2008/06/03

Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre

I think Jane Eyre is one of the most well-known novel in Hungary as well. It's interesting that one of the Hungarian editions was renamed The orphan of Lowood maybe after the German version of it. I was quite surprised when realised this is not the original title of the book.
I've read it so many times that maybe I can cite many of its parts by heart. The whole story is written first person singular, Jane writes it ten years after the happy ending.

The novel has numerous adaptations, silent and sound film versions. I've only watched the 1996 adaptation, dicerted by Franco Zefirelli. I like William Hurt in it but I would like to watch the 1983 BBC mini-serie starring Timothy Dalton:)

Synopsis

"Jane Eyre is one of the great romantic heroines of world literature.

Orphaned into cold charity at the hands of her rich cousins and, later, at Lowood Asylum, Jane escapes to take up a position as governess to the young ward of Mr Rochester. Their love affair, Jane's discovery of Rochester's secret - hideously concealed in the attic of Thornfield Hall - and her desperate flight, are told in a drama of passionate intensity whose pace never slackens.

Jane Eyre is a love story with a happy ending, rare in its time for its sympathetic portrayal of the love of a married man for another woman. It is, as Thackeray said, 'The masterwork of a great genius'."


Jane Eyre, orphaned as a baby, lives with her aunt and cousins in Gateshead. She is a real outsider in the family and her aunt decides to send Jane to Lowood, a charity school for girls, run by the hypocritical and mean Mr. Brocklehurst.

After eight years in the school (six years as student and two as teacher) she finds a post of governess of a single child in Thornfield. She lives there the simple life of the governess until the owner of the house, Mr. Rochester, comes home after many years of travelling abroad. Jane shortly falls in love with the a unsociable and strange man who pays attention to a lady in the same social club and he doesn't seem to interested in Jane.

At last it turns out that Mr. Rochester requite her love and the two end up engaged. But this is not the end of the story. They just stand at the altar when a strange man announces there’s an impediment to the marriage: Rochester is already married to another woman. Rochester admit the truth: he's married and his wife lives in Thornfield but she's dangerously insane and she's locked in a room with her keeper.

Hearing the whole story, Jane runs away to no purpose. Fortunately she meets the friendly Rivers family and find a new job as schoolmistress for poor children.

At the end of these intrigues Jane inherites Ł 20,000 from her uncle, declines the offer of marriage of St. John Eyre Rivers (her host and also her cousin) and goes back to find Mr. Rochester. She discovers that Thorfield is only a burned wreck and the beloved man lost his eyesight in one eye and one of his hands is paralysed.

But Jane finally finds her way: material independence and a blissful life with her love.

My favourite part:

“It is a long way,” I again said.

“It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane: that’s morally certain. I never go over to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for the country. We have been good friends, Jane; have we not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to spend the little time that remains to them close to each other. Come! we’ll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly half-an-hour or so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in heaven yonder: here is the chestnut tree: here is the bench at its old roots. Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, though we should never more be destined to sit there together.” He seated me and himself.

“It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels: but if I can’t do better, how is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?”
I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was still.

“Because,” he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you — especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, — you’d forget me.”


If you want to download the free unabridged version you can click here.

Because of the replacing of the blog these comments would have lost so I placed them here:

hopeinbrazil said...

I, too, have read and re-read Jane Eyre and have my favorite passages. The one you have here is one of the best. My other favorite is when Jane talks about looking at Rochester across the room as a thirsty man drinks water, even knowing it is poisoned. (middle of chapter 17) Poignant and dramatic!
05 June 2008 17:25

mithrile said...

Thank you for your comment.

Yes, that part is also a good one.
Most of the time Jane Eyre dramatic enough, I think it is because she is really hot-tempered and she hides her real feelings behind this dramatic attitude.

I found your blog and , I think I will read some of your reviews.

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