly delineates the fact that the women’s voice for love is still too faint. No matter how wonderful voice they create, they are still incapable of changing men’s non-love faith and overcoming the unequal values of traditional society. This is an unavoidable tragedy not only to Meggie and the Western women, but also to all women in the world from ancient times. They get temporary happiness from love, but with infinite misery. Their voice is too faint to resist tragedy in love. However, women’s lofty faith brings them a meaningful and significant life, just like the voice of the thorn birds.
[Key Words] women; love; faith; voice; The Thorn Birds

【摘 要】 本文通过对长篇小说《荆棘鸟》的分析,分别描述了以克利里家族为中心的女性与男性不同的爱情价值观,体现了女性视爱情为终生信仰,而男性却常常选择非爱情的信仰,从而衬托出女主人公梅吉对爱情执着的高贵情操。梅吉始终忠诚于她的爱情,甘愿像荆棘鸟那样成为信仰的献祭,谱写了一曲凄婉动人而又崇高、悲壮的爱情主旋律。本文从《荆棘鸟》追溯到其西方女性信仰的源头,通过分析早期西方杰出女作家主要作品中女主人公追寻荆棘的历程,展示了西方女性对爱情的信仰,同时更加突出了梅吉集勇气、高洁、坚强、博爱于一身的完美形象。但是,纵然梅吉为了爱而奉献一生,纵然西方女性为了爱而殚精竭虑,她们最终得到的总是悲剧性的爱情结局;即使最终能够如愿以偿,可在追寻的过程中也付出了沉重的代价。从中揭示了一个道理:即使女性对信仰的呼喊动听而绝美,她们的声音始终是微弱的:她们改变不了男性的爱情观,也战胜不了社会的传统观念。她们得到了短暂的幸福,却承受了一生的痛苦。这不仅仅是梅吉和西方女性的悲剧,也是从古到今全人类女性所无法阻挡的悲剧。但是不管怎样,梅吉她们这种崇高的信仰让她们作为女性的一生熠熠生辉,就像荆棘鸟的歌声永远震撼人心。

1. Introduction
There is a saying that literature somehow aims at studying human, which gives a faithful representation of the life and the thought of mankind. What’s more, each works of literature has its own theme,emblem and fascination, which brings the readers endless aftertaste and consideration, including the The Thorn Birds, written by Colleen Mccullough. The enchantment of this book first lies in its subject─love and destiny, and its symbol—the thorn bird.
There is a legend about a bird, which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the earth.
“From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain….”[1]
The bird, called the thorn bird, follows an immutable law, namely love, filled with solemn and stirring voice.
The book tells readers a story, beginning in 1915 and ending more than half a century later, “of a singular family, the Clearys, who leave New Zealand to live on vast Australian sheep station, where their triumphs and tragedies are interwoven with the wonder and terror of a land ravaged by cycles of drought, fire and torrential flood. But most of all, it is the story of Meggie, who falls madly in love with a man she can never marry, and of Ralph, a truly beautiful man, whose ambition takes him from outback parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican—but whose love for Meggie Cleary will lead to a passion he cannot control.”[2]
It is considered that the writer, Colleen Mccullough, condenses every aspect of life into a brilliant book. By describing the Clearys’ frustrations of emotional experiences, she tries to show a truth that it’s necessary to pay an unimaginable cost for the true love and any other magnificent things. Undoubtedly, in the story, Meggie is the most conspicuous thorn bird, whose longest, sharpest spine is Ralph. No matter how difficult and mournful the experience is, and how slim the hope is, she never gives up her faith—being loyal to love and making her love significant. She knows she has chosen a tortuous road, but she would rather devote all her effort to searching for her thorn tree—Ralph, and having her faith glitter.

2. Women’s faith in love in The Thorn Birds
“If love is the everlasting theme of literature, then female is also an unfailing topic, for love story can’t lie in the world without women.”[3] The Thorn Birds tells a penetrative love story between Meggie and Ralph. It also shows the particular love story about the Clearys’ three female generations, from which the writer portrays four characteristic women who are brave to fight against their fate and social custom for their faith.
