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Jane Eyre

February 15, 2010

Actually, I have two books that I have read very recently and need to talk about, but seeing as I’m a little short on time due to an unfortunate influx of homework (medieval torture, that’s what it is!), I find myself only able to talk about Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

While I do realize that is is kind of one of those books that people are supposed to read in High School, I never did, and I am quite grateful for it.  I think that if I had read it in High School I would have been completely disinterested and would not have enjoyed it at all.  As it was, I completely fell in love with this book.  Which is almost unfortunate in a way, because that means that I, the complete overly feministic literature hater, might actually enjoy some very thoroughly feminine literature.  For instance: Jane Austin.  I confess, I have never read a Jane Austin book and did not even watch Pride and Prejudice (the Kiera Knightley version, which I hear is not the best one) until a few weeks ago.  However, I completely fell for the delightful character of Jane, who has seen some of the worst of life and yet has the spunk to face the rest of it.

There are lots of things that can be said about this book.  For instance, I could talk about how it brings up the social aspects of Christianity in whatever time period Charlotte Bronte lived.  For instance, the idea that those who are rich are good Christians no matter what while those who are poor and neglected must be sinners, and the idea that those who are in power must always be right, simply because they are.  I actually did learn something about the first idea in my Literature class, and the aforementioned idea is generally called “visible election” and basically covers the idea that if God loves you then he will shower you with temporal gifts and that you probably have a guarantee of being saved in the end.  Personally, I find such an idea to be quite grim, because in a way that takes away all agency for people to reach God’s favor, but then again I am nothing but an opinionated college student, so who am I to argue?  As for the second idea of the rich and powerful being right simply because they are, I say BALDERDASH!!!!!!!!!!! What a horrific thought!  Hopefully the human race has advanced beyond such thoughts, but then again I find some overwhelming evidence that we have not.  Take the squabbles between High School girls, for instance.  I mean no offense to High School girls, seeing as I was one once, but one has to question what the heck is going on in the human brain for such a condition as High School teen drama to appear.

However, I really didn’t want to talk about the social aspects of Jane Eyre.  Actually, I wanted to talk more about the beauty that can be found in those pages.  As I mentioned earlier, I absolutely love the character of Jane Eyre, who I feel is one of the few female characters that I have ever run into that actually possesses some fire.  Yes, she can be demure and sweet, but then again, she also has an interesting knack for saying what she wants to say and not caring what anyone else thinks or who she offends.  I also happen to like the fact that she can say rude things to people and make them sound well learned and not at all offensive, in spite of the fact that they are incredibly rude.  I think I may have fallen in love with the general character of Mr. Rochester, who possesses that same inability to be particularly tactful.  Some days, I crave that politely harsh honesty in the people around me, especially the men!  I feel like much of the time I run into people who possess more of the character of St. John Rivers; who may be a fine human being, but who is cold and indifferent to the people around him.  I can’t help being distasteful of such a creature, who seems good but has his/her own brand of villainy, however benign it may seem at first.

I think the thing that truly entranced me about this book was the language of it.  That polite speech that you could say terrible things to someone else and make it sound like poetry.  Reading the words made me feel like I was tasting them.  If it is possible to eat words and live off of them, I’m quite sure it could be done with Jane Eyre.

Perhaps next time I will be able to write my review of Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison.  Until then–

Rivenheart

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 5:44 pm

    such interesting thoughts! i loved jane eyre in high school, but i wasn’t required to read it (thank goodness, i hate classroom critiques of good reads). this makes me want to read it again…

  2. Rivenheart permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:36 pm

    Tell me more!!!! What is it that’s interesting? What are your thoughts? All of that goodness!!!! Tell me tell me tell me!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. February 16, 2010 8:47 pm

    I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts, like, all day but they are so scattered that it is hard, and I was vaguely planning a companion-post!

    In other news, I have discovered a book I should VERY MUCH like to read called ‘Jasmyn’ by Alex Bell…I think a library nearby has it on the shelf, so I don’t have to buy it just for the sake of reading it 😄

  4. February 17, 2010 3:57 pm

    Here we are!

    > …the idea that those who are in power must always be right, simply because they are.

    Puts me in mind of a quote from the Ranger’s Apprentice:

    ‘This is the price we pay for our privileged rank. We enjoy the privileges because, when the time comes, we have to face the danger.’

    With great power comes great responsibility, etc!

    > the aforementioned idea is generally called “visible election” and basically covers the idea that if God loves you then he will shower you with temporal gifts and that you probably have a guarantee of being saved in the end.

    I definitely agree on it being grim: Islamically, we don’t believe there’s an actual correlation between what you have and God’s favour. The favour depends on what you do with what you have, whatever that is. And the favour isn’t necessarily given in this life – what then would the afterlife be for?

    > High School girls

    To this, I can only say this:

    Skip to 3:06!

