|The Return Of Winter, Jane Eyre, The Tokyo Marathon
||[Feb. 23rd, 2013|10:44 am]
The temperature has dropped again. I went to post a letter yesterday afternoon and there were stray, gritty, isolated little snowflakes wandering around. The colder weather brings the birds back to the feeders.|
I started Jane Eyre last night. This is for the first time of reading. I'm sort of glad I avoided it at school; it means it wasn't spoiled for me. Bronte is wonderful. She understands how bullying works- how the strong demonize the weak- and how- when the pack is in full cry- even its individually decent members will follow my leader and join in the abuse.
Our daughter-in-law Su Young is running in the Tokyo Marathon tomorrow. She and Mike were out today buying stuff she'll need- like a new pair of socks and a hat.
I don't think any other writer quite *got* the state of being a child like Charlotte Bronte did in Jane Eyre...that terrible fear, the tendency to sense malevolence in the darkness, how everything was bigger, the emphasis on fairness. And never once using language that was patronising or twee. When I first read Jane Eyre I think I read up as far as when she became an adult and then lost interest in the rest, because my emotional development was not at a stage where I found such narratives interesting.
She also understands the abusers. They're not the monsters Dickens would have made of them. I look at Mrs Reed and Bessie and think "I've been equally unjust, cruel and unthinking."
Bessie, yes, but Mrs Reed? She's fairly monstrous. Pathetic, I agree - Jane sees through her like a pane of glass - but still monstrous.
Mrs Reed is out of her depth- emotionally, imaginatively. She's had this difficult, clever, sensitive child foisted on her and she doesn't know how to cope- so she takes the line of least resistance and decides the child is evil. In her own (not very impressive) mind she is justified in all she does. Then Jane confronts her and she has no answer to the accusations. She won't admit it- either to Jane or herself- but she's been shamed. That's why she has to get Jane out of the way as quickly as possible. She can't live with the evidence of her own cruelty and injustice.
Edited at 2013-02-23 02:54 pm (UTC)
Mrs Reed is out of her depth- emotionally, imaginatively. She's had this difficult, clever, sensitive child foisted on her and she doesn't know how to cope- so she takes the line of least resistance
I like reading your criticism. (Also, I happen to agree. A Little Princess is similarly sympathetic about the Misses Minchin, even when they are both being objectively terrible people.)
Bronte doesn't do conventional villains. Or heroes either.
I love Jane Eyre. Or, parts of it. I remember trying to convince my children that it was one of the finest novels of the English language. It was probably just that I like a particular sentence or turn of phrase. Me: currently reading: Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope.