Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Button

One new blog button is added to the 'Blog Buttons' page on the upper sidebar. =)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jane Eyre: The Book

     As a girl of ten, Jane Eyre leaves for school, away from her uncle’s widow Mrs. Reed and her children, who never loved Jane and were cruel despite her attempts to please them.
     Lowood school is a cold, hard place where the living conditions are unhealthy and discipline is harsh. The headmistress Miss Temple is sympathetic though, and Jane’s friend Helen Burns helps her in settling. Jane works as hard as she can and does very well in school. At age sixteen she becomes a teacher, and stays at Lowood for another two years.
     When Miss Temple marries and leaves, Jane suddenly finds herself discontented with her monotonous life and desires a change. She seeks a new position as a governess, and she finds one.
     Thornfield Hall is Jane’s new home, where she is welcomed by the kindly housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax and meets her new pupil Adèle, a little French girl around eight. Adèle is the ward of Mr Rochester, the owner of Thornfield, who is reported to be rarely at home.
     She continues quietly as a governess for a few months. While she is happy in the position, she begins to feel a bit restless.
     Then Mr. Rochester comes home unexpectedly. He is a moody man with a dark past, but he treats Jane well and for the first time in her life she can enjoy conversing openly with someone who is her equal in intellect. Though he is rather difficult to understand sometimes and has many faults, she anticipates their interesting conversations, and finds her respect for him growing into fondness.
     There is a mystery at Thornfield that Jane can’t solve. Every so often she hears a strange, mirthless laugh. Mrs. Fairfax says it is the servant Grace Poole, who stays all day long in the upper rooms and Jane sees very rarely. She suspects there is more to the story than anyone will tell her.
     One night Jane is awakened by a noise outside of her door; that unnatural laugh—a moan—footsteps retreating. Disturbed, she dresses in preparation to seek Mrs. Fairfax. When she opens her door, she is bewildered to see a lit candle on the floor, and then she smells a fire and sees smoke coming from Mr. Rochester’s room. She rushes in and tries to wake him up, but when he doesn’t, she proceeds to put the fire out by herself.
     “I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time.” Mr. Rochester tells her while expressing his gratitude to her for saving his life. “I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.”
     Jane is perplexed the next day to discover that Mr. Rochester has left to visit some of his wealthy acquaintance. He stays away for a couple of weeks, and then comes back with a houseful guests, one of which is the beautiful Blanche Ingram, who Mr. Rochester pays a great deal of attention to.         
     Jane is furious for ever allowing herself to cherish tender feelings for her employer. She tries to reason herself out of it, determined to stifle her increasing love for him.
     Little does she know that, through the disguise of his supposed potential bride Miss Ingram, Mr. Rochester is really desperately in love with Jane and hopes to marry her. But there’s also something else she doesn’t know…and that something has the means of ruining their happiness and bringing desperation into their lives.
     But don’t worry, it has a happy ending.

My sentiments on the novel
     So, I had finished all Jane Austen’s novels and it was time to read more of the desirable classics. Jane Eyre wasn’t actually the next on my list (North and South was, and I’ll get to that), but I felt like reading it, so I did. And I loved it. Certainly, it’s not perfect (and Charlotte Brontë has her problems…not liking Jane Austen is one of them…) but I still enjoyed it immensely. It’s a very captivating story, and believe me, reading the book is SO much better than any of the movies. I’d seen a few of them first, and they all seem to have quite a number of weak spots. Of course, the book gives the story exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
     I never liked Mr. Rochester in any of the movies. When I read the book I actually liked him a little. Or maybe more than a little. Sometimes. Well, most of the time. Sort of. 
     Yes, I’m a little confused about Edward Rochester…he’s rather a mix between a hero and a villain. Fortunately he’s over most of his villain parts by the time he shows up in the book. Supposedly Jane was his cure. (tehe) But in any case, I liked him better in the book than the movies. He has more good points than I thought he did. Personally, he would never do for me, but I’m not Jane, now am I?
     I also liked getting to know Jane Eyre. The novel is written in first person, so it’s quite easy to get to know her. She’s a very interesting and complex character and I admire her in many ways.
     I am also quite touched by their romance. I have a Marianne Dashwood-like fondness for stories about such deep love.
     But unlike some would have it, Jane Eyre actually has a lot more than romance in it…such as the enthralling mystery and all its horrifying elements!
     It was bittersweet to come to the end of the book. I loved getting to end, the part that the reader is anticipating for half of the novel, but it was sad to be done reading it for the first time. I say the first, because there will definitely be a second. =)

