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Saturday, April 24, 2010

- 'Jane Eyre' Open Thread

















    What did you think?

69 comments:

  1. I'm up for it! This is the version that comes in 2 parts, right? Do you want to compare notes mid-way, or wait until we've watched all of it? (Mind you, I won't even get the first DVD for a few days.)

    And you are liking the book, eh? Hmm...

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  2. I'm thinking you are going to like this one. I put it to the top of my queue, so I should get it perhaps Wednesday.

    Yes! Let us take it in parts. There is plenty to be said, both about the story itself, and the production.

    Beautiful.

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  3. The early part of this story is always the hardest part for me to take. The world around poor Jane is so cruel and heartless, and she is abused and mischaracterized so much, that it is hard to imagine going through all that and still have a kind and hopeful heart, as Jane clearly does. One aspect that I see now is that Jane was always a very forthright person, and not always a very politic one. Thus, she would tell you the truth regardless of the implication, even when to do so would challenge the truthfulness of her Aunt. She also is a person of very great inner strength, and is able to go on after the loss of her very dear friend Helen Burns. Her arrival at Thornfield brings her into a number of mysteries which go unanswered. 'Why does the master put up with the dangerous Miss Poole?' ' Why is he always away?' and 'What are his intentions with regards to the beautiful Blanche Ingram?'

    I like the fact that Jane is considered a plane woman, and that her interest in Edward Rochester is on a deeper plane, as is his to her, though for the sake of the theater both characters are portrayed by people that are easy for us to watch. Jane's forthrightness comes to the fore when Mr. Rochester asks her if she considers him a handsome man, and her reply of "No sir" delivered without hesitation tickles Mr. Rochester by its honesty and utter lack of discretion. But as I recall, this is no change for Jane, for the same tendencies lead her earlier to be cast out from the home she was being raised in and lead Jane to having to stand with a sign with the word "Liar" written on it.

    The best is yet to come. What did you think?

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  4. Okay, I can't wait. I'll just talk on a little more.

    Oh my, I am enjoying it even more the second time around! So much of it is so very well done, and they have taken the pains to make it a lovely show to watch, even though the characters reside in a largely bleak environment. The short scene of the carriage riding along the ridge-line, with the sun setting behind it...beautiful. And the director has some fun with us... Jane's entry into Thornfield is so dark and dreary, with the grounds keeper offering not a word to her, and you are bracing yourself for the next thing, when Jane walks into the housekeeper's quarter, and the light of the fire catches Jane's face, which brightens and then the room itself is revealed to us, a warm and cozy place with the cheery voice of the housekeeper welcoming Jane in the most pleasant way. Yes, things are not all what they seem in this story.

    The first meeting of Mr. Rochester and Jane I initially paid little regard to, other than to note it was curious, but on second consideration I believe it revealed much of both characters. Mr. Rochester's gruff exterior hides a very creative and imaginative man, though outwardly severe, he is rather playful with Jane, with his tales of her bewitching his horse, and when Jane challenges this assertion he takes it further, claiming she was "hovering" there for the purpose of bewitching his horse. He likes her right off. And for her part, she is not overwhelmed by her initial frightening confrontation with this man, and when he instructs her to return to Thornfield she replies she will do so, after she sends off her post. The meeting did not dissuade her from her purpose. Jane is a very steady and forthright girl, and my guess is that Mr. Rochester both noticed her presence of mind and calm demeanor, and appreciated it.

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  5. I'm glad you felt like talking about it --I won't get to watch until tomorrow (dratted real life!) -- but feelings have been running so high today at April's it makes me happy that you're indulging in something lovely. Plus, now I'm really psyched to see it!

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  6. There were a number of fine scenes, but one I particularly enjoyed occured after Jane had woke him and saved him from the fire. He had left her to check on the mysterious Grace Poole in the North Tower, and on returning he speaks with Jane and reaches out to hold her hand, and they stand apart silhoutted in the darkness...close yet separated by a distance that neither was sure of crossing, each for their own reasons. And that moment of quiet tension struck me as very romantic... in fact, the very essence of romantic cinema. Loved it.

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  7. (This is from earlier this afternoon.)

    I have only come so far as the death of Helen Burns, and the fast-forward to Jane as teacher, summoned by letter to the position of governess to Rochester's ward.

    And I am forced to suspend, briefly, and re-locate.

    On the one hand, I want to continue until, at least, the welcoming fire in the housekeeper's quarters you promised me. On the other, and this strikes me as very strange, some part of me wants to stay for a moment and dwell in this weirdly beautiful sadness. I am certain this would not be the case if I did not know, so thoroughly, that it is (as I often needed to be reassured as a child) "just a story." Yet while I was watching it -- Jane's nightmarish existence with the "aunt", her incarceration at the institute -- I was having a lively argument with myself about how "real" these depictions could be. No one could possibly treat children this way. But I know they did.

    So, I have moved, from one strange location to another: I am at the university closest to my home, while my niece, who was just a toddler a year or so ago, first "refreshed" for, and is now taking, a math placement exam. Because she has decided that she is going to go to college 40 minutes from our house. I am happy and excited and very motivated to do something decor-related to the guest room, even though the reality of this is sort of coming over me in slow, gentle waves.

    But I digress...

    So, back to the show, which I already love for its richness and simplicity and visual beauty. And the stillness of the spaces, even when there is talking. (There is something almost hypnotic about the hushed rustling of dozens of long skirts not-quite-echoing in a huge space.)

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  8. Oh yes, the transition. There is little Jane sketching out her coal drawing of the church yard, and all the little caskets about her. And then the calming music turns a tad brighter, and there is the bold confident paint stroke of young Miss Jane, as she leads a group of children in drawing a vase of flowers, and yet Helen's final resting place is just a stones throw away. You just had a sense that Jane was all right, and more so that she had matured and gained balance from it all. Very nicely done, I thought. The young woman that plays Jane is a relative newcomer to acting. I felt she offered a remarkably fine performance of the character 'Jane'.

    Well, we can continue the story at any time. One of the beauties of having it captured for us on DVD is that they will all wait for us until we are ready to proceed - very pleasant of them.

