Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Twilight Saga and Jane Eyre

I added Jane Eyre to the list of Bella's Bookshelf when I read the following quote from Stephenie Meyer:

''I read it when I was nine,'' says Meyer, ''and I've reread it literally hundreds of times. I do think that there are elements of Edward in Edward Rochester and elements of Bella in Jane. Jane was someone I was close to as a child — we were good friends! I think in some ways she was more real to me than any other fictional heroine.'' (Entertainment Weekly)

I'm so glad I did. As to the elements of Edward and Jane in Edward and Bella, that was a little trickier for me, except for one glaring exception: neither of the individuals seems to see themselves in a true light. They all seem to be very self-deprecating.

One other thing that did strike me was the similarity, in my opinion, between a section of Jane Eyre and a section of New Moon. I have quoted both below:

'I can do what he wants me to do I am forced to see and acknowledge that,' I meditated - '... In leaving England, I should leave a loved but empty land - Mr. Rochester is not there; and if he were, what is, what can that ever be to me? My business is to live without him now: nothing so absurd, so weak as to drag on from day to day, as if I were waiting some impossible change in circumstances, which might reunite him to me. (Jane Eyre, Chapter 34)

I stared back at him. He was not my Jacob, but he could be. His face was familiar and beloved. In so many real ways, I did love him. He was my comfort, my safe harbor. Riht now, I could choose to have him belong to me. Alice was back for the moment, but that changed nothing. True love was forever lost. The prince was never coming back to kiss me awake from my enchaged sleep. I was not a princess, after all. So what was the fairy-tale protocol for other kisses? The mundane kind that didn't break spells? Maybe it would be easy - like holding his hand or having his arms around me. Maybe it would feel nice. Maybe it wouldn't feel like a betrayal. Besides who was I betraying anyway? Just myself. (New Moon, Chapter 18, p. 411)

The glaring difference is that I do not believe there was ANY feeling of love by Jane for St. John. Well, that's not exactly true, she did state she felt brotherly love for him, which is similar to how Bella felt about Jacob at the beginning. But in those passages, both of Jane and Bella were trying to decide if they should forget true love. Forget the hopes of true love. And just do something to move forward in life.

And both Jane and Bella were interrupted as they were making their decisions: Bella by the phone ringing, and Jane by hearing her name being called. That was so cool, it gave me goosebumps!

I'll have to ponder on the other similarities, and would be interesting in reading other people's ideas on that topic!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My thoughts on Jane Eyre

I thoroughly enjoyed this month's selection for Bella's Bookshelf! My enthusiasm waned while reading The Prince and the Pauper last month, and to be honest, I never even finished it. And while I loved Little Women the month before, that really touched my heart as a mother more than as a woman and a reader. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, as Little Women will always stick with me, but it was sometimes quite convicting to read the way Marmee handled herself with her daughters and in her situations compared to the way I handle those things.

Jane Eyre was a completely different experience! I had a hard time getting into the story at first. I see this to be a trend, and I'm not sure if that's a personality issue with me, or whether it's a reflection on the differences in the way books were written in years past compared to now. I think now, in general, a book has to grab the reader quickly to maintain his or her attention! There are so many things competing with books that are much faster-paced and that can be much more exciting. Or maybe it's a function of classical literature as a whole? I will have to pay attention during next month's selection, which was published in 1960 - relatively modern compared to our readings to this point!

I was afraid when I started reading Jane Eyre that we were in for another Oliver Twist: one bad thing happening after another. And I couldn't comprehend why the aunt and cousins were so mean to Jane. Once Jane left for school and made friends with Helen, I was quite intrigued. Once she decided to advertise for a governess position, accepted the one at Thornfield and moved there, and then met Adele, I was hooked!

I absolutely loved the way Charlotte Bronte wrote this novel, in the first person narrative but almost something more... it was as if Jane invited us into the room and while the action was going on, she would stop for a moment and do some additional explaining. Here is my favorite example:

"He spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed them alternately. While he is so occupied, I will tell you, reader, what they are: and first I must premise that they are nothing wonderful." (Chapter 13)

I thought this was great and served to draw me even deeper into the story! (I think I'm going to have to devote an entire post to my favorite quotations from this book! There are so many wonderful ones!!)

I was as confused as Jane, I believe, when Mr. Rochester told her that it was she who wanted to marry, and right away! And I was devastated along with her upon learning of the existence of Bertha Rochester. And then my heart completely broke when Jane left Thornfield. I truly cried and cried.

