Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sweet Jane

As I promised in a recent post, I have thoughts on Jane Eyre.  And here they are:

This was a reread for me.  The last time I read the book was my senior year of high school, when I thought I understood everything there was to know about life.  Apparently my 31 year old self would tell my 17 year old self: "Yeah, right!"  As with other rereads I have done since starting this blog, there was so much more to see than a young person could see at that point in life experience.  Namely, the distinction between a mutually respectful, sacrificial relationship and a mutually respectful, selfish relationship.  Also, I did not remember most of the second book (not a surprise, because most of the second book is boring until you get to the end). 

If you hvae a nook reader, you can get Jane Eyre for .99 here.
Jane discovers through various relationships what true love looks like.  This is not erotic love necessarily, but a filial type of love, based on mutual respect.  But respect can only take one so far down the road toward true companionship.  There must also be selflessness, even sacrifice.  As the reader watches Jane throughout the book, we see a growth of understanding of these things.  It can be compared to a painting Jane describes the process of designing.  She first knows what love is not, establishing the parameters of love like the outline of a painting.  Then she discovers that love is respectful, then gentle, then forgiving, then forbearing, each of these qualities like the brushstrokes of the painting using different shades and techniques.  Then she discovers that love can in fact break your heart through disappointment.  She builds upon that foundation a final understanding that for love to be fully realized it must be returned.  When she has finally discovered love, she has the completed painting before her in the picture of her chosen husband.

Jane Eyre is not so much a romance novel as a coming of age story in which the main character seeks, ultimately, respect.  She seeks a place among society that is not questioned.  She seeks companionship based upon the quality of her character and one's enjoyment of her person.  In this way, it could be considered feminist literature (because those feminists love to take every strong female character and use her for their cause), but it is a human story of growth in love. 

Other things not observed by 17 year old self:
The overt "Christian-ness" of the book.
The mega controlling nature of the relationship between Jane and St. John (some of the things he said to her were doozies!).
The slowness of the plot unfolding.  I don't remember the story taking quite so long to tell.

P.S. Has anyone seen the recent remake of the movie?  I am interested to check it out and see what they left in and left out of the St. John story line.  I am also interested to see how Mia what's her name plays Jane.

Rating: 4.5 out of 7


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