    Anyways, if you like, what is the reality that is coming to you in slow gentle waves? Is there a sadness to it? Or is it something else? I will listen if you like. I can even delete your comment if you wouldn't want it stuck here. Darrell may say it's all permanent, but that is not the case if you are the web master. : )

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  9. Oh, Nick. I can't tell you what that means to me. I'm sorry I was so, I don't know, cryptic. My niece's coming to school here is a good thing in so many ways, and the timing couldn't be better. I spent the afternoon in completely new settings, absolutely basking in not being in any of my usual settings, and taking in the fact that, for much of the next four years, "my" Colleen is going to be just on the other side of the Beltway. It is a very welcome "offset" to some of the other changes that are taking place in my little world. I think I'd best leave it there, for now anyway. But I'll try to be coherent about poor Jane tomorrow.

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  10. Well, for my part I have come to an age where it is clear that I have to decide how best to spend the years ahead - they will not stretch on forever, and just as well. Better things lay ahead I am told.

    As to Jane Eyre, I would encourage you to watch it at your leisure. It may be very well done and a delightful diversion, and may add to the deepening of the walk, but is not the walk itself.

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  11. How best to spend the years ahead -- that's actually what I've been trying to come to terms with while I should have been sleeping for the last three weeks or so. Funny, I thought I was doing so well yesterday, and then I read your comment and just fell apart. So I cried and typed and cried and typed, and then mopped up and deleted mass quantities, because at that point I couldn't figure out if ANYTHING was making any sense. (And I was pretty sure that most of it wasn't... blog-worthy!)

    There are just a lot of things all coming together at the same time. My folks -- literally down the street and around the corner -- are in their 80's, and my mom is showing more disconcerting symptoms of "mild dementia" than just the word-memory issues that have gotten much worse in the last 6 months or so. I've had a slow time accepting the emotional and practical aspects, and I'm sure I ain't. done. yet.

    The center where I volunteer is slowly dying, primarily because the director (and founder, of 30+ years) has pretty much sabotaged every possibility of developing new leadership, in spite of the fact that she has had to be an absentee boss for some years now, working the administrative functions from home, always dissatisfied (at the very least) with whatever a volunteer is doing. When she had to stop coming in to the office (for what we assumed would be a short time), I quite willingly became dogs body -- but years of being secretary/office manager/courier/all-around-stuck-in-the-middle-trying-to-get-things-to-happen-I-should-have-had-my-head-examined-oh-that's-right-I-did-and-they-told-me-to-quit assistant, for someone who's always upset about everything, have left me so far past burned-out I can't even see it from the back anymore. The last month has seen what should have been a simple matter turned into a mare's nest, unresolved until the absolute deadline, while she was incommunicado with a health issue that I'm not supposed to know about. So I have had to admit defeat, although I don't expect negotiating the terms of surrender will be pleasant. How do you tell someone, "Oh, I still want to be a volunteer; I just don't want to work with you anymore"?

    And with matters closer to home, I've been slogging my way through some truths I've been resisting for a long time, with a lot of emphasis on the old "wisdom to know the difference" angle... Nothing visible to the untrained eye, but some realities I need to accept, and adjust to.

    But timing is everything, and all of this is swirling around while I am realizing that, on a personal personal level, I am doing better than I have in ages. The depression that has been a problem for years is under control, and I've come through the grief of losing a best friend to cancer. There is no doubt in my mind that The Hyacinth Girl didn't just happen to appear in my path when it did -- too many blessings have come out of it. For one thing, deciding to "comment" on April's blog -- deciding to just say what I thought, even though other people might not like it; deciding to not edit or censor myself, even if other people might find me silly or tiresome or too emotional or whatever; it's been -- I can't figure out how to put it -- like a physical discipline that gets easier each day. And then there's you guys. Can't go there -- gonna get mushy. But the result is I've started to remember the 'me' that's been burrowed away for an awfully long time, so that's a good thing.

    Nick, I hope you're not sorry you asked; it's helped a lot to put it all into words.

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  12. Not at all, not at all.

    I always appreciate reading your thoughts, and have found your steady encouragement to all, which is in your nature, to be a very pleasant reminder.

    We'll talk more later. I have Brennie this weekend and just stopped by for an instant. Caught your comments on Rush over at April's. Very nicely said.

    I am really keen to see why Darrell likes the Rush character so well - does he identify with him in some way? He is so scary smart it may be that he has some of the same frustrations of being ahead of people, and has been frustrated by it. Perhaps we shall see. He is a great guy and a striking talent.

    I'll talk to you more soon.

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  13. Have a wonderful weekend! (Good luck with the getting-ready-for-church parts...) ;)

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  14. When last we saw our heroine...

    Jane has just headed off to visit the dying... hmm, I think we're supposed to call her "aunt", catching sight of Rochester and Blanche riding as she drives away.

    What is Rochester playing at? When he and Jane first meet on the road, he is angry and injured, yet immediately begins attempting to draw out very literal Miss Jane-Eyre. She is sensible, and somewhat valiant, I thought, in the face of his gruffness, but I didn't think she caught his teasing until a later conversation. So, he is intrigued by her, and immediately fond of her -- the nature of that fondness most clearly revealed in that gorgeous moment after Jane has saved him from the fire in his room.

    So why bring the Ingrams et al. back for an extended house-party? Is he punishing himself for "forgetting himself" with Jane, not disciplining his heart well enough? Punishing Jane, as well, forcing her to "mix" with the indifferent-to-hostile guests, taunting her about the games-playing, sniping at her about the rumors/gossip/expctation that he is to wed Blanche? Does he imagine he can force a declaration from her? (What, he's never met a Victorian governess before?) Or, trying to force her to acknowledge her feelings inwardly, before making an overture? Just a little nuts?

    And Blanche Ingram -- not that she is a sympathetic character, but she is as much a product of the world in which she was brought up as Jane is of hers, with her own set of societal, and familial, expectations she must meet -- is being toyed with heartlessly, cruelly. If Rochester is really trying to discern what he should do regarding marrying (let's assume it's the first time for all of us), he is doing it in a way that, even if he thinks her incapable of a broken heart, exposes Blanche to terrific gossip. (Although, he does perhaps know that if he doesn't 'pop the question', he will be clearly cast as the villain of the entirely blameless Beautiful Miss Ingram's drama.)

