Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre

Postby rat4000 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:06 pm UTC

It's surprised me somehow that most opinions about the book on these boards are negative (and I just did a search, so don't "citation needed" me).

Do you like it, or do you not like it? I read it not-so-recently (some four months ago) and I can't really say I love it, but I'd call it a good book. The love they developed was quite possible, the characters as a whole behaved rather reasonably, I liked the style and the last chapter was so full of happiness that I smiled for half an hour after reading it.

I didn't particularly like the pacing (too slow for me, especially around the middle). For some reason, I hated that part where she has to sleep in the forest and people are refusing her food. Also, I found the part with the part with the wealth she suddenly inherited to be slightly too good to be true, but by then she'd been through enough to make me feel happy for her as I read it.

I loathed the part where he dresses up as a gypsy and asks her questions, and her imagined rivalry with that beautiful lady. Come on. It's obvious he doesn't like her. It should be obvious for you.

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:14 pm UTC

I have a bit of a nostalgic bent for Jane Eyre as I first read it in 6th grade without any preconceptions. I liked it well enough. For what it's worth, I read Wuthering Heights immediately after Jane Eyre and loathed it, so you can't blame my affection for Jane Eyre entirely on my youthful naivete. :D
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby casiguapa » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:11 pm UTC

It's one of my favourite novels. I think I prefer the first ten chapters, probably due to the relationship between Jane and Mrs Reed, Jane and Helen, Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst and Helen and the teachers at Lowood. The social commentary within the first ten chapters is also very on point.
I felt Bronte gave us some good, complex characters. Helen aside, nobody was perfect and even Helen herself was prone to making mistakes. Jane is a character you can easily relate to, something I found lacking in other female protaganists in literature such as Elizabeth Bennett.

Hmm, I might just go and read one of my various copies again :)
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

I hated this book. Loathed it. I understand from a cultural/historical perspective, it's important to understand what it was like to be a woman in a time period when women were treated horribly, but Jane, AFAIRemember, was simply a horrible person, completely devoid of redeeming character traits. She liked to read, I remember that. But, she's only happy in life when she is in control of the people around her, and does nothing to demonstrate, reciprocate, or give reason for, her love of that wealthy dude she covets. In fact, doesn't she spur him until he is burned and completely reliant on her?

In short, it was a long winded, boring piece of literature that followed reading the Odyssey for me my freshman year in highschool, and rather then read about repressed, depressed Victorian area women, I wish I could have continued talking about Odysseus kicking ass.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby casiguapa » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:35 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I hated this book. Loathed it. I understand from a cultural/historical perspective, it's important to understand what it was like to be a woman in a time period when women were treated horribly, but Jane, AFAIRemember, was simply a horrible person, completely devoid of redeeming character traits. She liked to read, I remember that. But, she's only happy in life when she is in control of the people around her, and does nothing to demonstrate, reciprocate, or give reason for, her love of that wealthy dude she covets. In fact, doesn't she spur him until he is burned and completely reliant on her?

In short, it was a long winded, boring piece of literature that followed reading the Odyssey for me my freshman year in highschool, and rather then read about repressed, depressed Victorian area women, I wish I could have continued talking about Odysseus kicking ass.


Sorry...what?! Jane was a horrible person? To whom?

Her aunt - deserved everything she got. A horrible woman who hated Jane for being a burden when she was only a little child. Her children were horrible, and she did nothing to correct them.

Teachers - Jane attempted to speak up against the injustice levelled at the children at Lowood, often to the punishment of herself. Note that Helen, who never spoke out of turn, still suffered as much as Jane, who was headstrong as a child, thus showing the consistency in the harsh treatment levelled at the children.

Mr. Rochester - Jane was his employee, and he was courting another woman. She acted as a proper governess would do. To reciprocate would've been unprofessional, even though she did eventually relent
Spoiler:
only to find out on her wedding day, that Rochester was already married and his dead wife was, in fact, the crazy bird living in the house who almost burnt her alive!


