(my Jane Eyre-ish watercolor tree)
After I finished reading W&P last month I felt like I needed a mental break. I picked up Jane Eyre, which I last read during a summer break between junior and senior year in high school. What I remembered: Mr. Rochester - hot, mysterious and rich. Jane - poor and plain, but beguiling with her sketchbook and witty conversation. Just like Sixteen Candles minus the grandma! Totally the best kind of story for a teenage girl to read. I remembered being really into how romantic it was, but feeling disappointed at the end that Edward got disfigured when his crazy wife torched the house. My 16-year old self felt it should have ended in a more outwardly happy way.
So anyway, reading it this time around was a whole different experience. I like to think that as a 34-year old I'm bringing a little more to the table (although that sometimes feels debatable). This time, while I still found the whole Rochester/Jane dynamic wildly romantic, I loved Jane. How did I miss her on that first read? There was this scene in Mr. Rochester's study where they were talking one night, and Jane says to him, basically, right is right, and wrong is wrong. You can dress something up however you like, but at the end of the day you can't change a lie into a true thing before God. I loved Jane's refusal to compromise on what she knew to be true, even at huge cost. Man! I hope I and my girls can be brave like that. I think if you believe in God, it clarifies a lot about life that otherwise gets murky. Jane had a lot of clarity. My chosen faith is mormonism, and I've spent a lot of time and prayer figuring out what I believe, because it's hard work to really live a religion. I hope I am moving towards clarity, too - trying to act on what I feel to be right even when it's hard (work in progress).
Another thing I found myself loving about Jane was her tidiness. Kind of a small detail, but I really liked how she was always ordering up her environment - whipping little Adele into shape, putting away all of her things neatly in her room even after the ruined wedding (!), establishing a proper schoolroom for the poor factory children in the village, fixing up the house for the cousins. I must admit that I felt very lacking because on a couple of days I chose to read more Jane Eyre over (gasp!) doing and putting away another load of laundry while my baby took her nap. The irony!
Ok, this is the last one - I also loved how studious Jane was. Drawing, or learning new languages, or tackling hard books. I personally distract quite easily. I mean, seriously, when was the last time I sat down to try and learn a new language? :) I've made mental notes to try and be more Jane-ish in this general area (not really to learn a new language, just to maybe read better books, etc., and spend less time frittering). Add it to the list.
(by the way, have you seen the trailer for this coming out next week?)