Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Originally Entitled: Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Currer Bell
[Miss Brontë, like Jane Austen, lived in a time and age, where pen-names were of necessity to disguise their gender!]
Published By: Smith, Elder, & Co., London England |16th of October, 1847
Published in the United States, originally a year following in 1848.
| Currently in the Public Domain |
| Page Count: 643 |
Acquired Book By: Purchased at a big box store within the last several years, by which of whose origin is lost to time itself. It was my intent to read Eyre alongside a friend of mine, yet our goal was never achieved, hence why I was encouraged to join a blogosphere community read-a-long and interact with other Eyre enthusiasts! My version is the Puffin Classics unabridged edition, by which Jane Eyre is seen on the cover with a gothic lit road behind her, her eyes cast aside to the left. Adorned in bonnet and cloak, with her hands clasp in front of her, and a look for anticipation for which we can only yet imagine. She stands in her adult version of herself, with all the tribulations of her childhood thus behind her. Her countenance eludes that there is a story behind her eyes, awaiting to be shared and viewed indiscriminately; as she would readily expect no less of the readers who read of her story.
Ruminatively Expressive about Week I
Although, in the corner of my mind, I drew in a memory of my last viewing of Jane Eyre (as described on the originating posting of this reading challenge; see link attached below!), I was deeply curious about how my heart and mind would shift over and into the text of the canon! Its such a curious proposition to become intimately acquainted with a particular work, ahead of reading such a work, and then, as your whet with anticipation of delving into it, your struck by a curious enquiry of mind,… shall I become thus removed or thus wholly attached afterwards!? How will my perceptions alter as I read Ms. Eyre’s life unfolding upon the printed page, and will I, as I had with Pride and Prejudice, hearing the echoing effect of dialogue whispering in my ears as I read!? Hearing the voice of Eyre through the subtle and calm notings of Charlotte Gainsbourg?!
I was curious too, where the original story begins, and the measure of creative liberty of the motion picture will start to blur, and etch into each other. Which scenes have I latched onto as being the epitome of Jane story, that will in full effect, be additions rather than admissions, to where the overall takeaways will alter, deviate, and shift as I read!?
I would purport, that as these murmurings alighted to mind, I was at first a bit more anxious to pick up the book, than I had first realised possible, as I truly, attempted to put Jane Eyre off until the last possible hour! What ironic turning of events! As it were, I, of whom was rallying around the other Septemb-Eyres (my endearing reference for those blokes and lasses participating in the collective reading challenge), for the very start of this challenge to get underway, found in herself, a air of trepidation!! How unlike me! And, yet, part of that has a bit of founding in our pursuit of reading classical literature, we walk a bit of a dance between what we know, what we expect to discover, and what is shortly revealed as we consume their tomes! There is a measure of uncertainty that perhaps, even the best of readers, are cautious as he/she proceeds!
For you see, I had selected the bookmark for reading Eyre on Monday last, as we were making our meet + greets, as its a thin and narrow metal bookmark, adorned with beadings and ribbons that are attached at the top center piece. Enscribed in its center is a bold and uplifting quote from Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt, which I felt was more than fitting for the nature of story that was about to unfold as I lifted page after page, absorbing into a world that entices me and distracts me at the same time! And, yet, which hour did I first lay heart and mind to rest, to cast aside any fear or anxiety to read Eyre!? A shade past midnight on this very Monday morn, the very day we’re meant to impart our impressions of the first eleven chapters of Jane Eyre’s life! Four hours readily dissolved, as I was purposely elsewhere, drinking in the hearty words of Ms. Brontë’s choosing, by which, she would not alleviate the causal reader’s interest for a less hardy array of turns of phrase, but which a literary wanderer drank in with pure celebration! Such words! Such ways to describe the angst, the anguish, and the inner-most workings of thought in a character such as Jane Eyre! A girl quite ahead of herself, both in a curious perception of her set of circumstances, and the quality of changing said perception by her experiences and encounters at Lowood School for Girls.
Such was my beginning, but alas, its below that I am putting my thoughts down properly, and even, in a vain attempt, to list the murmuring echoes of Ms. Gainsbourg, as I had Ms. Knightley’s elsewhere! As well as to draw to light a few differences I noted between the text and the one adaptation I had previously seen!
It should also be said, as this is a collective reading, we are surely to depart an excessive array of [*SPOILERS*] to the reader who has not yet picked up this text! Due proceed reading past this point on your own liberty, and know, that if what is expressed has spoilt your joy of discovering Jane for yourself, kindly note that this notice was placed to prevent such a bad tiding!
