This is just for me to have – notes made while watching the Jane Eyre lectures. May not make much sense to anyone else.
Bildungsroman – novel of formation/coming of age/finding your way.
Social outlets for women? Where can they develop themselves? Only way to find fulfilment for a woman is through love. i.e. “Reader I married him.”
C19th marriage is be all, it is a success for women.
Woman waits. Man adventures. Female = passive. Agency is given to the male.
Forking path – move through different circuits/paths. Through time as well as space?
What path is our life? This is how we bacame who we are.
Published 1847. language is polished, but dated?
Bronte’s prose is slow, long, thick. But it evokes, it grows.
Description of Brocklehusrt as the wolf from Red Riding Hood. – Bronte uses other forms of literature inc fairytale to evoke feelings and atmosphere in her novel
And earlier the phallic description – Freudian? So her language is not entirely docile. It contains more than a casual reader might think.
How does a person evolve?
Jane believes you must strike back when you are struck at. – oppose evil.
But a belief that caused great disturbance at the time it was written.
Importance of social class and status. Jane is Rochester’s employee as well as his social inferior.
As well as being the story of Jane’s success this is a story of abuse. How much abuse stays with Jane through the book. Her childhood is blighted by it. The Reeds. Mr Brocklehurst etc
Her life is continually based on what other people order.
The abused child lives inside the adult, the past is never gone, it is always there.
What are we to make of Bertha Mason? – animalistic & beastlike. All passion & emotion. The demon opposite of the “angel of the house”.
described as mad – from a family of madness – liars and insanity. so says Rochester.
The sins of her mother – also an unchaste drunkard manwoman.
She is everything Victorian society abhored, exactly the opposite of what is wanted in a wife.
But all the policing of Bertha has failed. Security is a fiction – the beast is here and cannot be confined.
Throughout the novel she has always been felt and heard, even if not seen. Rochester cannot control her.
Is there a relationship between Jane & BErtha?
Bertha is the opposite in many ways of Jane. But what is Bertha’s role. Is she violent against Jane, or is it to stop the wedding?
Jane sees Betha’s face in the mirror, the text says she sees Bertha, but is this reflection also on of Jane?
Is Betha Jane’s Hulk? Is she there to exact revenge for cruelty done to Jane?
Jane by herself, demure and obedient is incomplete, a symbol – the Victorian ideal of femininity is also incomplete and wrong.
Bertha is justice.
For the relationship between Jane and Rochester to work Rochester must be disempowered. Jane must be empowered.
He has to be softened in order to be a real marriage prospect.
Straight reading :
Jane is feisty, couragous. She recreates herself anew, gains her own self esteem and self respect and in the end finds Rochester as an equal not a master.
Shadow reading :
Betha is an aspect of Jane. She is the truth that we are all animals.
Probably not the author’s intent, but of the reader’s interpretation.
Jane & Bertha’s relationship is unknown to both – strangers can impact on us without our knowledge.
1st person narrator is the authority in the text. We believe and empathise with her. But none of us can possible be aware of ourselves from an objective perspective. We see our own reasons an justifications
for our own behaviour.
Other characters sometimes describe Jane in negative terms. Obviously Mrs Reed & Mr Brocklehust, but even Bessie and the maids describe Jane as a difficuly child, yet she never describes herself as such.
Can we ever really know ourselves?