How I love a happy ending, though! And how I love a mysterious situation like the one where Jane hears Edward's voice calling to her, then we learn later that he had indeed called to her, and he heard her voice answering back! That was right up my alley!

I know there is more I want to discuss, but it's escaping me at the moment! I guess I'll come back to it when I remember!

In my next post, I will share the ways Jane Eyre reminded me of the Twilight series, specifically New Moon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jane Eyre - A Summary

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
first published in 1847

Jane Eyre was rendered an orphan following the death of her parents. She was left in the care of her uncle and his family and, upon his death, was horribly mistreated by her aunt and cousins. At the age of 10, her aunt sent her to live at a charity boarding school for orphans. There the mistreatment took on a new style in the form of poor living conditions. However, Jane made friends and found a mentor. Soon word got out about the conditions at the school and improvements were made. Jane continued to live there and eventually taught at the school for a couple of years.

When her mentor left to get married, Jane decided to expand her horizons. Unknown to anyone else, she placed an advertisement desiring the position of governess. One reply came and Jane accepted the position. She traveled to Thornfield, where she is to teach Adele, the french-born charge of the master of the house, Mr. Rochester. According to the caretaker of the house, Mr. Rochester is infrequently home.

During a chance meeting, Jane meets and helps Mr. Rochester after he has fallen from his horse, though she does not learn it is him until she returns home. She is intrigued by him, and his personality. He frequently calls her down to talk with him, even including her when he is entertaining guests. Jane learns he is intending to marry one of the young ladies in the party. She will leave her position as governess before Mrs. Rochester moves into Thornfield. This is tragic for Jane, as she has fallen in love with her master!

Jane is called away because of the impending death of her aunt. She is told by the aunt that her mother's uncle had written searching for her, wanting to adopt her and leave his estate to Jane upon his death. The aunt wrote back to the uncle that Jane had died. Jane returns to Thornfield after her aunt's death, expecting not to stay long due to the impending wedding. However, in a strange twist of events, Jane learns that Mr. Rochester wishes to marry her, and not Miss Ingram.

Plans move forward for the wedding, but the happiness is interrupted during the ceremony. Jane learns that Mr. Rochester is already - and still - married! The crazy laughs Jane has heard, the attempt on the life of Mr. Rochester (and on Mr. Mason during his visit), and the strange "nightmare" Jane had before the wedding - they are all the result of Mr. Rochester's insane wife, who is kept hidden at Thornfield.

Upon learning this news, Jane flees Thornfield with no money and no way to take care of herself. She is desolate, starving, and on the verge of death when she is taken in by St. John Rivers, and his sisters Diana and Mary. They nurse her back to health and St. John, a pastor, gives her the job of instructor at a school for the area's poorest girls. Jane delights in her time with the Rivers sisters, and she even comes to enjoy teaching at the school.

In yet another twist, Jane discovers through St. John that they are indeed cousins. Her uncle, who had desired to adopt her and leave his estate to her has died, and did leave the estate to Jane alone. He gave a little to St. John, Diana, and Mary due to a dispute he had had with their father long ago. Jane is thrilled at the prospect of having a real family! She intends to divide the estate among the four of them. St. John, who has felt the call to missions work in India, asks Jane to go with him - as his wife. She agrees to go - as his sister - but he refuses. She struggles with this decision, and as she struggles, she hears a voice call her name - Edward's voice (Mr. Rochester).

Jane decides she must go to find out what happened to Mr. Rochester. Her letters have gone unanswered. She arrives at Thornfield to find it burned to the ground. She learns that Mr. Rochester's wife had set the place on fire, then committed suicide. Mr. Rochester, in an attempt to get everyone out of the house safely, including his wife, was seriously hurt - losing a hand, one eye, and the sight in his remaining eye. He is living at Ferndean.

Jane went to Mr. Rochester at Ferndean and at first he did not believe it was her. He told her he had called out for her, the very same night she heard his voice calling her name. Edward repented of his life's misdeeds, and he and Jane married quickly in a quiet ceremony. He regains the sight in his eye, and they have a son together, and are happy!

(OK, so that was sort of a long summary -and I'm not sure I got the details correct! LOL - but what can I say! I LOVED this book!! I'll post my thoughts in the coming days!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jane Eyre - coming soon!

I'm still here - or rather, I'm back!!!

Discussion for Jane Eyre will begin next Monday, September 14th!