Sunday, March 9, 2008

Late Night with Charlotte Bronte

Can't sleep again. And on the night we lose an hour! That's just great. And I'll be getting up somewhat early to go to St. Thomas with my brother and his wife. This isn't good. Well, God help me.

I just finished Jane Eyre. Ever read it? Oh, man, is it good. I finished it on the plane ride to Houston a few weeks ago. I cried like a baby. I'm pretty sure Charlotte Bronte is my new favorite writer. She writes a heroine of such a different nature, mysterious, hardly beautiful, frank, smart, strange. But not without passion. Filled with passion that leads her to abnormal or rather, inappropriate? (at least to the mid-19th century reader), reactions and circumstances. But not without faith, virtue. Not without love. But also not without reason. And the two are at battle within her. Just listen to this:

(Here Jane talks to herself of her feelings for Mr. Rochester)

"Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: tomorrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully; without softening one defect: omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, 'Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.'

Afterwards, take a piece of smooth ivory...take your palette, mix your freshest, finest, clearest tints; choose your most delicate camel-hair pencils; delineate carefully the loveliest face you can imagine; paint it in your softest shades and sweetest hues, according to the description given by Mrs. Fairfax of Blanche Ingram: remember raven ringlets, the oriental eye....No sentiment! No regret! I will endure only sense and resolution.... Omit neither diamond ring nor gold it 'Blanche, an accomplished lady of rank.'

Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures and compare them; say, 'Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady's love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebiean?"

Charlotte Bronte so clearly and magnificently paints the inside of this woman's soul. Her yearning heart's desire for what she feels she cannot and will not have, and her battle to reason herself away from unrequited love.

But Jane is not a sad character. She is strong. Such will power. Such grace!

Here Jane meets a gypsy...a fortune teller, of whom she has no faith:

"Well, and you want your fortune told?' she (the fortune teller) said in a voice as decided as her glance, as harsh as her features.

"I don't care about it, mother; you may please yourself; but I ought to warn you, I have no faith."

"It's like your impudence to say so; I expected it of you; I heard it in your step as you crossed the threshold."

"Did you: You've a quick ear."

"I have; and a quick eye, and a quick brain."

"You need them all in your trade."

"I do; especially when I 've customers like you to deal with. Why don't you tremble?"

"I'm not cold."

"Why don't you turn pale?"

"I am not sick."

"Why don't you consult my art?"

"I'm not silly."

Ha! I love it. I love this character. I haven't been drawn to British female authors in the past. I've tried reading Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and I can't finish them. I guess I get bored. (I did like Emma.) But this is a league of its own.

Anyone read her sister, Emily Bronte? Wuthering Heights? Should I read it?


Susanne said...

I also LOVED Jane Eyre!! I can't believe I never had to read it in school. It has to be one of the best novels ever written. I'm reading Wuthering Heights right now, but I just now far enough into it to give you a good opinion on it. I'm also trying to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and it's a bit boring after reading Bronte. I keep waiting for the plot to begin. :) I'll let you know about Wuthering Heights when I finish, but you might beat me to it!

Susanne said...

Oops...I should've proofread my post...I meant to say that I'm just not far enough into W. Heights to give an opinion.

Amy said...

aaaah, Jane Eyre is like my all time favorite book! I didn't like Wuthering Heights as much, but it's still a good read and there are plenty of people who disagree with me.
Equally as fascinating, (at least to me) is the true life stories of the four Brontes. (three sisters and one brother)

I have never been able to finish a Jane Austen book and always felt a bit ashamed about it since they are so very highly regarded. Thanks for sharing the sentiment that they are boring!! :)

Julio said...

WOW! Sounds like a good book!!

FancyPants said...

Suzanne, definitely let me know what you think about Wuthering Heights.

Amy, I am so glad someone else agrees with me about Jane Austen. OK, let me rephrase. I'm so glad another woman agrees with me about Jane Austen. I haven't met many men who read her anyway. But yeah, she's supposed to be the most well liked author by females, right? And I don't really get it. My sister-in-law LOVES her. I think I'd rather see the movies...

FancyPants said...

Julio, it is! It really is.

Seth Ward said...

"Can't sleep again."

Might be my snoring.

Carla said...

The title sounds really familiar, but I can't remember if I read it or not. Of course, I can re-read a book only a year or so after the first time I read it and I can't remember a thing, so this is not surprising!
The books that are my all time favorites are Francine Rivers The Mark of the Lion Trilogy (Echo in the Darkness, a Voice in the Wind, and As Sure as the Dawn). They really catch you (but be warned, you may spend some more sleepless nights because you won't be able to put them down) and they also have a great Christian theme. They really challenge you in your christian walk. But then again, I do like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice! lol

Amy said...

I LOVE those books! Some of my other all time faves!

FancyPants said...

Seth, ya got that right.

Carla, hello! I really liked the Mark of the Lion trilogy, too! I read the first two and you're right, I couldn't put them down. And I about cried my eyes off. I didn't read the third one, though. After reading about Hadassah, I couldn't get into the third one, for some reason. The first two were just too good, I guess. I also liked Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

Julio said...

I have to confess...the 3rd book of that trilogy was the first novel I ever tried to read...It was good!!! I finished only one third of it, ha, ha, ha. For some reason I think Carla got that book in Spanish when we were just married, She CONVINCED me to read it (you know, just married).

FancyPants said...

Julio, but not good enough for you to finish, huh? Did you have to read novels in school in Mexico?

You should listen to your wife. Let her convince you to read something else. =-)

Julio said...

FancyPants, you are right, I read a couple of novels in Highshool. I still remember the first book I finished in Highschool..."La Cantatrice Chauve", oh my goodness that was a crazy book!!! But now I remember some more titles of books I read like "Around the earth in 80 days", "Don Quijote", "The lost world" (Arthur Conan Doyle), etc I like books of adventures. But it's been a while since I read the last one.