Theodora as an Unheard Prophetess in Patrick White’s The Aunt’s Story

by Antonella Riem Natale

This essay takes into consideration some of the themes dear to Veronica
Brady’s heart and present in her profound critical analysis of Australian literature. Veronica often read Patrick White’s work in the light of a spiritual quest and a mystical-mythical vision. Aim of this essay is to investigate how the figure of the aunt, in The Aunt’s Story (1948), embodies one of the isolated and visionary characters in White’s work who transmits a message that superficial contemporary society is unable to understand. I will show how Theodora Goodman’s role as explorer in the inner land of the Self connects her with ancient partnership (Eisler 1987), Goddess’ archetypes, in particular that of the Crone, embodying a “woman of age, wisdom and power” (Bolen 2001). This figure had an important but now forgotten role in ancient gylanic societies (Eisler 1987). Theadora, the Goddess’ gift, as the protagonist’s name should read, is a powerful reminder of the sacred spiritual function of ancient
women-priestess. Theodora is Theadora, a priestess beloved by the Goddess. Contemporary society, being unable to see beyond the ordinary, can only catalogue these sacred figures as ‘mad’.