#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter7 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 7

Chapter VII Mr Brocklehurst’s Visit to Lowood

My first quarter at Lowood was an irksome struggle as I habituated myself to new rules and unwanted tasks. The deep snows of January, February, and March, meant impassable roads which prevented our stirring beyond the garden walls, except to go to church which was even colder than Lowood. Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there: our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet.

The scanty supply of food was distressing: with the keen appetites of growing children, we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a delicate invalid. This deficiency of nourishment resulted an abuse, the older girls would coax or menace the little ones, like me, out of their portions.

Mr. Brocklehurst’s first visit occurred a month after my arrival. I dreaded that he had come to keep the promise he pledged to my aunt to apprise Miss Temple and the teachers of what he described as my vicious nature.

I was near enough to hear him complain to Miss Temple that we were getting extra clothes, bread and cheese without his authorisation.

‘Madam, You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying, encouraging them to evince fortitude under temporary privation, such as the torments of martyrs and the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself who said. ‘If ye suffer hunger or thirst for My sake, happy are ye.’

He then turned his wrath on Julia Severn. “Why is her red hair worn in a mass of curls? Their hair must be arranged modestly and plainly. That girl’s hair must be cut off entirely.’

Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted by three other visitors, his wife and daughters, splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs. The elder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed with ermine, and she wore a false front of French curls.

I had sat well back and held my slate up to conceal my face, but it slipped from my hand and fell with an obtrusive crash.

‘Let the child who broke her slate come forward!’ said Mr Brocklehurst.

When I stepped forward, he told someone to fetch a stool and I was placed there, hoisted up to the height of his nose.

‘Ladies,’ said he, turning to everyone. ‘It is my duty to warn you, that this girl is an interloper and an alien. You must be on your guard against her, avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers, you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul: if, indeed, such salvation be possible, this girl is a liar! Let her stand half-an-hour longer on that stool, and let no one speak to her during the remainder of the day.’

There was I, then, mounted aloft, in the middle of the room, exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy.

Helen Burns passed by me, lifted her eyes, smiled and like an angel gave me her courage and strength to lift up my head, and stand firmly on the stool.

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In this chapter we are informed that Jane is living in an inhospitable Lowood, suffering from extreme cold, and she is unhappy following many rules and carrying out unwanted tasks. She is also being underfed and bullied by the older girls who steal their meagre portions of food.

Mr Brocklehurst’s visit is devastating. Jane is insulted, defamed, humiliated and ridiculed in front of all the school, on a ‘pedestal of infamy’. Fortunately, she received courage from her friend, Helen Burns, to endure the ordeal.

Mr Brocklehurst’s splendidly attired daughters are a striking contrast to the poor, underfed and skimpily dressed girls at Lowood. Another minor detail, which I have included because of its significance, is that fact that Mr Brocklehurst orders Julia Severn’s curls to be cut off, while his wife is wearing ‘a false front of French curls’. Perhaps the curls will be used to make a wig for his wife?  

The way the clergyman uses the name of ‘The Blessed Lord’ to justify the cruelty with which he expects the girls at Lowood to be treated, makes him a major villain in the novel. Although he has a minor role, he is the most despicable character and the greatest villain in the novel, much worse than her Aunt Reed, because he has been gravely mistreating all the girls at Lowood for years, for his own financial gain. 

The plot thickens. Jane finds herself in a cruel and unjust situation once again. What will happen now? How will she move forward or out of the new pit she has been thrust into?

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 8!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter6 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 6

My First Conversation with Helen Burns

The north-east wind, which whistled through the crevices of our bedroom windows all night long, had frozen the water in our pitchers. After an hour and a half of prayers and Bible-reading, I felt ready to perish with cold. I was grateful for today’s meagre portion of unburnt porridge, but I was still hungry.

Three months had passed; it was March. Being little accustomed to learn by heart, the morning lessons appeared to me both long and difficult and the frequent change from task to task, bewildered me.