2.1 Meggie’s love story
The story begins with the day of Meggie’s four-year birthday, on which she receives an unexpected present─a pretty doll, from her mother. She, born poor, is an attractive and lovely girl with vivid hair, but she also has a strong personality. When her dear doll is spoilt by her elder brothers, it does not occur to her to seek help; when she is strictly but unequally punished by Sister Agatha in the school, she does not surrender; when her dear brother Frank leaves her, she doesn’t weep, for “Something in her little soul was old enough and woman enough to feel the irresistible, stinging joy of being needed”[4]. Her self-control is phenomenal and her pride formidable. Besides, she is a quaint mixture of ignorance and morality. She is worth more, but she is not born to be more. Nobody knows what will happen to her, what kind of life she will have, and what sort of fate she will encounter.
When she is nine years old, she moves to the vast Australian sheep station─Drogheda from New Zealand with her family, which really changes her fate and brings her a new life. The first time Ralph meets her, she begins to tug at his nonexistent heart, though she is only nine years old while he is already twenty-eight years old. Maybe at the beginning, Meggie just views him as a cherished elder brother, for he is glad to do everything that her mother, her father and her brothers can’t do for her, and she depends on him so much. As she grows up, her adoration of Father Ralph has turned into an ardent, very girlish crush. But after Mary’s death, he chooses to obey Mary’s arrangement to realize his dream and give up Meggie by marrying to the Church. She knows it is forbidden to have a priest as husband or lover, and Ralph can’t love her as a husband and will never abandon his job as a priest, but she still dreams of him, yearns for him and wants him. However, besides love, she thinks she also needs a husband and babies, and she considers that though she means little to Ralph, there is still some man who loves her before all else. She believes that not all men love some inanimate thing more than they can love a woman. Therefore, she marries Luke, mostly because Luke looks like Ralph so much, which can remind her of Ralph, and will give her children similar in type to those she may have had with Ralph. But she does not love Luke at all, and she is not able to fall in love with him, as she never weakens her deep love for Ralph. Because of the celibacy of priests, she has to go away from Ralph, make her home and her life with another man, and have someone else’s baby. So she becomes to hate the Church’s implication that her loving Ralph or his loving her is wrong. What is worse, to her disappointment, Luke does not need her, either. He never respects her feelings. However, after having the daughter of Luke─Justine, she wants to give her daughter a real family. Assuming that the love to Ralph can’t occur, she will have to love her children, and the love she receives will have to come from those children, so she tries forgetting Ralph and persuading herself that Ralph is the past.
But when she decides not to waste time dreaming of the man and children she can never have, Ralph comes to find her on Matlock Island, which kindles her hope again, and makes her decide to challenge God for her faith. She can never have Ralph, but there she does get the part of Ralph the Church can never have─she has Ralph’s son Dane, who is as perfect as Ralph. Then she chooses to leave Luke to go back to Drogheda, in order to guard her son. She thinks that she has beaten God. But to her sadness, she has to admit that there is never a woman born who can beat God. That day when Dane tells her that he is going to be a priest, which is as if her death sentence, she has to compromise, crying to her son,
“ ‘To the Church thou belongest, to the Church thou shalt be given. Oh, it’s beautiful, beautiful. God rot God, I say! God the sod! The utmost Enemy of women, that’s what God is! Everything we seek to do, He seeks to undo!’ ”[5]
She sends her son to Ralph, but she doesn’t tell him that Dane is his son until Dane’s death. As Anne, Meggie’s good friend and former master, worries, the gods have not done with her yet. After he is ordained without her mother’s presence in Rome, Dane decides to come down to the Peloponnese, getting up his courage to meet his mother. Yet before seeing his mother for the last time, he is drowned in Crete, rescuing some women from the sea. Meggie does her best to love Ralph’s son with the purity of the Blessed Mother herself, but she doesn’t realize that “The object of her love was struck down in the very fullness of His flower”[6]. After Dane’s funeral, Ralph consequently dies in her arms. They steal what he has vowed to God, and they have to pay, which is a fatal attack to Meggie. She suffers so much, and it seems that she fails and is unhappy, yet she is really a great and successful woman. In her eyes, the tragedies are a comfort, once the pain dies down, “I did it all to myself, I have no one else to blame. And I cannot regret one single moment of it.” [7] She knows what she wants and tries her best to pursue it, in spite of high expense, and her inimitable voice is so plaintive and sacred.