    (I really like Toby Stephen's portrayal of Rochester... but he's too nice-looking for all the lines about how it is only the flickering glow of his wealth in the firelight that softens his features, etc. Although I refuse to be the first female to complain that a leading man is TOO hot and brooding...)

    So. I must now leave you, to see what fresh torments Auntie Dearest has in store for poor Jane.

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  15. Well, I see you have fairly marched my hero out round behind Thornfield and ordered him shot. Cathy I am not sure how to respond.

    Rochester fairs poorly at first glance, no doubt, but perhaps we will warm to him with time. It would seem that he is torn as to what course he should follow. It is frustrating, and hard not to think he is just toying with people. Is he, really? And what of Jane? She has declined to show her feelings for him, as one would expect, except in the guarded tones of praise for Thornfield. It seems to me she fairly accuses him of intending to marry Blanche Ingram. Does she hope he will deny it? Or confirm it and thus put an end to the trial of being in love with a man she shall never have? The future is unclear, and they each seem to go back and forth, advancing, pulling away. Jane's reticence is easy to understand, and I feel very much for her. Perhaps the tortured and guilty past he hints at will make him better understood in time. As to his looks, I believe he is actually not as plain as Jane states. Her initial reaction to his appearance was directed at her well held opinion that it is what is on the inside that matters most. He is not a handsome man, but not vile in appearance. Average looking I would say, and Jane's later insistence that no manner of magic could improve his appearance is a bit of a jab at him, for his apparent plans to marry Blanche. But when the question of their future is not at hand, they clearly delight in each others company, and I for one think it grand.

    So much here is so very well done. I am in love with the score, and how it is so very well used. The light melody on piano accompanied by the mournful sound of violin conveys the joy and sadness that circumstance has brought this love affair. And scenes like the gypsy fortune teller... Rochester has behaved very badly using the blind of the gypsy to find out the thoughts of his various guests. Perhaps it was to a pointed purpose in the case of Blanche and some of the others, but with Jane it is clearly to get behind her facade and try to find his way. He does not trust what is before him, and seeks to confirm his impressions..more so with Jane than with any other, because he loves her, and that being so he does not trust his own judgment. Does he see and hear what his heart wishes, or does she truly care for him as well? But the scene was so very well done, her anger at being made game of, and his apologetic boyish smile. He readily admits he was wrong ... I like that. And the manor in which he cajoles her into a future forgiveness, very nice. But then the news of Mason immediately puts him on edge, and the demeans of his past are clearly present. He asks if all the floozy friends in the next room were to curse and reject him, what would Jane Eyre do? And she promises that she would try to console him, and the question he asks at her parting, does she believe in redemption? It is a complete reversal in feeling and tempo, remarkably well done.

    I love this show, and I love the fact that you are going through it with me.

    Now for the part I couldn't get my mind around: Jane's return to her childhood home and her dying Aunt Reed.

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  16. Well, I see you have fairly marched my hero out round behind Thornfield and ordered him shot

    No, no -- that's Darrell and the fellow importuning our April!

    I've got more catching-up to do, but, boy! Do I love this movie.

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  17. Oh -- I definitely have to read the book again. There is so much in the movie that I don't remember!

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  18. I think the key thing in the visit to her dying aunt is that Jane Eyre was able to forgive her aunt and her cousins. She did not warm to them, but was able to show them compassion and understanding, and was able to comfort her aunt even though there was no contrition or request for forgiveness for the evil things the aunt had done, and even though the motives behind those actions were not changed in Aunt Reed.

    I think it is a very fine thing, but beyond me ... at this point anyway.

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  19. Good grief, I misused the word 'floozy' again! I believe I meant to use 'flop'. I got that word from my mom. She would say that about people she was not pleased with, and I always took her to mean they were silly, superficial people.

    Yikes! Perhaps I mistook her? Do you think she could have been saying... no...

    Hmm...

    Good heavens!

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  20. Nick, you're just going to have to be in charge of selecting movies all the time -- your picks are too good, and I can't get over how absolutely transporting this production is. Now, admittedly, I'm still working off a pretty drastic sleep deficit, but I don't think that can account for more than, say, 5-10% of the eeriness of the tower, or the desolation of the moors, or the delightful transformation of the little school under Jane's charge, from a bleak stone box, to a room of paintings and light, flowers and butterflies, and children happy to show their "dear Miss Elliot" their progress.

    As to Aunt Reed -- I don't know whether the element of forgiveness was stressed in the book (I'm actually stunned at how little I remember from the book), but I would personally be inclined to say she had pretty well forfeited any claim to Honor thy Father and thy Mother's Brother's Widow with her treatment of young Jane. But, then, Jane is a MUCH nicer person than I am. And, she was so starved for any kind of family connection, perhaps she carried some hope that she would finally find welcome in that house. And what an unrepentant horror that woman was. (Of course, if Aunt Reed had assisted the uncle searching for her, Jane would never have met Rochester, and it would have been a much less interesting movie.) And weren't the cousins a treat!

    (I actually found the "motive" for her aunt's treatment of Jane so interesting, and so frightening -- that perversion of what should have been a mother's love and protectiveness for her children, twisted into the jealous loathing toward the blameless intruder. Even after she had exiled Jane to a life of deprivation, long after Jane could disrupt her world, she still does her grave evil. Without even the excuse that it could have benefited her own children, she ensures that Jane remain alone and impoverished. This unrelenting venom towards the innocent who marred the picture of what was "supposed" to be. That is the horror story.)

    And then we have the happy homecoming, and Rochester desperately trying to find a way to keep Jane in his world, until his proposal is tortured out of him... and Jane innocently happy that for once, the absence of family was a good thing, as it meant no one would object or interfere with their plans.

    What would someone who really didn't know Jane Eyre at all have made of that wedding day? Do you think there were enough clues throughout -- Mrs. Fairfax's odd remarks, the mysterious destruction of Jane's wedding veil, Rochester's mad haste on the way to the church -- or would it be a mystery until Mason's testimony?

    (Continued)

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  21. The one place the narrative broke down, I thought, was in moving Jane from Thornfield to the moors (unless the stark shift was intended to mirror Jane's loss at how she came to be where she was found.) But I did think that much of the Rivers' story-line felt contrived*, though it was essential to show that Jane went back to Rochester in spite of other options, rather than for the lack of them.

