We’ve all heard the old saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” The proverb can be traced back to Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He is quoted as saying “Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi”…”The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.”
The eyes can tell us everything about a person. They show love, hate, anger, happiness, confusion, sadness. Mothers only have to look into the eyes of a child and know when that little person is lying. And the child only has to look into the mother’s eyes to know she knows.
A simple look from an emergency room doctor can tear your heart out. While the look from the person you love can make your heart race with passion.
We describe people by their eyes: “kind eyes”, “shifty eyes”, even comical but expressive “puppy dog eyes”.
Actors know the power of the eyes. I was recently watching an old “All In The Family” episode I hadn’t seen in many years. The one where Edith Bunker is sitting at the bedside of one of the patients at the Sunshine Home, listening to her tell why she’s ready to die, how she’s had such a wonderful life. Jean Stapleton was a master character actress and when she teared up watching her friend pass, so did I. I wanted to reach out and console her. The look in Edith’s eyes made me care.
It’s the same with a good book. I haven’t watched any of the “Outlander” television shows yet as I’m currently reading the books. But I don’t have to see the way Jamie looks at Claire to know how Claire reacts to his gaze. Diana Gabaldon’s words take me there. I feel every heart-skipping, breath-catching, moment as his soul touches hers.
A good writer, like a good actor, never forgets the power of the eyes.