Welcome! My friend Suey from It's All About Book
and I have decided to start a new blog feature. See, we have been reading buddies for a long time and while we share the same opinion on how awesome Markus Zusak is and swoon over many of the same TV shows, we also disagree on lots of books and authors. So we finally decided to start a feature where we can share the many debates we've had. Hope you enjoy!
discussion. Jane Eyre. Here's how this works. Suey
and I have each sent each other three things we loved/hated about the book and now have the chance to rebuttal each other...I shall be taking the "against" side because as many of you know, I'm really, really not a fan of this book! So without further ado...
Suey1. The strength of Jane's character. I love how resilient this character is. That stuff she endures at the beginning of the book with the abuse at school and the dying of her best friend, and the crappy treatment by her aunt, and then she gets sent of to a be the governess for what appears to be a scary grouchy old guy. And she comes through it all! She grows up and finds herself. She’s strong. One of my favorite strongest heroines in all of literature.
Strong? Well, we're definitely going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Jane is anything but strong. She's got battered woman syndrome! The girl has been mistreated her whole life and has now accustomed herself to being mistreated; especially by men. Case in point...she calls Rochester "my master". For a brief moment, despite her issues, she manages to get away from one abusive situation into another and then goes back to the old abusive relationship because, well, hey, I guess it was a better option than being stuck with St John. But I guess the story has a happy ending because Jane is happy in her misery. She chooses the life of abuse and servitude willingly. Ugh! I wash my hands of her!
Suey 2. The love story. I remember being bugged at first by the age difference, but I got over it. I don’t think Mr. Rochester is as old as we think, and then when Jane does so much growing up, it doesn’t seem that weird. But what I do love about the story, is that we have a guy who has retreated behind a facade of grouchiness and grumpiness, a guy who appears to not care about anything or anyone, a guy who is bitter about the world. And then she comes along and starts peeling all that off. He drops all the layers he's built up around himself and allows himself to live again. I love that. I love that he’s surprised by it too, that he didn’t set out to have this happen, he didn’t mean for it to, but that Jane becomes irresistible to him, even though she is plain and quiet and boring. I love that this ornery man of the world is fascinated by a shy quiet girl, and that the shy girl has the power to change and capture an ornery man of the world.
Yes, Rochester goes from the picked on younger brother to the husband of a mad woman to a sleazeball who sleeps with other woman till he tires of them. He's a grouchy old man because he's spent his life selfishly serving himself. When he decides he "loves" Jane he's just, once again, being selfish. He wants to own and consume her. Jane fancies her self in love because she's attracted to this man who treats her like crap. Every man in her life has treated her horribly but, hey, they weren't as cute and crotchety as old Rochester so she settles for him. There are all sorts of loves in the world but this one is unhealthy and repulsive!
Suey 3. Emotion and angst! You know I’m drawn to this sort of thing in books and stories. All the drama! All the feelings! All the brooding! The Mr. Rochester in my head is deliciously complicated. He’s gruff, he’s mean, he’s scary. And then, he’s compassionate, he’s sincere and he’s loyal. Okay, so he DID hide a wife in the attic and neglected to tell Jane. But I think this shows how much he wants to take care of this person… and not send her to an asylum like most people would do in this case. He could just turn Jane into a mistress, but he wants to make it right and marry her. This puts him in a very bad place and one he has no idea how to solve. He chooses poorly. He messes up. But this makes him so human! Bottom line: Mr. Rochester is the very definition of a brooding gothic tortured soul, which for some reason, I totally can’t resist when comes to crushing on fiction book boys.
Oh, no, no, no, NO! I'm sorry but Rochester is not compassionate, sincere or loyal. He didn't lock his wife away in the attic because he was compassionate. He did it to hide her. If he put her in an asylum he would have had to still admit to the world he was married to her. He full on admits to Jane that he convinced himself he wasn't married and a free man. He locks his wife away and lies to everyone else and himself. He spends years searching for a woman who can challenge him intellectually probably because he finally wants someone to call him out on his bullcrap! Wow! Maybe this book is deeper than I thought. Sigh! Sadly Jane sort of calls him out of his crap but just comes running back to him forgiving him of something he never apologizes for. Well, Rochester, you failed again. You only would have succeeded if Jane DIDN'T come back. I guess you're just too manipulative for your own good. Yes, there's a lot of angst in this book but it's not coming from the characters. It's coming from the ever growing frustration of the reader!
Now you can go check out my 3 hates...
1. Rochester. The biggest reason I hate Jane Eyre is and always will be Mr Edward "pathological liar" Rochester. How can anyone actually like this guy?! He decided to marry a girl based soley on the fact that she was beautiful. Didn't bother to get to know her or anything, and then when he discovers she's nuts what does he do? He throws her in the attic and completely ignores her. And what really gets me about this is that he then begins to loathe her! Like it's her fault she's crazy? Good Grief! His only excuse to this is, "you don't know what I went through". He goes off after this and looks for another woman and has torrid affairs with two or three woman that he then finds tedious and pays off to shut up. Then simple, plain Jane comes into the picture and let's look over the fact that he lies to her about his crazy wife locked in the attic which is reason enough to hate him but it's the way he approaches the whole thing. He proceeds to FORCE Jane to be in his presence and "talk with him" which is really just him talking AT her and telling her how naive and innocent she is. "Poor stupid, Jane. Let me take you under my wing and teach you about life". And let's not forget he never even has the balls to tell Jane about his wife she finds out on her wedding day at the alter! When she decides to leave him he threatens her...twice! The man is a pompous, abusive, drama king! After all is said and done and he's left in complete abject humiliation Jane comes back. Does he apologize? Did he apologize to her before she ran away? NO!!! He doesn't! Argh!!!
2. Jane. Poor, stupid pathetic Jane. She never learns to just love herself. Oh, she says she does but how can you really love yourself if you walk right back into an abusive relationship? I guess her whole life has been a lesson in bowing down and obeying men and so she does. She calls Rochester master, people! To be honest, I'm kinda shocked she didn't marry St John at the end. She always does what any man tells her to so why not continue the tradition? Oh well, I guess she just turned down one jerk for another. The whole book would have been better if, after she left Rochester she met another wonderful man who truly loved and respected her and married him. Then went back to look at poor stupid Rochester and pitied him enough to spare a kind though then got her bustle out of there!
3.The writing. I really despise that the author consistently has Jane call us, dear reader. Anytime you start trying to form your own opinion the author comes in with the voice of Jane and tells you you're are stupid. You're not allowed to have your own opinion. You must have the opinion of these stupid characters that she has. Well, nice try Charlotte! it didn't work. I've formed my opinion and your characters suck! Your book sucks and if you were still alive I'd recommend you see a therapist for your deep seeded man issues!
Have you read Jane Eyre? Who's side are you on? Feel free to share in the comments!