One does not suffer Jane Eyre fools gladly

We interrupt the regular broadcast of FanstRAvaganza 2 in order to have a rant about some mucking fuppets I just came across online and want to scream about for a bit. If you’re the sort of person whose religious prejudices get in the way of, oh I dunno, education, you should really give this post a miss, or you’re likely to be tremendously offended. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The first one, Jane Eyre: Oblivious or Needy? tries to make some kind of point of Jane being oblivious for not realising there was something shady going on at Thornefield. “No one can be that oblivious” it says, and also goes on to claim that Jane was needy for … St. John wanting to marry her? Does not compute? How can Jane be blamed for being needy when it’s not as if she encouraged St. John’s attentions and in fact, when he asked her to marry him, she flat out refused? If she was needy, surely she would have accepted his proposal and ignored his jibe about her being made for work instead of love? (*gag*)

Also, the article is factually incorrect:

He had several ladies vying for his attentions while he was trying to lure Jane to his side

Blanche Ingram counts as “several” now, does she? There was never a question of Mary Ingram or indeed either of the Eshton girls trying to snag him, or he flirting with any of them. It was Blanche. I’m not disputing the claim that he’s a liar, but I do protest to him being a womaniser. If he was a womaniser, wouldn’t he have jumped on everything in a skirt?

“When she arrives at Whitcross, she stops at an inn”

No. Whitcross is a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, where all the money she had could take her when she fled Thornfield. Whitcross is close to Morton where she ended up, having walked across the moors for a bit. Whitcross is about three days away from Thornfield, so no one nearby would’ve had a clue about what happened there. It might have been on the other side of the world for all they cared. The inn (The Rochester Arms) is “two miles across the fields” from Thornfield, not three days worth of coach travel away.

Interesting post, but it kind of falls on the point of getting some facts wrong and failing to make the actual point set out in the headline. It irks me, but it doesn’t make me angry enough to write a whole post about. I just happened to include it because the SECOND post is what’s making me see red.

The long and short of it: pious Christian teenager reads Jane Eyre, loves it, but half-way down the line she decides that oh noes, she’s going to stop reading it. Not because she gets bored by all those long, rambling descriptions. No, because her faith feels threatened. WHAT THE PROVERBIAL HELL?! Then, to add insult to injury, she puts the two copies she has in the trash.

I’m sorry, I might be able to overlook your ludicrous decision to stop reading because to continue would be an affront to God (*facepalm*), but YOU DON’T PUT BOOKS IN THE TRASH CAN! There are two things you DO NOT do to books: a) bin them or b) burn them. If a book has been so severely battered that it’s falling apart and no amount of sticky-tape or glue can fix it, okay, maybe then you respectfully PUT IT IN THE PAPER RECYCLING, not the bloody trash can! Books might be classed as trash, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them with a bit of respect!

Even books I abhor won’t be binned, because you DON’T THROW BOOKS AWAY. Mrs. Rochester? French Dancer’s Bastard? Both are still in the bookshelf, even though I loathe them. If I really get pissed off over a book, sure, I might introduce it to flying into walls (careful not to throw it too hard, of course), but throwing it away? Inexcusable! Burning books (yes, including the Twilight saga) is even more offensive – and I don’t even mean because of the carbon emissions it’ll give out – not only because it signifies a lack of education, but because it signifies a lack of WANTING to be educated. By burning a book, to me, you essentially say “I’m an ignorant and stupid fool who shouldn’t be allowed to breed.” Luckily, she “only” binned the books.

For that matter, why were the books binned? If I want to de-clutter and have some books I no longer want or need, I’d either try my luck on eBay or Amazon Marketplace, sell them to a second-hand book shop, or – most likely – donate them to a charity shop. By taking them to a charity shop, it means that the books might still come in useful to someone else while at the same time, support a good cause. I love going to charity shops. You can find some really great things there, and normally for a very reasonable price, and the best thing of all, you know that what you pay for it is going to help support organisations like Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation, PDSA, RSPCA, YMCA, Barnados or Oxfam, to name but a few. Surely the Christian thing is to be charitable? So why bin the books instead of giving them to charity?

