View Full Version : First impressions

06-30-2012, 08:48 PM
I have just started reading this again. My class studied it at school for O level about thirty years ago, but I don't think I actually read much of it. I think I read some study notes instead. Still got a C.

My first impressions after reading the first couple of chapters:

The preface is amusing. Charlotte starts by thanking her readers, admiring critics and publishers. Then she goes on a tirade against her detractors, particularly those she thought were being sanctimonious and pious. She finishes the preface by praising William Thackeray as if she were a teenage girl.

The first chapter made me feel uncomfortable, reminding me how I used to bully my brother. At least I didn't kill birds.

I thought Jane comparing her cousin to a Roman emperor was a strange insult. I seem to remember our English teacher commenting on that.

I was amused by her cousin's use of the expression, 'Where the dickens is she?' The first edition was published in 1947, at which point I suppose Dickens was half way through his career.

I came across two words I didn't know: captious and bourne. Captious is a good word. It means 'tending to find fault or raise petty objections'. Bourne means destination, goal or boundary.

07-03-2012, 07:24 AM
Apparently the phrase "Where the dickens" has nothing to do with Charles Dickens. Dickens is another word for devil.


07-03-2012, 12:10 PM
'Where the deuce is he' is another possibility. I think 'deuce' must be another of those synonyms.

Maybe it is also worth noting that Charlotte Brontė thought that Dickens wrote like a 'boarding school miss' (she said this about some other writers of the time too, but not Thackeray, because he was one of her favourites, indeed she dedicated Jane Eyre to him, I think).

Maybe the expression has a double meaning :D

Are you following me around or something?

Seriously, I will learn a lot from following your reading. :banana:

07-03-2012, 01:20 PM
Maybe it is also worth noting that Charlotte Brontė thought that Dickens wrote like a 'boarding school miss' (she said this about some other writers of the time too, but not Thackeray, because he was one of her favourites, indeed she dedicated Jane Eyre to him, I think).

I am surprised Charlotte Brontė didn't like Dickens. I was just thinking that Jane Eyre seemed like a female version of one of Dickens' protagonists, although Jane seems much more rebellious and spiky (than Pip for instance).

I have heard several times Emily Brontė had some harsh things to say about Jane Austen's work, so maybe that sharp tongue ran in the family. Or it could be Dickens never found time to positively review Charlotte Brontė's work. Thackeray wrote about reading Jane Eyre that he was 'exceedingly moved & pleased' and that 'It interested me so much that I have lost (or won if you like) a whole day in reading it at the busiest period, with the printers I know waiting for copy.' Charlotte Brontė's dedication to Thackery was made in the second edition.

08-11-2012, 07:54 AM
Just finished it. I have to say it didn't really do it for me, but I think I am the wrong gender. Still, it had some good bits. It had some very strong characterization. Charlotte Bronte managed to get into the heads of two very different, intelligent, forceful men. Jane Eyre as a narrator has a distinctive personality. I wondered if really, Jane Eyre was Charlotte Bronte, or whether the author had made up a heroine who really was different to herself. If Jane Eyre was Charlotte Bronte then I sometimes felt the book was a bit of wish-fulfillment and slightly vain. Rochester constantly babbles on how much he needs her, while St John prizes her for her other qualities. However if Charlotte Bronte was basing Jane Eyre on herself, she exposed more of herself than I would have felt comfortable doing. Sometimes Jane used to voice opinions that seemed to be the author's, which makes me think the author was Jane. If Jane Eyre was not Charlotte Bronte however, then I thought she was a clever bit of characterization, because I didn't find her entirely likable. I am glad Jane got her man anyway.

The book is probably the most Christian out of all the 19th century literature that I have read. John Brown's School Days was very Christian, sometimes ridiculously so. Pride & Prejudice was not explicitly so. I suppose Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim was, but not The Secret Agent or Heart of Darkness. In Great Expectations Christianity was assumed but not explicit, while Tess of the d'Urbervilles questioned it all the way through. I preferred Bronte's religious sentiments to Hardy's.

That's another one off the list, and unfinished business from my O levels. If I had read it all the way through as a fifteen-year-old, I think the lessons I would have drawn from it regarding women would be:

be forceful
be needy
be flattering

10-04-2012, 02:43 PM
Regarding William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Brontė and Charles Dickens: Thackeray and Brontė may have admired each other, but it seems neither of them rated Dickens. According to a pull out section in The Times a couple of days ago, "Dickens had a series of feuds during his professional life with a fellow novelist, public-school educated William Makepeace Thackeray. Class was as much at the root of their quarrels as professional rivalry."