    (I found the flashback-to-present juxtapositions so heart-rending; to come back to a clear awareness of her present after the breakthrough memories of that time in Rochester's arms... And he does truly love: he can't stop kissing her, stroking her hair, drawing her face into his hands; yet offers her a virtuous alternative to the life he craves; offers to live with her as a brother rather than lose this companion to heart and mind.)

    (Plus, the smooching was pretty hot.)


    * Or did Jane need this replacement family -- the healthy, righteous St. John, the generous and loving sisters -- such polar opposites of the miserable cousins of her past? Did this year with her new 'family' change her in some way I missed?


    Then to the end, to Rochester's call to Jane, "across time and space", to draw her back from a loveless future; to Jane's return to find Thornfield ruined, and Rochester broken in body and spirit; to a new chance for this now free man, and this woman free to love and make him whole again...

    I didn't want it to end. I wanted to watch them together for years, for endless days of shared delight and teasing laughter, and evenings of fire-lit confidences and profound joy.

    So beautiful.

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  22. Ah, yes. I came to care and love the characters so much that I hated to leave them, and now find myself missing them all.

    One scene I enjoyed very much was of Jane, in her room after Edward had proposed. And lying there on her bed, filled with joy and amazement, she gets up to gaze at her reflection in the mirror, astounded to see that she, poor, plain Jane Eyre, was the object of someone's great desire and heartfelt affection. She cannot believe it. She truly is loved, passionately and with great warmth and depth of feeling. And what I love in the scene is the truth of it. She has lived all her life being rejected and told bluntly of her lack of value and merit. And yet here she is, and he loves her. Of course. And there is a truth in that that we can all recognize, that we are worth loving and being desired, worth being esteemed highly. Of course that is true.

    Another great moment was the scene of the wedding, the glorious fall day on the barren windblown hillside, Edward anxious and desperate, Jane calm, content and confused, being pulled forward and upward till she lets out a little gasp, and Edward turns, grieved to realize that he is hurting her. And the soaring sorrowful score! You and I both knowing that this fine couple are surely headed for heart rending tragedy, one that must play out before us in the next few moments. It was so grand!

    To tell you the truth Cathy, I enjoyed this show so much that I really cannot write it all down. And there still is the story itself to talk about!

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  23. "Jane Eyre will not be overwhelmed."

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  24. I enjoyed this show so much that I really cannot write it all down.

    Exactly!

    And,

    "Jane Eyre will not be overwhelmed."

    Perfect.

    Almost sums up the whole thing, doesn't it?

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  25. It sums up Jane very well, and it is pleasure indeed, but Edward is a whole nother story. Jane wills herself not to be overwhelmed by her own sheer happiness, which for me was very endearing, and so very typical for Jane.

    Edward Rochester on the other hand was all fire, imagination and desire to live life, despite the deceit foisted on him in his early days, which appeared to have ruined any hope for his happiness. And yet he is constrained by his good morals. He does not send his wife away to an asylum, he does not seek to have the marriage annulled, he finds someone to care for her and keeps her at Thornfield Hall. He makes himself the out-caste from a life he cannot get away from. He may appear to be a man of poor moral character, as Sinjin (St. John) presumes, but this is a wholly inadequate description. If he were without scruples, there would be no conflict within him. He goes back and forth on an unsolvable problem. Jane is like a piece of heaven dropped in his lap. He loves her, and cannot bare being without her. But he cannot ask her to marry him, because he is already married to a woman who is violently and dangerously insane, and he cannot keep Jane as some person less than a wife, less than his equal. He cannot ask her to be anything less than the innocent, pure-hearted person he loves. And after much deliberation he resolves to send her away, to Ireland, where he hopes the distance and different circumstance will cause her to forget him in time. (Cathy - he is a good man, as men go).

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  26. I am more than persuaded, Nick. Rochester is a good man; far better than many men go! Even to the end, when Bertha has truly brought destruction to Thornfield, he tries to save her.

    (We will leave aside the Beautiful Miss Ingram, and Rochester's mysterious courtship of her -- perhaps simply punishing her for her conceit and ambition?)

    But I was thinking of Jane's refusal to be overwhelmed in broader terms. She does not allow herself to be overwhelmed by the cruelty of her treatment at the Reeds', or even at Lowood, but offers love and friendship where she can. She is not overwhelmed by Rochester's harsh manner and strange ways, but is calm and open, and then accepting of the unusual friendship he offers.

    She is not overwhelmed by fear, or by the distress of not even knowing who she is, when she is rescued by St. John Rivers, but sets herself to what work she can do; nor by her misery and grief when she remembers what she has lost. And she is not overwhelmed by the tremendous good fortune of being her unknown uncle's heir, but immediately makes it a shared blessing among her friends, her new family.

    And she is certainly not overwhelmed by Rochester's injuries and losses, but focuses solely on nurturing him back to himself, and setting his feet toward the future they can finally have together.

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  27. I think St. John Rivers is a counter-point to Edward Rochester. From the world's perspective Sinjin is a remarkably good man, who desires to serve God as a missionary and steals himself away from the love and companionship that make life worth the living.

    For my money, Sinjin is suspect. He is ambitious to live a life of spiritual accomplishment. It is a very difficult thing, aspiring to be the humblest person in the room. Good luck to him. But it is his treatment toward Jane that raised my ire. He presumes to instruct her in languages that will be useful in the future. He believes she will make a good wife for a missionary, able to work hard and suffer deprivation and isolation, and he is so very good as to engage her with his proposition of marriage. How would Rochester react to someone treating Jane in this way? He'd take a cane to him, or shoot the fool on the spot. Well, however tempting this good man's proposal was, she had the good sense to return herself to Thornfeld. (And I think she only turned it over because Sinjin was rather compelling with his arguments on the divine hand of providence, leaving her to ponder what it was that God would have her do). Her returning was a remarkable decision in itself, for she had left Edward there, and a governess returning to the home of a man that she had nearly married? But she did, and I am glad she did. I suppose without Sinjin and his marriage proposal, such as it was, there would be no back and forth for Jane, and I am glad she struggled somewhat as well, thus our two interests ended up coming together on more equal footing.

