Jane and Virginia
Posted by Susie on September 25, 1997 at 19:14:10:
In response to Jane as feminist, written by Helen on September 25, 1997 at 09:41:19
] I remember reading Jane Eyre for the first time and being viscerally gripped - really powerful sensations - on discovering someone who was articulating how I saw myself and my position in society - not that I was at Lowood, you understand, but that the heroine is a character who has none of the things fairytales, movies etc. say give one the right to happiness - beauty, power etc. What gives her the right to fulfilment is merely that she has the desire to be fulfilled, and regardless of how she is valued by society (whether by Brocklehurst or Temple, Rochester or Rivers) she insists on her own evaluation of herself. What makes this book so powerful, in my opinion, is that it prizes not merely independent thinking, but independent feeling - in this respect, Bronte offers something very powerful which does not appear in Austen, whose characters are never so independent from those around them.
] Did reading it in school - especially in conjunction with "A room of one's own" - denigrate at all from your appreciation of both books' feminist message?
] By the way, did you know that Emma Thompson of S&S fame carries a copy of "A room..." around with her at all times, because she thinks it's such an important and powerful assertion of women's rights to personal space (which I imagine is pretty important in the male-dominated movie world)
I have to admit it's all a long time ago...! But I do remember being very impressed and excited by the Virginia Woolf especially at the time. I don't think the experience of reading these books at school in any way denigrated from my appreciation of the feminist messages; rather, it would have reinforced those messages - it was a high achieving academic school, and female achievement and independence were very much part of the ethos.
Fascinated by your tid-bit about Emma Thompson and "A Room with a View"! About time I read it again - maybe that would make an interesting group read? Another one it would be interesting to get Greg's male perspective on...
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