*** Group Read: Jane Eyre (Spoiler Thread)
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This is the place to discuss the Jane Eyre in detail. May I just suggest that we hold off revealing spoilers about the ending of the book for at least a week after the official start on April 15th? Might be more respectful to those who haven't read it yet (or don't remember the details.)
What are your first impressions?
Alot of times I'm put off when a young narrator seems to be older than her years. Even though I feel like the 10 year old Jane is more mature than believable at times, it isn't bothering me because I like her so much.
Pat, I don't remember now who came up with the idea for this group read, but I guess Jane Eyre's been talked about a lot lately because of the movie. I'm glad for the re-read because I honestly didn't remember the details of the story since I read it in high school. I was unfortunately unable to appreciate Brontë's writing back then, but I'm absolutely charmed with it now.
I personally believe in her level of maturity for a 10-year old probably because I too was wise beyond my years at that age, and can quite relate (if only I'd continued maturing after childhood though. lol.) But this is to say that some children really do display a very unique temperament and are capable of independent thought even when circumstances would seem to be against this sort of thing happening.
eta: I've just finished chapter 16 now, and don't want to reveal too much yet, for those who are just starting the book, but I find that Mr Rochester is truly an unpleasant man and incredibly presumptuous, especially when he and Jane start getting acquainted with each other at Thornfield.
I will have to keep this in mind, Ilana. Ten years old was so long ago for me that I can't remember what my maturity level was and I probably shouldn't let this kind of thing take me out of a story. Bronte is obviously a very good writer because Jane as a young girl does seem very believable to me.
So while the events and everything are told from a 10-year-old's perspective, the maturity and some of the reflections and such come from the fact that she's looking back on it as an adult.
>5 Smiler69: Mr. Rochester definitely has his moments. I like him more than you do, I think. For me, it's easy to write off his behaviour as a result of his bachelor status and general wealth. He can act relatively obnoxious and get away with it.
I think Rochester is amused and attracted by Jane's unflappable exterior. If she'd flapped, he would probably have written her off as a dull young miss and ignored her. As it is, he tries to shock her, and is greatly intrigued when she holds the line against him.
One thing that struck me in the movie is that Rochester is almost literally the first gentleman she's ever had a conversation with; she's had no male friends or relatives of her own age since she was a child. St. John is the second gentleman she ever has a conversation with.
18. Obviously, Jane's character is mostly a result of Bronte's writing, but to have such a strong and atypical woman come out of an upbringing filled with more silly women than role models is quite impressive.
I can't help but keep comparing Bronte's heroine with those of Jane Austen in her first two novels, which I've read for the first time this year (and can't say I fell in love with). I understand that Austen's novels are filled with irony, but it still strikes me that her heroines are much closer to typical "silly women" of her time, whereas Jane Eyre, published just three decades after P&P, seems to have been created from an entirely different mold. They seem to be worlds apart in so many ways...
Those three decades in between the publication of these two authors is hugely important. Depictions of women in fiction were definitely changing. I find it particularly interesting that the second edition of Jane Eyre was dedicated to William Makepeace Thackeray. And looking at Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair you can definitely see an ancestry for Jane Eyre.
The other thing to consider is the class issue. Jane Austen's heroines are part of the upper middle class who would never lower themselves to working and thus marriage is their only option. Jane, however, as a governess falls into an odd world where she is above servants but still below the class of her employers (and Austen heroines by extension). Also, the style of the novels also determine characterization. Austen is all about the drawing room and satire. Bronte is definitively Gothic where the heroines are either fainting all the time or, more interestingly, strong and willful like Jane Eyre.
I just finished Jane Eyre last night. Never thought I'd get through it this fast, but listening to the audio version by Juliet Stevenson made me want to find lots of opportunities to do things with my hands! Now I'm facing the difficult decision as to whether I will give it a full 5 stars, since I don't hand out that rating very often. Chances are I will though (if Jane Eyre doesn't deserve it, then what does??) Can't believe I thought it was boring back in the 80s when I had to read it for high school! The advantage to that was that I almost forgot the story completely, so it felt like new again for the most part. I now look forward to reading The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell, hopefully in May, though I should probably read fiction by Gaskell first to get a feel for this author I am much overdue to discover.
Think of the lasting, well-known books published to that point (say ~1850) where the title is also a female character's name. For example, Pamela and Emma. I'm blanking on others, though there's several examples. Anyway, most of these titles that I'm familiar with are the heroine's first name only, and there are a few which are "Miss" or "Mrs" Lastname. Isn't it interesting that Jane Eyre has a whole name? It's not just her first name, which could potentially be anybody, and it isn't just her last name, which is actually someone else's name (father or husband). It's her whole name, and an entire identity...
Now, it's not like this is the first book to do that. There's Charlotte Temple, for example, and lots of others that just aren't as well known. (But I think even Charlotte Temple was originally called just "Charlotte", though I may be misremembering the introduction and the original title was something else...unfortunately, it's at the bottom of a stack of 12 books right now that I'm not keen on moving!)
Ever since I noticed that about the title, I've had my eye out to see how many I come across like it, but it seems that a single name or a descriptive title are more common.
Yes, since it was assumed that a woman would marry (and since marriage was for centuries a case of a woman going from being her father's property to her husband's), it was as if her surname didn't really "belong" to her. It's no coincidence that Jane Eyre is a family-less orphan - she gets to keep her name because of her isolated status.
23 - Interesting point. It originally was published with the subtitle An Autobiography as well, which explains a bit more of the narrator aspect.
#23 I agree you've made an interesting point Keri.
#25 You've very welcome to join the discussion, regardless of whether you're with the 75ers or not—you'll find we're a pretty easygoing bunch! I'd be curious to know what parallel sections there are in the novel. I'm already looking forward to reading it again, though of course I'll probably wait for a bit before I do so. No matter how much I enjoyed the audio by Juliet Stevenson, next time I'll definitely get the actual physical book so I can read back favourite passages.
Also, I'm not sure if the owner of this review would appreciate being contacted about the fact that a major point is wrong - it's not a Jane Austen book at all! Is it a simple memory mix-up, or did s/he not know the author is different? is it because of the title? would knowing that it's not Austen make a difference in how s/he thinks of the book?
As for the review and whether someone should point her in the right direction... I can see how the temptation might arise to do so, but I'll let you decide what you think is best. I wouldn't want to be the one to deliver the embarrassing news, in any case. ;-)
Adele's characterization as superficial and flighty although sweet and affectionate, makes me wonder if Bronte created the character and willingly embraced English stereotypes about the French?
As I understand it, that is never quite clear in the story since she could just as well be his as not.
#29-30 I see Adele as an element in the story which allows to diffuse situations and creates some comic relief (when she isn't showing up indifference or disregard). Being equal parts francophile AND anglophile, I can sometimes be sensitive about either camp slamming the other, and I have to say I never took Brontës digs seriously. But then again, I don't know anything about her personally, and so have no way of knowing whether she truly meant anything by it or not.
About Spoiler Alerts: Thanks for playing along and giving fair warning about spoilers so far. I think now that we're almost two weeks in, and knowing that many of us have finished the book quite a while ago, I hope we'll all feel free to talk about any aspect of the novel we like at this point. I'm new to group reads, and don't mean at all to be imposing any rules... so feel free to take over anytime. :-)
For me, it's a tie between her passionately telling him off just before his proposal (the "poor, obscure, plain, and little speech") and when she sits on his knee at the end of book.