Autumn in Jane Eyre

The autumn months of September, October and November witness major events in both Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester’s lives.

Jane Eyre starts narrating her autobiography in autumn, specifically in November, ‘a drear November day’ she calls it. The novel has an oppressive and gloomy beginning in which she tells the reader about her loveless and lonely childhood at Gateshead, with her heartless Aunt Reed and bullying cousins, Georgina and John.

Jane is trapped in a freezing outdoor climate with an equally frosty atmosphere inside the house, as she states in her very first paragraph.

‘There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.’

And there we have one of the major themes in the novel, freedom, or in this case lack of freedom represented by the confinement she is subject to outside, due to the weather, and inside as she is denied access to family reunions and even locked in a room.

However, Jane’s experience of Autumn is not always so miserable.

Eight years later, after graduating at Lowood and taking on a teaching position there, she decides she wants to widen her horizons, so she advertises for a job as a governess.

‘…towards the close of a pleasant autumn day, I found myself afoot on the road to Lowton. A picturesque track it was, by the way; lying along the side of the beck and through the sweetest curves of the dale: but that day I thought more of the letters, that might or might not be awaiting me at the little burgh whither I was bound, than of the charms of lea and water.

My ostensible errand on this occasion was to get measured for a pair of shoes; so I discharged that business first, and when it was done, I stepped across the clean and quiet little street from the shoemaker’s to the post-office: it was kept by an old dame, who wore horn spectacles on her nose, and black mittens on her hands.

‘Are there any letters for J.E.?’ I asked.

And this is when she receives Mrs. Fairfax’s reply, offering her a job at Thornfield. Jane travels to Thornfield Hall that same autumn, specifically in October and she finds everything there pleasing.

She arrives in the evening, but she describes her first morning there as a ‘a fine autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely on embrowned groves and still green fields; advancing on to the lawn, I looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery, whose cawing tenants were now on the wing: they flew over the lawn and grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which these were separated by a sunk fence, and where an array of mighty old thorn trees, strong, knotty, and broad as oaks, at once explained the etymology of the mansion’s designation.’

Jane is finally feeling calm and happy which contrasts to the opening chapter which starts with a dreary autumn.

The reader and Jane can presume that her luck is changing and that a better life full of new opportunities lies ahead. She has her duties, which enable her to earn a salary, but she is not trapped at Thornfield. She is her own boss. No one bullies her. She’s starting to live her life as a free person, which is what Jane desires.

One of her most famous phrases in the novel is:

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Jane is a prisoner at the beginning of the novel, and she’s started her road to freedom once she arrives at Thornfield Hall.

The following November, Jane learns that she has inherited a fortune from her uncle John Eyre, a wine merchant who lived in Madeira, when St John gives her the solicitor’s letter and she confesses her real identity. It’s also when she learns St John and his sisters Mary and Diana are Jane’s cousins.

Another crucial event to the plot, which took place in autumn was the fire which burnt down Thornwood Hall. It occurred during the harvest, so probably between late September and early October.

It was a ‘dreadful calamity’ as Jane is told when she returns to find Rochester, but really, it meant that Rochester had become a widower and consequently a free man. It was a perfect end to her rival, the first Mrs Rochester, and although Mr Rochester was injured, he survived and was able to remarry.

Curiously Mr Rochester had married Bertha Antoinette Mason in Autumn, too.

‘I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October A.D.—(a date of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield Hall, in the county of—, and of Ferndean Manor, in—shire, England, was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at—church, Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage will be found in the register of that church—a copy of it is now in my possession. Signed, Richard Mason.’’

So for Rochester his ill fated and according to his account, mistaken marriage, began and ended in autumn, specifically in October.

The novel ends in summer, but it is because of the events which occurred the previous autumn that they are both free at last.

Jane has refused St John’s offer of marriage and she has inherited a fortune, while Rochester has lost his main property but he is still a wealthy man and overall, he is free from his ‘mad’ wife.

‘I sat at the feet of a man, caring as I. The veil fell from his hardness and despotism. Having felt in him the presence of these qualities, I felt his imperfection and took courage. I was with an equal—one with whom I might argue—one whom, if I saw good, I might resist.’

They are both financially, emotionally and legally free, so they are able to marry for love and live as equals.

Jane believes she has her happy ending and urges her readers to believe it too, but as Orson Wells once said, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

 

I couldn’t let it go.

