March 2, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Gateshead

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This weekend I had the urge to re-read Jane Eyre. I found myself missing Jane. She's become quite the popular gal lately and I wonder if she's just how I remember her or if she's changed. I curled up in a chair and started the first chapters...

(These are just random musings. I'm not sure if they will make sense or will just seem like ramblings. I just feel like putting them down here.)

Gateshead Hall

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

Charlotte Bronte sets the scene and creates the atmosphere for the book. It's November. It's raining. The rain pelts the glass of the window where a little girl is hiding from her tormentors. It's dripping with angst and loneliness.

Mrs Reed

I tried to give Mrs Reed the benefit of the doubt this time around. Why is she so mean to Jane? Is it that she is saddled with this kid that isn't hers? Is Jane a reminder of her husband's embarrassing family? Is there just no room in her heart for another child? Is Jane really that unlovable? Mrs Reed is a product of her class. Jane is the daughter of a poor minister, who died of a poor person's disease. If she were kind, she would be making Jane equal to her own children, and that is unacceptable. Yet she made a promise to her dead husband too and she fears that she has done him wrong. I try to understand Mrs Reed but I can't pity her.

Class, Religion, and the Poor


"it is your place to be humble..."

Mrs Reed contacts Mr Brocklehurst the head of Lowood school, a place where Jane will be "brought up in a manner suiting her prospects", where she is "to be made useful, to be kept humble." The gap between the classes is apparent here. Mr Brocklehurst's own children wear silk, yet he talks of mortifying the schoolgirls of pride. Mrs Reed's kids are holy terrors, yet Jane is given the pamphlet on deceit. God's rules on humility are for the poor; the rich can do as they please.

Jane

"if she were a nice pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one cannot care for such a little toad as that."

Jane is a contradiction. She is a person apart. She is not one of the family and, as one of the maids says, she is less than a servant. Jane hates the way she is treated but if given the choice she'd prefer it to living with a poor but kind family. Even if Jane is treated terribly, she has a roof over her head, and clothes to wear. Of course, she's a kid so she doesn't know any different. She's frustrated, angry and at an age where she can see the injustice of it all. Then there's her looks. The above quote was said by the maid Abbot. Riiiiiiiiight. Because we should only be nice to the pretty ones, the ugly ones are on their own. Unfortunately, Abbot is only expressing a cruel truth about the world. The attractive ones get all the advantages the plain ones don't. It sucks but it's true.

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That was the first few chapters. I stopped just before Jane leaves for Lowood. I'll share my thoughts on that next time.

6 comments :

  1. I don't think I've ever read this book, but I'd like to before I see the movie.

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  2. I'm really excited about the film adaptation of this, so I might do a re-read soon. Love, love, love it!

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  3. Kathy- Definitely do that first!

    Andi- Me too! I have to find someone who wants to go with me.

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  4. I finally read Jane Eyre this year and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it!

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  5. I don't think I could ever give Mrs Reed the benefit of the doubt, so well done for that! I think had she at least admitted how awful her children were it would've been easier, even if she hadn't treated Jane well. And the contradictory nature of Brocklehurst was difficult to read.

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  6. Kelly- Yay! I'm glad.

    Charlie- Mrs Reed is hard to figure out. Did she always dislike Jane? I think there is more to her than what appears. Brocklehurst, I think, is in it for money & power. That's his game.

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