Also,
Spoiler:
when Jane and Mr. Rochester are reunited, she is already wealthy in her own right, and thus finally his equal.

It was never about money or material objects with Jane, but rather the feeling of being someone's equal, not an acquirement by Rochester, but his female counterpart, worthy of respect that he would naturally bestow to any other man.

I think she did alot to demonstrate her love for the man, she went above and beyond the call of a governess during her time there, due to her fondness of her employer, being his friend and confidante. She showed her love for Helen
Spoiler:
when she lay with her as she was dying of typhus


Why she even went back to visit her aunt, who was abhorrent to her as a child, when she had absolutely no reason to feel compelled to.

No, in all things, Jane was anything but " simply a horrible person, completely devoid of redeeming character traits"
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby rat4000 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:48 pm UTC

And it is long-winded, true, but hardly boring - due to the wonderful style if nothing else. Just reading the descriptions of gardens or Jane's thoughts about those long evening she spent with Rochester before the fire was good enough to make up for the slow action.

That said, it is after reading this book that I started understanding why in all the novels written before 1950 people read so slowly and rarely. It's just that the books they had then are hard to get through, what with the long sentences and weird words and one evening taking up fifty pages because of all the musings that go through the character's mind...

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

I admit it was... uh... 9 years since I read the book.

But I seem to recall Jane doing all those acts of goodness out of a begrudging sense of duty. And her happiness with Rochester only happens when he isn't her equal, but her subordinate. Now she's wealthy! And healthy! And he's just a maimed widower who already expressed his love for her, now, NOW, she can go to him.

I think what I disliked most about the book was this odd lingering Victorian era undercurrent that women are these strange and mysterious beasts who know no comprehension, and should be treated as either servants, goddesses, or succubi.

Sure, maybe I just didn't like it because it was a slow, plodding, boring novel about a woman doing stuff in a slow, boring, plodding time period, and I was 15 and just wanted to read more of my own books. But man did I dislike Jane Eyre.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby rat4000 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:11 pm UTC

Uh, no. She desperately wanted him ALL the time, and she often thinks how strong he is (physically and mentally). I believe she likes it.

She did not go to him after he became sick and burned, either. In fact, she learned that he was sick and burned quite a while before she went to him, and she'd left him some time before that. Thing was, she would've felt as if she was using him if he was rich and she wasn't - that's how I remember it, anyway.

I think you didn't like it just because it's awfully slow, and a love novel to boot. People at 15 rarely enjoy that kind of stuff.

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Narsil » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:44 am UTC

I couldn't stand how in the novel Jane is inherently superior to anyone she meets, and all adult and authority figures are snarling harpies whom Jane brings down with her amazing craftiness (even at, what, 9? 10?) and anyone with any hint of Jane's level of competence is out-and-out killed, like Helen, or maimed, like Rochester. Considering the title of the novel, "An Autobiography," I would say it's just a bit of an ego trip on Bronte's part.

That said, I was able to suck up my personal feelings about the book enough to write an entry for the national Jane Eyre essay contest. I'd say I put together a decent one. I'll include it here. Opinions on it would be entirely welcome.
aliceessay.pdf
(333.73 KiB) Downloaded 80 times
Spoiler:
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Oh... that.

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby ameretrifle » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:08 am UTC

Jane Eyre isn't my favorite book of all time, but I thought it was quite good, despite being forced to read it for my Women in Lit course.

That out of the way, what in the name of hell? Are we all reading the same book?

Izawwlgood wrote:But I seem to recall Jane doing all those acts of goodness out of a begrudging sense of duty.
What acts of goodness? I don't recall many spectacular "acts of goodness". Her staying with Helen-- that wasn't out of duty; she sneaked in to see her, because she wanted to. Her becoming a teacher-- pretty much because she hero-worshipped one of the other teachers and literally had nowhere else to go. Her going to the Rochesters'-- she was bored out of her mind and wanted to go somewhere new. Her being fairly nice to Adele, Rochester's daughter-- she thinks the kid's kind of dumb, and way too French. Her running away from Rochester-- she has this strange thing about not wanting to be the man's mistress. 1840s, weird shit, huh? Her going back to take care of Rochester-- she loves the man, wants to be with him, and it isn't illegal any longer. Jane isn't some flawless paragon of virtue, and she isn't even presented that way. And, as casiguapa said, she isn't a terrible person, either. She can be very clever and rather dumb, self-righteous and self-deprecating.