Jane Eyre leaves too many spaces between the lines. There are countless unanswered questions about Bertha, the first Mrs Rochester’s life and death, her brother, Richard’s role in his sister’s marriage and confinement, and Mr Rochester’s abundant lies and manipulation. On the other hand, what about Jane’s intelligence and fiercely independent nature, would she be content to spend the rest of her life exclusively devoted to an ailing and irritable husband in a remote, manor house?

There was so much that I wanted to explore, and that’s what led me to write The Eyre Hall Trilogy, but I warn you, it is not for any unconditional fans of Mr. Rochester.

 

#WednesdayWisdom ‘Dark and Stormy’ #1linewed #WWWBlogs #JaneEyre

If you feel as if you’re in a tiny fishing boat, alone in a vast, dark and stormy sea, and there’s nothing you can do to help yourself, look around, do something for someone else to make you feel better.

And the best thing is it works.

Your own troubles will seem less dark, you’ll feel good about helping someone else, and who knows? Perhaps you’ll be someone else’s distraction from their own dark and stormy feelings. Trust karma.

Jane helping Rochester after falling from his horse.

Jane Eyre knew all about the positive effects of helping others:

My help had been needed and claimed; I had given it: I was pleased to have done something; trivial, transitory though the deed was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an existence all passive.

These are Jane’s reflections in Chapter XII, after meeting and helping an unknown gentleman who had fallen off his horse on a cold, dark afternoon in January, when the days are very short and dark in Yorkshire. Jane had offered to take a letter Mrs. Fairfax needed posting to Hay, which was a two mile walk away.

Jane had been feeling sad and lonely after spending the first winter months at Thornfield, and yet, a kind gesture led to a second kind gesture and her first meeting with Mr. Rochester.

Jane overcame her passivity and ventured out of her comfort zone, to help others, and in so doing she opened new avenues by meeting the man who would change her life.

If she had satyed at home wallowing in her loneliness and misery, they would probably never have met. Mr. Rochester probably would have had no interest in meeting his ward’s governess under normal circumstances.

Don’t don’t overindulge in your own problems, if you can’t do anything for yourself, do something for someone else!

Image from Pixabay

#MothersDay ‘Jane Eyre’s Mother’ #MondayBlogs #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre is the most famous female, literary orphan in English literature, but what do we know about Jane Eyre’s mother?

pixabay.com

Surprisingly, for a character who doesn’t appear in the novel and is hardly mentioned, we know a great deal. We know her name and maiden surname, how and we she died, who and why she married, a few things about her family and some significant aspects of her personality.

The first time her mother is mentioned, Jane is at her uncle, Mr Reed’s house. Jane tells the reader:

I could not remember him (Mr Reed); but I knew that he was my own uncle—my mother’s brother— that he had taken me when a parentless infant to his house;

Consequently we know that her mother’s maiden name was Reed and that her husband’s surname was Eyre. We also learn that Jane has no memories of her father, her mother or her uncle, because she was an infant when they died.

Jane also tells us about the effect that the lack of loving parents or relatives affected her personality. Well before Freud identified and shared his theories regarding the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind, Jane Eyre was fully that her parents’ absence was affecting her moods and character were due to factors beyond her control, within her psyche.

pixabay.com

Ten year-old Jane tells Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary, called in by Mrs.
Reed when she fainted after being punished and locked in the red room:

I am unhappy,—very unhappy, for other things.’

‘What other things? Can you tell me some of them?’

How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult it was to frame any answer! Children can feel, but they cannot analyse their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words. Fearful, however, of losing this first and only opportunity of  relieving my grief by imparting it, I, after a disturbed pause, contrived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true response.

‘For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters.’

Jane describes herself as unhappy because she is missing the family she doesn’t have. A contemporary psychologist might suggest that, as an orphan, Jane was vulnerable and predisposed to physical and psychological risks such as depression and antisocial behaviour, and would probably need counselling. Instead she was plunged into an unloving household, where she was demeaned, neglected and physically and psychologically abused. There could have been many outcomes to her future personality, she could have sunk into disruptive behaviour or swam to the surface as a stronger, fiercely independent, determined and kind person.

There were many real and literary orphans in Victorian Literature. Here’s some more information in two previous posts including information about orphans in Victorian England

Jane Eyre found out about her parents’ death and bad relationship with her maternal grandfather, Mr. Reed, from Bessie, a servant at her aunt’s house. Bessie in turn had learnt this information from another, older servant at the house, Miss Abbot.