What about you? Have you read Jane Eyre and/or seen a movie? Did you like it? I’d love to hear from you. 

Jane Eyre update and poll results

Because of the poll results as well as my increasing desire for this: yes, I will be doing a series of posts on Jane Eyre. My first one will be posted in a few minutes, and then I'll put a link-- here.

Results:
"Should I do a series of posts for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, like I've done for Jane Austen's novels?"
Definitely! (12 votes, 60%)
Yes/I'd read it (4 votes, 20%)
Maybe... (3 votes, 15%)
That would be taking the 'etc.' too far (0 votes)
I wouldn't be interested (1 vote, 5%)
(20 votes total)

Well, for the 80% who said yes: happy reading, and I hope you enjoy them!
For the 3 'maybes', I hope I can interest you!
And for the 1 'no'...well, Jane Austen still pops up in everything I write, and I'm not turning into a Bronte fan or anything. And it won't last too long, I don't think. ;-)  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jane Austen the Heroine (with poll results)

Which of Jane Austen's heroines was the most like Jane Austen herself?

That was a poll I made, which just ended. I think it's an interesting discussion topic so I'm making this post a bit more than just the usual 'Poll Results'.

First of all I'll have the results; then I'll discuss them.

15 votes (65%) gives first place to Elizabeth Bennet.
4 votes (17%): Anne Elliot
3 votes (13%): Marianne Dashwood
1 vote (4%): Emma Woodhouse
(23 votes total)
Thanks to everyone who voted!

I often find, especially when I write stories, that I have feelings which compare to the ones I read about other authors having. If I am anything like other authors, I can say it is natural to use yourself, in some shape or form, as a base for your heroines; or at least give them a few tendencies that are similar to yourself. With myself, most of my characters have similarities to myself or at least my interests; so it made me wonder: which of her heroines, if any, did Jane Austen make the most like herself?

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice is an easy answer, and the most popular.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Miss Jane Austen seem to have quite similar personalities, especially when Jane was around 20, like Elizabeth. They both have sparkling wit, a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor; they love to tease, but know when to be serious. From reading Jane's letters, it seems like you could be reading one from Elizabeth Bennet.

Their family situations also resemble each other to some extent. Elizabeth's best friend and confidante was her older sister Jane, and Jane Austen's was her older sister Cassandra. From what fanfiction I've read, Mr. and Mrs. Austen are usually based somewhat upon Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Perhaps she did draw ideas from her parents, and the Bennets could be an exaggeration of the Austens. Mr. Austen did seem to favor Jane, from what I've read; Mrs. Austen did try to marry off Cassandra and Jane. Mrs. Austen, of course, was much more clever than Mrs. Bennet, and I doubt Mr. Austen was so antisocial and sarcastic.

Next on my list is Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility.

Some take Jane's relationship with Tom Lefroy seriously, and some consider it a 'brief flirtation'; but either way, there are quite a few things to compare with Marianne and Willoughby.

One thing we know for sure is that Jane was quite a flirt with Tom Lefroy, such as made people talk, and her older sister Cassandra scold. (Sound familiar?) Although in Marianne's case, it was less of flirtation and more of...devotion.