If it’s an “OMG I have to stop other Christians from being tainted by this work of Satan”, then I’m sorry, anyone believing that is a fucking idiot.

The same blogger later made a post explaining exactly why she did what she did, and that’s the post that makes me want to bang my head repeatedly against the keyboard.

The first thing she objects to is the relationship between Jane and Edward. He’s not virtuous, wants to get his wicked way with Jane (well … yes? And? Not like she’d ever let him!) and she can’t “justify this area of this story” (the whole Bertha thing). Oh, and it’s “slightly insane” that a man in his “mid thirties” [sic] would want to marry someone of the blogger’s own age. Claptrap, if you ask me, and girl, you seriously need to get a dose of Real Life. Or, actually, she should read the Bible more, it’s full of the most gruesome, explicit, debauched and horrific things. Funny how its followers tend to forget that.

Secondly, I kid you not, is “the vampire influence”. Can I have an “err, come again? o.O” here? This is the primary reason for her not wanting to finish the book. Vampire influence. She admits (rightly so) that there are no actual vampires in the book, but “the influence is there”. Oh my gods. “Sucking blood or attempting to do so is not something I am comfortable reading about.” Right, so Richard Mason having a short line about what his mad sister did to him (“She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart,” said Mason. / Chapter 20) is too strong? Should she really be reading any books at all, if that puny line scares her?

The best line of the whole post has to be this one: “that probably demon-possessed woman” (Bertha). Or, reality check, she has an inherited mental illness, probably schizophrenia. Talk about being stuck in the dark ages! Why not have a crusade against people with epilepsy? We all know they’re possessed by demons too, and the whole “mental illness thing” in general? Nothing a good exorcism won’t cure. (Seriously, don’t they have education where she comes from?)

But no, it wasn’t because she was disturbed that she didn’t finish the book, oh no:

but simply because I didn’t feel my brain and soul should be partaking in any inch or atom of “the dark side”. And it was not my parents who made this decision. I knew in my heart reading this book on my own that I could not finish it. In summarization, of what I did read of this book, much of the underlying content was quite ungodly, and I could not, in a clear conscience, finish this very dark, very creepily-gorgeous, very famous novel called Jane Eyre.

…,

No, she didn’t hate the book or the story at all, but actually rather enjoyed it. It’s just that it’s “ungodly” and about “the dark side” (“No Star Wars for you!”) – have we even read the same book?

But, let’s put dogmatical differences aside, and focus on some good facts and not just personal opinions; starting with: Charlotte Brontë was a parson’s daughter. She had a strong, Christian faith and it permeates her works (without being preachy), and she ended up marrying her father’s curate. This didn’t mean she was out of touch with reality, far from it. I’m not overly clued up with regards to her Monsieur Hegér obsession, other than it wasn’t reciprocal (could the poor woman actually have suffered from erotomania with regards to him?), but that is perhaps the only thing where she was a bit fuzzy with regards to reality.

The whole point about the character of Jane Eyre is that she is very strong not just in her faith with regards to her own self-worth but in Christianity. She puts her trust in God, and pleads with Rochester to do the same – and just look at the ending of the novel, the last two words are “Lord Jesus”, and the sentiment of the book is essentially, “don’t mess with God and think yourself better than Him, because he’ll fuck you up and then you’ll come crying for His salvation. Repent and He’ll might reconsider”. Mr. Rochester has paid dearly for his sins, and not until he has been humbled by God can he be allowed to be redeemed and be reunited with his love. In fact, it’s not until he starts praying/pleading to God (Chapter 37) that Jane hears his call, and comes to find him a changed man in many ways.

