Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, Part I

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A series of humiliations lead to an orgasm of happiness

This is the second book in my project of Rereading the Classics and this novel inspired so many thoughts in me, I must break them into two weekly chunks. Here’s Part One.

I found this book under the Christmas tree when I was seven years old and for many years after that I only read and reread on the Gateshead and Lowood parts, the passionate little girl imprisoned by the rules part. I didn’t really understand Mr. Rochester and I found (and I think most people do) St. John Rivers to be an intolerable priss. I couldn’t understand at all why Jane would even contemplate his proposal.

Over the years, I have read Jane Eyre several times, and while loving it, found the novel ultimately deeply flawed because for me the story fell apart at the end because of the ridiculousness of the plot. This time I approached it without any preconceived ideas about realism. In no way is the final third of the book realistic – in fact the entire novel is a fairy tale wish fulfillment that was completely satisfying.

The passionate characters play out their memorable scenes against gigantic backdrops – the settings are almost as important as the characters. Jane and Rochester meet at twilight on the moor, each thinking the other a supernatural creature. Like Elizabeth and Darcy they immediately “go at it”. With dialogue that is. The man with direct questioning, the woman responding like a sybll. After Jane saves him from a burning bed, they both realize they are in love.  

Thornfield is a house filled with several varieties of womanhood – the flirtatious little girl, the calm elderly housekeeper. The madwoman in the attic. And Jane, the sensible helper. What will she chose? What role will she play?

Next week, Part II

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