If Jane's letters are to be taken seriously (I personally believe she was teasing most of the time; but there is almost always an element of truth in joking) then Jane was actually expecting Tom to 'make her an offer'. Willoughby, as we know, came very close, and actually did intend to, propose to Marianne. Then, he suddenly leaves, in both stories. With Jane Austen, they say a relation of Tom's didn't approve of Jane as a wife for Tom, and wanted to pull him away before anything serious developed. With Willoughby...well, the Dashwoods suspected a similar case, but it wasn't actually that way.
Now, this quote from a letter of Jane's to Cassandra ties in with my next point:

“You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. I can expose myself however, only once more, because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe after all. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you.”
Again, we have a similar sisterly relationship: Cassandra and Jane, Elinor and Marianne. (I plan on doing a whole post with sisterly comparisons, so I won't dwell on it now.) Cassandra trying to warn Jane, and Elinor tried to warn Marianne; also, in both cases, the elder sister can draw and the younger sister plays the pianoforte well.

One more occurrence in Jane's life may have given her an idea for one in S&S, that I learned from the documentary The Real Jane Austen (which is very good, by the way, and I recommend it; it can be found on YouTube), was when one of Jane's brothers and his wife were rather offensive in their hurry for the Austens to get out of their home so they could move in. In S&S, Henry Dashwood and his wife Fanny move into Norland when Mr. Dashwood dies; in Jane's life, clergyman James Austen is to take over Mr. Austen's church when he and his wife decide they should all move to Bath. Marianne and Jane were both devestated at having to leave their beloved homes.

Anne Elliot from Persuasion came in 2nd place on the poll.

For starters, here's what Miss Laurie of Old-fashioned Charm said:
"I voted for Anne Elliot because she's the heroine that gets a second chance on love as if the authoress was rewriting her own story a bit. I think she might have been a bit like Elizabeth Bennet when she was younger: clever, witty, loved to laugh at the follies of human nature, fond of dancing and even mild flirtations with nice gentlemen like Tom Lefroy. But she was clearly a better judge of character that Lizzy was. As she grew older and wiser she became more like Anne Elliot, she even had a rumored lost love who she met on the seaside at Lyme, and Jane Austen was also rumored to be quiet in her personal life."

That's true...it does seem like Jane was a little different when she was older; more mature, and all that. And that's a good point about Lyme... that rumor has always interested me (much more than the 'romance' with Tom Lefroy).

Another thing I thought of was that they both had a great dislike of Bath, and both had to leave their homes to live there.

 

And then there was one vote for Emma Woodhouse from Emma.

I had a little trouble thinking of similarities between the two, so I asked Miss Laurie again (and I am very grateful; she's so cheerfully helpful!). Here's what she came up with:
"We may say that Jane Austen was similar to Emma Woodhouse in that she as authoress makes matches with ease, choosing who will marry who and when. But, like Harriet Smith many of her heroines have at least one refused suitor before coming at last to their perfect match; but 'the course of true love never did run straight'."

I'm not sure on this one, but I think I remember someone who knew Jane Austen saying she had hazel eyes, and Emma's eyes were hazel (that was actually described in the book!).

I'm not completely sure on this one either, as I only read it in one place: but I've heard that Jane Austen's favorite hero of her inventions was Mr. Knightley. Maybe, when she wrote Emma (her last novel to be published before her death about 2 1/2 years later) she was making him her ideal gentleman. Just a little thought. =)

~That's it for heroines people voted on, but I'd like to include a couple others as well.


Fanny Price in Manfield Park.

I have a feeling, when Jane Austen created Fanny Price, she made her, to some extent, the way she herself would like to be. I've read in one book that Fanny was Jane Austen's favorite heroine. 

Although their dispositions do not seem to be at all the same, I can think of a few parallels. They both studied people and their characters. Elizabeth Bennet also did this, but erred several times in her judgement, whereas Fanny did not; and as far as I know, neither did Jane.

When Mr. Austen died, the Austen ladies (Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, and Jane) were left with very little to live on, and had to actually stay with richer relatives some of the time. Maybe Jane was looked at sometimes as the 'poor relation', just as Fanny was.

Some of Jane's family members gave some descriptions of Jane that did sound rather like Fanny Price. For example, Jane's brother Henry put this on Jane's gravestone:
The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind
obtained the regard of all who knew her and
the warmest love of her intimate connections.
The next paragraph also describes her as charitable, devoted, and pure. 