So even though the whole book oozes Christianity with Jane’s strong convictions and how Rochester has to pay for his sins and unbelieving ways before he can be redeemed … it’s “ungodly”? The pious Charlotte Brontë would have been offended. The blogger also says she also now won’t be reading Wuthering Heights or Villette. Give those books to charity without opening them, please. I mean, there’s a bloke dressing up as a nun (oh noes, a TRANSVESTITE) pretending to be a GHOST in Villette. Can’t have that now, can we?

There’s a genuine ghost (or a brain ghost, at least) in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is obviously not a psychopath but possessed by demons, as is Cathy, and they live in ungodly sin and oh there is plenty of Dark Side. Every page of that book is dark. Which is, incidentally, why so many people love it, and have loved it ever since it came out in 1847. (I’d like to see Twilight be that popular in 164 years time. Or actually, no I don’t – those books are horrifying. And by that, I don’t mean that I’m frightened by blood-sucking vampires and bare-chested hunky warewolves.)

The whole “but it’s about the Dark Side and the Dark Side scares me” argument … The world’s a scary place. Either grow up and learn to deal with it or shut yourself in a convent where you can live the rest of your days in blissful ignorance. You know, before someone points it out, I totally get that not everyone’s a fan of the horror genre. It doesn’t float everyone’s boat, and I won’t pretend that it does. I’m not too keen on Stephen King, for instance. Fact remains: Jane Eyre isn’t a horror story. It’s a romance novel and a Bildungsroman set in a Gothic old mansion. With a mad woman in the attic.

But heaven forbid she and people like her should finish the book. They might actually learn something.

P.S. A disclaimer, of sorts:

I tend to stay clear of opinions about religion on this blog, simply because this isn’t that sort of blog, and I don’t really want it to be either. This post, however, felt like it should be here because it’s specifically about Jane Eyre. Can’t guarantee I won’t ever be posting things with regards to religion (or politics) ever again, because if it’s relevant and it annoys me enough, it will most likely come out here.

I also have nothing against people with a religious faith. In general, anyway. I’m of a “live and let live” opinion, and tend to live by “if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you” (something a number of them seem to find impossible), and I actually find it quite interesting to read about how and why different religions celebrate their holidays and so on. Believe whatever you like, I really don’t care, as long as you don’t harm anyone by doing so. This includes harming yourself.

What I REALLY can’t stand, however, is ignorance and stupidity, especially when the tunnel vision is brought on by being uneducated and/or prejudiced (which, incidentally, tends to go hand in hand with how religious you are). Being ignorant is something I class as being harmful to yourself and others.

Such as: “Oh noes, I can’t go through sex ed in school” (fine, go believe having your period is a punishment by God and that sex ed means anything but looking at boring anatomical drawings of genitalia to explain how babies are made and how to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancies and disease), “we must circumcise our girls, because we can’t marry them if they’re filthy and unclean” (fuck you!), “she’s possessed by demons and even if we end up killing her during the exorcism, at least we saved her soul” (or she has epilepsy or a mental illness and needs medical treatment, you murderer!), “having sex with virgins cures HIV/AIDS” (no, but condoms really help you not getting the virus in the first place and raping babies because they’re “guaranteed to be virgins” is revolting and you’re a disgrace to the human race), “the Jews were taking all the money in Germany and Hitler didn’t think that was right” (no, that’s what you call “Nazi propaganda” and I can’t believe I actually heard this one with my own ears not that long ago – and was more than happy to set the person straight), “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (don’t even get me started on that one), “Bertha Mason was possessed by demons” (she had a mental illness, get your mind out of the 1600s).

Jane Eyre is not ungodly just because Rochester wants to commit bigamy, and Charlotte Brontë was an educated woman way ahead of her time, who probably knew and understood the Scriptures way better than most of us ever will. Now please, everyone, go and read a book and broaden your horizons. And start recycling. We’ve only got one planet Earth, regardless of your beliefs how it (and us) all came about.

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