2.2 The love stories about the other women in The Thorn Birds
Mary is Meggie’s aunt. She takes possession of a large amount of property and lives in Drogheda, a great pasture. She has been a widow for so many years, but she refuses to marry again. “Not Mary Carson’s idea of living, to play second fiddle. So she had abjured the flesh, preferring to wield power”[8]. She was not born into money or is not so charming, but besides her genius, the great effort makes her lead a superior life. When she meets Ralph, she has already been an old woman, but she crazily falls in love with him, who has remarkable appearance and uncommon intelligence. On her deathbed, she asserts her true feeling to Ralph,
“ ‘I have loved you. God, how much! Do you think my years automatically preclude it? Well, Father de Bricassart, let me tell you something. Inside this stupid body I’m still young─I still feel, I still want, I still dream, I still kick up my heels and chafe at restrictions like my body. Old age is the bitterest vengeance our vengeful God inflicts upon us.’ ”[9]
She believes that there are no bounds of age in love, but she is clear that Ralph is not likely to love her, who knows that only Meggie is his lover. As a result, she becomes to hate her old age and envy Meggie. Moreover, she can’t bear Ralph and Meggie to get together, and she also cannot stand others possessing the things she hungers for but could not gain. She has said to Ralph,
“ ‘I’ll be like the Devil, and offer you─Enough said! But never doubt I’ll make you writhe. You’re the most fascinating man I’ve ever met. You throw your beauty in our teeth, contemptuous of our foolishness. But I’ll make you sell yourself like any painted whore.’ ”[10]
Therefore, she chooses to retaliate by separating Ralph from Meggie. The reprisal works after her death, but it really changes the fate of Ralph and Meggie. She knows Ralph very well, and she is sure that if the church inherits her abundant legacy, Ralph will quit Meggie to be the bishop of Catholicism, who can never marry. In the letter given to him, she says,
“ ‘Ralph, I love you, so much I would have killed you for not wanting me, except that this is a far better form of reprisal. I’m not the noble kind; I love you but I want you to scream in agony. Because, you see, I know what your decision will be. I know it as surely as if I could be there, watching. You’ll scream, Ralph, you’ll know what agony is.’ ”[11]
If she never knows how to do anything else, she actually knows how to make the ones she loves suffer. Just as the sayings go, if you love him, send him to New York, because it is a heaven; if you hate him, send him to New York, because it is a hell. Mary does so and she succeeds finally. Ralph accepts Mary’s will which makes his dream come true, so he reaches the heaven; Ralph betrays Meggie in order to get the money, which means that there will be an everlasting gulf between them from then on, so he arrives in the hell. If Mary is a thorn bird, Ralph is her sharp spine. However, because of the interlacement of love and hate, she chooses to destroy him.
Fiona, Meggie’s mother, was born in Armstrongs, a passport to colonial aristocracy. She is a very handsome, very fair woman a little under medium height, but rather hard-faced and stern. “She was a silent woman, not given to spontaneous conversation. What she thought, no one ever knew, even her husband”[12]. She is a hardworking housewife, but who can imagine that she used to be well-bred girl from an honorable family, and marries the poor hired herdsman─Paddy. It goes without saying that she has contracted a shocking mesalliance. What is worse, she doesn’t love Paddy, but she deeply loves another handsome married man, named Pakeha, with whom she has the son Frank. Fiona thinks the man is everything Paddy isn’t─cultured, sophisticated, very charming. She loves him to the point of madness, and she thinks she will never love anyone else. However, he is impossible to marry her, though they have a son, so she is forced to marry Paddy by her family. It is a legal marriage but without love. Although Paddy loves her so much and tries his best to make her happy, she never feels happy, and she always keeps silent, which means she never belongs to Paddy until his death. Among the family members, she only loves Frank, or loves Frank more than the rest of others put together, because she loves his father. In the family, Frank is her only spiritual mainstay, but he cannot get along with Paddy well. When Frank manages to drop away from home after the furious quarrel with Paddy,
“There had not been a flick of emotion in those soft grey eyes, not hardening nor accusation, hate or sorrow. As if she had simply been waiting for the blow to fall like a condemned dog for the killing bullet, knowing her fate and powerless to avoid it.”[13]
She keeps herself folded up with quietness, and a total undemonstrativeness. In fact, Fiona has led an impassible life since she left Frank’s father and lost her love. When she loses Frank, it means that she loses all her hope.