Cassandra's touching letter to their niece Fanny Knight after Jane's death is also filled with loving, praiseful words about Jane. 

Now we know that often, after someone dies, everyone else tends to speak better of them than they actually would when they were living; but just the same, I think there is a good amount of truth in it.

Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey

What was Jane Austen like when she was seventeen? We can never know: her letters don't start until age 20, and people can change significantly in 3 years, especially when they are still quite young, I imagine. We know that Jane loved to read ever since she was a little girl; perhaps she was engrossed in Mrs. Radcliffe's works, even if she did rather make fun of them later. 

Here's an interesting bit I just read on the ever-useful website 'Pemberley':
"More than one reader has wondered whether the childhood of the character Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey might not reflect her own childhood, at least in part -- Catherine enjoys "rolling down the green slope at the back of the house" and prefers cricket and baseball to girls' play."

Catherine and Jane both had quite a large number of siblings, and their fathers were clergymen (I think Catherine is the only heroine with a clergyman father).

And now my post comes to an abrupt end. ha

~~~
So, what do you think? Who did you vote for and why? =)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quotes from Northanger Abbey

It was a lot of fun writing down quotes from this novel! There were so many in the first chapters! Hope you enjoy.


This concludes my section on Northanger Abbey....and, all 6 of Jane Austen's novels. I have enjoyed doing these, and hope what I have planned for future posts will be enjoyable! =)




“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”

“ ‘Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl – she is almost pretty today,’ were words that caught her ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.”

“She had reached the age of seventeen, without having one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion, and without having excited even admiration but was very moderate and very transient.”

“But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.”

“[I]f adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”

“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”

“[F]or a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.”

“…they parted – on Miss Tilney’s side with some knowledge of her new acquaintances’ feelings, and on Catherine’s, without the smallest consciousness of having explained them.”

“Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not."

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” –Mr. Tilney

“I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” –Catherine

“[E]very man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies.” –Mr. Tilney

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Horrid Novels of Northanger Abbey

“…but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?” ~Catherine

When I read Northanger Abbey I was already aware that The Mysteries of Udolpho was a real book, so I figured the other 8 mentioned were as well. Apparently for many years people thought the titles in Northanger were made up by Jane Austen. It was fun looking up the summaries of these books (but I haven’t read through all the summaries yet) as well as other books mentioned in Jane Austen novels, so I thought I’d make a post about the “horrid” ones.
First of all, I thought it was funny, saying novels were “horrid”, and supposed that it must have a slightly different meaning than how it is usually used today. I looked it up on dictionary.com and the first meaning was the one I was looking for:
“Such as to cause horror; shockingly dreadful; abominable”
I suppose “abominable” doesn’t quite fit, but I can just hear Catherine saying “It was shockingly dreadful, do not you think so, Miss Tilney?”

(If you click on the titles in bold it will go to a summary of the novel.)

Now the main one is, of course, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (who, by the way, also wrote The Romance of the Forest which Harriet, Mr. Martin, and Emma discuss in Emma). Udolpho is referred to frequently while Catherine is in Bath; she is enthralled and can barely keep a conversation with Isabella going without thinking of what will be behind the black veil. “Mrs. Radcliffe” is discussed as well.

The second mentioned was The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, which Isabella says she will read with Catherine after the latter has finished Udolpho. Then Isabella reads Catherine the list in her pocket-book of “ten or twelve” more of the same sort (seven, in point of fact). For my reader’s information, they were all published in the 1790s. Here they are:
Castle of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons
Clermont by Regina Maria Roche
Mysterious Warnings by Eliza Parsons
Necromancer…of the Black Forest by Ludwig Flammenberg
Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom 
Orphan of the Rhine by Eleanor Smith
Horrid Mysteries by the Marquis de Grosse

The last one has the best title, don’t you think? ;-)

Do you ever have fun researching that sort of thing? Have you read any of the novels mentioned in Jane Austen's books?
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