some thoughts about Jane Eyre

eeep! I don’t think this is the best-made trailer, but I can’t wait to watch the film. I was talking with Cat the other day about Jane Eyre, and she was saying that she never particularly got the romance of it.

I have always loved it, since my English teacher gave it to me for my 15th birthday.

*if it’s possible you haven’t read the book, there are spoilers ahead. But, seriously, why haven’t you read it?*

As a teenager I could never quite forgive Bronte for blinding and crippling Rochester, but I feel like the older I get, the more sense the ending makes. He has so much power over Jane – emotional, physical, financial. So in order for them ever to have a good life together, she needs to go and find family who will protect and fight for her and money to support herself. And lastly, his injuries level the physical playing ground.

I also love the decision she’s faced with in the end: To go and “save the world” and give her life to the endeavour, or to be with the one flawed human who needs her – who needs the passionate, personal part of her.

Whenever people question historical romance characters as being too outside their time, or propriety, or the way women would have been, I think of those Bronte girls living on the heath with such passionate romance burning away inside them.

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About anna cowan

I look around, and here I am - housewife and aspiring romance novelist. This seems unexpected.
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4 Responses to some thoughts about Jane Eyre

  1. Mike Innes says:

    I never liked Jane Eyre much as a person when I first read it, but that was at school and trying to impress a sense of the essence of the time and place of the novel in the few hours you spend with a class of 30-odd pupils is probably a tall order for teachers.
    I think If I re-read it today I would appreciate it better, its not a book most kids/teens would easily appreciate until they have more life experience. I always preferred Vilette, as Lucy Snow’s character seems more clearly explained to the reader, where I was at a loss to understand Jane’s motivations at times, but again I read Vilette at a much later date.

    It was wonderfully Gothic, of course, which you just can’t beat 😉

    • that’s funny – I could never finish Vilette. She felt too much like one of those characters that things happen TO. Hmmm. Should give it another go. Another thing about Jane Eyre is that it’s got really whack structure – another reason my friend Cat was confused by the romance. I don’t think they had the same quite strict ideas of structure and editing as we do now….

  2. cheryl nekvapil says:

    Is a key to Jane Eyre her childhood experience, which set the basis for an unusual and enduring character? As this story is still fascinating readers and film-makers (how many films are there of it, including this new one?) after over 150 years — would that not qualify the story structure to be one to promulgate?

    • that’s a pretty compelling argument… I think these days we have much firmer ideas of reader expectation and genre restrictions which changes the way we tell stories. For example, if you were writing that same story now as a romance novel, you would either give her history as a first chapter/prologue (Loretta Chase does this in Lord of Scoundrels) or you would find out snatches of it throughout the book as backstory.

      The Time Traveller’s Wife immediately occurs to me as a book with a firm sense of the history of the characters, but of course she has a very novel way of going back into the past and illuminating it.

      My instinct is that Jane Eyre’s structure was very of the time, and people do love and respond to those stories so well (all the classics are very popular with readers and film-makers alike) but that it’s a vintage thing – and wouldn’t necessarily make for a good story now.

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