“On that same occasion I learned, for the first time, from Miss Abbot’s communications to Bessie, that my father had been a poor clergyman; that my mother had married him against the wishes of her friends, who considered the match beneath her; that my grandfather Reed was so irritated at her disobedience, he cut her off without a shilling; that after my mother and father had been married a year, the latter caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of a large manufacturing town where his curacy was situated, and where that disease was then prevalent: that my mother took the infection from him, and both died within a month of each other.”

This passage informs us that her mother married a clergyman for love, against her family’s wishes. Jane was aware that her mother valued love over social convention or economic stability.

Nine years later, while Jane is working at Thornfield, she was called to visit her Aunt Reed, who was on her deathbed. Jane took the opportunity to ask her why her aunt hated her so much.

‘I had a dislike to her (Jane’s) mother always; for she was my husband’s only sister, and a great favourite with him: he opposed the family’s disowning her when she made her low marriage; and when news came of her death, he wept like a simpleton. He would send for the baby; though I entreated him rather to put it out to nurse and pay for its maintenance. I hated it (referring to Jane)  the first time I set my eyes on it…’

Thus Jane learns that her aunt had hated her mother and that she was jealous of her husband’s affection towards the helpless baby.

In summary, we know that Jane Eyre’s mother, Mrs Eyre, née Jane Reed, was beloved by her brother, Jane’s Uncle Reed, who had been a well-to-do magistrate, before his premature death. We also know she was estranged by her parents for marrying a clergyman, Mr Eyre, whom they considered was below her station. We know she married for love, that Jane was born nine months after their marriage and was a three-month old baby when her parents died, a year after marrying. Mrs Jane Reed Eyre died of typhus, a disease contracted by her husband first. We can infer that she was a passionate, independent and determined woman, who was prepared to turn her back on her family and material comforts, in order to marry the man she loved.

It surprises me that Jane only mentioned missing her mother once as a ten-year-old child and never mentioned her mother as an adult. Grown up Jane seemed to have completely wiped her mother out of her thoughts, perhaps because she had no memory or image to cling to. On the other hand, we can imagine her mother’s influence in Jane’s famous quote that she’d rather be happy than dignified. It definitely seemed to have been her mother’s motto too!

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I’d also like to remind you that today, 31st of March, is the anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s premature death in 1855, at the ge of 38. She was pregnant when she and her unborn child died.

Her death certificate gives the cause of death as tuberculosis, but biographers, including Claire Harman, have suggested that she died from dehydration and malnutrition due to vomiting caused by severe morning sickness. Charlotte Brontë was buried in the family vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels at Haworth in Yorkshire, UK.

Photo by Dave Green of St Michael and All Angel’s Church, Haworth (Wikipedia).

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P.S. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, you’re missing out on one of the greatest novels ever written, and it’s almost free on amazon kindle, including the audiobook!

If you have read Jane Eyre, perhaps you’ve wondered what happened after Jane and Rochester married, so have I, that’s why I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy, on special offer at the moment.

Jane Eyre, Europe and #Brexit #SundayBlogShare

Jane Eyre takes place in 19th century rural Yorkshire. It’s a very ‘English novel’, because almost all the characters are English, and the protagonists clearly represent typical traits of Victorian England.

Jane embodies an English appearance; she is pale, short, slim, with green eyes and russet hair. She also represents manners generally associated by an ideal Victorian woman; she’s meek, reserved, quiet, modest, morally upright, thoughtful and intelligent.

Mr. Rochester embodies all the characteristics of a typical, wealthy Victorian landowner and colonial imperialist. He’s arrogant, dominant, relatively idle, egotistical, self-assured, and tyrannical. How else was he supposed to rule the ‘uncivilised’ non-English world?

There is also a stark contrast between British and non-British characters. The most significant  foreigner in Jane Eyre is Mrs. Rochester, née Bertha Mason, a Creole who was born and brought up in Jamaica, and spent the novel locked in a windowless attic. The negative connotations of madness and evil, which stem from the native inhabitants of the barbarian colonies have already been discussed in these three posts on The Madwoman in the Attic

On this occasion, I’d like to bring your attention to the European non-British characters and the presence of (other) European countries in Jane Eyre.

Jane’s approach to other cultures is through the study of literature and language.

She learns to speak French fluently at Lowood, which is why she is able to get the position of governess to Rochester’s French-speaking ward, Adele. French opens doors to Jane, making her stand out among the rest and enables her to further her position in the world.

