Monday, March 16, 2009

Jane Eyre

Ahhh. A Bronte I like. If you are unaware of my feelings for Charlotte's sister, Emily, you can recap here: Wuthering Heights. (side bar: HOW Stephenie Meyer can make "WH" Bella's favorite book is beyond me. )

Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" was a much better read for me. Her writing is so descriptive and fluid.

"No sooner had twilight, the hour of romance, begun to lower her blue and starry banner over the lattice, then rose I, opened the piano and entreated him, for the love of heaven, to give me a song."

Her characters are much, much better people. People to care about. Yes, even Mr. Rochester. I love that Jane is this young girl, an orphan, being taken care of by her dead uncle's wife, being neglected by this aunt, treated like dirt by her cousins, and yet she knows who she is. She knows what she will stand for. She's a child and yet she knows that her cousins are beneath her for the way they behave. She is in pain, she wants so much to be loved, but she still knows right from wrong in how humans should behave with each other.

I dreaded her being sent away to the school, Lowood. I feared for her and read hesitantly. Conditions were hard, but there were kind teachers and staff, and eventually she found a home there, if only for a while. There's still a world out there, though, that she yearns to see. She becomes a governess at a home called Thornfield, for a young girl being taken care of by a Mr. Rochester, a man 20 years her senior. Ms. Eyre is unlike any woman Mr. R has ever met. She says what she means, she speaks honestly, she doesn't drip honey from her lips trying to get something out of him. They fall in love and eventually confess their love under a chestnut tree, that later that evening gets rent in two by lightning (it's as if God himself is objecting).

Why would God object? Because on her wedding day, she is told of the lady in the attic apartments. The insane, wild woman. His wife.

"Jane Eyre, who had been an ardent, expectant woman - almost a bride - was a cold, solitary girl again: her life was pale, her prospects were desolate. "
That she declines to be his mistress, to run away and let him have her, is a great victory for her. While he tries to cajole, to wheedle, to threaten her to stay, she thinks:

" very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke as loud as Feeling: and clamoured wildly. 'Oh, comply!' it said. 'Think of his misery; think of the danger - look at his state when he left alone'" ...."Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?"

"Still indomitable was the reply - 'I care for myself.'"

That cry, "I care," held her place as a favorite heroine in my heart. That she refused another marriage proposal of convenience at a time where she would have been thought insane (she had no other prospects and was not considered attractive, although she did have money by then)cemented that place.

There's disaster mingled with hope. She finds family she never knew, she gets the one she always loved and stays true to the strengths she had from childhood.


The Foil Hat said...

Ooooo I love, love, love Jane Eyre! In fact I love it as much as I despise WH. (But, I thought WH was a perfect choice for Bella's favorite book lol!)

Next, you need to read Wilkie Collins, Woman in White.

Kaaren said...

Amy, I went to the library to get it but it was checked out. I did put it on hold.

I guess I can see why Bella would like WH *after* meeting Edward, but before? Gag.

Ya know...I never knew how to pronounce "Eyre." I'd say "Aye-reeee." Or pronounce it like Eerie. Never knew that it was "Air."