Monday, 11 February 2013

The Jane Eyre Challenge - Part 3

A year and a quarter ago, while suffering from an unwelcome, uninvited, irrational melancholy whose appearance I blame on my rather shoddy genes…

You may be able to tell from this drawing that I am not a scientist.

…I happened to be reading The Life Of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell and I made the mistake of identifying rather a bit with the heroine.  It is not recommended when melancholy to identify with a historical figure who was incredibly melancholy.

‘If I complain in this letter, have mercy and don’t blame me, for, I forewarn you, I am in low spirits, and that earth and heaven are dreary and empty to me at this moment.  In a few days our vacation will begin; everybody is joyous and animated at the prospect, because everybody is to go home.  I know that I am to stay here during the five weeks that the holidays last, and that I shall be much alone during that time, and consequently get downcast, and find both days and nights of a weary length.’
~ Charlotte Brontë’s description of the summer holiday, 1843, as quoted by Elizabeth Gaskell in The Life Of Charlotte Brontë.

Back then I picked out that quote so I could use it to describe how I felt each Christmas, but luckily before I found a convenient time to use it, I kicked the melancholy.

But I think it leads nicely on to...

Part 3 of Grape Jane Eyre.  The Housemate is now equal with the grapes, though he has this evening retired to his room to read, perhaps to gain some ground.

Grape Jane meets Grape Helen.

I generally rate the quality of a Jane Eyre adaptation (I've seen four now) by how they handle the character of Helen and her influence on Jane.  Most of them are as quick to dismiss her as the Grapes are, and therefore suck.  You hear that, Grapes?  You suck!

Below is my thesis on Jane Eyre and is therefore filled with even more spoilers than usual:

My interpretation of the novel is that Jane is a fiery person and reprimanded for being herself.  She meets Helen, a child also unfairly persecuted, but who unlike Jane faces her setbacks with a saintly disposition.  When Helen dies young and accepts her fate peacefully, Jane, who instead gets to wake up with a corpse, spends the rest of her life trying to repent and become Helen.  Mr Rochester, a similarly fiery character to Jane, sees and loves the real Jane but refuses to be saintly or repentant, and is punished.  While St John, a saintly Helen-like character, dismisses the real Jane and appeals to her saintly-aspirations, but ultimately she cannot bear to be repressed any longer.  Being yourself is more important, but you can still learn not to be completely self-serving.

So my point is that the Helen-Jane relationship of the first act is mirrored with the St John-Jane relationship of the final act, which are there to emphasise the importance of both love and redemption in the story of Jane and Rochester, so if you skimp on the Helen stuff, you totally undermine the entire structure and themeatic point of the story.

Hear that, Grapes?  You suck!

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