She describes her French teacher thus;

“a strange, foreign-looking, elderly lady, the French teacher, as I afterwards found…”

Jane describes her knowledge of French in these terms:

“Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught French by a French lady; and as I had always made a point of conversing with Madame Pierrot as often as I could, and had besides, during the last seven years, learnt a portion of French by heart daily—applying myself to take pains with my accent, and imitating as closely as possible the pronunciation of my teacher, I had acquired a certain degree of readiness and correctness in the language, and was not likely to be much at a loss with Mademoiselle Adela.”

Jane corrects Adele’s French defects; she’s too excitable, loud and superficial. Jane also teaches Adele English, in an attempt to make her into an ideal Victorian lady, as opposed to a French harlot, as Rochester would have us believe her mother was.

While Jane is in Morton with her cousins, Mary, Diana and John Rivers, she studied German and read Schiller, because her cousins were doing so. Jane shows a great respect for the German language and culture.

“I sat reading Schiller….. As I exchanged a translation for an exercise.

We should bear in mind that Queen Victoria’s mother was a German princess. Princess Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Duchess_of_Kent_and_Victoria_by_Henry_Bone

Queen Victoria with her mother at age three.

Victoria was brought up by her German governess, Baroness Louise Lehzen, from Hanover, who taught her only German until she was three years old. After she became queen, her courtiers were almost entirely German and, of course, she married a German prince, Albert.

The language that was spoken in Buckingham Palace, and at all private occasions. It has even been said that when she was a young girl, Princess Victoria spoke English with a German accent.

Baroness Louise Lehzen. Princess Victoria’s governess.

From a literary and linguistic point of view, Jane respects and admires both French and German, although she has no first hand knowledge of the people or the countries. Her knowledge is purely academic and therefore theoretical.

The practical knowledge and experience of other European countries comes to the reader through the widely travelled Mr. Rochester.

“For ten long years I roved about, living first in one capital, then another; sometimes in St. Petersburg; oftener in Paris; occasionally in Rome, Naples, and Florence”

France is the most prominent European presence in Jane Eyre and the presence of France and the French people in the novel is shaped mainly through Mr. Rochester’s eyes.

His representation of French women is negative. Rochester admits to an affair with the French opera singer Céline Varens (Adele’s mother) in Paris, only to find out in time that Céline is Being unfaithful to him. He says he caught her with another man. (By the way, he also accuses Bertha of infidelity. Perhaps he chose his mistresses/wives unwisely, or maybe he was not the great lover we were led to believe?)

For Rochester, Céline Varens represents of a vain and immoral Continent who responds to his love with promiscuity.

Rochester also reveals to Jane that he has an array of former mistresses throughout Europe:

“I could not live alone; so I tried the companionship of mistresses. The first I chose was Céline Varens … She had two successors; an Italian, Giacinta, and a German, Clara, both considered singularly handsome”

Rochester established a specific link between beauty, sexual immorality and continental Europe, forgetting the fact that he was hardly behaving like an English gentleman himself, or perhaps he was?

After the wedding farce, when it was discovered that Rochester was already married, he offers Jane a villa in France where they can travel to and live without being married. This passage is also an example of his lies. He tells her she shall be Mrs. Rochester when he knows full well it can’t happen. Then he tells her she’ll live with him ‘innocently’.

“You shall be Mrs. Rochester—both virtually and nominally. I shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You shall go to a place I have in the south of France: a whitewashed villa on the shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never fear that I wish to lure you into error—to make you my mistress. Why did you shake your head? Jane, you must be reasonable, or in truth I shall again become frantic.”

Jane, is quick and clever enough to see his deceit and naturally declines. She wasn’t prepared to live an immoral life in France and become one of his many conquests. Jane wanted a lot more than Rochester. She wanted it all; respectability, marriage and children, in an English upper-class setting.

Other European nations mentioned in Jane Eyre.

Jane finally becomes a rich woman thanks to her uncle John Eyre’s inheritance, derived from his wine importing business in Madeira, a Portuguese colony in the Atlantic Ocean.

Blanche Ingram’s skin is described as dark as a Spaniard’s. Bearing in mind all the other negative aspects in Blanche’s character and appearance, it’s not a compliment to the Spanish! Exotic, dark beauty in women, such as Bertha Mason and Blanche Ingram is associated with negative qualities and Spanish and Hispanic origins.

In summary, Mr. Rochester’s depiction of  Europeans as has been seen is anything but positive.

On the other hand, Jane Eyre shows great respect for French and German culture and language, limited knowledge of other European languages or cultures, she does not give any evidence of bias against other Europeans, in spite of Mr. Rochester’s negative portrayal.