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  28. Wow, I just read you comment on Jane not allowing herself to be overwhelmed by circumstance as a consistent theme for her throughout the story - and you know, I am inclined to think you are in the right of it.

    Very nicely said, Cathy.

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  29. "great satisfaction" -- exactly.

    I won't go so far as to say I want to watch the whole thing over again (right now, that is), but it is lovely to sort of wallow in it a bit.

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  30. "And she is certainly not overwhelmed by Rochester's injuries and losses, but focuses solely on nurturing him back to himself, and setting his feet toward the future they can finally have together."

    I just loved that ending. Jane describing the setting of the creeks edge, Edward lost in thought about what Jane has told him and what it means. She tortures him a bit there, and well deserved, but she most certainly loves him, and waits for him to declare himself, which he does.

    "Jane, I want a wife. And if I can't have that than I'd rather not live at all."

    And the very romantic and warm embrace, and the camera moves over to the stream, and we are swept forward three years to the home and family that Jane and Edward have created together. I felt great satisfaction and happiness in seeing them all.

    Very nice indeed.

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  31. Oh, weird -- the Comments got rearranged!

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  32. I think there is someone at the front door, leaving a comment or something on that Hutaree post.

    Hey, we're way in the back down here, talking about Jane Eyre. It's fun! Come join us!!

    I'd like to get the soundtrack to the show, if it is available.

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  33. I don't think she heard me.

    Oh, the comment thing. Yes, I get to edit mine, so if I think something needs a little sprucing...

    But I can't put it back where it was. And I can delete yours, but I can't move yours.

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  34. They keep loading the front page. What are they looking at up there? All the fun is down here!

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  35. Oh, the comment thing. Yes, I get to edit mine, so if I think something needs a little sprucing...

    It must be very nice, being able to un-say something, after hitting "send"! *sigh*

    I like that you are so much more aware of the music in these things than I am -- I know it affects me, influences how I feel during a scene, but I'd like to develop more awareness of it.

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  36. Mostly its typos and failed capitalizations..me being a little lazy in the first place and then wanting it to look right on second glance.

    The music...well, this show was unusually good with its use of music to fill in the story and set the stage for the next dialogue. Take the final scene of the first half, with Jane getting into her carriage after hearing how much Rochester wanted her to stay there with him... as governess to Adele ... and from the carriage window she sees Rochester on horseback and the score soars, and he is joined by Blanche Ingram and sadness fills in, and finally the perspective pulls back to a view of all of the above from one of the North Tower windows, and it becomes rather eery. There is a lot going on in this story, with each character and between the various characters, and the music really helped convey this to us, the unsuspecting audience.

    But you add a great deal to my understanding and enjoyment of it all. I think you are very much right about Jane Eyre not being overwhelmed by her circumstance, and that is a good thing to hold onto. But I keep thinking about her trip to see Aunt Reed as she lay dying. To have heard all those terrible things from her dying mouth, and to still care for her and comfort her, and not be rocked by it, and to be able to move on. That is the hard thing. I don't know how you do that. I'll have to think about it some.

    Thanks for watching this with me.

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  37. This is going to be a tough act to follow.

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  38. Oh, you know what...anything is good. And I still have some thoughts to throw out there.

    I have seen three different portrayals of Edward Rochester of Jane Eyre, and had always seen him played as a gruff, capable, tortured individual at odds with himself. Toby Stephens' version is the first time I have seen him played with humor and imagination. At first I was taken somewhat aback...

    "Is Mr. Rochester making a sort of joke? Good heavens, is he being playful?"

    But as time went on I soon came to dearly love the rich human qualities Mr. Stephens brought to the role. Quite an accomplishment too, to portray a man tortured, yet playful, imaginative, and funny. And a man who loves life and the living of it, while living in a place that he considers a sort of dungeon. I now am happy to claim this as my favorite version. Mr. Stephens was remarkable in it.

    Bravo Mr. Stephens!

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  39. Re movies in general -- We watched The Blind Sid at friends' last night. I actually liked it more than I thought I would (I think I expected it to be a more heavy-handed treatment). Real people*, trying, for the most part, to do the right thing; some humor, some football, a plausible happy ending, and (of course) "our Sandy" was wonderful.

    * I think the scenes set among 'real people' from Michael Oher's youth are essential, but make it not a movie for young kids.

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  40. I didn't pay much attention to that when it came out, for similar reasons I imagine. But I saw it a couple of weeks back and loved it. I have always thought of Sandra Bullock strictly as a comedic actress, but she portrayed a woman with great heart, determination and strength. That was a strong woman in the manner that we love strong women. Reese Witherspoon's June Carter in Walk The Line was another strong woman that we loved. It has nothing to do with punching someone in the face or cussing - I care little for that and think it is crass. But a woman who will totally go to bat for the peoole that she cares about, who will want them to do their best, and will help and encourage them to get there, believing in them through thick and thin...that is a very strong woman, and I have tremendous respect and admiration when those qualities are portrayed well as they were in Sandra Bullock's Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. I sure admire her.

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  41. Oh, I'm glad you liked it!

    I don't know how much of the real Leigh Anne Touhy's manner was captured in Bullock's depiction, and how much was "poetic license", scene by scene, but I was very touched by this woman who would do whatever she could for someone, yet shied away from letting her tenderer feelings show. (Even though, for whatever toughness she showed her famliy, they certainly knew they were loved.)

    And the kid that played Sean Junior was too great!

    I really liked the photos of the Touhys and Michael Oher at the end; seeing that trim little blond who did something so great one bureaucratic step at a time, seeing that happy tidy family that was willing to embrace somebody so different -- proving it was a real story, with a real happy ending. (Or, beginning, sort of.)

    I haven't seen Walk the Line -- better add it to my queue! (I did hear, if I'm not mixing up movies, that the singing was quite good. What did you think?)

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  42. I enjoyed the singing. The back story made the music really come alive, and songs from the fifties that growing up I thought of as quaint, jumped and became edgy when placed in context and seen against the backdrop of what had come before. Jaquin Phoenix is a talent, and I very much felt for J.R. through his portrayal. But it was Reese Witherspoon that made the show, with her strength and commitment, and her belief in John.

