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

Hemingway's Humble Abode

Last week, my family and I went to Chicago, IL. More specifically, we were in Oak Park, IL, which just so happens to be Ernest Hemingway's birthplace. This trip reminded me of one that I took almost 3 years ago, on my 18th birthday: I visited my sister in Chicago where she was co-oping at the time for school, and we shopped all around the city, drank many many cups of coffee, and visited Hemingway's birth home and museum. 

You're probably thinking, "When I turned 18, I went out to get some cigarettes and lottery tickets. My 18th birthday was crazy!" Well, in my mind, I did have a crazy 18th birthday, but I was nowhere near cigarettes or lottery tickets. Instead, I went on a tour inside the late Hemingway's home, and visited the Hemingway Museum.


Ernest Hemingway's birth home.

Ernest Hemingway's birth home.

Home part 2.

Home part 2.

Hemingway's study.

Hemingway's study.

Study part 2.      Let's just take a moment and enjoy the fact that Hemingway loved owls... Probably as much as I do.

Study part 2. 

Let's just take a moment and enjoy the fact that Hemingway loved owls... Probably as much as I do.

Study part 3. 

Study part 3. 

The entrance to the Hemingway Museum.

The entrance to the Hemingway Museum.

A typewriter on display in the museum.     Hemingway's typewriter was sold in an auction, so I'm not sure if this was his or simply a duplicate. 

A typewriter on display in the museum.

Hemingway's typewriter was sold in an auction, so I'm not sure if this was his or simply a duplicate. 


Much to my surprise, the tour was held in his birth home, not at the museum. Obviously, we went on said tour AND wandered around the museum, and I got to learn a lot more about him. One fact that stood out to me, was that Hemingway's mother used to dress him and his sister up as girls when they were younger, because she wanted another daughter so badly. 

In the museum, we simply walked around and examined various posters, artifacts, pictures, and typewriters like the one above. 


Oak Park, IL is a place where interesting and beautiful homes are the norm - everywhere I looked, I thought: "This is where a writer would live." But once I laid eyes on and stepped foot inside Ernest Hemingway's home, it sunk in that this literally was a writer's home. And not just any writer; Ernest Hemingway, the brilliant yet troubled author who wrote with such frankness. 

I'm really grateful that I was able to visit these places, to learn more about such a talented writer. I really hope that I get to go back soon and take some more pictures with my new phone that has a better camera than my trusty old iPhone 4. But until then, these pictures will be here to remind me of what a wonderful 18th birthday I had.

Reagan Fleming