In the afternoon, as I sat in a quiet corner of the schoolroom doing needlework, I watched Miss Scatcherd make a girl called Burns the object of her constant scolding.

‘You dirty, disagreeable girl!’ she said and inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs.

After classes, I saw the girl reading a book by the dim glare of the embers.

‘Is it still ‘Rasselas’?’ I asked.

‘Yes, and I have just finished it.’

‘What is your name besides Burns?’

‘Helen.’

‘Do you come a long way from here?’

‘I come from the borders of Scotland.’

‘Will you ever go back?’

‘I hope so; but nobody can be sure of the future.’

‘You must wish to leave Lowood?’

‘No! I was sent to Lowood to get an education.’

‘But Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you.’

‘She dislikes my faults.’

‘If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand; I should break it under her nose.’

‘If you did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school. It is far better to endure patiently, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.’

‘But it is disgraceful to be publicly flogged.’

‘I am careless, and I forget rules. I provoke Miss Scatcherd, who is naturally neat, punctual, and particular.’

‘Is Miss Temple as severe to you as Miss Scatcherd?’

At the utterance of Miss Temple’s name, she smiled. ‘Miss Temple is full of goodness; she sees my errors and tells me of them gently; and, if I do anything worthy of praise, she gives it to me.’

‘If we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard, so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.’

‘You will change your mind, I hope, when you grow older.’

‘I must resist those who punish me unjustly.’

‘Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine, but Christians and civilised nations disown it.’

I could not comprehend this doctrine of endurance. ‘How?’

‘It is not violence that best overcomes hate—nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.’

‘What then?’

‘Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says, and how He acts; make His word your rule, and His conduct your example.’

‘What does He say?’

‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you.’

Helen listened patiently as I told her about my aunt’s cruelty. ‘Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. Revenge disgusts me. I live in calm, looking to the end.’

A monitor, a great rough girl, interrupted us, exclaiming, ‘Helen Burns, if you don’t put your drawer in order, I’ll tell Miss Scatcherd to come and look at it!’

Helen sighed and obeyed without reply as without delay.

In this chapter Jane is an angry, bitter child who hates the world and is on a crusade against injustice, but Helen, who is a few years older and has a calmer character, teaches her that it is better to adopt Christian values, not hold grudges or hate, and bear whatever life sends your way.

At this point, Jane doesn’t agree with her new friend, but as the novel progresses, she will adopt some of Helen’s ideas, for example, she will eventually forgive her aunt on her deathbed.

The chapter also brings up an interesting debate on education and the merits of strict discipline versus kindness and understanding. Miss Temple prefers a sympathetic approach, while Miss Scatcherd’s teachings force Helen to face her shortcomings by using humiliation and violence. Jane prefers the first approach and Helen the second. We will soon see, when Jane is a teacher, which one of the two prevails.

Regarding Helen’s stoic philosophy, it is influenced by the Bible and Rasselas, a philosophical novel published in 1759 by Samuel Johnson.

Rasselas is the Prince of Abyssinia, who lives a life of luxury in Happy Valley, but at 26, bored with his pleasurable but unhappy life, he decides to travel the world and discover whether it’s possible for mankind to attain happiness. He finally returns to his Happy Valley and accepts that life on earth is not meant to be happy.

Rasselas has realised that the search for happiness on Earth is futile. Everyone is unhappy regardless of their circumstances and situation. Consequently, Man should search for God by focusing on one’s immortal soul, and thereby reach eternal happiness after death.

Helen is telling Jane that happiness does not depend on external circumstances, but that it is within ourselves. The kindness or cruelty we are subject to are merely different means to the same end: self-improvement or godliness. We must try to be the best version of ourselves in whichever circumstances we live by following the dictates of Christianity; ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you.’ Because heaven will recompense you after death, as she says, ‘looking to the end.’