“If the days were long and bitter with a sense of failure, she must bear it in silence…. She was one of those people whose feelings were so intense they became unbearable, unlivable, and her lesson had been a harsh one. For almost twenty-five years she had been crushing emotion out of existence, and she was convinced that in the end persistence would succeed.”[14]
Therefore, there is no doubt that Frank’s father is her longest spine, for her life loses colors without him. The love between her and him is so transient, yet she puts in all her life for it. She knows that Paddy hasn’t been the man of her choice, but a better man than Paddy never lives. The moment she hears that Paddy died unexpectedly in the fire, she suddenly senses that she loves him, like all of her life. But it is too late for him, and too late for her, as she has wallowed in the former delusion so long and leaves it too late. Finally, she chooses to get herself under that iron control once more, as if she is determined to elongate her periods of darkness until the light shires no more in her lifetime. She is really a very unhappy woman who cannot live with the man she loves, and loses the man who loves her. But on the other hand, she is somewhat lucky, for she has loved someone, and been loved by someone.
When Meggie gives birth to Justine, she has gone through death and life, which implies that Justine will be out of the ordinary, will never be Meggie’s , Luke’s or anyone else’s, and will always belong to herself. Compared with her mother and her grandmother, Justine lives in a new age, and is more enlightened than them. What’s more, she has her own life style that she will not like to have changed by others, which usually cannot be understood by her family. In Drogheda, Dane gets far more emotion from the family, especially their mother than Justine, who thinks she will never love anyone and need other’s love. But actually she longs for love in her heart of hearts, and the reason she pretends to be indifferent to love is that she is terrified of committing herself to the kind of love which marriage will entail. She only chooses to stand on the stage to make her full emotions release. However, because of her younger brother Dane’s death, she plunges into a helplessness and distress, which urges her to recognize herself again and to reflect how to treat her life again. Finally, she becomes brave to confront and accept her love and her lover Rainer. Although her final is not a tragedy as her mother’s, her experience of searching for love also shows that the best is only bought at the cost of great pain.
2.3 Meggie’s noble faith
In the story about The Thorn Birds, women do not want to submit themselves to men’s authority and old customs. They do their utmost to strive for their faith. As the thorn birds, their faith is love; as the thorn birds which sing just once in their life, these women love only once in their life. They will not like to change their faith and they appeal to men for understanding and valuing their love. No matter how difficult and painful the experiences will be, they do not care at all. They also believe that the real happiness comes after the extremely suffering experiences. They have the same faith, and love occupies their dream for all their life, but they treat their faith with different attitudes and pursue their love with different behaviors. Meggie does not ruin her faithful lover that she cannot get as Mary does; she does not just keep waiting for her hopeless lover as her mother Fiona does; she is not too timid to accept her lover as her daughter Justine is. Therefore, Mary’s love is selfish, for she kills her lover’s love ruthlessly; Fiona’s love is passive, for she just lives in the past, leading a hopeless and lonely life; Justine’s love is fainthearted, for she cannot be brave enough to bear the expectation of love. But Meggie pursues her faith indefatigably and sublimates her love to the utmost. Her happiness is based on her anguish. The more sorrowful she is, the happier she will feel. Actually, Meggie’s pursuit of love is the strongest, and her voice is the most moving and tragic.
2.4 Meggie’s influence on the other women in The Thorn Birds
As a member of the Clearys, Meggie actually affects the other three women unconsciously in her family. When Ralph introduces Meggie to her, Mary instantaneously discerns that Ralph is infatuated with Meggie, which is intolerable to her. She senses that she must lose Ralph to Meggie, but she wants to make sure that Meggie doesn’t get Ralph, either. So she decides to change her former will, of which Paddy is the beneficiary. It’s Meggie that makes her change her lover’s fate. Meggie is the only girl of Fiona, but Fiona does not envy her or pity her. She thinks that a daughter is just a reminder of the pain and she tries to forget that she has a daughter. However, with little maternal love, Meggie always spreads her angelical love to others. She loves her family, loves her brothers, loves her children, loves her friends, and loves Ralph. What she has done really makes Fiona change her former attitude to Meggie. Her manner toward Meggie becomes tempered with respect and affection. In some way, she admires and adores her daughter for Meggie’s humanities and noble faith. As Meggie’s daughter, Justine has a quite different personality from her mother. It’s difficult for her to accept her mother’s philosophy. When her mother advises her to marry,
“Justine looked scornful. ‘Not bloody likely! Spend my life wiping snotty noses and cacky bums? Salaaming to some man not half my equal even though he thinks he’s better? Ho ho ho, not me!’ ”[15]
However, Meggie understands what her daughter really longs for in her inner world. Though she needs Justine after Dane’s death, she cares Justine’s happiness more, so she tries her best to persuade Justine to accept Rainer’s love. It is Meggie that brings Justine a happy life. Meggie leads Mary to change her mind, makes Fiona change her notion, and has Justine envisage her actuality bravely.


