09 September 2010


Character Connection 14

Read about Fermin Romero de Torres
and the rest of this week's featured characters!

Right now, you might be thinking, "Finally! A post with some reading-related content!" (Or am I just projecting again?)

For the past few days, I've debated whether to split everything up into different blogs. There would be at least two: the book blog and the (mostly Horror) movie blog. Then it occurred to me that that would be like splitting up my children. You might not think that Horror movie reviews and Reading Diary entries get along, but they do!

So what I really should be thinking of now is a post schedule. Every Saturday is already for Locus Focus. The last Wednesday of every month (at the very least) is for Word & Question; and all the Tuesdays of this month belong to Taylor Swift again. Every other Thursday or so, I do a Character Connection post; on an even more sporadic Friday, I blog about fairy tales.

Then there are my smackdowns. When I'm hosting one of them, it gets its own day of the week until we name a Final Winner. Madeleine L'Engle novels got Monday; Arnold Schwarzenegger movies got Tuesday; "Weird Al" Yankovic songs got Wednesday; something I'm planning right now is going to get Thursday . . .

Yeah, I'll get organised yet. Maybe I'll even learn to put my State of the Blog Addresses in separate posts instead of squeezing them where they make an awkward introduction.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for moments such as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour . . . If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth--so I have always believed, and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane--quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."

If I remember correctly, it was Socrates who first posed the question of whether something was good because the gods commanded it, or whether the gods commanded it because it was good. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte seems to challenge us with a similar question: "Are Jane's choices good because she makes them or does she make them because they are good?"

The answer to that is the key to why Jane Eyre is so fascinating to us as a moral agent.

She is certainly unusual for a nineteenth-century heroine because she is the mistress of her own destiny. The idea would already be remarkable if she were a beautiful heiress from an indulgent family--or even ordinary if she were a young man with equally humble beginnings and gifts. But she is a young woman with no money, no connections, and no beauty, to boot: she has to earn a simple living by instructing other people's children. Even her fellow characters don't believe she should get to call the shots in her own life; and those better situated in the world--her aunt Mrs. Reed, her school's headmaster Mr. Brocklehurst, her employer and would-be lover Mr. Rochester, and even her unlikely suitor St. John Rivers--believe they have the right to decide her future for her.

But Jane doesn't buy that at all. Although the choices available to her are few and all the roads she must walk are narrow, she doesn't consider herself any less at liberty to choose what she knows to be right. For she understands that true freedom does not mean acting as one pleases, without regard for the consequences. True freedom is about making the right choice without being compelled to it. Anyone--rich or poor, handsome or plain, well-connected or friendless--can do that.

And so, in the middle of the novel, when the happiness Jane longs for comes within her grasp and all she has to do is say Yes . . . she says No. Not because she doesn't want it--but because she knows it is the wrong choice, for both herself and the man she loves.

What a way to give new meaning to the too-familiar saying, "If you love somebody, set him free"!

Expect more "Janian" posts as I sift through what might prove to be my most rewarding reread of the year--which, considering that I also reread J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan this year, is saying a lot!

Image Source: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


Belfry Bat said...

As soon as I read "Janian" I though "I wish she had put 'Eyrey'"... oh, well.

Enbrethiliel said...


I might have been moved to that, if "Janian" weren't already in the text itself. (Then again, I might have just written "Eyrian." I'm boring like that.)

Sullivan McPig said...

Even though I really like Jane Eyre I never understood Jane, I must confess. I never thought it would have been wrong to stay with Rochester, but that may be because I'm a child/pig of this time.
And I must add: I don't follow your blog because it's a book/movie/whatever blog, but because I like your posts no matter the subject.

Enbrethiliel said...


I know what you mean, Sully. Even I would be hard pressed to condemn a man of our times for trying to find a new companion, if his first wife turned out to be a naturally vicious person who then degenerated into lunacy. We're all more open about that--and I think that's the key.

In Jane and Mr. Rochester's times, a man would necessarily have to conceal that sort of past and lie to the second woman he wants to marry--or to ask her to lie to the rest of the world as well. I think that sort of thing would be asking too much of Jane. Also, she does believe (although she might be wrong) that if she consented to that arrangement, Mr. Rochester would soon see her as just another mistress and would tire of her.

Now, for some reason, this is reminding me of the HBO original series Big Love, which is about a polygamous family. (Have you heard of it, Sully?) The man and his three wives are all committed and very close to each other. I was quite moved in a recent (for me) episode in which his first wife reflected that her sister-wives are more sisters to her than her estranged sister, and realised she should thank her husband for not just marrying women he wants for himself, but women he knows will get along with the wives he already has. The four-way relationship works, somehow--and now they are about to add a fourth wife/fifth member.

I bring it up now because this show both appeals to our modern openness to non-traditional relationships and plays on the same old need to hide the controversial elements in our lives.

And I must apologise for being so long-winded! I just finished Jane Eyre today and am still brimming with all its themes and ideas. As I've said, there will be more "Janian" posts to come!

Sullivan McPig said...

I have heard of the series, but never saw it.
My opinion on relationships is that if all parties are able to make a fair judgement of the relationship (meaning no children, animals or other persons who are not able by whatever means to know what they're into) and all are happy who are we to judge them?

antiaphrodite said...

*obsessive fan girl yell*

IntrovertedJen said...

I know I don't comment on your blog often (I don't comment on blogs often period--just not enough hours in the day), but I do like the mix you have here. It's a reflection of who you are and what interests you. Do what works for you!

As for Jane, I do love her, but I am with Sully. I'd have taken the man and run. I do understand the context and how it would have been a terrible idea at the time, but the way our standards have changed might make Jane a little harder for modern-day readers to understand. But then again, a lot of us do love her.

Enbrethiliel said...


Antiaphrodite: *yells right back*

Jen: Have you heard about the modern retelling of Jane Eyre by April Linder? It's set in our own times, Jane is a college student, and Mr. Rathburn (!!!) is a rock star who used to be really big and is trying to relaunch his career. It's practically the only new release I'm excited about, and I've been trying to win an ARC left and right. =P

It would be interesting, don't you think, to see what a Jane who doesn't have to deal with Victorian standards would do? =) Hmmmmm. A WWJD thing! LOL!