Finally finished Jane Eyre, and am ready to read something else not quite so subtle and that spells things out completely with perhaps less whiny characters.
I thought it was really stupid how, upon discovering that Edward Rochester (her fiance) already had a wife, she wandered off from Thornfield with nothing but twenty shillings. What can twenty shillings buy you? It sufficed for her coach ride to Morton but she was then penniless there, with too fine sensitivities to beg, and a good chapter devoted to her moaning and wallowing in self-pity, a fate which she wrought upon herself. It is not that Edward Rochester would not give her any money, he was swimming in it! And would gladly have parted with any sum. She could have helped herself and he wouldn’t miss any, and besides, much of it now belonged to her so there was no moral objection.
If this novel were taken to Drama Beans (a k-drama critiquing website) it would be absolutely shredded by the writers there. It does incline toward almost every single k-drama plot stereotype – Poor girl falls in love with rich guy, one of the couple contracts a terrible illness, Couple are separated due to circumstances beyond their control, Girl becomes destitute but retains her pride, &c., &c.
Toward the end there were some priceless snippets though, which I have faithfully represented here:
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.
This explains my father’s averseness to foreigners I suppose. I recently read Hongwan’s quora answer on how Singaporeans really feel toward foreigners/expats and he makes this point: whenever we complain, it is automatically understood to except the foreigners we personally know. Then I got to thinking and realized my dad didn’t know any, which was somewhat depressing.
Here are some of her more snobbish ones:
To live amid general regard, though it be but the regard of working-people, is like “sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet;”
On teaching in the schoolhouse:
I had long felt, with pleasure, that many of my rustic scholars liked me, and when we parted, that consciousness was confirmed; they manifested their affection plainly and strongly. Deep was my gratification to find I had really a place in their unsophisticated hearts.
Good grief. I suppose the unlearned are not allowed to have feelings, then.
I stood with the key in my hand, exchanging a few words of special farewell with some half dozen of my best scholars, as decent, respectable, modest, and well-informed young women as could be found in the ranks of the British peasantry. And that is saying a great deal; for, after all, the British peasantry are the best taught, best mannered, most self-respecting, of any in Europe. Since those days I have seen paysannes and Bauerinnen, and the best of them seemed to me ignorant, coarse, and besotted, compared with my Morton girls.
On her previous ward at Thornfield, a flighty illegitimate child given up by her mother, who was in the French theatre:
I took care she should never want for anything that could contribute to her comfort; she soon settled in her new abode, became very happy there, and made fair progress in her studies. As she grew up, a sound English education corrected in a great measure her French defects;
But I do put some greater stock in the English education system than that in continental Europe, in teaching about manners and morals.
This was a good break from the Amish sagas, but now I am quite ready to return to those for a spell.