Jane does mention that she will not be an English Céline Varens, which is not a criticism of all French women, just one. She speaks kindly of Madame Pierrot, her French teacher, Adele, and Sophie, Adele’s French maid. She meets no other Europeans and makes no negative comments.

Jane is aware of her British heritage, culture and language, but she does not berate or undermine any others as Rochester does, and she expresses a marked interest in learning about French and German culture and language. Jane represents an open-minded and respectful approach to Europe, whereas Mr. Rochester treated Europe, literally, as a whore house.

Now I ask you, does this have anything to do with Brexit?

I’d say that half of the British population takes Jane’s respectful attitude to Europe, while the other half considers Europe with caution or even contempt, as Rochester does.

What do you think?

 

 

 

10 Differences Between #JaneEyre and Charlotte Bronte #AtoZChallenge #Bronte200

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today, Jane Eyre is going to point out the Ten differences between herself and Charlotte Bronte.

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I’m very grateful to Charlotte Bronte for making me such a famous person, as Mr. Rochester might say, ‘You—poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are, have become the most famous female literary character in English Literature.’ 

Some readers mistake me, Jane Eyre, the author of my autobiography, for my pen name, Charlotte Bronte. That’s understandable, but there are plenty of differences between us.

If you check out Charlotte Bronte’s biography here and my biography here, you’ll see for yourselves how different our lives were.

But just to clarify matters, there follow Ten Differences between me, Jane Eyre, and Charlotte Bronte, my alter ego:

  1. I was an orphan and Charlotte wasn’t.
  2. I was educated at a boarding school, while Charlotte was educated at home by her father and her aunt.
  3. I had no brothers or sisters and Charlotte had one brother and four sisters (although two died in infancy).
  4. I never left England, and Charlotte travelled to Belgium.
  5. I married at an early age 19-20, and Charlotte married later in life, at 38.
  6. Charlotte wrote fantasy stories from an early age, while I preferred drawing as my creative expression, until after my marriage.
  7. I wrote my autobiography, while Charlotte wrote poems and fictional novels.
  8. I was fiercely independent, yet Charlotte always lived with and obeyed her father.
  9. I was described as beautiful by some and plain by others, read this post, while Charlotte was reportedly very ugly, no question about it. According to her biographer, Mrs. Gaskell, Charlotte had, “a reddish face, large mouth and many teeth gone; altogether plain”.
  10. I inherited a fortune from my uncle and married a rich man, while Charlotte was not rich and married a humble parson.

In spite of all these differences, there are also Ten Similarities  in our lives:

  1. We were both very short and thin.
  2. We were both born and bred in Yorkshire.
  3. We both lived in the 19th century.
  4. We both fell in love with married men.
  5. We both worked as teachers and governesses.
  6. We both spoke French fluently.
  7. We were both masterful writers.
  8. We both wrote with pen names, she used Currer Bell, and I wrote my autobiography as Charlotte Bronte.
  9. We were both concerned with women’s unjust place in the world and fought for gender equality. I must add that I did so more actively than she did.
  10. We were both religious, but not hypocrites. We truly believed in our faith and the teachings of the Bible.

I’d say, my life may have been a little harder than Charlotte’s for the first ten years, but after that, I was much more fortunate than poor Charlotte was, thanks to my stronger character and single-mindedness. It could also have been because I was an orphan and had no oppressive family to tie me down or repress me, and because the man I fell in love with became a widower, so unlike Charlotte I was able to marry him and be happy, at least for a time.

I hope I’ve made my point. Jane is not Charlotte.

We did not have the same childhood or upbringing, nor the exact same physical appearance, nor did we lead the same kind of life, or marry the same type of man.

I’m resilient, strong-willed and wealthy. I’m in charge of my life.

I am independent, I married the man I loved and had a son.

Charlotte hasn’t been completely forgotten, of course, yet. However, people are still writing about me, talking about me, and making films about me. Me.

I’m also an enigma. Nobody really knows what happened to me after I wrote my autobiography, ten years after I married (I may have exaggerated a little there, it may have been less than ten).

Someone imagined I built a house called Eyre Hall with the money my uncle left me, on the grounds where Thornfield Hall once stood, and wrote a sequel called The Eyre Hall Trilogy. It sounds like a good idea to me. What do you think?

#AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre’s Resilience and Romance #Bronte200

Today’s a special day. It’s Charlotte Bronte’s 200 birthday, so I’ve decided to post letter ‘R’ with some more words to describe Jane Eyre. Playing around with words beginning with ‘R’ related to Jane Eyre, I came up with this fun summary of the most important aspects of the novel.

