Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November's books

#2, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)

Again, another novel with movie versions I love (and those I hate). I read this (with these sad engravings! I own it now) when I was also about 12, and ignored the boring parts about her childhood and her escape to St. John and her return to her aunt's deathbed... in favor of the love story with Mr. Rochester.

Of course, when I was 12 I didn't realize that context was everything and that those boring parts of the story were actually great contrasts to her life at Thornfield, and it was actually impossible to understand the love story without understanding the stifling conditions faced by a young woman without financial prospects, with a plain face, a sharp intelligence, and a quick wit during the Victorian period. By relatives who were selfish and stupid, by an education system more interested in specious morality than educating, by the gender politics of a patriarchal and classist system, and by poverty. In fact, it was amazing that she found anyone who didn't stifle her, but encouraged her native strengths to grow and thrive. I am certain Bronte knew exactly what she wrote (dramed) about...

And yes, Mrs. Rochester had it bad, too (read WIDE SARGASSO SEA).

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