Friday, August 16, 2013

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: Air, Fire, and Passion in Her Sentence Openers

In this timeless first-person narrative, Jane Eyre —a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan— recounts her childhood and latter years leading to her marriage to the mysterious Edward Rochester.

What make the story fast-paced, fascinating, and ultimately admirable are not the mundane events and incidents that happen to her, but the manner in which she tells them. Within a few pages it becomes obvious that the narrator is a character who is a master of the English language. Her sentence openers are well thought out, well measured, and well balanced—a veritable fountain of wisdom.

In addition, Jane owns a terrific imagination, which coupled with her lust for life, will get her to where she wants to go—but only after she experiences hurt, physical abuse, and much suffering.
The novel goes through five distinct stages:

1. Gateshead. This is the residence of Jane spends of her childhood, and where she experiences the cruelties volleyed at her by her aunt (Mrs. Reed) and cousins.
2. Lowood School. In this school she meets the mystic Helen Burns and Maria Temple, whom Jane admires and sees as a role model. In this school she also endures the headmaster’s humiliations and gratuitous abuses.
3. Thornfield Manor. The manor is owned by Edward Rochester, who is her employer and with whom she falls in love.
4. Moor House or Marsh’s End. Owned by the Rivers family who happen to be her relatives. Here Jane received a marriage proposal from her passionless clergyman-cousin St John Rivers.
5. Ferndean. A second house owned by her beloved Rochester.

While we enjoy child characters such as Dickens’ David Copperfield, Little Dorritt, and Pip, we admire Jane Eyre much more because she is proud and shows a fighting spirit. She fights back. "I resisted all the way: a new thing for me," she tells us as Bessie takes her to be locked in the red-room, following a fight with the brat John Reed.

She doesn’t just let things happen to her; and the fact that very same spirit gets her in trouble, she also fights extricate herself from her predicaments. Resourceful is the word that fits Jane. I always admire the passage in the novel in which she wants change in her life and how an epiphany comes to her: Advertise! And that single action gets her not only her first employment, but also her first and only love: Mr. Rochester. But little did she know the mystery that engulfed the manor, and much less the source of the hideous laughter: "While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ears. It was a curious laugh - distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped"

The author, Charlotte Bronte, a magician of the English language will take you back to England as it was in the 1840s, making you experience the highs and lows of life in England during that period.

Jane Eyre is true work of literature that will introduce readers of any age to memorable characters and a story that is inexhaustible in its wisdom. Not long ago I was moved by all the attention given to J. K. Rowling and her lovable character Harry Potter. Moved I was but not fascinated as I am every time I re-read Jane Eyre. While J. K. Rowling is an entertainer, Charlotte Bronte is a literary artist.

If you like low-brow romances you won’t find it here. It is a story of a woman who struggles with a world in which she doesn’t quite fit. While the novel may be read as a critique of both gender and social class, it contains a strong feminist stance:

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.

And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude and many associates, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire.

The protagonist and narrator has no amazing qualities, she's a plain girl and it says so, many times in the novel, but she shows some endearing qualities —which I won’t mention— that readers inevitably discover.

Ahead of her times, Charlotte Bronte, hints and unveils as much as it was permitted then, erotic tensions, boundless passions, and hateful marriage ironies. These were not qualities encouraged in Victorian women writers, and Jane Eyre was offensive to many a contemporary. That a woman should expose her inner most feelings, was unheard of:
I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

Jane Eyre is a transformative book from which we can all learn. I always say that the depths of human emotions one doesn’t find in either in psychology book or philosophical tracts—but only in fiction. "Reader, I married him."
Read it!
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Sentence Openers

Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse

The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers

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Lindsey Vonn

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  1. If I were a writer of a novel, my lifelong goal would be to write something that is worth equivalent to this novel, Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte has captivted hearts and souls of many that has encountered her works. This especially has fascinated me. All the characters were so alive to me. Because it was so vivid, motions that the characters were going through, I could almost feel and relate to them. it is an awesome novel. it truly is one of a kind!

  2. its my comment Professor G!--Jaram Jung