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  43. Well, young lady...the world awaits.

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  44. I think the story holds a number of references or parallels to biblical stories. Jane's pronouncement to Rochester on her return from Aunt Reed, that Thornfield was her home, and thanking him for being gracious to her, and her open statement that wherever he was, that was home to her brought to my mind the story of Ruth, which is used in the bible as an example of loving commitment and of God's hand blessing those that trust in him. Rochester's declaration that Jane was loved as he loves his own flesh brought to mind the story of Adam and Eve, and Adams surprise and elation at discovering Eve "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23) and also "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh" (Mark 10:7,8). And of course the major themes of forgiveness and redemption, and of God having a hand in things and turning them to good. Perhaps that was one of the main reasons for Jane's interaction with Sinjin, for he brought those themes to the forground... providence and God's will.

    I should be happy to point out to Sinjin, that if he believes it is God's plan that he marry Jane, he can rest assured that that notion will be either confirmed or rejected on the basis of Jane's reaction. If God truly brought Jane to the far country to marry Sinjin, then God will also place a fellow feeling in Jane's heart. He did not. Rather, He used the episode to make her sensitive to Rochester, and brought her back to him.

    I'm kind of out on a limb here, because it is a novel and I don't really know if that was the author's intention. I would add, I clearly don't know the plans of God, but I truly do believe He has them and will work all things to the good, and to His purpose, as strange as it may sometimes seem.

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  45. From what I do remember (from 35? years ago) I think faith and religion, and the various ways different people express and live their beliefs, were significant elements in the novel. Was religion featured more in any of the other versions of Jane Eyre you've seen?

    I love your observation about St. John Rivers:

    He is ambitious to live a life of spiritual accomplishment. It is a very difficult thing, aspiring to be the humblest person in the room.

    You talk so good!

    Now, from the sublime to the, well, less sublime if not quite ridiculous -- I've got it narrowed down to two suggestions (although there are plenty of other possibilities if neither appeals)--

    Any interest in Fried Green Tomatoes or Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

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  46. Yes, but you know what? You are nice to St. John. You're like Jane in that way. I really don't like him, and it is a losing struggle for me to hide it.

    The bigger stretch for me would be Fried Green Tomatoes, so that's where you should take me.

    Now I am going to be most put-out if you don't march yourself straight back there and give that Darrell a smack on the back of the head. He deserves it, the rascal!

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  47. I don't recall faith, redemption and the working out of our salvation as being major themes in the previous versions of Jane Eyre that I have seen, but I am looking at it differently this time. It may very well have been there, and I just missed it, or didn't have the personal experience to put it into context. And of course this time I have the benefit of thinking about it with friends that are good company.

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  48. These are movies that you like, right? That you want to revisit and talk about, because of something you connected with or had a passion about? I mean, I will watch Fried Green Tomatoes, but I would hope that at least one of us is excited about it. You're excited about it, right?

    ; )

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  49. Oh, I'm so glad you said that! I enjoyed it, but I'd rather watch To Have and Have Not, or The African Queen. Or The Philadelphia Story. You're the one who said "I keep thinking you are going to bring us to the more classically women's movies." (And I can't stand the ones that make me cry.) But if you're rather do something more contemporary, there's The Truman Show or As Good as it Gets. :D

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  50. I think you should watch Walk The Line. I think you're going to love June Carter. I think I am going to pick that when I am up next. But you realize you are well liked, don't you Cathy? Everybody .. e v e r y b o d y.. likes you, and why not? What's not to like? Mary Ann's got nothing on you. You are so much more insightful and interesting and fun, and you care about everybody and how we all feel... it's great, really. You know what we should watch, a Sandra Bullock movie early in her career, with the first (and only) adult role of River Phoenix (a great talent) and a young Dermot Mulroney... okay, I'll pick that after Walk The Line.

    Cathy, anything you like. I'll put it up around Wednesday and we will shoot for watching it next weekend or so.

    Too funny. Good on ya.

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  51. Well, seeing as I am in such good graces at the moment (!), I'll think I'll be totally self-indulgent and opt for The Philadelphia Story. Katherine Hepburn with Jimmy Stewart AND Cary Grant, and a "kid sister" who's a hoot. PLUS a dollop of forgiveness-and-redemption -- I'm starting to feel quite cheery about it!

    And if you don't like it, I'll owe you A Bridge Too Far, or something equally guy-ish. ;)

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  52. Oh no, this is perfect! Something I have noticed on the shelves and wondered about, but have never seen.

    Excellent choice!

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  53. Do we have fun here or what? : )

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  54. I found the flashback-to-present juxtapositions so heart-rending; to come back to a clear awareness of her present after the breakthrough memories of that time in Rochester's arms... And he does truly love: he can't stop kissing her, stroking her hair, drawing her face into his hands; yet offers her a virtuous alternative to the life he craves; offers to live with her as a brother rather than lose this companion to heart and mind.

    Yes, wasn't that dramatically effective. To have moved those scenes back and present them as a flashback, and so we discover the extent of her loss. She did open her door to him...he caressed her and loved her...plead with her ..to his very great disappointment, and hers.

    (Plus, the smooching was pretty hot.)

    This gentleman.... is a gentleman.

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  55. There are a lot of things about this show that I keep thinking about. Rochester was a good man, but with a past that was thrust upon him he could not escape from. And so he had a hard time being honest with people. The quick, poorly considered assumptions most people would make would lead people to believe the worst. The people that were close to him were kept apart from his past, for fear of his being rejected and scorned, for fear of losing their good opinion. And though the loss of the good opinion of most any visitor to Thornfeld Hall could be borne, awkward but not painful, the loss of Jane's good opinion meant a great deal more to him. To loose the understanding of one who understands him so well...when he has spent so much of his life alone...that had to be a risking a great deal.