R

Jane’s a survivor. She has no use for regret, because she’s resilient and makes use of her resolve to overcome her problems. She takes refuge in another town and starts a new life with a new identity, because she refuses to be ruined by circumstances. Jane is a rationalist and a reasonable young girl, she never lets her feelings take over completely. She’s always in charge of her life.

I’d consider Mr. Rochester a bit of a rake, a rascal, and a rogue, by leading Jane into believing he was a bachelor. He also did a lot of roleplaying, including playing a fortune-teller to laugh at his friends and inventing a rival for Jane in Blanche Ingram, although he had no intention of marrying her. I mean, what would have happened when her influential family found out about his wife?

There is never any rancor on Jane’s part. She forgives everyone including her aunt and cousins. She doesn’t seek revenge, which she knows is the Lord’s. She is not vengeful and does not recriminate Mr. Rochester after the marriage farce, she simply moves on with her life.

Rapport and rapture is what Jane and Rochester felt when they met. Jane Eyre is overall a romance. It is one of the most romantic novels ever written. There’s a beautiful quote from Mr. Rochester regarding Jane and Rochester’s ribs.

Mr. Rochester loves rattling Jane. Their conversations are full of verbal duels, and Jane is as good at arguing and provoking her as she is at provoking him.

There is a raving lunatic in the attic called Mrs Rochester. The question is when did she start raving and why?

Jane constantly speaks to her Dear Reader and she loves reading, and obviously writing as she wrote her autobiography at such a young age. Jane’s world is portrayed realistically and honestly. She makes sure her Dear Reader knows exactly how she feels. The autobiography is written from the mature Jane’s perspective according to her recollection, ten years after she married. It’s a retrospective story.

Jane and Edward

Jane was a bit of a rebel as a child, and even as an adult, she’s not prepared to live according to other people’s conventions. Jane was concerned with moral or religious respectability. She wanted to follow God’s law, not man’s version of it, based on hypocrisy.

Thornfield Hall, one of Jane’s residences, will definitely need rebuilding if they are going to stay on the Rochester Estate, which presumably they will be doing. In my sequel, I took care of that by building Eyre Hall.

Charlotte Bronte was considered a bit of a recluse. She reportedly didn’t like London or leaving the parsonage, especially after her sisters died.

Jane is recompensed for all her suffering. Her struggles are rewarded, and she is finally reconciled to Mr. Rochester, whom we are told recovered the sight of one of his eyes, and most of his mobility after the fire. Jane Eyre is about the renaissance, of a poor orphan girl and how her struggle for survival is finally rewarded, therefore all the wrongs she endured are repaired.

Finally, I have boldly decided to recreate Jane’s world, by retelling and rewriting part of her story; the part she wasn’t completely honest about, due to her naivety. My aim has been to reinvent Jane’s future twenty-two years after Jane Eyre married Mr. Rochester.

Would you like to join me in this new and exciting journey to Eyre Hall?

Banner and Lucy

 

 

 

Letter R & S #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre Rebirth and Sequel

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. I’m going to discuss Jane Eyre’s Rebirth and Sequel in the Eyre Hall Trilogy.

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The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a three-part sequel to Jane Eyre.

My aim was to pay tribute to Charlotte Bronte and so many other Victorian authors, whom I consider my literary Masters.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy owes its existence to the following 19th century literary geniuses in no particular order:

The Brontes, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, R.L. Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Elizabeth and Robert Browning, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, George Elliott, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lord Tennyson, Hardy, Wilde, de Quincy, and Jane Austen.

I have aimed to write an enjoyable Gothic Romance, which makes suspenseful and exciting reading for contemporary audiences.

Readers will encounter many of the original characters in Jane Eyre once again, but this series will also bring to life many new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is now complete:

Banner and Lucy

Book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, takes place twenty-two years after Jane’s marriage to Edward Rochester. Jane is coping with the imminent death of her bedridden husband, and Richard Mason has returned from Jamaica to disclose more secrets and ruin her happiness once again, instigating a sequence of events which will expose Rochester’s disloyalty to Jane, his murderous plots, and innumerable other sins. Mason’s revelations, and the arrival Bertha’s daughter, Miss Annette Mason, will turn Jane’s world turned upside down.

Reading All Hallows

Book 2, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, moves the action on after Edward Rochester’s death. Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and more shocking revelations. This time, the  action will move from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.

Telfth Night Bilboard Night

Book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, which is available for pre-order and will be launched on 21st June, Midsummer’s Day, is the final part of the trilogy.

