View Full Version : Simpering Eyre?

09-06-2005, 05:18 AM
For many years I avoided Jane Eyre like the plague. I guess I didn't think that a book generally regarded as a romance would be my thing. However, it was one of my set books for my literature course this year, so I couldn't put it off any longer and had to read it. I'm so glad I did.

It's a great story with a fantastic plot and memorable characters. The only criticism I have is of the character of Jane herself. I found her at times to be a bit simpering, too girly. It’s probably an indication of the time the novel was written, but I think her fawning after Rochester, even after he treats her so badly, makes Jane less appealing to modern day readers.

I’ve recently read Jean Rhys’ excellent Wide Sargasso Sea, which tells the story from the viewpoint of Rochester’s wife – the original ‘madwoman in the attic’. I found Rhys’ central character to be a lot more interesting than Bronte’s. She’s strong-minded, troubled and certainly doesn’t take any nonsense from Rochester – a fine book and a good companion to Jane Eyre.

I was wondering what other people think – is Jane simpering? Would the story have been improved if she had been a bit more assertive? Interested in your opinions, folks.

10-21-2005, 08:32 PM
I am happy with the character of Jane as Bronte portrayed her. To me Jane seems assertive in her own way. I mean we also have to take into account the time period in which it takes place. Jane's place in society is also ambigous. I mean she's a governess but also one with an expanded mind. She handled the situation with Rochester as best as she could. In fact, she was assertive to be able to fall for him and show her feelings for him in the first place, which many other women perhaps would not have done.

I did enjoy Wide Sargasso Sea....but since the male character is never named, I'd like to keep my Bronte's Rochester seperate from Antoinettes's husband....meh...just me :D

12-21-2005, 06:50 AM
First of all: Congratulations, youīre one of the
few males who read the book! LOL!

Donīt know what makes the male species shy
away from romance novels, it seems as if they
were afraid of losing their manliness in the
process of reading :-)... what they generally
donīt realize is that reading novels such as
these could actually give them some insight
to the female psyche (since the majority of
these writers are women) and help them
being *less* clueless about their partnersī
behaviour! :-))

Is Jane simpering?
Well, that thought has never entered my mind.
You have to consider that she is not really free
to speak her mind, because Rochester is her
employer, but I find her blunt and straight-
forward in times he "pushes her to the edge":

"You examine me, Miss Eyre, do you think me
handsome? - No, sir". You canīt get any more
blunt than that, can you? LOL!

And I love her for saying the following:
"I donīt think, sir, you have a right to
command me, merely because you are older
than I, or because you have seen more of the
world than I have - your claim to superiority
depends on the USE you have made of
your time and experience" -- that is a very
modern approach, in my eyes, very accurate,
indeed! I doubt that any 19th century-woman
in her situation would have *dared* to reply
in that manner!

So, she can be quite outright, but only if he
says or does something she canīt accept.

Later on, her attitute and behaviour towards
him is getting mildlier - that`s what you probably
interpret as "fawning after Rochester" - to me,
that just shows that sheīs in love with him and
sees him through rose-tinted glasses.

I think that most of what she says or does is
okay- except her behaviour upon finding out that
he is a married man trying to commit bigamy -
had I been in her position, I certainly would
have made mincemeat of him in my first rage:
a lie is a lie, *no matter what*!!! I mean, what
is a relationship worth if itīs based on a lie? He
could have told the truth before it was too late...
I do understand his motivs, but his behaviour is
inexcusable nevertheless and he certainly
deserves a good telling-off for it!

Oh dear, Sargasso Sea, is a book *I* am not
willing to read! :-) Saw the movie, with
Nathaniel Parker as Rochester, and was
disgusted with the way my dear Edward is
portrayed! Rochester is no angel, thatīs for
sure, but he is not the drunk, wife-beating,
unfaithful devil as this portrayal wants us to
believe. In case this movie is true to the book,
then I can only say: how dare this stupid woman
Rhys, who was a half-mad drunk herself, dare
to distort the figure of Rochester in this manner!

Miss Eyre.

12-21-2005, 03:38 PM
Ah, it's a pity because Wild Sargasso Sea is a brilliant book.

12-26-2005, 07:51 AM
Hmmm...I always wondered if I was the only one who didn't like Jane as much as everyone else. People worship her, but I have never really warmed to her, because I just cannot see what she saw in Rochester. I mean, where is the appeal in a man who locks his insane wife up in an attic like an animal and then attempts bigamy, and then, failing that, proposes for Jane to become a mistress? I just can't see why she would love him so much...Does anyone have the same thoughts?

03-27-2006, 01:30 AM
Well, Vedrana, maybe you're looking only at the faults of Mr. Rochester. Jane finds him to be unique in his manner and point of view, and to have a good depth of character. He can see what's precious to her, which is not the fancy pretentiousness of the other ladies, but the real gems that can be found in nature, in simple adornments, and in people's personalities.

You raise a good question with the locking up his wife business...I guess I never thought too much about it because in the book, it clearly shows Rochester tried his best to fight off his disgust for her, keeping her in Thornfield instead of to some remote, inhumane place (where he first wanted to send her). In spite of her many faults, Rochester never blamed her, and even when she tried to murder him in his bed (the fire incident) he never raged at her, only dealt with her as best as he could.

Lastly, even when Bertha was atop the burning Thornfield, ready to jump off, he didn't have to go try and rescue her. But he did, despite that fact if she died he could have been so much happier.

So Mr. Rochester does not have a bad heart at all. Maybe locking his wife up was the best solution he could come up with...which might have been a BAD solution, itself.

04-04-2006, 09:45 AM
Jane finds him to be unique in his manner and point of view, and to have a good depth of character.

Rochester doesn't strike me as having much character at all. He is gruff and uncommunicative through much of the book. But I suppose somethings never change no matter what century you live in - the ladies love a bad guy! :D

11-11-2007, 05:05 AM
I dated a guy who was a lot like Mr Rochester... it didn't work out but to be perfectly honest I'm still in love with him and I can really Relate to her now but I couldn't relate before I met my him.. I just thought she was just plain idiotic... I feel kinda dumb for always thinking she was idiotic because I got treated like something he stepped in for 2 1/2 years and I still followed him around like a lost love-sick puppy... so she does now appeal to me more than she previously did.. I don't know if she's simpering though.. I guess 'cause if she is I'd have to say women who let men treat them like crap while still loving them would also be simpering..