This is a fascinating and intense chapter with a profound discussion on education, happiness, and the meaning of life, bearing in mind that Jane is ten years old, although Helen is a few years older. Jane has not yet read Rasselas, although as it seems to be a required text at Lowood and she will read it in the future. As the novel progresses, Jane will tame her rebellious nature, although she will never be as meek and submissive as Helen.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 7!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter5 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 5

My First Day at Lowood Institution  

I left Gateshead Hall at six am on the morning of the 19th of January. At twilight, after a 50-mile coach journey, we descended a valley into a dark, windy wood. A servant accompanied me along a pebbly path and into a house.

A tall lady with dark hair, dark eyes, enveloped in a shawl said, ‘The child is very young to be sent alone.’ I later learned she was Miss Maria Temple, the superintendent of Lowood.

She instructed Miss Miller to take me to another long room with great tables and girls aged between ten and twenty, uniformly dressed in brown stuff frocks and long pinafores, seated round on benches, in their hour of study.

Four girls went out and returned bearing trays with a thin oaten cake cut into fragments and mugs of water which were handed around. I drank because I was thirsty, but I did not eat.

After the meal, prayers were read by Miss Miller, and the classes filed off, two and two, upstairs to a large room with rows of beds, each filled with two occupants. I fell asleep at once.

At dawn a loud bell signalled we should wake up, wash our faces, get dressed and formed in file, two and two, descended the stairs and enter the cold and dimly lit schoolroom where Miss Miller read prayers.

We sat around four tables with one teacher. I sat with the smallest children. After four classes we had burnt porridge for breakfast. I ate a few spoonfuls because I was starving and then we went back to class. At twelve, the classes stopped and miss Temple ordered a lunch of bread and cheese.

After lunch we went out to the garden, a wide space surrounded with walls so high as to exclude every glimpse of what lay beyond. Some flower beds were assigned as gardens for the pupils to cultivate, and each bed had an owner.

Some girls ran playing active games while others sat in the shelter of the verandah where I leant against a pillar and spoke to a girl reading a book. I asked her some questions, and she told me Lowood was a charity school for orphans and poor children. I found out the treasurer was Mr Brocklehurst, a clergyman who lived in a large hall two miles away.

We re-entered the house for dinner made up of some potatoes and strange shreds of rusty meat, mixed and cooked together. After dinner we had more classes until five o’clock. Miss Scatcherd ridiculed a girl by making her stand in the middle of the large schoolroom.

Soon after five p.m. we had the best meal of the day, comprising a small mug of coffee, and half-a-slice of brown bread which I devoured and wished for more.

Half-an-hour’s recreation succeeded, then study; then the glass of water and the piece of oat-cake, prayers, and bed. Such was my first day at Lowood.

This picture of Oliver Twist asking for more, reminds me of the burnt porridge Jane Eyre had to eat on her first day at Lowood. Jane is the female equivalent of Oliver (published by Charles Dickens about ten years before Jane Eyre).

Jane was one of the youngest children in the institution and she had just arrived, so she accepted her lot and didn’t complain, although some older girls did.

Here we have another sad chapter where Jane is forced to live at a charity school as a pauper and endure the hardships of the life of a Victorian orphan. It’s like a prison. The girls wear identical ugly and uncomfortable clothes, made of ‘stuff’ a coarse material. The food is disgusting, and it’s a cold and lonely place, and although her stay has only just begun, we can imagine there is much more hardship in store.

There are two positive points in the chapter which give us some hope for Jane. She meets Helen, who will become her best friend, and she also meets Miss Temple, the superintendent, a kind and fair teacher who will leave a mark on Jane, as we will soon see.

Again, we have faith that Jane will find a way to survive yet again in another hostile environment.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 6!

Images from Pixabay

#WednesdayWisdom ‘If I Could Change…’ #1linewed #WWWBlogs #Tanka

If I could change the way I live my life today, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

“Change” is a song recorded by British singer Lisa Stansfield for her 1991 album, Real Love. It was written by Stansfield, Ian Devaney and Andy Morris. More about Lisa Stansfield on her blog.