The first part of Midsummer at Eyre Hall is very dramatic and action-packed. Jane will find herself in completely unexpected and dreadful circumstances, which neither she, nor the reader would ever imagine, so I can’t say much more!

The second part begins to show some improvement in her situation and contains more surprises, including two new characters, who will drastically change Jane’s life forever.

In this final installment, Jane will undertake perilous physical and emotional journeys across England, from Yorkshire, to magical Cornwall, and Victorian London. She will discover who her friends and enemies are, and she will have to make challenging and drastic decisions, which will affect everyone on the Rochester Estate.

I hope the reader will find the end is satisfactory, although the final outcome is happier for some characters than for others…

Magazine Midsummer at Eyre Hall

Check out the Eyre Hall Trilogy on Amazon US and Amazon UK

For those living in Spain you can also purchase paperback versions at http://www.libroseningles.com/

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For those of you who have read books 1 and 2, would like an ARC of Midsummer at Eyre Hall, it will be available at the beginning of June.

Please let me know if you’d like to be the first to read it 🙂

Letter Q #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre Quotes

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. I’m going to show you some famous and significant quotes from Jane Eyre.

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I love these quotes because they show us how powerful Jane’s character was.

She wanted to be Mr. Rochester’s equal. She insists on being independent, having free will, and being the same.

She refuses to allow him to trample on her, in spite of being much richer than her, much older than her, and part of the patriarchal ruling classes.

Finally, I love the way she’s more concerned with happiness than doing what’s expected. That’s why at the end of the novel, when she discovers his first wife has died, she returns to him, in spite of the indignity of returning to the man who lied to her.

She’s prepared to give him another chance, but on equal terms.

She marries him in the end, but she warns him that she is no longer a poor dependent:

‘If you won’t let me live with you, I can build a house of my own close up to your door, and you may come and sit in my parlour when you want company of an evening.’

She asserts her independence by threatening to choose to build a house of her own next to his.

Quotes Jane Eyre 3 Quotes Jane Eyre 4 Quotes Jane Eyre 5 Quotes Jane Eyre 6 Quotes jane Eyre 7

I’m so sure she’d eventually be the ruler of the roost! Aren’t you?

Letter P #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre the Prequel

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. I’m going to tell you about the Prequel to Jane Eyre written almost a century after Jane Eyre was published.

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Wide Sargasso Sea, the Prequel to Jane Eyre

Although my main inspiration in writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy was Jane Eyre, its prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea, written over a hundred years later by Jean Rhys, has been almost equally responsible. Both novels are complimentary and it is their combined stories, which have led to my sequel, The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

I read Wide Sargasso Sea, about thirty years after reading Jane Eyre. This short, but intense novel, which was written in the 1960s, tells the story of Bertha Mason in three parts: her childhood, before she met Mr. Rochester, their first meeting and arranged marriage and first four years of matrimony, and finally her death at Thornfield Hall.

After reading Wide Sargasso Sea, it’s impossible not to reread Jane Eyre with new insight and perspective.

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica, an island of the British West Indies to a Welsh doctor and a third-generation Creole of Scots ancestry. She must have understood Bertha Mason’s feeling of alienation in England herself, as she says in this eloquent quote:

Rhys quote

Rhys’ novel tells the formerly untold story of Bertha Antoinette Mason from her birth in Jamaica to her death at Thornfield Hall.

Antoinette who was silenced, imprisoned, and abused in Jane Eyre, is given a voice and a life, a real life, in Wide Sargasso Sea; a life Charlotte Bronte insinuated but never told. In Wide Sargasso Sea Antoinette tells Rochester; “there is always the other side, always”, and that is the story Rhys weaves in Part One which Antoinette narrates.

Edward Rochester narrates Part Two and is shown up as the shady, unscrupulous character he became in Jane Eyre. His elder brother was to inherit the Rochester Estate, so his father arranged a marriage to a rich Jamaican heiress for Edward, his second son, or the ‘spare’. Rochester disliked Jamaica and although his wife was beautiful, he was not aware that she was Creole, and it displeased him, especially after marrying her and disposing of her generous dowry.

When he inherited the Rochester Estate due to both his brother and father’s sudden deaths, he decided it was time to return to England. That was when he locked Bertha away in a windowless, cold and damp attic, claimed he was unmarried and went gallivanting to France, as he himself admits to Jane.

The Third and Final Part is told once more by Antoinette, who not surprisingly, after ten years in an attic, has become the ‘madwoman in the attic’. She supposedly burns Thornfield Hall, endangering the lives of the rest of the occupants, and commits suicide.