    > I absolutely love the character of Jane Eyre, who I feel is one of the few female characters that I have ever run into that actually possesses some fire.

    YOU ARE NOT READING THE RIGHT BOOKS.

    There was a whole discussion on Maggie Stiefvater’s fiction blog about strong female characters, but it seemed to focus on very recent YA. Still interesting-ish, though.

    You should read Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen – although Elinor Dashwood is not exactly fiery, she’s tough and subtle. Elinor was my companion through some rough times 😄 Hm, but Elizabeth Bennet probably does have more fire. So maybe Pride and Prejudice, too. Or perhaps her whole corpus.

    For a more butt-kicking heroine in the happy lands of fantasy, you should definitely read the Green Rider by Kristen Britain – Karigan G’ladheon is awesome. And just TRY not to love Zachary.

    > I also happen to like the fact that she can say rude things to people and make them sound well learned and not at all offensive, in spite of the fact that they are incredibly rude…Mr. Rochester…possesses that same inability to be particularly tactful.

    It isn’t that she isn’t capable of tact, it’s that she chooses to say what she thinks and mean what she says. He, on the other hand, pretty much couldn’t care less what people think, and expects disingenuity from them – something they are sure to provide, because he is a Single Man in Possession of a Good Fortune (who therefore Must Be in Want of a Wife).

    I agree there’s something about St John (pronounced ‘Sinjun’) that is rather reptilian and inhuman, in a way Rochester never is. Which is odd, because Rochester is meant to be humanised by Jane, but he was always human anyway. I wouldn’t describe St John as benign so much as inoffensive and perhaps seemingly insignificant. He was as capable of cruelty as Rochester, but where the latter was sensible to it and was himself damaged by his own actions, St John had a complete conviction that all he did was justified and sanctioned by God. His devoutness is more frightening than Rochester’s heathenness, which is in fact, strangely charming.

    > Reading the words made me feel like I was tasting them.

    Awesome. That is all.

  5. chuuurls permalink
    February 19, 2010 6:28 pm

    Oh! A review on a book that I enjoyed when I read it!

    I think my opinion might be…um…haha…herhemjrhmm…different from what most come up with. I may very well write a review myself.

    But anyway in regards to THESE WORDS HERE YOU WROTE:

    >> As for the second idea of the rich and powerful being right simply because they are, I say BALDERDASH!!!!!!!!!!! What a horrific thought! Hopefully the human race has advanced beyond such thoughts, but then again I find some overwhelming evidence that we have not.

    I really like that you touched upon this, and I am inclined to disagree with the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility!” in regards to “the rich man’s burden”, because of the clear reason that being poorer is much, much, much, much harder than being rich no matter which way you cut it, and that the rich don’t live up to their responsibility when it comes to helping the poor.

    A lot of people would disagree with my idea that “if you are rich you ought to help out some less fortunate folks even in a small way”. I wonder what would happen if I suddenly got a bunch of money? How much of it would I give to others? I don’t know since it hasn’t happened yet, but I would like to think after I had my own life secured, I would try to give away a feasible amount.

    I went on a tangent about rich people and I Am Sorry. I think my point is that many of the social injustices in this book still exist, maybe in different disguises, but all the same they are here, and that is what affected me most about this book. I don’t want to elaborate too much in case I decide to write about it later.

  6. February 20, 2010 11:20 pm

    > I am inclined to disagree with the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility!” in regards to “the rich man’s burden”, because of the clear reason that being poorer is much, much, much, much harder than being rich no matter which way you cut it, and that the rich don’t live up to their responsibility when it comes to helping the poor.

    That is kind of what I meant, with the with-great-power-blah-blah. The point is that wealth is a responsibility, and the wealthy by any human measure must have a responsibility towards those without. It’s the failure of charity that perpetuates (and sometimes creates) the awful poverty that exists. Imbalance is in some part a feature of the…natural order, maybe. I’m not sure I’m expressing this well. But redressing the imbalance is the responsibility we have as human beings.

    Also, the quote about privilege was expressing that privilege had its price. It is part of the ‘covenant’ if you will, of privilege, that you must pay that price or renounce that privilege. In other words, you must be worthy or you can bog off. In the case of the story, it was a baron and the king facing a scary monster that threatened their kingdom.

    > A lot of people would disagree with my idea that “if you are rich you ought to help out some less fortunate folks even in a small way”.

    That’s weird. You’d have to be a very small-minded person to disagree with that. Yes? No? Maybe? I Don’t Know.

  7. February 22, 2010 4:01 pm

    I agree with you Khadijah, With great power indeed comes great responsibility! WE need to use our wealth, strength, youth to help others.

  8. Ellen Walker permalink
    February 27, 2010 2:29 pm

    Interesting thoughts that y’all have shared. I’m enjoying your blog! I don’t remember if I’ve read Jane Eyre. I think I watched the movie once. I think I need to read the book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about it.

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