Jane Eyre

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Another one crossed off the list!

And that’s about all I have to say about Jane Eyre. This was not a particularly exciting read for me. Again, I’m fairly certain that this is because I knew the storyline fairly well prior to even picking up the book. It’s hard to get into a story when you know what’s going to happen – none of the twists and turns are actually twists and turns, just eventualities. And that ruins all the fun, doesn’t it?

Overall Impressions

Unsurprisingly, the primary male characters in this novel did not endear themselves to me. Rochester is a self-centered, indulgent, whiny jerkwad. Who locks one wife in their attic then seduces their 19-year-old governess (a thankless trade already associated with prostitution) into a fraudulent engagement and then has THE NERVE to act like he’s the injured one when she leaves? Jerkwad.

St John is not much better but I’m willing to chalk his behaviour up to being socially awkward and singularly focused on his own pious ambitions. Selfish and a bully? Absolutely. Deliberately manipulating a young woman with false promises and emotional blackmail? Nope. Yes, he pulled some HARSH guilt trips to try to get her to go to India with him, but what good Christian doesn’t? Amiright.

Overall, I give this book three shattered hopes out and twelve empty promises out of a lifetime of submissive servitude.

Okay, okay, fine. Rant over.

Overall, I’m happy to have this classic under my belt. Before I had read it, I always felt like I was missing something, like I was a fraud myself pretending to be part of the book-lovers club without having paid my dues. Especially since I’d read so many of Bronte’s other books, it felt just…incomplete…to not have read the one that made her famous, at least by modern standards. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book had I had the opportunity to study it in an academic setting; similar to my sentiments towards Emma. Had I read Emma on my own, I don’t think I would have liked it very much or at all. But reading it for critical discussion and dissecting it, analyzing it in detail, and building a thesis around it gave me a finer appreciation for it. As a result, I would say I’m a fan. Maybe, if Jane Eyre had been given the same chance, I might feel differently. I guess we’ll never know.

The good news is that I have started reading Wide Sargasso Sea which everyone tells me is magnificent, so I’m excited for that!

More later, stay tuned!

 

 

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Apparently, M. Paul supposedly dies.

Being a grad student also means that you read books alongside others who are (a) literarily-inclined (it’s my blog, I get to make up words here), (b) intensely smart, and (c) who are PhD’s.

This means that when you discuss Villette as a group and someone casually mentions M. Paul’s death, and nobody else seems confused by this statement, and you say “Wait, what? M. Paul dies? When did that happen?!” Everyone else looks at you with their smug, accusatory “you obviously didn’t finish the book” faces. Like this:

Image result for j'accuse! meme

And then you go in to objection/defence mode and start raving: “No, seriously, I thought he came back and they got married. IT SAYS HE COMES BACK AND THEY GET MARRIED! It was all arranged. Look, right here, on page 545, it says ‘Mr. Emmanuel’s return is fixed.’ SEE! IT WAS FIXED!”

But everyone is still looking at you like

Image result for you tryna tell me blank

And they try to plead with you “but the storm, Catherine,” “He couldn’t have survived, Catherine,” “it was implied, Catherine.” And now YOU start looking at THEM like

Image result for you tryna tell me blank

And you remind them that it says “Let them picture union and a happy succeeding life” at the end of the book, and that is exactly what you’re doing!

That, my friends, is how you become the dreamer, the optimist, the desperate hopeless romantic in a room full of intellectuals.

I’m going to sit in a corner with John Lennon and we’re going to talk about how Paul made it through the storm.

Plus, the book does not definitively  say that M. Paul dies. Ambiguity was Bronte’s thing. It was her calling card. It was what she did, people! This whole book is a giant ambiguous mess! That was literally the point! But, oh, the only thing that apparently was not ambiguous is the death of M. Paul? Nope. Nope. I’m nope-ing all over that.

IN FACT, it was conceded that there is a reading which supports M. Paul surviving the storm and coming home (read: my reading) AND THAT Bronte admitted to her publisher that there were two possible readings of her ending (HA!). HOWEVER the general consensus, and the author’s intention is that M. Paul dies.

Apparently the way Bronte originally wrote it, M. Paul does die. 100%. None of this “there was a big storm that probably killed him but I’m not going to say that it definitely happened, only hint to it and let my readers draw their own conclusions” bullshit. As the story goes, Bronte’s dad didn’t like this ending, he thought it was too sad, and so Bronte changed it to leave the door open for the possibility of M. Paul surviving the storm.

Image result for so you're saying there's a chance gif

I’m just saying, is all. Hasn’t anyone seen the ending of Dexter? Even if M. Paul doesn’t make it back to Lucy (which, let’s be honest, is not the worst thing, the man is kind of a jerk), it’s still entirely possible that he survived the storm and is off being a logger somewhere.

dexter

J’accuse Pikachu: https://cdn.meme.am/cache/instances/folder616/49397616.jpg
You tryna tell me kid: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvBEVInCcAAYa1k.jpg
Dumb and Dumber: http://i.memecaptain.com/gend_images/cg_TpQ.jpg
original Dexter image (unedited): http://uproxx.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dexter-finale-death.jpg?quality=90&w=650&h=356

Feelings are for suckers.

31168Shirley was an interesting read. From the introduction to this book, you would expect the book to be about nothing — like the Seinfeld of Victorian England literature, but without the comedy. Although, I must admit, there are some moments of humour, when it seems Bronte can’t hold herself back and the narrative is so thick with sarcasm and satire that it’s impossible to ignore.

The introduction to this edition, written by Lucasta Miller, a Bronte scholar, informs the reader (i.e. me) that Bronte took a particularly ‘masculine’ approach to the narrative voice in this text…whatever that means. You see, apparently people had begun to suspect that Currer Bell (Bronte’s pseudonym) was a woman. Suddenly, in light of this new information, Jane Eyre went from being praised as original and intense to being “an affront to femininity,” “morally suspect,” and “politically subversive” (xii). So you know, normal Victorian gender biased bullshit. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Jane Eyre was not all of those things — I haven’t read it (yet), but if it’s anything like Shirley, it probably was guilty on all charges. In Bronte’s defence, the definition of femininity at the time was crap, morals were a bastardisation of Christian values loosely applied to men and used a tool to control women, and politics can always use a little subversion, can they not? So, there’s that.

The first half of this book is kind of boring…but on purpose, so Bronte gets a pass. Apparently she was trying to appear more masculine and throw off the sent of her femininity (good luck, doesn’t she know our smell is so strong it attracts bears?). According to Miller, ‘more masculine’ means writing frivolously about womanly things like feelings and romance. What is funny, though, is that this book does involve a romance. Two key romances, actually…so nice try, Bronte. But, the men are the ones who have all the feelings and need help controlling their emotions, so that’s pretty funny.

Anyways – I’m off to read Bleak House and try to wrap my head around Jameson’s theories on cognitive mapping.