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Thread: Jane Eyre vs.

  1. #1
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyWentworth View Post
    That is funny. I find Jane Eyre to be the best novel of all-time. It is my personal favorite and no other novel could come close. Except for Austen's Persuasion perhaps, but even that has a long way to go to reach the same level of greatness as JE. Anyway, having said that, I really do like Wuthering Heights. I was only 12 when I read it. It did have quite an impact on me. Heathcliff is probably the reason that it did, though. His character was so dark and interesting. So, lovers of Jane Eyre can also love Wuthering Heights.
    I agree; "Jane Eyre" is right up there in my favorites list. I have read the book a couple of times by now. I just love it. I do think the two books quite different. Afterall they were written by two different sisters and having sisters I know all too well how differently they can think. I think that Wuthering Heights is a much darker novel and more Gothic than Jane Eyre, yet we do have the dark element of the wife in the attic in JE. I guess coming from the same roots and environment the two sisters thought somewhat similar. I think the main charcters in WH are much darker and enigmatic than the characters in JE. Yes, we all know your devotion to "Persausion, Lady Wenthworth. It is about time to me to watch that film again. I love the book and film so much, too.
    I think Antiquarian was merely pointing out what she observed from others and their opinions on the two novels; not her own opinion.

    You know, you have described my feelings exactly on the book, the reason why I like it. Except that I never liked Catherine. Never will. Other than that, I couldn't have written the post better myself.
    I did like Lady Raven's post about the book and I totally agree with her about the characters - I felt much the same way - wavering back and forth on whether I liked or disliked them both, but conclusively I found they were only human with many flaws and inner struggles, conflicts... this is what made the book so fascinating.


    I know OF it. I tried to find it in the library. Then I looked on Netflix, but to no avail. I knew they sold it on DVD (I put it on my wishlist, in fact). I figured that he would be good at playing the dark, brooding Heathcliff. After all, I thought he was perfect as the dark, brooding Rochester.
    Oh, sorry you could not find it. I think it is hard to locate. I was so lucky to come across that tape at the thrifstore, but then it would not work right on two VCR's, so it must have been defective, although it might have needed to be adjusted to the player - tracking. I think I threw it out, but I might still have it. Anyway, I was determined to find it somewhere on DVD, and I did find it on Amazon. I will look for you, and see if they have it listed. It was worth buying, although the ending is slightly altered - I still very much liked it and loved his performance - his eyes are so mesmerizing. I think he made a fine Heathcliff. Well, now I find I am inspired, to watch the film again, tomorrow night. I can't wait.
    I just went and looked up the film on Amazon. Here is the link -

    http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heig...GB/ref=sr_1_3?
    It stars: Anna Calder-Marshall, Timothy Dalton

    Anna Calder-Marshall starred with Lawrence Olivier in his King Lear film, she played the daughter Lear so cruely and unjustly rejects. She was very good in that film and she is very good in this film, as well.

    Wow, the price is really low right now - under $8 new and sealed. Good luck and hope you get it so we can discuss it further. I received in the mail today a $25 dollar credit on my reward card to spend on Amazon. I am going to have a good time with that this week.
    Last edited by Janine; 05-10-2008 at 02:09 AM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  2. #2
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of Jane Eyre either. It lost me in the disconnect between the gritty realism of the first part of the book with the fairly tale second part.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
    Actually, Janine, I'm not fond of Jane Eyre, and I'm a true Wuthering Heights addict.

    I think Jane Eyre lost me when she "just happens" to find her "long lost" relatives. It was too much for me to take.
    Antiquarian, That is ok that we disagree on Jane Eyre; no problem. We all like various things or see various things in novels to relate to. I can see your point on the second half of the story and 'just happening to find those long lost relatives'. Many people hate the treatment of Bertha as well, and I must say I read the prequel "Wide Saragasso Sea", in which the initial relationship and marriage are explored by a more recent author, this short novel written in answer to Bertha's plight - this made me think more about what poor Bertha was subjected to and how misunderstood she must have been....of course both are pure fiction and came from someone's imagination...still I always have wondered about how Bertha and Rochester really came to be married. After reading the novel to fill in the blanks of the past, I did feel more conscious of her situtation and how Rochester treated her, in the original novel of "Jane Eyre". In my mind, I did always seem to push that aspect of the novel into the back of my mind, because it still miffs me; I always do have this uncomfortable feeling about the wife's rough treatment in being locked away from the world; wondering in truth, if her situtation was ever fair in the least way. I still do love the novel for various other reasons, which are more specific to the text and the crafting of the novel and the characters; and certain things I felt I could relate to. I love to see the film adaptations, but as far as 'realism' is concerned, I do understand your point and Virgil's. But then again, I don't see complete realism in other works of that period, such as the Jane Austen novels; they always end with a wedding; how real is that?
    Last edited by Janine; 05-10-2008 at 03:20 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  4. #4
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
    That was my problem with the book, Virgil. I prefer Villette. I don't hate Jane Eyre, I'm just not a huge fan of the book. Now, I didn't mind her marrying Rochester, it was the way it was accomplished that bothered me.

