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!


Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

I need to read this and get back to you.

Lisa said...

"literally hundreds of times" eh? Methinks Ms. Meyer also has some obsessive tendencies. LOL

Great observations, Jen, esp your comparison of those two scenes.

I do think Jane loved St. John, however, but as you said, in a brotherly way. She wanted family, and he was truly her family.

Mella said...

Aside from the fact you're comparing an epic, beautifully written classic to a shoddy wet-dream trashy romance novel, I agree. :D

With Jane, I believe that she makes a genuine effort to live without Mr Rochester but knows deep down in her heart that they will meet again in heaven or on earth, whereas Bella spends more time moping about how she cannot live without him than attempting to get back on her feet and be an independent woman again.

With Meyer love is shown to be everything and that without it life is just a shell, whereas Brontë shows love to be the major reason for living, but not the only one. Jane finds family when she no longer has Mr Rochester but Bella returns to her friends – Jake, for example – and tries to replace what she has lost, ironically making her pointless life, worse.

And while hey both go on a journey to reclaim their lovers, Jane runs away to free herself from her sinful love but Bella locks herself away in the past, begging for self-destruction rather than for a second chance.


It annoys me that the two novels are similar and I really know that it shouldn't. But, to me, the Twilight series seems to be the combined product of inspiration from fantastic novels rather than Meyers own creation.

And, instead of the Cullens being vampires, the plot would work equally as well if you gave them some kind of disease instead (except for, perhaps, there would be fewer 'fight' scenes). :D

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying reading your posts! And you've posed a fun question about the similarities between the series and JE.

Some of the additional Edward/Rochester similarities that come to my mind: Edward and Rochester both torment themselves over who they are (vampire, married man) and how that prevents them from having what they want (Bella, Jane as wife). Physically, they're both versions of Byronic heroes--tall, dark, handsome. Financially, Jane and Bella are both "marrying up" to men in better financial positions than they are. And they both narrate their own stories; and the narratives end with their happy marriages/celebration of children/etc.


Sofia said...

In response to Mella- YES. So glad to finally find someone who shares my opinions of both books. Very nice, well thought out comment.

And, if you wanna hear similar passages, try

" came: in full heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described in truth, "the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me.""
-Jane Eyre, End of Chapter 26


"I felt the smooth wooden floor beneath my knees, and then the palms of my hands, and then it was pressed against the skin of my cheek. I hoped that I was fainting, but, to my disappointment, I didn't lose consciousness. The waves of pain that had only lapped at me before now reared high up and washed over my head, pulling me under."
-New Moon, End of Chapter 3

Continually through the Twilight books I have been amazed by the similarities to classics that Stephanie Meyer has stated a love for. Instead of writing something original, Ms. Meyer has blended together all the great love stories of the past into a scrambled mass digestable for the general population of teenage girls. I cannot believe how popular these books are- why not just read Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, ect, and have the satisfaction of reading some of the greatest romances of all time?