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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jane Eyre: a THRILLING Read

There are only a few books I have encountered that have literally driven me to tears. Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte and published in 1847, is one of these rare few.
I have truly learned not to hastily judge a book by its cover, nor even by its title. What could sound plainer or more uninteresting than Jane Eyre? Yet when I read beyond the cover and past the first few chapters (rather slow for my liking), I suddenly found myself thrust into a world like none other. I found myself knowing and learning to care for the delightful characters. I recognized in Jane qualities similar to my own. And I was soon introduced to Mr. Edward Rochester. Need I say more? I found him to be utterly intriguing. He was lonely, secretive, brooding, mysterious, courageous, restless, and intelligent. 
When tragedy after tragedy occurred, it seemed that Mr. Rochester's fate was to be forever void of happiness and content. I agonized with Jane when they were separated for a long period of time, both clinging to a small hope the other was still alive. (You must read the story to find out why.) And I was reduced to tears when poor Mr. Rochester--my dear Mr. Rochester was blinded and his right hand maimed. I rejoiced when sweet Jane promised never to be parted from him, once they had at last reunited. Faithful are the bonds of true love!
If you have not yet read the book, this should pique your curiosity: the tale involves an arsonist, a mysterious old manor,  a strange visitor from Jamaica, a wounded man hidden in an upstairs room, a lunatic woman with a red scarf, a gypsy fortune teller, a dog named Pilot, an abandoned little French girl, and so much more...
I suppose I am raving excessively, but I truly wish that everyone would read this splendid novel! I am posting a few of my favorite excerpts from the book. It was oh, so difficult to narrow it down to only a few!

(Jane has just, through a strange series of events, saved Mr. Rochester's life by waking him up in the night when a fire blazed in his room.)
"'Good-night then, sir,' said I, departing.
He seemed surprised--very inconsistently so, as he had just told me to go.
'What!' he exclaimed, 'are you quitting me already, and in that way?'
'You said I might go, sir.'
'But not without taking leave; not without a word or two of acknowledgement and good-will: not, in short, in that brief, dry fashion. Why, you have saved my life!--snatched me from a horrible and excrutiating death! and you walk past me as if we were mutual strangers! At least shake hands.'
He held out his hand; I gave him mine; he took it first in one, then in both his own.
'You have saved my life: I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an obligation: but you: it is different--I feel your benefit no burden, Jane.'"

"I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day which followed this sleepless night: I wanted to hear his voice again, yet feared to meet his eye."

"'Return to the drawing room: you are deserting too early.'
'I am tired, sir.'
He looked at me for a minute.
'And a little depressed,' he said, 'What about? Tell me.'
'Nothing--nothing, sir. I am not depressed.'
'But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes--indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, tonight I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing room every evening; it is my wish; don't neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie for Adele. Good night, my--' He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me."
(*I love that Charlotte Bronte left to the reader's imagination what Mr. Rochester was about to call Jane; was it my Jane? my dear? my love?...)

(Jane watched over Mason all through the night; he was badly wounded and unconscious most of the night.)
"'You have passed a strange night, Jane.'
'Yes, sir.'
'And it has made you look pale--were you afraid when I left you alone with Mason?'
'I was afraid of someone coming out of the inner room.'
(Rochester) 'But I had fastened the door--I had the key in my pocket: I should have been a careless shepherd if I had left a lamb--my pet lamb--so near a wolf's den, unguarded: you were safe.'"

(Just before Mr. Rochester's romantic proposal...*I will not share the proposal, as I do not wish to spoil it for you, but it is a wonderful scene.)
"'Do you doubt me, Jane?'
'Entirely.'
'You have no faith in me?'
'Not a whit.'
'Am I a liar in your eyes?' he asked passionately. 'Little sceptic, you shall be convinced...'

(Spoken by an unusual character named St. John...I quite liked the way he described a missionary's work.) "'...God had an errand for me; to bear which afar, to deliver it well, skill and strength, courage and eloquence, the best qualifications of a soldier, statesman, and orator, were all needed: for these all centre in the good missionary.'"

(Poor, beloved Mr. Rochester has become blind and lost his right hand after risking his life for someone else's in a fire; he is speaking to Jane. *I found the last sentence extremely touching.)
"'...Can you tell when there is a good fire?'
'Yes, with the right eye I see a glow--a ruddy haze.'
'And you see the candles?'
'Very dimly--each is a luminous cloud.'
'Can you see me?'
'No, my fairy: but I am only too thankful to hear and feel you.'"

"Mr. Rochester continued blind the first two years of our union: perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near--that knit us so very close: for I was then his vision, as I am still his right hand. Literally, I  was (what he often called me) the apple of his eye. He saw nature--he saw books through me; and never did I weary of gazing for his behalf, and of putting into words, the effect of field, tree, town, river, cloud, sunbeam--of the landscape before us; of the weather round us--and impressing by sound on his ear what light could no longer stamp on his eye. Never did I weary of reading to him; never did I weary of conducting him where he wished to go: of doing for him what he wished to be done...
One morning at the end of two years, as I was writing a letter to his dictation, he came and bent over me, and said--'Jane, have you a glittering ornament round your neck?'
I had a gold watch-chain: I answered, 'Yes.'
'And have you a pale blue dress on?'
I had. He informed me then, that for some time he had fancied the obscurity clouding one eye was becoming less dense; and that now he was sure of it.
He and I went up to London. He had the advice of an eminent oculist; and he eventually recovered the sight of that one eye. He cannot now see very distinctly: he cannot read or write much; but he can find his way without being led by the hand: the sky is no longer a blank to him--the earth no longer a void. When his first-born was put into his arms, he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were--large, brilliant, and black. On that occasion, he again, with a full heart, acknowledged that God had tempered judgment with mercy."

Pour yourself a cup of tea, settle into a comfortable chair by the fire, and lose yourself in a thrilling world of secrets, passion, tragedy, true love, and delightful old-fashionedness...Read Jane Eyre.

3 comments:

Peaches said...

I read this book a few years ago (LOVED the movie!!) but now I want to read it again!
I wish there were more books like it; I always have a hard time turning that last page because I don't want it to end.

emily elizabeth said...

I know exactly how you feel:) the last two chapters were so wonderful & I couldn't believe they had ended when I finished the book!

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