2.5 The faint voice of Meggie
Just as what it says at the end of the novel, “At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we,
when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it.”[16] Meggie creates her own thorn, never stops to count the cost. All she can do is to suffer the pain, and to tell herself that it is well worth it. However, she does not sense that her voice is not only beautiful but also faint, so do the writer and the readers. Living in the traditional society, dominated by men, Meggie is still unable to persuade the society to attach great importance to her faith, and it is impossible for her to make the society accept her faith. She has challenged God, but she fails, and if she challenges the traditional society, there is no doubt that she will be beaten, too. Because her voice for love is too faint to overstep men’s authority, and too faint to change the custom of the society, as her aunt and her mother, Meggie’s love tragedy is also unavoidable, no matter how much hardship she suffers and how great efforts she makes. Moreover, the more perseveringly she strives for perfection of faith, the more sorrow she will suffer. Meggie’s peak of poetic perfection shakes up many other women a lot, but to arouse the society’s reverence for female’s faith is still beyond her power. Though she does her utmost to raise her voice, it’s still too faint.

3. Men’s faith in The Thorn Birds
Either in reality or in literature, there are always countless tragedies about love between men and women. It’s natural for most women to equate love with their valuable life wholeheartedly, while it seems so difficult for men, who welcome love, but can’t value love as the most important and essential thing in their life. They think that the need of women is a kind of weakness, and they often choose anything but love at a critical moment, which the novel also proves so comprehensively.
3.1 Ralph’s faith
No matter who meet Ralph for the first time, they will never forget his beauty.
“the height and perfect proportions of his body, the fine aristocratic features, the way every physical element had been put together with a degree of care about the appearance of the finished product God lavished on few of His creations. From the loose black curls of his head and the startling blue of his eyes to the small, slender hands and feet, he was perfect. ”[17]
But there is an aloofness about him, which makes him never be enslaved by his beauty, nor ever will be. Besides, he has barded and subtle mind, outstanding political consciousness and remarkable diplomatic talent. He is brought up from his cradle to be a priest, and he is filled with God. He is sure that no earthly things come between him and his state of mind—not love of a woman, nor love of money. He accepts chastity without finding it difficult to maintain. Truly he will make a magnificent cardinal before meeting Meggie.
However, when little Meggie looks up at him with silver-grey eyes of such a lambent purity, like melted jewels, he cannot help falling in love with her at first sight, which becomes to waver in his former determination, vowing to give his life to God. Meggie has moved him unbearably, and he doesn’t really know why. He views her as a perfect female, having the gift of acceptance. He has to admit that Meggie fills an empty space in his life, which his God cannot. Therefore, he becomes to battle with his own thoughts. He starts to be puzzled by the confrontation between his divinity and his humanity; he begins to be afflicted with the dispute between his demand for love and his lust for power. However, he just tries his best to deceive himself that Meggie is only the rose of his life, and only an idea, but not a lover. Finally, he accepts Mary’s will, which relates to the fate of his life and his soul. Between God and Meggie, he chooses the former; between authority and love, he chooses the former. Though he still loves Meggie so much, he chooses to forsake her, selling her for thirteen million pieces of silver. Before saying goodbye, he suggests Meggie search for another man as her husband and love her children, but he is clear that it’s his punishment. The pain of love does not fade, and it seems to grow worse, which makes him unable to be fully pious to God. When he hears that Meggie has married Luke, he is upset, spitting mad. He decides to go to Matlock Island to see her.
There he becomes to realize that he is a man, can never be God, and he is made for Meggie. He breaks his vows. He will miss Meggie as long as he lives, but he still will not leave his Church, for he belongs to the Church all along. He really suffers a lot, because of his conflictive mentality. When Meggie has his son—Dane, she does not tell him the truth. He considers that she gives birth to a great son for Luke, which makes him so envious. As Dane is determined to be a priest, Meggie has to send him to Ralph. In the letter, she says to Ralph, “ ‘I charge you with his well-being, his happiness. What I stole, I give back. It is demanded of me.’ ”[18] But he still doesn’t know Dane is his son until Dane’s accidental death, which wears him down thoroughly.
At last, he comes to realize that he is wrong, “Pride, ambition, a certain unscrupulousness. And love for Meggie flowering among them. But the crowing glory of that love he had never known.”[19] Meggie is the mirror in which he is forced to view his mortality, but he never pays attention to it until he dies. Only in death will he find the peace he cannot find here in this life. He hurts Meggie profoundly and loses his excellent son. He loves Meggie deeply, but he can’t treat love as his faith as Meggie does. He cares God more. So he creates an extreme tragedy for Meggie and himself.
3.2 The other men’s faith in The Thorn Birds
When he falls in love with Fiona, Pakeha has been married already, and he has been an important politician. Though Fiona loves him deeply and so does him, “Divorce was out of the question for him. He was one of the first people of his race to attain political greatness”[20]. He has to choose between his people and Fiona. The same as Ralph, he chooses the former, which really stifles Fiona’s faith and deprives her of her zeal for life.
Meggie has eight brothers, two of whom dies young, but none of the ones left alive seem to have any intention of ever getting married. They treat their mother with a tender, absorbed care no amount of indifference on her part can banish. But they are frightened of the power a woman might have over them. They would rather devote all their silent love to the fertile land—Drogheda. “The land brings them men’s self-confidence and dignity; the land compensate them for the lack of mother’s love; the land gives them rich nourishment of life.”[21] They love the land deeply, which weakens their intention of marriage.
Luke is infatuated with money beyond any other thing, including love, and he thinks he does not need women at all. At heart he loves hard cash far more than what it may eventually buy him. The reason he leaves no stone unturned in his effort to marry Meggie is that he feels like getting her property. As Meggie evaluates him before she leaves,
“ ‘You haven’t any intention of spending it, have you? You want to adore it, like a golden calf. Admit it, Luke, you’re a miser. And what an unforgivable idiot you are into the bargain! To treat your wife and daughter the way you wouldn’t dream of treating a pair of dogs, to ignore their existences, let alone their needs!’ ”[22]
Because of his faith for money, Meggie is only a transient figure in his mind, let alone love.
How can a man resist a chance like that to be noble? Just as Ralph chooses the Church, Pakeha chooses his people. Meggie and her mother think they don’t care. They will take what they can get of the men. They will have their children to love at least. However, if they can’t keep their lovers, how can they keep their sons? That is just what God cannot allow, so both of them lose their sons at last. Generally speaking, to most men, if they have to make a choice between two important things, one of which is love, love usually comes a very bad second, while women always choose love as their faith throughout their life. 
3.3 The voice between Meggie and Ralph
Ralph has thought that Meggie would not be a rebel, and all her life she would obey, moving within the boundaries of her female fate. But on the contrary, she would rather be a rebel to shoot for her love, and to be loyal to her faith. And she does so, going forward in spite of its loads, its grieves, its pain. However, she still can’t convince Ralph to marry her; her voice for love still can’t cover Ralph’s voice for religious authority. Ralph really loves Meggie, but living in the environment full of men’s power, love is impossible to be his first choice. In his mind, religious authority is more important than love, though he is unlikely to be happy by giving up love. He can’t forget Meggie and can’t forget his love. He does it even as he knows he does wrong. Not that his awareness of the evil in him stops him for a second; only that he pays for his material advancement in pain and self-torment. No matter how mixed his feeling is, he will never think that to accept Meggie’s love is worth a try. In some way, Meggie faint voice can’t have Ralph awake to the importance of love, let alone the society. Naturally, women’s voice is incapable of surmounting men’s. So love tragedies often come to women, including Meggie, for their faint voice can hardly change anything.

