Jane Eyre & the Brontë Sisters

It is Friday, May 12th, 2017, and I finished Jane Eyre earlier this afternoon. I started reading it two weeks ago + I watched the movie (2011 version) when I reached the 25th or so chapter. I was in a word, overwhelmed by Charlotte's writing. No offense to Emily, but I enjoyed Jane Eyre a lot more than I did Wuthering Heights. On one hand, I liked that WH had story line that went back and forth between past and present, + it was all narrated through the eyes of Nelly + a random passerby named Lockwood. On the other hand, Healthcliff + Catherine, the protagonists in the story, were extremely selfish people. As I was reading it, I was not rooting for either one of them. The entire book, although well written + thought out, was not as romantic, humorous, or compelling as Jane Eyre.  

Ah, Jane Eyre. There have been few books that I have read where I thought to myself: I want to be like her/him, in reference to the protagonist. Jane Eyre is definitely one of those characters. For one, Jane suffered through a terrible childhood where she was mistreated by her cousins + aunt, but somehow, she was able to go to her aunt's bedside in the end + forgive her, which is amazing. Secondly, her relationship with Rochester is adorable, but I mostly love it because they're funny together; their banter, although written in the 1800s, made me laugh out loud many, many times. Jane is a character that you are constantly rooting for, unlike those of WH. In the earlier chapters you're thinking: "When on earth is she going to find happiness? This is too depressing." and in the later chapters: "You go, Jane. You witty, brave soul." 

As nerdy as it sounds, I am currently on the waiting list at my library to get ahold of the PBS series: To Walk Invisible, a series about the Brontë sisters. I'm excited to see if what I think about each of the sisters (solely based on their writing styles) is true or not. Reader, I will keep you updated. But for now, I wanted to share with you some of the words that I underlined in Jane Eyre (lightly with a pencil, mind you. Don't freak out). 

We all know the quotes from this book, such as: "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." and spoiler alert: "Reader, I married him." I wanted to share some unknown quotes that stood out to me.

  • 'I knew,' he continued, 'you would do me good in some way, at some time; - I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not - (again he stopped) - did not (he proceeded hastily) strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.' (Rochester) ... Strange energy was in his voice; strange fire in his look. 'I am glad I happened to be awake,' I said: and then I was going. (Jane)
  • He made me love him without looking at me. (Jane)
  • I saw them smile, laugh - it was nothing: the light of the candles had as much soul in it as their smile; the tinkle of the bell as much significance as their laugh. (Jane about the Ingrams)
  • Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me? (Rochester, after Jane saved him from the fire in his room by throwing buckets of water at the flames)
  • I have told you, reader, that I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me. (Jane)
  • His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life - at least so I thought. (Jane, talking about Rochester)
  • Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once. (Rochester, talking to Jane)
  • ...but there was ever in Mr. Rochester (so at least I thought) such a wealth of the power of communicating happiness, that to taste but of the crumbs he scattered to stray and stranger birds like me, was to feast genially. (Jane - My personal favorite)
  • 'Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home - my only home.' I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have overtaken me had he tried. (Jane)
  • This was very pleasant: there is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort. (Jane) 
  • Never had he called me more frequently to his presence; never been kinder to me when there - and, alas! never had I loved him so well. (Jane)
  • 'Because,' he said, 'I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, - you'd forget me.' (Rochester)
  • 'I would not - could not - marry Miss Ingram. You - you strange - you almost unearthly thing! - I love as my own flesh. You - poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are - I entreat to accept me as a husband.' (Rochester, talking to Jane)
  • Again and again he said, 'Are you happy, Jane?' And again and again I answered, 'Yes.' (Jane, after Rochester asked her to marry him the first time)
  • Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was my comfort, that was strength for anything. (Jane)
  • 'Don't address me as if I were a beauty; I am your plain, Quakerish governess.' (Jane) 'You are a beauty, in my eyes; and a beauty just after the desire of my heart, - delicate and aërial.' (Rochester) 'Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir, - or you are sneering. For God's sake, don't be ironical!' (Jane)
  • 'Had you ever experience of such a character, sir? Did you ever love such a one?' (Jane) 'I love it now.' (Rochester)
  • 'When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless movement; as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one's heart.' (Rochester) 
  • '...I have for the first time found what I can truly love - I have found you. You are my sympathy - my better self - my good angel - I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you - and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.' (Rochester to Jane)
  • We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us: and it is the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. (Jane) 
  • 'Choose then, sir - her who loves you best.' (Jane) 'I will at least choose - her I love best. Jane, will you marry me?' (Rochester, asking Jane to marry him for the second time)
  • Whenever Rochester calls Jane an "elf."

Needless to say, I very much recommend this book. Read it if you haven't already in high school. Better yet, re-read it and underline the quotes that jump out at you.

Reagan Fleming