Friday, April 15, 2011

Jane Eyre - The Wrap Up

If you haven't read 'Jane Eyre', stop reading this NOW. There are so many spoilers in this, it WILL make your eyes bleed.

Also, this is not scholarly commentary. It's just some random, written down feelings about the book. It's not a review, it's a summary of whether or not I liked it, and what bits impacted on me. Basically, please don't come into this blog expecting any more than a casual response from a book lover!

*****

To paraphrase Amanda Palmer:

"Oh. My. God. FINISHED!"

I knew when I started this book, it would be a long slog. Five hundred plus pages of literary joy isn't exactly a task one can knock over in an afternoon!

As I went, I did take some notes, but not many! I figured it would just take away from the enjoyment of the novel. That said, there were definite themes that certainly made an impact on me throughout the reading process, a few of which were quite poignant to my current place in time and space.

The first thing, and the most interesting for me personally, was the relationship between Jane & Rochester. I guess I find it kind of odd, the way they interact. It's not exactly stereotypical romantic fare, but they get on with each other through friendly jibing is repeated through literature: Beatrice & Benedict are the pair that immediately springs to mind. They understand each others flaws and embrace them.

But that's nothing new. I see that in my parents every day. (They've been married 23 years, and in a world where divorce occurs about as often as finding the one you'll grow old with, I'm immensely proud of them for that fact.)

What really makes me curious was the way each of them was so taken with the other's mystery. All the way through the book, Bronte takes great pains in describing Rochester as dark and brooding, and giving the impression that even after Jane has been married to him for ten years, she still doesn't know everything about him, nor does she want to. Rochester, from the first time they meet, refers to Jane as a member of the fae. I get the sense that had they been more open with each other from the outset, they'd have tired of each other, and perhaps never have fallen into their relationship.

But the stark contrast we see is in St John Rivers, who I must admit, annoyed the bejeebus out of me the first time I read Jane Eyre, and has not become any less irritating with the passage of time. He's calculating, cold and exact in his meticulous planning. You can work out the kind of person he is from the first time you meet him. The only time he feels vaguely interesting is when he softens enough to confess his feelings for Miss Rosamond Oliver, although even that is followed by an almost immediate rejection of such sentiments. I think it would be this exact moment, where St John's only personal mystery is solved, that he loses all affection from me, and he was at the same time struck from the list of potential matches for Jane. She now knows almost all there is to know about him. Where's the fun in that?

Rochester's air of mystery is not his only charm, however. His unkempt manner and and physical appearance allows Jane to lose any feeling of obligation to be 'ladylike'. He is comfortable in his own lack of social graces, so she feels permitted to be more relaxed in her own actions and words. He is a riddle, a challenge, and it is in that way that I can see why Jane is so attracted to him. I am also quite uncomfortable around those to whom the act of giving compliments comes easily. Rochester is obviously not one of those people. He is anything but eager to please, with the stark contrast resulting in his kindnesses becoming so much more sincere and powerful.

And how could we forget Jane's phenomenal level of awesome! From the Red Room to her departure from Moor House to return to Rochester, she knows that when something is not going her way, chances are there is something she can do about it to make it better. Over the last few months, that has been such an important notion for me, even if my health has made that harder to achieve than I'd like. I can happily report, however, that I'm now broadening my skills at work (adding 'web content development' to my tasks), and as I write this, I am on a long train trip to Sydney to attend an AFTRS course in Announcing & Presenting. I'm making moves in the right directions, it's just up to the fates to see how they turn out.

Reading Jane Eyre again for this blog has been hard, lovely, timely and an absolute pleasure. If I end up enjoying all the books on my list this much, I'll be a very happy lass.

But while this chapter of the blog has come to a close (save the few more French translations I've got to add to the last entry) a new one is beginning. As soon as I finish writing this, I commence reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

Ready. Set. Go.

x ND