    Rochester's esteem for Jane I admire...the clarity of it. Thus, though most everyone was sure it was the beautiful Blanche Ingram that Mr. Rochester had set his heart upon, they were utterly wrong. She was a visitor at the house, along with many others, all of whom gave him a pretext to stay and entertain. The man who spent all his time away from the manor which felt to him to be a dungeon, who never stayed more than a couple days at a time, for the first time ever writes to Mrs. Fairfax to tell her that she must prepare to entertain his guests, who will all be staying on for many weeks. He could not bare to Thornfeld. He could not bare to leave Jane, for it was she that he desired. Everyone else saw a poor, plain, smallish woman of no consequence, with no connection or family. He saw an angel of calm, clear, open and trusting conscience, a creative and imaginative person, of great composure and sense, with passion and a heartfelt desire to live life and to appreciate it. She was an improbable match. She was his perfect match. He was amazed at his good fortune. He was aggrieved at his misfortune. And all the while, he was a good man, as men go.

    Small things like walking and talking were a great pleasure to him, and to her as well. He knew how to pull her out, with stories of looking for dragonflies, when they both knew that he really wanted to know how she was, and to share in and give understanding to her hardship. She was well welcome back at Thornfeld, but to reach out and attempt to understand her was a kind and loving thing to do. I appreciate that as well. And yet he still held back, rightly I think.

    But what I think upon the most is Jane's visit to her Aunt Reed, when her Aunt lay dying. The woman had abused and mistreated her, tortured and disowned her, kept hidden from her the only living relation that she had in the world, someone who had been seeking and hoping to find her. What Jane wanted most of all in life was to have a family, to belong. And it had all been dashed by her own aunt, who had no qualms telling her that she hated her. The approach of death did not change the heart of Mrs. Reed, and Jane's visit was just a chance for the aunt to justify herself before Jane. Sick, really. And yet Jane forgave her, and moved on.

    I don't know...

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  56. There is no reason to tell a stranger one's painful past; once that stranger has come to matter at all, there is every reason to wish it away. It is such a universal dilemma -- that fear of losing the good opinion of one held in regard; the affection, of one held dear -- "the understanding of one who understands him so well." It was madness to think Jane would never learn the truth, but I can understand Rochester's desperate longing to seize some happiness and worry about the cost later.

    I really like your insights on Rochester's "holding back", never pressing Jane about her own painful history. She could tell her stories in her own time, and she would know that any response he made came out of care and understanding, rather than pity.

    Do you know, it never occurred to me that the house-party was a cover for keeping close to Jane. (I console myself that you are reading the novel, also...) And it certainly makes Rochester's harsh responses to her comments about his marrying Blanche make a great deal more sense, if Blanche was not who he had on his mind!

    I find Jane's calm forgiveness of Mrs. Reed hard to comprehend, too. Maybe it was because Jane had, even as governess, found a home where she knew she was held in affection and esteem; maybe because she knew that she would not have met Rochester if it hadn't been for Mrs. Reed's continued revenge; maybe because she had come to terms long ago with the woman's true nature, and was able to see what not forgiving had done to her.

    But Jane does a lot of forgiving; as the heroine, I suppose Jane is intended to model the ideal. Her example is extremely challenging, but I think that may have been a significant issue for Bronte. I don't know whether it was a popular literary theme of the time, or more a matter of their own family history, but I doubt it's just a coincidence that revenge is a major part of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Her protagonist's psyche is so twisted by his bitterness over a harsh childhood and tragic love, that he comes up with a revenge that requires a full generation to effect. I guess I'll have to look up Anne Bronte's novels, and see what she made of the whole forgiveness/vengeance dichotomy.

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  57. Ah, I see you have found my comment. : )

    "I really like your insights on Rochester's "holding back", never pressing Jane about her own painful history. She could tell her stories in her own time, and she would know that any response he made came out of care and understanding, rather than pity."

    It is as though he has an understanding of who she is, and he invites her to share and to unburden herself, he offers to understand her, and the sharing may indeed cause him to understand partly how she came to be who she is, but his high regard for her is not changed by it. There is a security and wholeness in such friendships.

    "if Blanche was not who he had on his mind"

    Blanche was not who he had on his mind.

    Blanche was there from his perspective partly to provide an excuse for staying in Thornfeld, and partly to help him discern what his own future might hold. He did not trust that he could come riding home one day and find Jane just standing there on the roadway. He did not trust his own judgment when his affections were involved. He understood Blanche perfectly. He employed her much as he had used the gypsy woman. How else could he distinguish what the calm and serene Jane really felt towards him. His wealth had been a cause for others to take advantage of him, and the notion that it made him more attractive is a sort of joke, for those people that were allured by it had no real care for him. For Blanche's part, she was hoping to use him to secure her financial future. In turn he used her to help discern his own future. It may have been wrong, and Blanche may have ended up disappointed, but her heart was never in jeopardy. I think he was always an insightful, creative, dynamic person, whose wealth had isolated him, never more so than in his marriage to Bertha. Had he not been a wealthy man, would Mason have ever endeavored to marry his sister to him? Had he not found her attractive, would he ever have fallen victim to the scheme practiced upon him? In the end, those things most people would have found to be good fortune, ended up leading Edward to a very lonely life, and I was sorry for it.

    Jane was so different. And I loved the scene where Sophie is helping her with her wedding dress, and as she walks toward the door Sophie pleads with her to wait a moment. "Regardez vous, mademoiselle!" (Look at yourself, Miss!) "Tres belle, Madam" (Very beautiful, Ma'am). And so right too. See the person that your husband sees... very beautiful.


    Did you see that there is a recent version of Wuthering Heights available on Netflix, with Charlotte Riley and Thomas Hardy? It looks pretty good, Cathy!
    : )

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  58. I continue the delightful read which is Jane Eyre, and have been enjoying it immensely. I can hardly read it without hearing the characters and music of this production, which is striking because this production was so far different than earlier versions I have seen.

    I find Mr. Rochester has at last been played very well and true to Ms. Bronte's idea of him. His humor is unmistakable, as is his confidence and authority. Certainly Ms. Bronte does not characterize him as a handsome man, as men are thought of in some circles as handsome, but I do believe her point in the description was that Jane was not put off or uncomfortable by his looks. She was not as it were intimidated into thinking she would be completely forgettable before him, and that lead then to their easy and private camaraderie. He is intelligent and penetrating, and Jane is a sort of refuge for him in that she is his intellectual equal. For her part he is fascinating and of great interest to her right away, and a welcome relief to what had become a safe, secure and somewhat tedious existence at Thornfeld. Mr. Rochester is a very interesting character. I look forward to making his better acquaintance.