Change 

If I could change
The way I live my life today
I wouldn’t change a thing
Because if I changed my world
I wouldn’t be who I am 
*****
Basically, those 31 syllables say it all.
Everything I have ever seen, done, experienced, learnt, and everyone I have ever seen, heard, met, loved, or not, has brought me to this moment in time, and I wouldn’t change any of it.

But just to clarify, here are another 31 syllables.

Me

This is who I am,
All that is, was, and will be
Exists in this time,
Breathe it, live it, and love it,
There is no other moment. 

****

More One Liner Wednesday here on Linda Hill’s Blog, join in!

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter4

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 4

How I met Mr Brocklehurst  

November, December, and half of January passed away. Christmas and the New Year had been celebrated at Gateshead with the usual festive cheer; presents had been interchanged, dinners and evening parties given, but from every enjoyment I was, of course, excluded.

On the 15 of January I was called to the breakfast room to meet a visitor.

‘What is your name?’ The tall man with the large eyes and grim face asked.

“Jane Eyre, sir.”

‘How old are you?’

‘Ten.’

‘Are you a good child?’

My aunt shook her head. ‘The less said on that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.’

‘Do you know where the wicked go after death?’  he asked.

‘They go to hell,’ was my answer.

‘And what is hell? Can you tell me that?’

‘A pit full of fire.’

‘And should you like to fall into that pit burn forever?’

‘No, sir.’

‘What must you do to avoid it?’

‘I must keep in good health, and not die.’

He looked displeased. ‘Do you say your prayers night and morning?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Do you read your Bible?’

‘Sometimes.’

“Do you read the psalms?”

“They are not interesting.”

Mr Brocklehurst gasped. “That proves you are wicked.”

‘And deceitful,’ said my aunt. ‘May I depend upon this child being received as a pupil at Lowood to be to be brought up in a manner suiting her prospects and to be made useful and to be kept humble.’

He nodded. ‘You may.’ Then he turned to me. ‘Here is a book entitled the ‘Child’s Guide,’ read it carefully. There is an account of the awfully sudden death of Martha, a naughty child addicted to falsehood and deceit.’

When he left, knowing I would soon be leaving, I told my aunt how I felt. ‘I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if anyone asks me how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.’

The fourth chapter of Jane Eyre introduces Mr Brocklehurst, a clergyman and fanatical christian who is the supervisor of Lowood Institution for Orphaned Girls. we will see as the novel progresses how he mistreats the girls at the boarding school.

This chapter shows ten-year-old Jane to be sure of herself and eloquent enough to maintain a lively discussion with Brocklehurst and tell her aunt exactly what she thinks of her.

The reader has no inclination to feel sorry for this girl, who has a strong, principled character, and although she is still a child who needs to learn to control her temper, we know that she will survive whatever ordeals she will encounter at Lowood.

If you check out this page of the British Library you can see a photograph of Charlotte Bronte’s handwritten manuscript of Jane’s conversation with Mr Brocklehurst.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 5!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter3

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 3

How I recovered after fainting in the Red Room   

I woke up in my own bed after a frightful nightmare.

Bessie refused to sleep alone with me for fear that I might die during the night, so Sarah stayed with her. I heard them say a white apparition had passed over me and my uncle’s grave, and although I have forgiven my aunt, to this day I still suffer at the memory of that ghostly night.

The next day, Mr Lloyd, the apothecary visited and asked me why I was crying and I told him I had been locked in a dark room with a ghost and that I was very unhappy at Gateshead.

When he asked me if I’d like to go away to school, I agreed because I could learn French and how to paint, sing and play the piano. He said he would speak to Mrs Reed and as she says I’m a tiresome, ill- conditioned child, I hope she will be glad to be rid of me and let me go.

Later that night, I heard Miss Abbot tell Bessie my father had been a poor clergyman. My mother’s father had disagreed with the marriage and cut her off without a shilling. A year later my father caught the typhus fever while visiting the poor, and shortly after my mother had died, too, making me a penniless orphan.

