Some Thoughts On Jane Eyre...
Posted by Amy2 on October 19, 1997 at 13:58:23:
In response to bye bye JE, written by Janette on October 18, 1997 at 23:23:20
Amy posted a message on the Bronte list saying she wanted some of our comments on JE, so here's a little more BG on the book before it airs tonite (!):
Jane Eyre is Charlotte's 2nd novel. Her first was THE PROFESSOR, which was published after her death. JE was begun while Charlotte was assisting her father in Manchester, where he had a successful cataract operation. He had to remain in almost complete darkness & silence, & it was in this atmosphere that JE was born. Charlotte told Mrs. Gaskell that when she got to the Thornfield section, she was so engrossed that she wrote for three weeks straight, then had to take a rest! JE ows a great debt to PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, a book in the Bronte Parsonage Library which Charlotte & the others devourted as children. You can see this in Jane's Christian-like pilgrimage from one location to another: with each, she gains further knowledge & tools which move her to the next step of self-awareness. Jane is of course very much modeled on Charlotte herself: Charlotte saw herself as quite plain, and like Jane, she was physically very small. She also presented a decourous face to the world while her interior world burned with inner fire. Rochester is of course a very Byronic hero; unlike Heathcliff, however, he does have a sense of morality.
The initial Lowood portion of the book is based on Charlotte's real experience at Cowan Bridge (which I just saw in Yorkshire) where her two eldest sisters, Maria & Elizabeth, became ill & ultimately died of T.B. Charlotte of course worked as a governess & utterly hated it; you can pretty much see her P.O.V. on this throughout the book.
Bertha Mason is interesting -- one theory is that Bertha is Charlotte's projection of Branwell (the self she dreaded becoming -- her brother indulged in an adulterous affair & ruined himself through drugs & drink); Charlotte suffered incredible guilt over her adulterous feelings for her Belgian Professor, M. Heger. In fact, Rochester resembles Heger physically. THE END OF THE BOOK: (I hope I'm not spoiling anything!) Rochester's blinding & crippling has been misinterpreted throughout the years: Charlotte was trying to show us that JANE has now become Rochester's true equal, as an independent woman of means & a prop he can rely on. Charlotte was quite religous (not so much as her sister Anne) & she felt he had to be punished for his near-bigamy.
If anyone has any other questions, I'd be thrilled to answer them. A final aside: I just viewed THE ORIGINAL MSS. of Jane Eyre up at the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth! The page was turned to Rochester's proposal to Jane. WOW! To me, this was like viewing a piece of the True Cross. And right next to it was the original mss. of Mrs. Gaskell's LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE!!! Amy 2
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