Izawwlgood wrote:And her happiness with Rochester only happens when he isn't her equal, but her subordinate. Now she's wealthy! And healthy! And he's just a maimed widower who already expressed his love for her, now, NOW, she can go to him.
Again, the issue was, he was already married. England back then, you couldn't just get a divorce. And being a mistress isn't exactly smiled upon even today. He tried to marry her when he already had a wife, and then said, "Well, that's okay, I'll set you up with a place in France, no one will know, so that makes it all right". The reason they couldn't be happy before was because she wouldn't have been his equal, but his subordinate. Rochester has a habit of attaining mistresses-- and abandoning them nearly as easily. That having been said, I agree, the whole "Oh, now that you're blind and I have money, everything's fine" thing at the end is offputting.

Izawwlgood wrote:I think what I disliked most about the book was this odd lingering Victorian era undercurrent that women are these strange and mysterious beasts who know no comprehension, and should be treated as either servants, goddesses, or succubi.
There's probably some of that, yeah. (I recall most of it coming from Rochester whilst he was still being a possessive dick, though.) Still, compared to other novels of its time, it's quite progressive.

Narsil wrote:I couldn't stand how in the novel Jane is inherently superior to anyone she meets, and all adult and authority figures are snarling harpies whom Jane brings down with her amazing craftiness (even at, what, 9? 10?) and anyone with any hint of Jane's level of competence is out-and-out killed, like Helen, or maimed, like Rochester.
Yeah, you have an excellent point there, particularly concerning Jane's foster-mother-- her being able to shout her down at that age was a bit much, and her family as well as most of Lowood were a bunch of one-dimensional harpies. (There were a few decent teachers, though.) However, I got a totally different vibe off of Helen's death-- she was the Noble Christian Martyr, a Good Person because she shut up and took whatever was handed to her without rocking the boat complaining. She didn't die to make Jane look better, she died to make herself look better. Rochester... I'm ambivalent about Rochester. On the one hand, like I've said, there's something a bit off-putting about the ending-- on the other, I can't help feeling that turnabout is fair play. Oh, how terrible, he has to be led around by her for a couple years before he gets part of his sight back. I can't think of anything more demeaning, except maybe being a kept woman in France (she wouldn't be his mistress! He loves her! That'd mean she'd really be his wife, even if they could never tell anyone in England about it ever! Just forget the crazy bitch in the attic, she's not English and she had it coming).

Narsil wrote:Considering the title of the novel, "An Autobiography," I would say it's just a bit of an ego trip on Bronte's part.
Alternately, do you think maybe that might have something to do with the fact it's written in first-person, as an autobiography? That said, given the similarities between Bronte's life and Jane Eyre's, I think your conclusion might be more valid than the logic you used to get there.

Other thoughts. Well, as I've already hinted, I always thought Rochester was kind of a jerk. But, he does pale in comparison to that St. John character, who was a complete asshole and still gets the last few paragraphs of the book dedicated to him. He's a particularly creepy portrait of religious fanaticism, portrayed in a decidedly ambivalent light: on the one hand, he's a narcissist (and possibly sociopath); on the other, he's constantly praised for "doing God's work". It's food for thought.

(Apologies for the over-long comment. I have two settings, "off" and "high".)

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Wolf » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:21 pm UTC

ameretrifle wrote:Other thoughts. Well, as I've already hinted, I always thought Rochester was kind of a jerk. But, he does pale in comparison to that St. John character, who was a complete asshole and still gets the last few paragraphs of the book dedicated to him. He's a particularly creepy portrait of religious fanaticism, portrayed in a decidedly ambivalent light: on the one hand, he's a narcissist (and possibly sociopath); on the other, he's constantly praised for "doing God's work". It's food for thought.


