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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hello again!

It has been too long. Way too long. Unintentionally long.

I'm sorry, faithful readers (if any, apart from my wonderful friends). My brilliant organizational skills combined with being in a new country, having to take care of my own laundry, and understanding college life have kept me occupied, although I have thought so many times of ideas that would make good blog posts that I have enough material for a while now, whether or not I get the time to read a lot.

Sorry for that painfully long sentence. I have really missed blogging.

I have had a number of experiences, wonderful and a little less wonderful, in the past one and a half months. I've seen the Niagara Falls twice, attended a fabulous play on Kasturba Gandhi, heard a magnificent concert on Romeo and Juliet by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, been late to class when I tried to cook upma, appalled my mom with the condition of my room when she visited, attended a garba event for Dussehra...


Having started this post yesterday, and twice before that, I think I now have an idea why I have been failing at this the past two months. I have always been terrible in writing on my life or thoughts in general - I go rambling on and on and never get anywhere. I need a focus - a particular incident or topic - and then words will just pour from me effortlessly. They usually need editing, but I can work with them. 

So for this post...

Lately, one of my earlier posts on this blog (one of the earliest) has been haunting me. I compared Charlotte Bronte unfavourably to Jane Austen, saying Bronte could never match up to Austen in my estimation. I feel now that I was unfair and rather hypocritical. What bought on this reflection? Recently, I came across a Jane Eyre vlog on Youtube in the style of the immensely popular Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and today I watched the 1996 movie version of Jane Eyre. This got me thinking about my post, and about the first few times I had read Jane Eyre (I rarely read a book only once). The book had me completely engrossed, and there was a time when I re-read certain passages in the book numerous times. My opinion of the book could, of course, have changed; but I went back to the book and re-read those same passages, and I realized that it hasn't, really. I really like Jane Eyre.



I love stills where the lighting is perfect and everybody looks beautiful because they're shown from the right angles.

So what bought on that post? One of the book bloggers I really admire, Claire from the thecaptivereader.wordpress.com, dislikes Jane Eyre. At the time I decided to blog regularly, I was reading rather a lot of The Captive Reader, and she puts things so well that I suppose I convinced myself about the deep flaws in the book. I do this sometimes when I really admire someone, and I don't do it consciously. I imbibe their opinions and convince myself that they're mine.

What was wrong with my post? First and foremost, Austen and Bronte simply cannot be compared. They were different people who wrote in different contexts in utterly different styles about very different things. An Austen romance is worlds away from a Bronte romance, which of course does not necessarily make one better than the other. 

Second, I was unjustified both in my evaluation of Rochester and in saying there is no humour in Jane Eyre. 

Mr. Rochester is the male protagonist that every wannabe dark romance has been trying to imitate for a while now. Wounded, cynical, witty, impolite in a very attention-grabbing way, and in need of love from a wonderful female creature who is whole, good and innocent enough to recover his faith in humanity, reform him and temper his cynicism all at once. This female creature manages to be sympathetic and relatable and not quite a paragon of virtue because of her passion. While I might find Rochester a tad intimidating in real life, he is somehow very magnetic in the book.  Maybe this is because, despite his occasional despotism and dominance, he comes across as capable of loving very deeply. When Rochester explains things to Jane after she has found out he is already married, I forgive him as immediately as Jane. I find it impossible to think of him as manipulative, scheming and deceitful. With his own twisted, desperate logic, Rochester sincerely believes that he would do no wrong in marrying Jane. The second time I read this book (when I was actually old enough to understand it, this time) I actually found myself wondering whether Rochester was right. What harm would it do to anybody if Jane stayed with him? She has no one to judge her and he cannot be with Bertha anyway.

However, he had no right to keep Jane in the dark and expect her to break the law.

I'm getting sidetracked. I'll keep the psychoanalysis for another post. What I meant to say is that Rochester is a suitably likable and attractive male lead. While reading the book I did not find it repulsive that they are so far apart in age (although when I consider it objectively I do)!

As for humour, Jane Eyre is not a humorous book, but it has dialogue between Jane and Rochester that is witty and entertaining. I said that 'Mr. Rochester and Jane don't ever seem to converse without undertones of something.' Don't conversations between any romantic pair have undertones? Besides, Jane Eyre is one of those rare romantic books where you can actually see the characters falling in love. Their whole relationship is built on good conversation (since neither has any sort of good looks, or so we're told). Finally, it was hypocritical of me to pretend that I read Jane Eyre in a dispassionate way, liking it just 'well enough'. I read it like I read every other book, head over heels. And surely there was something in the book that warranted this liking? 

I'm not saying Jane Eyre is completely wonderful and flawless. But it deserves admiration for a number of things, including an absorbing story (except for when Jane is with the Rivers, and it seems to drag on interminably till she meets Rochester again), very unique protagonists, and the simple fact that it generally has a large impact on the reader (I know it did on me). 

I also realize now that that post was a little bit from indignation at the things Bronte said about Austen. It was a lot easier to disparage an author who had the impertinence and bad taste to dislike Austen. Kidding. About the bad taste. But it certainly coloured my opinion.

And with this I shall stop for now, and I promise I will never bring this up again.