    I find I am not yet done with this excellent work, and will leave a word or two about it here from time to time. Please feel welcome whomever may come along to add your own thoughts.

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  59. 'I have a right to get pleasure out of life, and I will get it, cost what it may.'

    'Then you will degenerate still more, sir.'

    'Possibly: yet why should I, if I can get sweet, fresh pleasure? And I may get it as sweet and fresh as the wild honey bee gathers on the moor.'

    'It will sting - it will taste bitter, sir.'

    How do you know? - you never tried it. How very serious - how very solemn you look: and you are as ignorant of the matter as this cameo head. You have no right to preach to me, you neophyte, that have not passed the porch of life, and are absolutely unacquainted with its mysteries.'

    'I only remind you of your own words, sir: you said error brought remorse, and you pronounced remorse the poison of existence.'

    'And who talks of error now. I scarcely think the notion that flitted across my brain was an error. I believe it was inspiration rather than temptation: it was very genial, very soothing - I know that. Here it comes again! It is no devil, I assure you; or if it be, it has put on the robes of an angel of light. I think I must admit so fair a guest when it asks entrance to my heart.'

    'Distrust it, sir; it is not a true angel.'


    From the first conversation of length between Edward Rochester and Jane Eyre in Chapter XIV.

    The dialogue is a delight, and I must say Charlotte Bronte has an excellent gift for giving her male characters thoughts and words that well suite a man. Edward Rochester is easy to identify with, and we do not see him thinking at great length over things that most men simply would not, as some other authors might. At the same time, the character Jane Eyre is gifted with an intelligence and forthrightness that is both appealing and engaging. Her insights into the destruction that is sure to befall those that give themselves over to worldly pursuits is a wisdom beyond her years, and is the best kind of advise, for it is from a committed and non-judgmental ally. Mr. Rochester had good fortune indeed to have Jane Eyre suddenly appear at Thornfeld. She is a strong woman in the best sense of the word.

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  60. Reading through the gypsy scene in the novel was very interesting. I was struck by the fact that this was a very unusual gypsy, for she was uncommonly bright and forceful in her language, and yet Jane was able to challenge her. It wasn't till later that I understood. It was all very well done.

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  61. It is a great scene, isn't it! So easy to visualize everything described in the room, and the atmosphere in general, and the mysterious gypsy, face shadowed and obscured... And the verbal exchange! The puzzles thrown out at Jane, and the gypsy's chuckling acknowledgment of "good" answers. A well-crafted scene, both by the author and by her hero. And Jane reasonably displeased at having been made a game of -- she'll let him know, I suppose, when he's forgiven!

    (I've been to the Reeds' and am back, and the future is looking quite rosy.)

    The dialogue is a delight, and I must say Charlotte Bronte has an excellent gift for giving her male characters thoughts and words that well suite a man.

    I'm glad you mentioned that -- I actually was wondering how "male" Rochester would sound to a male reader. There are times I find his not bothering to make himself pleasant company gets a bit extreme, but for the most part I find his humor and intellect quite enticing, and the sense of his physical strength. I think there's something particularly intriguing about a bit if incongruity. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that I still have the image of Toby Stephens in mind when Jane is not actually describing her Mr. Rochester.) And you know how I get about quips and banter!

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  62. Yes, Bronte's Rochester is gruff at times, certainly, but he does not mean to offend. It suites him, and Jane is not bowled over by it. But I have a fondness for Toby Stephen's portrayal of Rochester, which is with more tenderness and compassion.

    Jane Austin is good company, no one should doubt it. But people like Mr. Darcy are very likely to think and act as Jane Austin might wish her hero to, especially at the end when he is playing a more prominent role in the daily life of Lizzy. This may sound fine, but to the ear of a male reader it leaves one to wonder. No such thing occurs with Charlotte Bronte's Mr. Rochester, who thinks and sounds like a man throughout. He would fit right in on the quarterdeck of one of Patrick O'Brien's English ships of sail.

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  63. The whole experience with the Rivers was a bit trying for me to read through. I know Jane dearly wanted to have a family, to belong, and the sisters Diana and Mary were a great blessing to her, but Sinjin? As 'good' as he was, the man was an absolute trial.

    His note of farewell was perfectly representative, with its closing:

    "Meantime, watch and pray that you enter not into temptation: the spirit, I trust, is willing, but the flesh, I see, is weak. I shall pray for you hourly.

    Yours, St. John "


    He can see her flesh is weak? He trusts her spirit is willing? It's enough to make one's skin crawl. Jane had the legs of it though, responding:

    "'My spirit', I answered mentally, 'is willing to do what is right, and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me.'"

    Well said, Jane! How can you not like this young girl.

    His notion of living a life devoted to God is quite devoid of loving God, and is focused on achieving a great prize in a future life. To set your sights on heaven is a reminder that we do have a great hope in heaven, and it is a stumbling to us to be caught up and bound down by the cares and desires of this world, but all the many things Sinjin forced himself to give up were the things that God placed here for his benefit and enjoyment. It is all a bit of a theological discussion, which this blog thread is not intended for, but suffice it to say that I was disappointed in Mr. Rivers, until I got to the ending. There Charlotte's last lines about him were very encouraging, and a good reminder both of accepting what the Lord would have for us, and of the lasting impression and love she held for her sister Maria, whose heart I believe was represented in the novel in the character of Helen Burns.

    The time in Noth-Midland draws to a close, and Jane returns to Thornfield to see what has become of Mr. Rochester, and at once the novel returns to its animated and engaging flavor. It truly was great fun to read through the last three chapters. The descriptions of Mr. Rochester's actions, his desperate search, his concerns for her well being, his remorse after Jane had left ...it was absolutely soothing.

    In her real life Mr. Heger never did respond to Charlotte's letters, or at least not that we are aware. Charlotte fixed it all in Jane Eyre, and life was as she had hoped it would be. She loved him, and would love him, even if he was burned and scarred, even if he was blind and disfigured. She would be happy to be with him in any circumstance, as long as they were together. A young persons heart, to be sure, and one that was very much appreciated.

    I hope you enjoyed it.

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