Oh man, that guy creeped me out to no end when I read this book.

I actually ended up liking this book quite a lot, although I think I would have enjoyed it more had I not had to plow through more than half of it in one night. (Whoo procrastination!) But I thought the language was quite pretty, and as far as the ending goes I saw it more as: "Oh, we can finally be together! Aw, it's okay that you're horribly disfigured, I still love you anyway and we'll overcome it." Or something like that (aka the blindness was more of a stumbling block than a sudden reason Jane was better than him).
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:53 pm UTC

When I was first told about it when it was assigned in one of my classes, for some reason--neither of us know why--my teacher told me that it was about a girl who struggles to become the pilot of a flying machine. Needless to say, I came in hoping for some Victorian badassery and got something else entirely. It wasn't bad--wasn't what I would choose to pick up, but don't regret it. On the plus side, the version I heard will be written by me at some point in the future.

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby godonlyknows620 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:24 pm UTC

DarkKnightJared wrote:When I was first told about it when it was assigned in one of my classes, for some reason--neither of us know why--my teacher told me that it was about a girl who struggles to become the pilot of a flying machine. Needless to say, I came in hoping for some Victorian badassery and got something else entirely. It wasn't bad--wasn't what I would choose to pick up, but don't regret it. On the plus side, the version I heard will be written by me at some point in the future.


This is the funniest comment I heard so far! Still giggling....what a shock it must have been!

I read Jane Eyre a few months back, and like others have said, it's not my favorite book, but it sorta stayed with me.

Those posters who are saying things like "Jane is acting superior to everyone else" [don't want to quote specific people because I don' t want to single any one out], I look at it differently.

Jane is part of the "oppressed minority" in a few ways: one, she is a woman, two, she is of a lower class, and for most of her life she hasn't had any real family to refer others to. She's been silenced so often because of these societal restrictions placed on her that it's natural for her to feel a little resentful of those who have authority.

I wonder how much Charlotte Bronte was in favor of a meritocracy. It would appear so, as both Rochester and Jane seem to be more intelligent and insightful than others around them. *wikipedia to the rescue!*

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Pit » Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:46 pm UTC

I've read Jane Eyre twice, once in Middle School (7th grade) and once a couple months back while I was on my Jane Auste/ Brontë sisters moment.

I agree that parts of the book are slow-paced, but the overall story is interesting (or well, it was for me). I especially liked the beginning chapter on Lowood, because it was something I easily related to. I found the story with Rochester very compelling. However, I did find the ending too rushed and jammed pack with a need to conclude everything. All at once. In one shot.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Internetmeme » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:16 pm UTC

casiguapa wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
Spoiler:
when she lay with her as she was dying of typhus

Spoiler:
Actually, it was mentioned as consumption, which was the common name given to tuberculosis. Think of it as giving the name of a cold to the random viruses that we get, just a common name that people understand, but I digress. Tuberculosis, not typhus.[/corrected]
Spoiler:

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby aging.child » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:00 pm UTC

Well, this year is English Lit for me, and I have to say Jane Eyre was quite refreshing after Pride and Prejudice. I've sort of conditioned myself to deal with all the english lit things, like the slow pace and the blinding overuse of coincidence. So all in all, I thought it was a really interesting novel. I liked that there weren't any "submissive" female characters.

As for the I'm wealthy/you're blind thing at the end, there was no way Jane, nor any woman of the time period, in that social class, could have been superior to someone like Rochester. So that really was the only way to make them equal, and thus encourage Jane's ideal of reciprocal love. Two of my friends think that Jane sacrificed for Rochester, but I think it really worked out.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby Mimi » Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:02 am UTC

My issue with the book is that the part after the failed wedding I wish it would have ended with Jane and Mr. Rochester somehow getting married. After that part in the book, the rest was fairly boring to me.