In walked Jane Eyre, as calm as a willow bending in the wind,…
or should I say, that attribution belongs to another, a Ms. (Helen) Burns, of whom, Ms. Eyre draws a readily acquaintance and confidence as she’s removed from Gateshead and placed into custody of Lowood Institution for Oprhans! No, pray give leave, to express that Ms. Eyre is a firecracker of unrequited internal rage and admonition for her plight as thus handed down to her in life, as her parents are long since dead; her last surviving relation put to rest in the grave prematurely, and she is left to the dealings of her Aunt, [Sarah Reed, of the late Uncle Reed, her direct relation] of whom, is presented rather apt to reflect Angelica Houston’s character in “Ever After”, as she presides such blatant disregard for her niece, Eyre! It’s only in the reflections of Jane, as an older self, that we find a disconnect between the younger Eyre’s presumption of what was occurring and the wiser Eyre’s imparted understanding, that not all was as first known when the story starts to unfold!
The edgings of the story are wantonly haunting, as the world around Ms. Eyre is draped in grey tones, rain sodden exteriors, and the atmosphere of Gothic underpinnings, as there is rumours of a potential haunting of her Uncle, whilst alive was tender and kind towards Jane, but in whose death, wrecked a miserable state of affairs to unfold and befell her! I was quite appalled at her nephew’s extensive violence towards her, [in this regard, young Harry Potter lived comparatively comfortably!] and her Aunt’s diffidence not to correct the improper and unkind behaviour! Such grievances I can only try to attempt to tolerate, as I know the resolution of the story in-full, but that does not make it any easier to read or rather, observe her humble and caustic beginnings! If anything, it sets up in my mind how far Ms. Eyre had to transmorph into the resolute and strong adult she became!
As Brontë, deftly brings to life the under kernels of Eyre’s hardening and the porticoes of her knowledge that if she were to embark down certain pathways, she might not soon return! Much less, would she want to be such a creature!? To walk through this world, fully hardened and affaced to all the goodness that surely must still be present!? I can sympathise with her on this level, as when your day-to-day existence is presented in a continuous imprisonment of harsh punishment [solitary confined to the nursery, never allowed outside or downstairs, always finding reprimand rather than nurturing, and an absence of time being measured by usual perimeters!], I can understand her reasonings and her deepest of questions regarding not only the state of her personal affairs, but her state and place in the world itself! How angst ridden we should all feel, to have no Hope, no Light, and no perceivable exodus of our allotted circumstance!?
Her knight of sorts, comes in the shape and form of an apothecarist, who on a lark suggestion on her behalf, suggests that she is sent off to school, and given opportunity to make something of her life; rather than to be cast-off and put aside as she has been thus far forward! Her Aunt devilishly sets into motion to put her into proper place and denounce any notion of her ever becoming more than a humbled lowly counterpart of a human, as in her own eyes, she at this point didn’t seem to attach any wantings of Jane to succeed in life, no matter in what caste placed henceforth! Thus, we see the arrival of a most devious and darkly embodied cleric [Brocklehurst] who takes the task a bit too severely to not only punish the lower class of orphans (as he perceives them to being!), but he inflicts his personal religious reasonings for such outrageous declarations of “humble them before God, equip them with rations beneath regular souls, and do not attach favour, kindness, love, or humanity, for they do not deserve it!” (this is a paraphrase in my own words of the outrageous words spewed out of his mouth at Lowood & Gateshead!) A ghastly character, (reminiscent of Snickett’s Count Olaf, the caregiver of the Bauldelaire orphans!) you would not want to engage with, and yet, he is the one who presides over the teachers and caretakers of Lowood!
I took direct offense of his inability to accept that young Jane took pleasure in reading not one or five, but nine books of the Bible! Because her attention was focused solely on the passages held within: Revelations, Daniel, Genesis, Samuel, Exodus, Kings, Chronicles, Job, and Jonah, yet not inclusive of Psalms, he took this omission as a guilt of an girl with a wicked heart, a wicked soul! In his eyes, a wretched creature who will suffer hell and damnation, live a cursed existence and will need every ounce of her self-defiance to be rid from her by direct force! For a man of the cloth, his mind was closed and obtuse in its scope of the differences individuals take to walk a spiritual life amongst the living! How contrite and hypocritical this evoked an ire in my mind, as he would soon be bled out as a torturous tyrant!