The third chapter of Jane Eyre introduces a new character, Mr Lloyd, the apothecary. He is not a major character, but he is significant for two reasons. Firstly, he suggests Jane should be removed from Gateshead and taken to a boarding school, an event which initiates the next stage of jane’s journey. Secondly, he is the first adult who is actively involved in helping Jane, as we will see in chapter VIII.

Jane is aware at such a young age how learning can help her improve her future and in fact it is her knowledge of French which will be one of the reasons she is offered the job of governess at  Thornfield Hall nine years later, to teach Mr Rochester’s French ward English.

Jane also learns about her parents’ deaths. This chapter begins the transition from the fear and torture she is putting up with at Gateshead to the possibility of hope and a new life at a school, away from her aunt and cousins.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 4!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter2

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 2

How I imagined I saw my uncle’s ghost in the red-room

I was unjustly accused of violence and wickedness towards my cousin, John, and reminded that I was less than a servant. They warned me that if I was not congenial, I would be sent to the poorhouse.

I knew my aunt had promised my uncle, Mr Reed, that she would rear and maintain me as her own. Instead, she considered me an alien intruder in her family. I was an unloved and unwanted guest at Gateshead Hall. They called me naughty, sullen and sneaking. Everything I did was at fault, consequently I was always suffering, brow beaten and condemned.

Miss Abbot and Bessie, both servants at Gateshead, wanted to tie me up with a pair of garters. I promised to keep still, and they left me on a low ottoman near the marble chimneypiece in the red room, the largest and coldest room, furnished with a bed, dark mahogany chairs and wardrobe. There was a miniature of my poor uncle, who had died in this very room.

The rain was beating on the windows, and the wind howled in the grove behind the Hall. When night fell and I saw a ghost in the looking glass, I screamed and sobbed to be let out, but they did not believe me. I was so terrified that my uncle would rise from the grave that I had a fit and lost consciousness.

The second chapter of Jane Eyre intensifies Jane’s sense of abandonment, loneliness and lack of love or support.

Another chilling aspect is added to her misery, her uncle’s ghostly presence in the ominous room. Jane is threatened with the poorhouse, almost tied up, and locked in the red room, where her uncle died and presumably haunts in the dead of night.

A terrifying situation for a helpless ten-year-old child.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 3!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter1

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 1

How I came to be locked in the red-room

There was no possibility of taking a walk that chilly November afternoon.

My cousins Eliza, John and Georgina were clustered around their mother and my aunt, Mrs Reed, in the drawing room, while I was kept at a distance, accused of insolence.

I made myself at home on the window-seat in the breakfast-room, behind a heavy curtain, reading Berwick’s History of British Birds, with its eerie pictures, which told mysterious stories of marine phantoms, churchyards, torpid seas and gallows.

My cousin, John, who at fourteen was four years older and twice my size, interrupted my solitude, ordering me to return his book because I was a penniless orphan and an unwanted guest at his house.

I did as requested and he threw the book at my head with such force that I fell and hit my head on the door. Blood trickled down my neck. “You are wicked like the Roman emperors,” I said, because I had read all about Nero and Caligula in Goldsmith’s History of Rome.

He called me a rat and pulled my hair viciously. I fought him off frantically and when his mother found us; I was accused of aggressive behaviour and dragged upstairs to be locked in the red room.

The first chapter of Jane Eyre is impressive. The reader is thrust into a brave, intelligent and abused ten-year-old’s struggle to survive in a hostile world.

The story begins in Jane’s lowest moment; orphaned, unloved, bullied, physically beaten, silenced and locked in a room. It may not be a coincidence that at this precise moment, Bertha Antionetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, was also locked in the attic at Thornfield Hall.

We learn that Jane is an orphan who lives with her unloving aunt and nasty cousins, much like Cinderella, but with a bullying boy added to the picture. We also know she is an intelligent child who reads and understands books for adults about Roman emperors and birds.

We feel immediate compassion for the child, but we are also aware that she is not to be pitied. Jane is an intelligent and spirited girl who is prepared to face her bullies and fight for her freedom.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

Here’s a post I wrote about the books Jane Eyre read.

