[LMB] OT: Jane Eyre
jamesandmary.burbidge at sympatico.ca
20 Nov 2003 22:08:09 -0500
On Thu, 2003-11-20 at 20:49, Marty L. Adkins wrote:
> To the learned gentleman who referred to _Jane Eyre_ as the:
> >self-indulgent spiritual ancestor of the Harlequin romance
> could you explain in what sense this is meant? Where you say
> "self-indulgent", I might say "Mary Sue." Admittedly, the book is as Mary
> Sue as all get-out, with the poor, plain minister's daughter being sought
> after by multiple desirable mates.
> Still, what I remember it for [and why it's still one of my favorites], is
> that, in a time and place where women were not encouraged to have a voice
> at all, it is a particularly strong voice for independence, self-respect,
> and self-reliance.
> Remember the farewell scene with Rochester after the mad-wife debacle? He
> eloquently tries to persuade Jane to run away with him, offering love,
> riches, passion, companionship, everything she could desire, except the
> sanction of God. His final argument: "Who will know?" And her reply, "*I*
> will know."
On the other hand, "Reader, I married him" has to be one of the
stupidest decisions in all of literature.
In a nutshell: where Austen or Fielding or Sterne (or...) nudge the
reader into a critical approach to all the characters, including the
viewpoint character by continually inviting the reader to pass judgment
and by keeping the authorial - versus - narratorial tensions alive,
Bronte encourages the reader to identify with the narrator without
judging, rather than maintaining a degree of detachment.
It is this aspect of _Jane Eyre_, the "directed" reader experience,
which makes it Harlequin-like, in contrast to the classical novel.
Oh, and I really couldn't stand _Villette_, what with all of the