Once Eyre is transcripted into Lowood, I started to see a shifting in her character, as she was thus removed from her previous environment, and placed into another; just as stark, cold, desolate, and un-inviting surely, but with the hope of ‘something better’ to alight in her life even still! I saw this in the appearing of Miss Temple , whilst at the same time, Miss Scratherd was rather an odious addition to her life! The affection that was revealed upon her exit of Gateshead, by way of Bessie, her nursemaid surprised me rather shockingly, as foresaid, it did not appear that there were any kind regards bestowed upon her, aside from the rhyming songs and fantastical stories she would give to young Jane; a reflection of an internal kindness that was not always extended elsewhere. By the time I had settled into Lowood, I felt sorry for Jane not to realise the full reality of Bessie’s adoration and love, until it was nearly too late to even admit existed! Therefore, by extension, the propellent of Miss Temple, becoming a solid ally and rock in her young years, I hoped that the encouragement and positive influences she may shower onto Jane, might in effect, re-direct the course of her outcome in life. It aught to be acknowledged, that up until this particular junction, Eyre was truly living by her wits and instincts, rather than the subjection and conjectures of a teaching adult!
Helen, by contrast to Jane, is a young teen whose angelic presence and inclinations of foreknowledge past her young years, gently guides her towards finding peace from her past, acceptance of her present, and a resolute hope for her future! Never had anyone listened to Jane’s conscription’s of woe, whereupon allowing the merit of what was disclosed to be absorbed and turned over in one’s mind, before selecting the appropriate response to give a young girl of ten years! For Helen, instinctively knew that if no one took the time to intercede on Jane’s behalf, she would be a begotten and fallen soul, doomed to be restrictive of the blight of life condemned to her by her Aunt! Helen, therefore, took every opportunity to enfuse the light and love of God, with the insightfulness of a woman at least thrice her age, to educate Jane how the edification of spirit and the education of the mind can lead to a truer freedom than by fierce altercations by which Jane was [at that time] proficient in being subjected.
This led to a continuation of Eyre’s soliloquy of conscience thought, which extrapolated the complex of the whole set of observations that her sensitive eyes took in around her. She was fiercely attached to the installment of liberty and justice for those who were taken askance and punished severely for their [supposed] indiscretions and faults of character. She was a budding sociologist in many ways, as she overturned many a thought as to how mature adults could subject children to the life by which they did at Lowood School for Girls! It was part abomination and part torture, to think that human decency and respect had fallen to such low degrees as the state of affairs the school was subject to before the revolt of the community to condemn its principles and organisation after the bout of typhus had consumed and taken the lives of nearly half the students! [They began with just past 80 girls strong!] How I celebrated this liberation! This show of support for innocent lives who lived without a proper voice! For me, it came nearly too late to right all the wrongs that had transpired, but to think that they received liberation at all was reason enough to celebrate!
Ill tidings and sorrow soon followed closer to home, as Eyre found herself in a position to lose the one confidante that knew her best of all: Burns! Helen’s young body fell to consumption and was taken to Heaven at the young age of 14 or 15. A trusted saint whose grace and conviction of faith inspired her young friend to trust in a being greater than them both, and to rectify by the means given before her, to re-write her own future. My throat was held tight with emotion, as I was nearly consumed by the grief that washed over me during Helen’s last night; where Jane was nestled close to her in an embrace of sisterly friendship. I nearly felt young Burns’ epitaph ought to have read:
Angel of Earth, Forevermore in Elysium!
[abode of the blessed, heaven]
The story shortly shifts forward eight years, no less! To where Eyre is on the brink of a new cross-roads in her young life. She is now nearly eight and ten years, and on the departure of Miss Temple to her martial life elsewhere than the village surrounding Lowood, she is illuminated by a startling discovery! Her life was lived up to this point, on the foothills of others around her, by whom, she drew her intense strength to carry-on. She was fully content to continue on at Lowood School, having graduated [at least this is presumed], and begun her tenure of teaching. Two years, she has not once felt the need to think about the world outside of Lowood, but with departure of Miss Temple firmly in place, she curiously steals away glimpses of the world beckoning to her just outside the walls; a sight she can readily see from her window. In her chamber, she steals away hours in the night, to come across an idea of a transition she could undertake, that would illumine her achievements but not uprise her past her station. An odd and singularly unique voice brings to light the notion of place an advert in the local newspaper, offering her service as a hired Governess [a teacher in the employ of a family to teach their children at home; the precursor to the modern home study movement], by which the [potential] employee could contact her at the local Post Office.