Here’s a post I wrote about the first line of Jane Eyre: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” 

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

So if you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 2!

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction

I regularly reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Sometimes the whole book, other times passages and it never gets old! There’s always something new I notice or think about. As this blog is called Rereading Jane Eyre and all my novels so far were directly influenced by Jane Eyre I thought I’d share my latest rereading on my blog this time.

But the question I asked myself was, ‘How do I breathe new life into my rereading of Jane Eyre, a novel which has been read and discussed millions of times over the last two centuries?’

Everything I could think of, such as write summaries or opinions of each chapter has already been done. On the other hand, I didn’t just want to write posts for students to pass exams or do their homework, although I’m delighted if students of English or Victorian literature drop by and get some value from my blog, after all, I am/was a teacher (once a teacher always a teacher!)

I also wanted it to be fun for me. Life’s short and wonderful, so I’m only prepared to take on projects I feel passionate about. So how could I bring renewed passion into yet another rereading of the classic?

The solution came to me suddenly, as all my best ideas do.

I enjoy writing flash fiction and I enjoy reading Jane Eyre, so why not combine both?

Photo by No Longer Here. See more of their images on Pixabay

This weekly post will include a flash fiction rewriting of each of the 38 chapters of Jane Eyre. My aim is to condense each chapter to less than 250 words and maintain the tone, style, vocabulary and content of the original novel. At the same time, each flash fiction chapter will be a complete story in itself, to be continued the following week.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find by clicking on the book cover.

Why Flash Fiction?

I’ve been writing flash fiction since I discovered it six years ago, and it’s definitely helped me as a writer by building awareness of the value of making every word count whatever I write. I explain this in greater detail in this post.

Who are these flash fiction chapters for?

Before I answer the question I’d like to encourage you all to read or reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, because it’s one of the greatest novels in the English language.

Jane Eyre is on many diverse lists of ‘Best English Novels’ and it has been giving readers all over the world hours of pleasure and inspiration for over 170 years.

However, I do appreciate that Victorian novels are three volumes long and much more slow-paced than 21st century novels, so they are not for all contemporary readers, and yet, if I can create an interest in readers with my flash fiction samples (or my novels), to read the original, that would be fabulous.

Back to the question. These posts are for anyone who has not read the novel and would like to get the feel of it, as well as people who have read it some time ago and don’t remember much, and for anyone who enjoys reading flash fiction.

I will also include a brief commentary on the chapter and some quotes and discussion questions, which may be of value to teachers, students and general readers. My aim is to keep the whole post to between 500-600 words.

So if you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 1!

#WWWBlogs ’10 Lies Edward Rochester told Jane Eyre’

Before I discuss the ten lies Mr. Rochester told Jane in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, I’d like to summarize some key aspects about the nature of lies.

According to Neuroscientist, Sam Harris in his concise and brilliant book Lying, ‘To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true.’

Lying by [Sam Harris, Annaka Harris]

Most people consider there are degrees to lying, from lying out of what we consider kindness, or white lies, to malicious reasons, or black lies, but Harris considers that both types of lies are equally harmful, because the liar is consciously creating a false reality for their victim, the person who is tricked or duped.

Harris claims lies of any color are harmful. Moreover, he reminds us that an ethically superior, noble person does not lie. He affirms that lies cause irreparable damage to our relationships, sacrificing our honesty, and giving up the possibility of deep and meaningful bonds with the people we interact with.

The value of integrity by far outweighs any short-term benefits of lying. A person who lies lacks moral principles, and the victim will lose faith and trust in this person.

By denying reality and lying to ourselves and others, we also make it impossible to face reality or develop meaningful relationships based on honesty and mutual trust.

Now let’s identify Mr. Rochester’s lies to Jane Eyre.

First a warning: this post is not suitable for unconditional fans of Mr. Rochester.

Where to start with the gentleman’s lies? I could organize them according to the severity or the type of lie, but I’m going to take a chronological approach. I’ll identify his lies in the order in which they appear in the novel. I’ll describe Rochester’s lie, identify the intention, and discuss the consequences.

