Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

August 14, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 4:59 pm

Jane Eyre pulled into Abortion Debate

This is definately one of the strangest allusions to JE that I have come across (the other was more light-hearted and amusing- it was from an article on internet technology and community which had the IT specialist in tears over the great love of Jane and calling for similar caring and sharing among businesses). The article is highly political, the allusion is a bit sloppy:

I disagree with the argument of a third columnist, who said the current silence on abortion is because we are sick of hearing about it. This observation reminded of a terrible event in the great British novel by Charlotte Bronte, “Jane Eyre.” Jane’s fiance, Rochester, has treated his first wife much as we treat abortion in this election year. For years, Rochester had kept his wife locked up in a third-story room, even as he prepared for a new marriage to keep up proper appearances.
In contrast, his proposed new wife, Jane Eyre – who was constantly clashing with the people and the fashions of her time – started to think about that faint screaming from the third story. Perhaps, Jane decided, someone should finally ask a few questions about what was happening in this locked-up Rochester household.
Like Lady Rochester, our 1 million abortions per year are locked up in a third floor, out of our sight and away from our discussion groups.

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6 Comments »

  1. oh my! That is a very strange allusion indeed! And I believe it is quite far-fetched..I mean they could have just mentioned “locking-up” without alluding to JE. However, the mention of JE has other motives, primarily because the novel does deal with two women and the man who comes between them (and vice versa). It is as much a battle of the sexes.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 15, 2006 @ 12:31 am |Reply

  2. I don’t really see the use in having a literary allusion, but I suppose it makes the argument more dramatic? What you said has made me wonder if they’re also trying to align themselves with feminists? Since they point out Jane’s unconventionality?

    Comment by Brontëana — August 15, 2006 @ 9:22 am |Reply

  3. “What you said has made me wonder if they’re also trying to align themselves with feminists? Since they point out Jane’s unconventionality?”
    Yes, I definitely think that they meant to align themselves with feminists.

    However, do you think they were more in support of just Bertha, or Jane & Berth together (which creates a more of a villain of Rochester)?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 15, 2006 @ 12:04 pm |Reply

  4. It seems to me that Bertha is reduced even further into a figure for ‘the secret’ being hidden. I don’t think it is a question of sympathy but of horror- that she is something horrific being hidden for the sake of ‘appearances’ (which is why they made that change to the actual story. Rochester doesn’t marry Jane because it looks suspicious that he’s a bachelor).

    It looks like Jane is held up as being like THEM, people who want to reveal what is hidden (another change: she inquires about it, but she never demands that the mystery be revealed and she only has an accidental role in bringing about the revelation but as they put it, you would imagine that she strides up there and flings open the door to see what is being hidden up there).

    Comment by Brontëana — August 15, 2006 @ 12:56 pm |Reply

  5. “but as they put it, you would imagine that she strides up there and flings open the door to see what is being hidden up there”
    Yes! I agree. Bronte the writer directs this change (revelation of Bertha) rather than Jane, a single character.

    But I suppose that wouldn’t sound too dramatic without the mentioning Jane & Rochester’s escapades 😉

    It just sounded rather disturbing to me that they had had to choose Jane Eyre of all books, and have Rochester, a man (who stands for Society, Politics etc), as the villain in this case.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 15, 2006 @ 1:24 pm |Reply

  6. I always see Rochester as being a man who was in the place of the dependent woman so I have some trouble seeing him as such a villain in this case. In a sense, his society dictated to him what he should do as a younger son and this is what caused the tragedy. I imagine, had his father not interfered, Rochester might have… turned out a little like William Crimsworth (only far more interesting and charismatic ;).

    I don’t think they thought that much about the allusion. Perhaps the idea of the helplessness of the madwoman appealled to them (changing her demonic laughter into faint cries- like those of a child?).

    This is the second time I’ve seen JE used in a political context, and it is still rather unnatural I think. In both cases, the novel itself doesn’t have anything to do with the issue it is being brought in to illustrate. How strange!

    Comment by Brontëana — August 15, 2006 @ 7:51 pm |Reply


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