    Janine, I don't see Jane Austen's books as totally realistic from the very beginning. I like Wide Sargasso Sea, though it was a lot better than Jane Eyre.

    I did vote it was a bookworm's dream because I think a lot of people love it. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't feel so warmly about it afterwards.
    Oh, how funny - you are one of the now 11 voters for the novel, that is right - I had noticed that; but I understand you completely, Antiquarian and I agree. Yes, I enjoyed reading "Wide Sargasso Sea" - although I always spell that title wrong.
    I never read the first book you mentioned "Villette"...so it is really good?
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  5. #5
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
    I liked Vilette, Janine. It's not quite as romantic as Jane Eyre, but I think it's very, very good. Of course, it's been some time since I've read it.
    Antiquarian, is "Vilette" by one of the Bronte sister's, too; is it by Charlotte?

    Antiquarian
    and Lady Wentworth, Did you see my movie review on "Wuthering Heights" with Dalton? I wrote that up last night before I went to bed; that is unless I dreamed I did so. No, just kidding, it should be in the movie thread.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  6. #6
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
    Villette is by Charlotte Bronte, Janine. It's the story of Lucy Snowe, was Charlotte Bronte's last book. George Eliot and Virginia Woolf both believed it to be even better than Jane Eyre. Here's a summary, without spoilers, from the cover:

    With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette (Belgium). There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, a headmistress who spies on her staff, and her own complex feelings - first for the school's English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emmanuel. Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a teacher in Brussels, Charlotte Brontë's last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.
    Thanks for that short synopsis, very helpful and you piqued my interest, especially since you mentioned the word 'autobiographical'. I will have to read that book, as well. It does sound interesting. I think I have seen it in Barnes and Noble before, and wondered about it.