  1. The first time Rochester met Jane was when his horse slipped on the ice on the causeway. On this occasion, he pretended to be someone else, although he didn’t say he was someone else, he asked about Mr. Rochester, as if he didn’t know this person. He doesn’t actually say he is not Rochester, but he leads her to believe he is not Mr. Rochester. The intention is unclear. I’d say he enjoys being condescending and playing with Jane by leaving her in the dark. He found out who she was, but refused to reveal his own identity, to benefit his amusement, because there was nothing to gain. The consequences were that Jane was surprised and mortified when she discovered his identity.
  2. Later, he accused Jane of bewitching his horse, which was a downright lie because he was not a superstitious man. His intention in this case was to cover up his mistake. He didn’t want to admit that he was not a perfect horseman who had slipped because he was riding too fast, and perhaps once again, he enjoyed teasing her. He may also have wanted her to feel responsible for his accident. The consequence was that Jane let him know she wasn’t superstitious, and she was not willing to agree with everything he said.
  3. He said Adele’s mother claimed he was her father, and he denied it. But why else would such a selfish and unloving man take in a little girl as his ward? His intention was to convince Jane that Adele was not his daughter, and the consequence was that Jane felt sorry for him and considered him a victim.
  4. He pretended to be interested in marrying Blanche Ingram, but he was simply using her to make Jane jealous. That was a double lie, which was disrespectful to both women. The consequence was that Jane handed in her notice, and Rochester confessed he loved her and proposed.
  5. He pretended to be a gypsy fortune-teller during the party at his house, and although that was a game, ironically, it was the only lie she caught him out on at once.
  6. He did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Richard Mason, who was his brother-in-law. Neither did he tell Jane that Mr. Mason had come to visit his sister in the attic. He led Jane to believe Mason was dangerous, while in fact it was Rochester who had imprisoned his sister. Although it was not considered a criminal act at the time, he knew it was morally wrong to lock your wife in the attic, which was why he didn’t want Jane to know what he had done.
  7. He led Jane to believe that Grace Pool was responsible for attacking Mr. Mason the night while he stayed at Thornfield (it was Bertha). This is a lie by omission and commission, because although Jane made the suggestion out of innocence, he repeated the lie maliciously.
  8. He asked Jane to marry him, although he was already married. He led her to the altar, knowing the marriage would be annulled. He must have realized the bigamy would eventually have been discovered, after his wedding night and honeymoon, ruining Jane’s prospects in the long term.
  9. When the wedding was interrupted by a lawyer, Mr. Briggs and Mr. Mason, he still denied it all inside the church. He finally admitted he was married and took them to visit his wife, whom he had kept in the attic in a deplorable condition. Even so, he continued to defend his actions. He insisted on the marriage because he considered himself above both divine and man-made laws. The consequence was that Jane left him.
  10. When the marriage was definitely canceled, he offered Jane a villa in France where she could live as his ‘friend’. He was obviously asking her to be his mistress, although he denied it. He even forcefully tried to persuade her, which was why she escaped from Thornfield at daybreak.

There are two more very serious lies, but there is no explicit proof in the novel.

11 and 12. Perhaps Bertha didn’t start the fire or fall off the battlements. Perhaps he started the fire and/or pushed her. I find it hard to believe Mr. Rochester would go up to the roof to save his mad wife’s life, risking his own, when he could be finally rid of her.

But he wasn’t the only person to lie to Jane Eyre. Here is another post I wrote called Liars in Jane Eyre  with a few more liars.

And here are some more posts on Jane Eyre.

Finally, Mr. Rochester promised eternal love, but would they have lived happily ever after?

I have no doubt that Mr. Rochester was in love, or perhaps infatuated by Adele’s young governess, but how long would their honeymoon period have lasted? Bearing in mind his irascible and selfish character and Jane’s generosity, kindness and independence, I doubt it would have lasted longer than her first childbirth.

And that’s the premise of The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy