"Dear Reader, I married him."

18th November 2010

Now don’t get excited. I’m not married – or getting married (at least any time soon). The title is one of my favorite lines from Jane Eyre. A little backstory here: I read Jane Eyre for the first time in 4th grade when I had no clue how to pronounce the word rendezvous, but I completely fell in love with this novel. Over the years, I read and re-read it, along the way linking the pronunciation ron-day-voo with the word rendezvous. I am almost embarrassed to say I have read this novel over a dozen times. In the last few years, I just go back to my favorite passages. I have six copies of Jane Eyre, and I am always, always on the lookout for more interesting editions.

I still remember in high school a Channel One (high school news program) commercial break where they previewed Jane Eyre the movie (from the 90s). I was ecstatic; unfortunately, the movie was not everything I had hoped it would be. Honestly, I haven’t seen a single version I have really approved of and enjoyed. So imagine my joy on seeing a trailer for a new vision of Jane and Mr. Rochester – one that looks quite beautiful:

And I have to wait until MARCH!!! I may even be more excited about this than HP7 – different kind of excited, but still…

Much to my delight, it seems Jane Eyre‘s allure has spread like wildfire across the blogosphere lately. Raych at books i done read had a great series with intertextual comparisons here (with The Crimson Petal and the White) and here (with Rebecca) and here (with Wide Sargasso Sea). The gal might love Jane nearly as much as I do. Simon had his say wherein he says he didn’t hold high hopes for Jane Eyre after reading her sister’s ugh, yuck, gah novel Wuthering Heights. [Sorry for those of you who love it.] Fortunately, Simon and I can still be blogging friends, as he loved Jane’s story.  Then Iris fell in love with Jane Eyre as well. Here she discusses prejudice in Jane Eyre and debates Bertha’s treatment in the novel, and several commenters popped in to say they liked Mr. Rochester less after reading Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys’s supposed prequel to Jane Eyre. [ For those interested in Wide Sargasso Sea, I read it last summer (before I was blogging). It tells the story of Bertha, or Antoinette as she is known in Wide Sargasso Sea. The novel depicts Antoinette’s descent into madness, and the book can be a difficult read because of that. However, it’s short and gives insight as to why Mr. Rochester locks Bertha away.]

Particularly since there are so many posts out there at the moment, I will leave you quite simply with why this novel has dragged me back into its pages year after year, time after time: It is a true love story – and not just in a romantic sense. It is painful, heart-wrenching really, and hopeful. I cry ugly tears when Jane thinks she hears Mr. Rochester’s voice, knowing it cannot be. I cry when I see how Rochester changes, how he realizes what he has done to himself, Bertha, and Jane. Jane Eyre is about ordinary people who find small moments of the extraordinary within their lives. When Helen, Jane’s young friend at Lowood, dies of consumption, the scene with Helen’s arms wrapped around Jane, comforting her even as Helen lies dying, is majestic. It is these moments in which Bronte works her magic, luring me yet again to the dog-eared pages of the 50 cent copy of the novel I’ve had since 6th grade.

Perhaps a readalong is in order; strike while the iron’s hot and all that. It would be a perfect companion to the approach of the film. Let me know in comments if you’d be at all interested.

  • A read-along! Um, not sure if it is okay to read Jane Eyre for a third time in one year, but if I don’t I will at the least be very happy to read everyone’s thoughts!

    In a way I am so sorry that I am not from an English speaking country, which means I was less likely to pick up all these books that are considered classic at an early age. Not that that is a foolproof excuse.. I don’t know, I always wonder what my reaction to these books would have been when I was younger, and that goes as well for all the children’s books that I missed out on, like Narnia, like Ballet Shoes, like the Secret Garden.. So in short: I admire those who have read Jane Eyre at an early age!

    I am looking forward to the new Jane Eyre movie. There is one thing that bothers me and that is the dramatic of the horse-scene?

    And I cannot believe that I did not read your blog regularly before, you’re now added to my reader.

    • Iris! So glad you stopped by. It is so funny you mention the horse scene. I thought the same exact thing, but it seems they are really pushing the “eerie” factor.

      If we do a readalong in 2011, you’ll be reading it for the first time in the new year. 🙂

      I have meant to comment on both your posts and will be by today. I enjoyed reading them and the comments.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • I re-read Jane Eyre after about a 13-year separation las year and it was magnificent. I too hate Wuthering Heights so I wasn’t sure if I would get the allure of Jane Eyre, but I did (although I admit that I find Rochester kind of creepy early on in the novel). I’m definitely looking forward to this film; it looks like it captures the atmosphere of the novel perfectly!

    • Rochester IS kind of creepy. I think it’s because he is so petrified of his secret coming out that he doesn’t really know how to act like a “normal” man. And, then again, he loves Jane, his ward’s governess. So, yes, creepy – at first – but at the same time, I cannot help but be magnetized by him. Iris has a post up today about her mixed feelings for him, and I agree with her conclusion – he sees Jane as an equal. Even when I was young, I recognized and loved that.

      ‘Magnificent’ is a great word for it.

  • I am on tenterhooks vis a vis this movie. It looks so GOTHIC and AWESOME. Plus, they made Mia Watsitinwonderland look super-plain, and she is a pretty girl. So, good work, costuming.

    • It does look fantastic. And good work indeed. Plain I can handle. A couple film Janes have been difficult to see on screen. Rochester also seems to be a good fit. So excited.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • I read Jane Eyre in 10th grade, but I hated it; however, my tastes in literature have vastly changed since then. I also think that I convinced myself I hated it since everyone else in the class hated it too… you know the whole high school peer pressure to fit in thing. I would love to try reading it again… let me know about this so called read-along. Sounds like fun!

    • Ooh yea! One for a readalong. I’d love to see if your perspective has changed. Unfortunately, high school isn’t always the best place for some classics. You are right that the class can sort of ruin a book. Animal Farm was that book for me.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • I loved Jane Eyre when I read it years and years ago — I would love to do a readalong! I’ve been really enjoying the classics lately. I just finished Ethan Frome earlier this week and loved it, and I’ve been reading Du Maurier’s short stories lately and loving them — reading classics twenty years ago is totally different now. I’d love to do a readalong for Jane Eyre!

  • just me

    I have always loved Jane Eyre, and did my term paper in 9th grade english on the Bronte sisters. They published under male names as women were not publishing under their real names. I loved Wuthering Heights, and found it much more passionate than Jane Eyre. I also could not help myself wanting to slap some sense into Jane for running away from Mr. Rochester.

    Jane was already a rebel in many ways, as illustrated by her advertising for work, being a young woman alone in the world. She rebelled against the treatment she received by her Aunt, and was promptly sent to school. Even her friend at school commented on her “wildness”.

    I think Charlotte Bronte would have thrown caution to the wind, and written a much different novel had the times not dictated otherwise.

    Great blog you have here.

    • Perhaps, but you certainly can’t change the times she wrote in. Thanks so much for dropping by and for your comment.

      I can see why you would say Wuthering Heights is more passionate – as it is so obviously passionate; practically every cover has windswept hair and silhouettes of Heathcliff. It’s the quiet passion, the gradually-building passion I find so attractive in Jane Eyre. It’s a harder novel to love, but love it I do.

  • just me

    I have to see that movie! I enjoyed the version with Timothy Dalton, and found it very true to the book. But, I gotta see this one, for sure!

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  • Patti Persia

    My very favorite book of all time and my favorite line in a book ever!

    • Agreed. 100% – no matter how many times I’ve read it, that line still makes my knees a bit weak.