    I did not see your review of "Wuthering Heights." I'll look for it after I eat dinner.
    Sure, take your time; it is in the movie thread. Enjoy your dinner.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  7. #7
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    In the fictional worlds of Charlotte and Emily Brontë, one of the few ways that women who otherwise have very little say in their lives are able to express dissatisfaction is through self-starvation and illness. It is noteworthy that in their own lives the Bronte sisters exhibited many eccentric habits in regards to eating, and both Charlotte and (especially) Emily engaged in self-starvation similar to the strategies used by the characters in their novels.
    Anorexia is a general term that describes the decline of appetite or aversion to food, though it is most commonly used to refer to self-starvation. Anorexia was not new during the time of the Brontës. Although eating disorders are often thought of as being a modern day phenomenon, it is in fact only widespread diagnosis that is a recent occurrence. Those who had no other means to wield power, other than in terms of individual self-control, have long used starvation and fasting as a means of exerting control over an environment in which they felt powerless.
    In his book, Holy Anorexia, Rudolph Bell sites a case of anorexia in a 20 year old girl from as early as 1686 (3). In fact, eating disorders were fairly common in the time leading up to the Brontë's era, although the motivations behind them were often quite dissimilar. Today, young women are often driven to starve themselves because, "they must conform to an impossible, media-driven standard of beauty which holds that 'you can never be too thin.'" (Orenstein 94) In the 18th and 19th century, however, thinness was not an ideal to strive towards, and the psychology behind fasting and starvation was oftentimes more complicated.
    During the Brontë's era, it was considered uncouth for women to allow themselves to be seen eating, but the ideal body type for a woman was plump. Therefore, fasting had little to do with cultural expectations for physical appearance. Instead, fasting was a means towards spiritual or religious enlightenment. Between 1206 and 1934 there were 261 documented cases of women starving themselves for religious reasons. Along with starvation, it was common to inflict severe punishment upon their bodies, and refuse all offers of marriage. It was not rare for women who died of anorexia to be canonized as saints (Bemporad 2).
    Purely religious reasons were not always behind a woman's fasting--it was often used as a means to exert control by women who were essentially powerless in their societies. Bemporad sites one of these cases which took place in the Dark Ages; a young woman who was betrothed by her father against her wishes, starves herself until she becomes so unattractive that her suitor refuses to marry her (3). This theme occurs in literature about the 19th century as well; in a popular young adult novel set in 1899, the heroine starves herself to the brink of death after being forced into an engagement that she finds unbearable (Terris).
    Within the novels of Emily and Charlotte Brontë, one can find many themes of starvation, power and control, and similar themes in their lives-especially that of Emily. The entire Brontë family seemed to have peculiar habits in regards to food, all of the children were "picky" eaters; Aunt Branwell and their father, Patrick Brontë, would not eat with the children, they dined alone in their separate, respective rooms (Frank 42). According to her friend Ellen Nussey, while at Roe Head, Charlotte refused to eat meat and had special meals prepared for her (Frank 77). At the same time, Emily was becoming more and more withdrawn, and speaking and eating less and less. Within three months she had starved herself to such a point that Charlotte feared she would die, and Emily was quickly sent home (Gordan 50).
    After Emily was allowed to leave Roe Head, her health quickly improved, and she seemed to imbibe a powerful lesson that her sisters did not ignore. It seemed that Emily had finally discovered a means of power, one that she could use to manipulate the world with, and wield to get her way. Only two months later, when Charlotte was home for the Christmas holidays, the sisters had a chance to test this power further. The Brontë household servant Tabby had broken her leg and was to be sent away to recover at her sister's cottage. Emily, Charlotte and Anne protested, but were ignored. They initiated a hunger strike that only lasted 24 hours before their Aunt and father gave in, and allowed Tabby to be nursed at Haworth. In A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Brontë Frank wrote:
    Where words had failed, fasting carried the day--an important lesson that Emily, who may have been the one to propose the strike, well knew. It was a lesson which was simplicity itself. One need never be entirely powerless and devoid of control. If worse comes to worse, one could simply refuse to eat. (110)
    Approximately a year later, Anne withdrew at Charlotte's insistence from Roe Head due to illness (Gordon 50). Charlotte herself, although a teacher in the school, did not last much longer. Before the winter break in 1837, Charlotte decided to leave Roe Head, but then allowed herself to be talked into continuing her teaching position there by the headmistress, Miss Wooler. Although she had been unable to protest further in the face of Miss Wooler's insistence, Charlotte allowed her body to do the talking for her. She sunk into a deep depression and ceased eating. In May she collapsed and was sent home (Gordon 68). It seemed that the Brontë sisters had developed a pattern-when they felt powerless to extract themselves from a situation that they found intolerable, they allowed illness and starvation to force their removal.
    Emily continued the trend she had started among the her sisters-while a teacher at Law Hill she starved herself for months until (it was assumed) she was asked to leave (Gordon 67). Although she wanted nothing more than to remain at home in Haworth, Emily was once again dispatched, in 1842, to Brussels with Charlotte. There she engaged in another bout of protracted starvation, which ended once she was called home in November (Frank 172). Charlotte returned to Brussels alone for the next term. There she experienced a near-breakdown that she related in a number of autobiographical passages of Villette. Alone, unable to sleep, she lost "all power and inclination to swallow a meal (C. Brontë 229)." In writing home to Emily she fantasized of being in the kitchen with her sister, helping her prepare the meals (Frank 192). In January of 1844 Charlotte returned home, and soon after the three sisters began working on their novels.
    It seems that Emily and Charlotte, and to a lesser extent, Anne, had found a way to exercise a power that as middle-class women in the 19th century they would have otherwise not have had. Rather than quitting a situation that she found unendurable (as Emily seemed to find all employment) she would starve herself until near death-until she was physically unable to remain at the employ that she so hated. Charlotte must have taken the cues from Emily, for she too felt powerless over her employment situations, and appeared to choose illness as a way to escape.
    As in their lives, eating and starvation was a theme in many of the books by Charlotte and Emily Brontë. One of the themes of Jane Eyre is passionate hunger, though Jane's hunger was not self-imposed, it was always forced on her. One of the most powerful scenes of hunger in any novel of the period can be found when Jane flees Rochester and wanders destitute, begging farmers for their pig's slop (C. Brontë 369)
    A more familiar illustration of hunger-one that was self-imposed-is found in Shirley. The morning after finding out (incorrectly) that her best friend is to wed the man that she, Caroline, loves, she catches a mysterious fever, which robs her of appetite. Having found no other way of gaining Robert Moore's affection, Caroline starves herself in what can be seen as a last desperate grasp for Moore's attention, and if not that, then death. On her deathbed Caroline finds out that Mrs. Pryor is her mother, and this gives her incentive to live. Within minutes of this discovery, Caroline regains her appetite and requests that supper be brought to her (C. Brontë 417). The circumstances of Caroline's illness indicate that there was possibly no fever at all. It seems that as with Charlotte and Emily themselves, Caroline's ailment was self-induced and consisted primarily of fasting.
    Just as Emily's starvation was more pronounced and apparent in her own life-so was it in her novel. Wuthering Heights seems to revolve around food. Much of the plot, especially at Wuthering Heights takes place in the kitchen. When Catherine is challenged by her husband to choose between him and Heathcliff, she refuses, and ceases eating for days. Deliriously, Catherine, who was dying of starvation herself, remembers finding in childhood a nest filled with the skeletons of baby birds who had died of starvation. Although she consents to have dinner a few days later, she is already so ill that she never fully recovers, and months later dies within hours of giving birth to her daughter. As time passes, Heathcliff eventually starts restricting his diet more and more until he is eating only one meal a day. Soon he limits himself to no food whatsoever. While starving and talking to Catherine's ghost, one cannot help but think of the saints of the Dark Ages who starved themselves with the aspiration of communicating with God. Heathcliff soon dies of starvation, in the hopes of joining Catherine in eternity.
    Charlotte and Emily Brontë used fasting as a way to express their independence at a time when few other avenues were available, but in a way that still fell within the bounds of the acceptable. When they were unable to speak out against an employment situation, they allowed their wasting bodies to do the talking for them, and their heroines were permitted to sink into starvation-induced illness. Not long after finishing Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë died of consumption, which was surely exacerbated by her many bouts of anorexia. Her coffin-maker had to construct the narrowest coffin he had ever made for an adult; it measured only sixteen inches across (Vine).

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