4. Tracing back to Western women’s faith
As many other countries, before the campaign of Women’s right in 1830s, the history of Western countries were always ruled by men, whose concepts and authority absolutely dominated the society and the people of the time, so did the history in the western countries. In English language, great and marvelous works, especially novels, always emerged in an endless stream. However, almost all works were written by men, and they did describe some heroines in their works. But in English female writer Virginia Woolf’s opinion, “most of them virtually knew little about women, creating their heroines just with men’s views and imagination, and few of them paid attention to what the women really needed and wanted.”[23] Then more and more great female writers began to emerge in England during the second half of the 18th century, and most of them chose to write distinguished novels to express women’s true feelings, which meant the independent feminism was emerging on the horizon. They placed all their hopes on their heroines, who were filled with the writers’ senses and desires. “But some gifted women of the 19th century made such contributions to the development of the English novels that they have justifiably won their places in the front ranks of the brilliant realists”[24]. Yet what was more significant was that the women novelists had their heroines call for equal rights with men and men’s respect to women and women’s belief. They made men conscious of women’s existence and changed their former attitudes to women; they made other women overcome the difficulties and hold firmly to their faith. These remarkable women novelists include Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and George Eliot.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth, the key heroine of the novel, is born in a common middle class without plentiful dowry, which is difficult for her to marry a gentleman. However, her easy, unaffected personality and lively talents make the noble gentleman—Darcy fall in love with her soon. But because of Darcy’s pride, her self-esteem cannot allow her to accept his proposal. She senses that “His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.”[25] The lesson she teaches Darcy shows that the true love shall not be profaned by any additional requirements. But once she finds her wishful love, nothing can threaten her to give it up, in spite of the pressure of social decorum, nay and interest. When Darcy’s aunt tries to persuade Elizabeth not to marry him, she does not defer and says,
“ ‘I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.’ ”[26]
At last, after suffering pain from her love, she gains her own happiness with her wisdom, courage and unswervingly loyal faith.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre tells about an orphan girl—Jane Eyre, whose firm and rebellious personality help her bear the difficult and miserable conditions. “Though ordinary-looking and poor she is, she makes light of dignitary, insisted on seeking equal rights with men, and was rich in her mental world, which made Rochester love her crazily.” [27] But no matter how much she loves Rochester, she never gives up her female dignity, in spite of her low economic status. She does not allow her love to be sullied by any immorality or impurity. “When she finds Rochester really has already got a live lawful wife that is mad, she becomes shocked, despondent and sad”[28], saying,
“ ‘Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure—you as well as I: do so. You will forget me before I forget you.’ ”[29]
Her noble principle cannot permit her to be his ladylove, so she would rather choose to part with Rochester despite her unwillingness. She believes that only love can repay love, and she thinks that if a woman really loves a man, she will be ready to sacrifice everything for him, including life. When she hears that Rochester loses his manor, fortune and his sight during the fire accident set by his mad wife who dies a tragic death, she realizes he needs her and she returns to him at his side, becoming his wife. After all, she never changes her will and never gives up her love.
In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Catharine has wild, gypsy, blood in her and that side of her personality loves to run through the heather with her prince, Heathcliff. However, “the more civilized half of Catharine desires fine dresses and respectable station in society, all things which only Edgar Linton can provide.”[30] She has said to her maid servant—Nelly about her true feeling as followed,
“ ‘It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.’ ”[31]
She thinks if she marries Heathcliff, they will be beggars, while if she marries Linton, she can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of her brother’s power. Therefore, she chooses to marry Linton, but such a collision of love and desire is ripe territory for the seeds of tragedy. Catharine and Heathcliff destroy each other while remaining deeply in love. It is a measure of Catharine’s stoicism that she refuses to budge even under those conditions, pretending that she actually loves Edgar. However, with emotional wounds such as those, kept forever raw by constant needling, she falls ill and dies young at last. Catharine lives for love, and dies for love. Her tragedy also shows that marriage will be unfortunate and unhappy without love, and a full human life in a capitalist society is impossible of attainment, for the pure love of Catharine and Heathcliff has been crushed by the class prejudice of the bourgeoisie.
George Eliot is a great important spokesman of women in England. In her novel The Mill on the Floss, the heroine, Maggie, whose noble aspirations run counter to the philistine narrow-mindedness of those surrounding her, is lively, clever, kind and full of fantasy. “After the loss of her family’s property, Maggie has to drop out of school, learning to inhibit all her former passions and dreams, which actually tormented her all the time.”[32] With the help of Philip, she can enjoy books and music again, and she makes a deep impression on beautiful world and colorful life. Rather than saying that Philip is her lover, it would be better that he is her teacher and good friend in her poor and miserable situation. But, one day, while visiting her cousin Lucy, Maggie meets Stephen, a young suitor of Lucy, and they are attracted by each other’s beauty. “Stephen offers to marry her, but she turns him down on the ground that she cannot achieve her own happiness by sacrificing others.”[33] She could not ignore the public opinion and abandon the social morality, but she hurts herself deeply. “ ‘I will bear it, and bear it till death….’ ”[34] She forsakes her pursuit for love, so maybe death is her best way out. The tragic doom of Maggie virtually shows the irreconcilability of a gifted and noble-minded personality of women with bourgeois reality, and what’s more, it also shows that women also cannot be allowed to love the persons they love because of outside pressures and social restrictions. Maggie longs for love, but she has to give up love finally.