Gilbert and Gubar’s seminal study on feminist literary criticism, Madwoman in the Attic, was written in honour of Bertha Mason. I’ve written several posts on this topic in previous posts on this blog:

My fascination with these two novels escalated when I taught Postcolonial Literature to undergraduates at the University of Córdoba. One of the topics on the syllabus was a comparison of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, and that really sparked classroom discussion and my imagination. The idea of reinstating the first Mrs. Rochester, Bertha Mason, had been nagging at me for a long time, until I decided to reinstate Bertha Mason by bringing her daughter to life and back to the Rochester Estate in my Sequel to Jane Eyre, The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

 

Letter O #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre the Orphan

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today Jane’s going to tell you about her origins and her orphaned childhood.

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My name’s Jane Eyre and I’m an orphan.

My parents died when I was but an infant. My mother’s brother, Uncle Reed, kindly took me in, although he too died when I was a baby. His wife, my Aunt Reed, had promised to look after me, but she disliked me so much that my birthday was never celebrated, and I never dared to ask when it was.

When I asked my aunt about my father’s family, she said she had no news of them. Miss Abbot, who had been her maid for many years told Bessie, the younger maid that my father had been a poor clergyman whom my mother had married against the my grandfather Reed’s wishes, because he was beneath her, so he cut her off without a shilling. My parents died within a month of each other of typhus, a year after they married.

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If my mother’s brother, Mr. Reed had been alive instead of buried in his vault at Gateshead Church, he would have treated me kindly, but his widow enjoyed humiliating me and telling me I was wicked, so I was an unhappy and unloved child. I was habitually abused, consequently, I was full of self-doubt and often depressed. My aunt said I was wicked, which meant I was often punished. Sometimes I was made to sit on my own, which I didn’t mind, because I disliked them all, but other times I was locked in a room, which I hated.

Fortunately, my aunt sent me away to Lowood Institution, with the assurance that she would never see me again. It was still too soon as far as I was concerned.

Nine years later, while I was working at Thornfield Hall, my aunt she sent for me on her death-bed and gave me the following letter, which she had received from my uncle, Mr. John Eyre, my father’s brother three years earlier.

‘Madam,—Will you have the goodness to send me the address of my niece, Jane Eyre, and to tell me how she is? It is my intention to write shortly and desire her to come to me at Madeira. Providence has blessed my endeavours to secure a competency; and as I am unmarried and childless, I wish to adopt her during my life, and bequeath her at my death whatever I may have to leave.—I am, Madam, &c., &c., ‘JOHN EYRE, Madeira.’

When I asked her why I hadn’t been informed, she replied, “‘Because I disliked you too fixedly and thoroughly ever to lend a hand in lifting you to prosperity.”

She told my uncle that I had died of typhus. She said it was her way of taking revenge, on a poor orphan. I forgave her, but it wasn’t enough. I knew she still had to make peace with God, which would only happen if she were truly sorry, which I doubted.

I discovered my uncle had died while I was working as a teacher at Morton, after leaving Thornfield Hall. His lawyer, Mr. Briggs, was looking for me because my uncle had died and left me all his property, which was twenty thousand pounds. So thanks to him, I was rich. I was sorry he had never found me, so I had never met him, but if I had lived with him in Madeira, as he had wished, I would never have met Edward.

 

Jane_Eyre_family-tree

My mother, Jane Reed, had a brother, John Reed, who was married to my Aunt Reed.

My father had a brother called John Eyre, a wine merchant who lived in Madeira, and was my benefactor. He also had a sister, who married Reverend Rivers, that was how I was related to my cousins St. John, Mary and Diana.

When I married Edward, I had no parents, uncles or aunts, but I had five cousins. I was sure I would have no type of relationship with Eliza or Georgina, and St John would travel to India, but I had two wonderful cousins, Diana and Mary, who were like two sisters to me.

I have always refused to indulge in self-pity. Life is too precious to waste time feeling sorry for oneself or thinking about what might have been. My present and my future is in my hands, and I aim to make the most of it.

I’m sorry I lost my parents, and I feel sympathy for the little orphan who was humiliated and abused for the first ten years of her life, but everything that happened after leaving Gateshead has brought me closer to finding happiness, so I’m grateful for every minute, which helped my character grow.

Perhaps I’ll write a sequel to my autobiography, and tell everyone about the house I built a house with my uncle’s inheritance, which I called Eyre Hall in his honour.