Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

March 4, 2006

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Filed under: Articles,Blogs,Criticism,Jane Eyre,Uncategorized,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 5:12 pm

"Who am I"?: The many faces of women's identity in Victorian Literature.

This a really interesting excerpt from an essay by Bronteana reader, and fellow Bronte-scholarling, mysticgypsy. She compares several answers to the question 'who am I' as a woman in Victorian literature, two of which are from Bronte heroines:

I am my beloved: Catherine Linton (Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights)For Catherine, who she is as an individual depends on how much she is a part of her soulmate, Heathcliff. As long as she was free to be with Heathcliff, she could be herself, but the moment she goes against her nature, i.e. try to "better" her self by marrying Linton, and thereby breaking her relationship with Heathcliff, she loses a part of herself. After her marriage to Linton, Cathy takes on another persona. She is no longer the girl who would roam wild and free in the moors. Instead, she is confined to the suffocating gradure and Victorian sense of propriety in Thruschcross Grange. Cathy even acknowledges to Nelly that she and Heathcliff were one when she says "I am Heathcliff". Hence, in this case, the woman takes the identity of her beloved.

I am his equal: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre)For Jane, her identity as an intelligent, independent woman is resolved through ties with Edward Rochester, her imposing employer and master of Thornfield. Although Jane does seek her own independence (and thereby her identity as a single woman), in the end, she finds she does need Rochester to be complete. Firstly, there is the telepathic relationship that she shared with Rochester, which I believe was a strong indicator (from the author) that as long as that supernatural connection was there between Jane and Rochester, they could not be entirely happy without each other. They needed each other to be whole because they were "equals" and complemented each other. Jane needed Rochester during moments of her insecurity (when Rochester was more controlling of her), and by the end of the story Rochester needed Jane when he was (phsycially) found wanting (thus Jane controls Rochester). This kind of relationship is differnet from that of Cathy and Heathcliff in that this is a relationship of equals, where only each will do for the other, but each keeps their own identies. Jane is NOT Rochester in the manner as Cathy affirms she IS Heathcliff.

The rest of the post (although not the rest of the essay) can be found here.

October 1, 2005

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Limited time offer!

Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to the addition to our links list of http://bronteblog.blogspot.com which is always posting astonishing news about everything from new publications to moon craters! Check it out.

Since this is a student blog, part academic enquiry, part personal testament, I should note that yesterday I took the first step towards my dream of Brontë studies. The professor I studied the Brontës with has agreed to help edit my program of study. I have a comprehensive project already laid out, and this I sent to her yesterday while I put together something which will adequately show my range of interests without seeming diffuse… I’m interested in an awful lot of areas: religion, intertexts, construction of gender, folklore, classics, arts (as in painting, needlework, singing etc in literary texts)–and a lot more… Blindness and poetic creation, and prophecy as well… One small step for me, speaking of moon craters 😉 I hope this will lead to something ‘Brontëful’ as a friend of mine says.

The ‘limited time offer’ is two radio adaptations of Jane Eyre which have turned up amongst my friends at L.E.R.O. (League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed). They can be found here, for a very short time (less than a week now). There’s Loretta Young and Orson Welles:http://s18.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3U3VY42CB2Y2A3O2UG1ELMBVF1 and Patricia Elliot and Arnold Moss (a CBS Radio Mystery Theatre production)http://s5.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1Z0WE2ABKWXFG2L3UYX4S530CZ
I have only heard the beginning of the second one so far. It sounds very interesting–the introduction claims that the story is interesting because Charlotte ‘hardly ever left her house’ and goes on to mention Branwell being the model for characters in his sisters’ novels! Thisbeciel, who shared this with me after biedroneczka was kind enough to post them for us, says that there’s a lot of “excessive scary dramatic music.

Jane: "I am going to go for a walk" (DA DA DUM!!!!)
Mr. Rochester: "Let's go into the garden" (DA DA DUM!!!!!)”

And apparently Bertha sounds exactly like a dinosaur. I guess that explains the strange noise at the start. It sounded very like a tyrannosaurus rex. Poor Mr Rochester, things just get worse for that man.

Speaking of adaptations of Jane Eyre, Bronteblog informs us that a new version of the 1970 film with Susannah York and George C. Scott is due for release. This is a good thing, in my opinion, only because it probably will fix that gap which appears in one of the scenes between Jane and Rochester. There’s obviously a scene missing in the current release. And yet, this is the only version that I loathe… And I’ve tried to overcome this, but I can hardly bear watching it. Jane really seems to be a broken down woman with no self-respect, to want to be with a man like Scott’s Mr Rochester. I managed to get my Brontëphobic mom to see it, and she and I ended up laughing through the second half (after the infamous: “Have you ever been to an asylum, Jane?… Jane?” *everyone has left*) He’s about as witty as something that isn’t witty at all, with such gems as “life’s an idiot” which even confuses Blanche. So there you go… And St. John is more moved by Jane’s piano playing than Mr Rochester is in the entire film.

More news! (I’m trying to catch up on some things I’ve simply not had the time to report on here). A few months ago, now, I participated in a “literary role playing game”. The idea sounded absolutely awful, so of course I gave it a try. The concept is all of the famous authors of history born before 1900 are reincarnated in the present and are all going to same high school! It’s a lot more fun than it sounds. Reading the different journals had me laughing for hours. Chaucer does rap now, and doesn’t seem to get on well with Marlowe… Anyway, I created a journal for Anne. And it has gone well, although by a cruel twist of fate the people playing Charlotte and Emily have been too busy to keep up theirs. Emily exited in style by, uhm, …going on a trip with T.E. Lawrence on his time machine. Charlotte just slipped away while no one was paying attention (I hear Jane Austen had been trying to get her to go out with Alexander Pope). Anne is doing well, made a few friends including Wordsworth and P.G. Wodehouse. I’m glad to say that there was a lot of joy when she turned up, and that people not in the game have been following her (limited) adventures so far.

As an aside, has anyone else noted how common ‘huzzah!’ is nowadays? How in the world did that happen?… Or is it just me?

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