In the Western society, the female’s voice for equal rights and permanent faith did not only echo in Europe, but also in America, the opposite shore of Pacific at the end of 19th century. The women’s appeal to men for valuing women’s roles in society was more intensive in America. To play an important role in literary field was also one of women’s goals to make their voice regarded. In such kind of environment, in 1936 Margaret Mitchell produced her masterpiece Gone with the Wind, which makes the flag of feminism flutter freer and easier. The heroine Scarlet, a southern belle “is well disciplined by her mother, but her blazing green eyes always betrays her covert capricious self”[35] . Scarlet longs for the noble Ashley’s love, and dreams of marrying him. However, Ashley can’t marry her, though he actually loves her. In the southern America at that time, men always admire the women who are gentle and demure; they think women should be weak and rely on men all the time. So they regard the good wife and loving mother as an angel. On the contrary, men cannot tolerate women’s outstanding thoughts, keen insight and independent economic position. They treat such kind of women as devils. But Scarlet really belongs to the second kind of women whose behaviors always infringe the feudal ethical code. Therefore, it’s impossible for Ashley, filled with the old ethics to marry Scarlet. He would rather marry an angel whom he doesn’t love deeply. Only can Rhett Butler, representing the new northern social customs, accept Scarlet’s bold ambitions. Yet it’s too late for her to realize it. She always keeps abandoning herself to her love for Ashley. So her love is doomed to be a tragedy.
As Western women novelists, they wanted women’s voice for true love known and respected by men. However, because of the limitations of eras and social background, there were still some deficiencies about their heroines. Because women were not able to be independent on economy and social position, their marriages should be based on men’s abundant property, so they would like their love to come with money. What’s more, because of the prejudice against Darcy, Elizabeth once becomes well disposed towards hypocritical Wickham; because of Rochester’s misfortune and abjection, Jane Eyre returns to him and gets her love finally; because of her vanity, Catharine chooses to marry Linton, but not her true lover; because of her strong sense of responsibility, Maggie decides to give up Stephen’s love; because of her ultra personality, Scarlet can’t get her longing love. Those heroines just make their faint voice heard within limited social bounds. Therefore, compared with them, Colleen Mccullough’s heroine Meggie stands head and shoulders above them, as she loves Ralph without the consideration of his economic condition and social culture. Her love is pure and noble, and she is unswervingly loyal to it, though she is hurt most deeply. She has love become distillation of life; she makes her voice resound across the heavens. Her voice is louder and more beautiful. However, no matter whose voice it is, all of them are faint. They just build their ivory tower of love by their own, without attracting public attention, paying great cost but gaining great pain. They all can’t completely change the traditional values and persuade their lovers to accept their faith; they still can’t stop tragedies and make themselves happier in love.

5. Conclusion
Singing her own little song, Meggie convinces it’s the most wonderful song the world has ever heard. She just hopes her faith can bring her a significant and happy life; she just hopes that her voice for love can bring Ralph’s attention and respect. In order to get love, she would rather offer her life as the greatest sacrifice, and her elevated demeanor is matchless for other women. But she still fails, as other western women’s fate.
There is a Greek saying that it’s a sin against the gods to love something beyond all reason. When someone loves so, the gods become jealous, and strike the object down in the very fullness of its flower, and make her suffer all the time. It’s profane to love too much, but women always choose to set their whole mind and heart on love. So they are always injured severely. It’s been God’s punishment to women since Eve ate the forbidden fruit. God not only sent her forth from the Garden of Eden, but also keeps punishing her and her female descendants, having them choose love as their faith and suffer from it in every moment till their death. As long as they live, women can’t stop longing for love, searching for love, fighting for love, and waiting for love. However, it’s easy for men to ignore women’s indefatigable zeal for faith. What’s worse, men don’t have the inclination to understand women. They seem not to know that women are different, needing things they don’t need. Women are just one of men’s ribs, so how can a rib win the whole body? Therefore, women’s attempt is destined to failure, and their voice for love is always so faint that they often feel hopeless and helpless. But they still don’t want to give up their faith. They know they will pay great cost, but they never stop searching for their sharpest and longest thorn. As long as love lies, women will keep suffering. However, women’s faith for love brings them a wonderful and significant life, which will ring in the world forever. 

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[6]同上, P418.
[7]同上, P692.
[8]同上, P72.
[9]同上, P182.
[10]同上, P144.
[11]同上, P192.
[12]同上, P12.
[13]同上, P152.
[14]同上, P152-153.
[15]同上, P528.
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[17]同上, P70.
[18]同上, P561.
[19]同上, P650.
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