In my mind, I felt as though Helen herself was coming down to remit a seed of inspiration into her dear friends’ subconscious, if to help guide her towards the next bridge she needed to cross to obtain a measure of independence. Her conformity into life at Lowood was part ambition to succeed and transcend her environment(s), but also, as a measure of grace to find within its structures and limitations the sanctity and security it afforded her. In this way, when she purported the ability to advert for a means better than the one she currently had, she was in this way, seeking to step out of the shadows of her ill-begotten family, and the pseudo-control of Lowood. When Mrs. Fairfax’s letter arrived poste haste seeking her position to be substantiated, Jane drew in a breath of hope, that perhaps, her time had finally come! Trepiderious? Yes. Excited? Most definitely! By receipt of the initial letter, Jane made the motions come to life to grant her full release of her Aunt [who not once contacted her since she left!], and of Lowood, itself! On the eve of her journey to Thornfield Hall, dear Bessie [her nursemaid!] re-appeared into her life, keeping in tow a shy toddler, and endeavouring to bestow upon Jane everything that she had so very dearly wanted her to know eight years ago! Bessie was there as she left Gateshead Hall, and again as she left Lowood School for Girls! At the precipice of each turning tide of young Eyre’s life, Bessie was there to rally behind her, and bide her farewell!
Jane’s voice in the story has matured, and taken on a different scope than her former young self could articulate to the reader. You can tell she has not only deepened her compassion for humanity, but has facilitated a genuine ability to be humble in all manners, seek servitude and provide a need for others at all costs to personal needs or wants, and to rectify her mind towards self-assurance that come what may in life, she was now in the ability to provide for herself, rather than rely on the opinions of others as a vindication of who she was! Her entrance into Thornfield was under the [blind] preconception that Mrs. Fairfax was her charge’s caregiver, when in fact, she is refuted of this upon arrival, and has instead uncovered that Adele is a ward of Thornfield’s master, Lord Rochester! I didn’t bring to mind this entreaty, as much as I would preferred, enso, as though it was being seen for the first time, I appreciated that Ms. Brontë allowed a bit of softening to occur in Jane’s life! Up until this point, every day would lead to a possibility of confrontation, and with her settled here, in Rochester’s absence, I felt as though she could untense her muscles so to speak, ease into a new setting, and feel accomplished in her ability to communicate with Adele in the child’s native tongue of French!
As the grounds are slowly described and revealed, you get the sense that there is a bit of an ominous undercurrent to the estate, as though a small sense of foreboding is leading your senses to stand alert and ferret out what ‘is not quite right, yet not altogether wrong’ at the same time! This is further apparent, when Jane heard a women’s odd sounding laughter whilst Mrs. Fairfax was leading her around the turrets. A plausible answer was provided, but I, nor Jane, took it for any weight other than a passing acceptance that we have not yet been long at Thornfield to be in a position to question things further!
The starkness of Thornfield is warmed by Mrs. Fairfax, and the engagingly bouncy inclusion of Adele, of whom promotes a well-being that I had not yet seen visible in Jane’s life. She doesn’t have to forecheck everything she says or does, at least not at this point, as her cursory impression of Thornfield is limited in Chapter 11. I am on bated breath to sink further into the text over the next week, and eagerly await what fascinations will greet me! I know that the estate itself is as much as a character as Eyre and the inhabitants therein. That is one of the attractions I find with Gothic Literature on a whole — a near Hitchtockian accounting of setting, time, and place, to where your psychological suspended into the subtext!
What staid with me throughout the entirety of the opening chapters, is the elucidation of Ms. Brontë, who thus effused her fictional work with counterparts of reality at each turn! She mastered the ability to absolve and absorb what weighed heavily on her heart, pouring out her grief and emotional keenings into the breath she gave Jane Eyre! She took the tragedies of her own life [her elder siblings died as a result of a school similar to Lowood!] and gave them a proper tomb to cleanse herself of feelings she most likely could not dissipate otherwise. I believe, its through her pen, she tapped into a greater purpose that gave her life meaning and worth, than anything she could readily achieve in her everyday life. She suffered greatly by her own experiences, as I read she and her sisters [Anne and Emily] were afflicted by anxiety disorders, but with her pen, she cast aside all of this, in order to cast into the world a tome of her intellect and wisdom.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: