Wednesday, April 04, 2007

In the words of Jane Eyre

I read Jane Eyre a couple of years ago while we were in Syria. As with many books, the first reading may sometimes skimp on the details in order to follow the larger narrative.

I finished reading it for the second time the other day, on account of its being the book club discussion book this month (I belong to a book club with some ladies from my church). I found that I was able to glean much more meaning from the book during this second reading, now that I already knew what was going to happen with the story.

I'll quote my favorite passage below. I think it struck me in particular because of what I was taught at church when I was younger. Our youth leaders were always telling us that we needed to make key decisions ahead of time, when we were removed from the emotional intensity of any situation we may encounter. In this passage, Jane is in the process of extricating herself from a relationship. She really, really wants to stay with this person, but her moral character won't allow it. That's all I'll say in case some of you haven't read the book.

"While he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me...Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?

"Still indomitable was the reply--'I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth--so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane--quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.'"

Well said, Jane Eyre. Well said.


Nancy said...

So, I've never read that book but there was a "special" on at my parent's house one Sunday evening and I was watching it with my little sister.

I'm not sure now that I want to read it...we only watched half of it before we were both kind of creeped out.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read J.E. since high school & didn't recall that particular passage, but its magnificent meaning, if employed, could prevent a boatload of painful regret and pave the way for a lifetime of happiness and security. Wow.

In Pride & Prejudice, chapter 50, Lizzie thinks to herself [referring to Lydia & Wickham], "But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue . . ." Granny

Nemesis said...

Hi Bridget, that is a great passage. Have you seen the new Jane Eyre adaptation starring Ruth Wilson? It's fabulous.

Also, thanks for linking to me!

Bridget said...

Nemesis, my pleasure.

Nancy, I think you and Nemesis are talking about the same production of Jane Eyre. I'm dying to see it but the library hasn't ordered it yet!!


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