In keeping with the situation of branching out and reading classics and stereotypical chick lit (I hate the term BTW), I set out to read Jane Eyre.
Short preface: My better half has a beautifully bound pocket sized hardcover copy she reads at least once a year. The title is worn off the spine and the cover is showing some experience to be sure. She also didn’t think I would read it, or finish it, or enjoy it. But leave it to a dude to set out to prove a woman wrong! And wrong I proved. Mostly because she really got excited about me reading it, which got me excited. When we got home in the evening and settled down, she’d ask how far I was and we’d talk about literature. TRUE LOVE.
As for the story, much of the first 100 pages or so I was feeling a little ripped off that the language didn’t sound as elegant? old? as Pride and Prejudice. I felt like I was reading a more contemporary novel. People have told me it IS more contemporary. But 30 years, hardly places it at the edge of a new age of literature.
But I moved on quickly from this feeling as the language was far more heart tugging and vivid and poetic than P & P. I know, comparing it to P & P probably isn’t the best idea, but it’s all I’ve got.
And Bronte seemed to be willing to “go there” where I didn’t think a book by a woman of that era would. Angry children, ghosts, hallucinations?, disturbing deaths that are far more gruesome than I was expecting, sexual overtones and sexual promiscuity, insane wife (also a hallucination?)? All with the descriptive insight that would make any poet turn green with envy.
I don’t need to give a real review. Jane Eyre has been read a billion times by billions of people and reviewed a hundred times over. But I did want to mention something I learned while discussing Eyre with my better half.
(Mild spoilers below…so if you haven’t read it yet, you’ve been warned)
I called Eyre a crazy person with serious depression issues and likely hallucinations. Melanie asked what made me think this first part (about her being crazy and depressed). I explained my reasoning was because when Eyre learned of Rochester’s intent to marry a beautiful woman, Ingram, rather than pining over Rochester and drawing pictures of what she can never have (again, Rochester), she drew pictures of the woman he was courting. Pictures that probably took Eyre hours and hours to draw! On details given to her by 3rd parties since she had never met Ingram!!!!
What sort of psycho does that?!?
Then Melanie explained to me something that hurt me deep inside. She said that that is what most women did. Sure, they dream and pine for the idle that is their heart’s desire. But moreover, they latch onto what it is that desired person wants in a woman. They measure themselves against the women they are competing against! This is what women tend to fixate on! He likes blondes, I’m not a blonde. He likes skinny girls with pouty lips, I’m not as skinny as her and my lips do this weird smile thing.
This still rattles me to my core. It pains me that so many women struggle with this every single day. It’s like having severe depression with anxiety issues but with a socially acceptable nod from the universe.
I recently mentioned something about this concern of mine to friends. Many said it was human nature that woman want to be more attractive and men seek that out like moths to light and that it’s NOT some socially constructed media blitz or some situation that men put on women. I still can’t buy this argument. I’ll concede some nature involvement. But I think there’s something more going on, and I don’t like, and I don’t know how to stop it, or what to do, so…It just keeps happening. And nobody cares.
Which I suppose is not terribly unfitting since the novel itself does not have a truly happy ending.