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby podbaydoor » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:35 pm UTC

Reading Jasper Fforde's "The Eyre Affair" is an excellent way to spice up that boring part after the failed wedding. Highly recommended book.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby godonlyknows620 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:56 pm UTC

Thanks for that recommendation! That's the one part of the book where I wanted to give up reading, right then!

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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby michaelandjimi » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:40 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Reading Jasper Fforde's "The Eyre Affair" is an excellent way to spice up that boring part after the failed wedding. Highly recommended book.
My God that book was amazing. I actually read it before Jane Eyre, went and read Jane Eyre, then came back and read The Eyre Affair again. Both books managed to get even more amazing.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby year in the sun » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:10 am UTC

disclaimer/disclosure: i had to read this thing in 7th grade, and i'm 43 now without ever having gone back and tried it again. but i really did pick up an abiding loathing of it that still hangs around. i'm just skimming through an online version of it now and my feelings haven't changed in the least.

godonlyknows620 wrote: Jane is part of the "oppressed minority" in a few ways: one, she is a woman, two, she is of a lower class, and for most of her life she hasn't had any real family to refer others to. She's been silenced so often because of these societal restrictions placed on her that it's natural for her to feel a little resentful of those who have authority.


that's part of why i couldn't stand that stuff though. to me she just looked like the original oh-god-spare-me-now spunky princess kind of idea, sort of munged in with the cindarella concept and with a bit of dust and deglamorization thrown in to 'trick' the reader and cleverly disguise what the author's up to. i don't know if at 12 i was so conditioned to the idea that heroines should redeem their existence and overcome their barriers by being pretty or what, but i do recall not being the slightest bit moved by the fact that jane so obviously lacked that kind of 'charm'. in fact the way bronte describes them physically, all i get is a mental image of two people who are both deformed. seriously :) it's quite disturbing.

i was also influenced by some of the vocabulary used (this here isn't criticism of bronte herself, just kind of trying to analyse what it was that made the book hit all my wrong notes). many words are false cognates to a 20th-century reader, i think. i.e. we still use the same words, but they mean something slightly different now. i was able to dereference them and know what they meant at the time, but it still left a kind of flavour with me and i think i read the whole thing in a sort of fog of cognitive dissonance. i seem to recall that rochester kept calling her 'pert', for instance. i suppose if you read that as 'feisty' type thing, it's okay. but i can't; i read 'pert', and when he goes on from there to fall in love with her all i can think is that he's mentally deformed as well. vice-versa with her.

and all that heavily gamesome 'capering' they do, conversationally. . . . ugh. just ugh, in every way.
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby podbaydoor » Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

Uh, how on earth does "pert" = mental deformity? I have no connotations remotely similar for that word.
tenet |ˈtenit|
noun
a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy : the tenets of classical liberalism.
tenant |ˈtenənt|
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Re: Jane Eyre

Postby year in the sun » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:04 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Uh, how on earth does "pert" = mental deformity? I have no connotations remotely similar for that word.


no, that's not quite what i meant, sorry ;) 'pert' to me is just so much not something you could possibly like anyone for - like, an actively dislikeable personality trait. it's that dissonance problem i had with the whole book. the way he [seems to me] to perceive her and the way he ends up feeling about her are just so dissonant with each other i just can't make them go together and he ends up looking emotionally warped to me because he apparently does. i think that is partly because he seems so one-dimensional. i really can't assemble him as a personality at all from anything bronte says, so i just can't find any kind of insight or explanation for myself for how he gets from here to there wrt jane.

i can't even swear he does call her pert. it may just be an example kind of word that i grabbed to represent the kinds of things he does say about her and to her. somehow she comes off to me [through his own eyes as presented by the things he says] as this sort of wizened little hobgobliny creature. whereas the way she describes him to the reader makes him into a kind of cubist identikit portrait of caliban in my head: all jetty black eyebrows and horizontal hair (i swear, that one's really in there) with sort of random other body parts showing up too here and there.

it may all just be me. i may just be extremely weird.
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