gall and gumption

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jane Eyre Nausea Challenge

Well, this is nice. Bob and Max have been heard from. Yes, Max, iti totally works. Geez I wish I had done this earlier. Anyway, Bob's comment that Jane Eyre makes him want to run out of the room, brought out my sadistic side. I read the rest of it (finished it Thursday night/Friday morning) and then went back and looked for the most cringe-inducing passage I could find.

This is the one I found. It's from Chapter 24. Rochester has just gotten up from the piano, where he sang a song about his beloved being with him in death or something. The song, of course, is a poem of Bronte's composition.

He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face all kindled, and his full falcon-eye flashing, and tenderness and passion in every lineament. I quailed momentarily--then I rallied. Soft scene, daring demonstration, I would not have; and I stood in peril of both: a weapon of defence must be prepared--I whetted my tongue: as he reached me, I asked with asperity, "whom he was going to marry now?"

"That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane."

"Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he had talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean by such a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him--he might depend on that."

"Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with him! Death was not for such as I."

"Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in a suttee."

"Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by a reconciling kiss?"

"No: I would rather be excused."

Here I heard myself apostrophised as a "hard little thing;" and it was added, "any other woman would have been melted to marrow at hearing such stanzas crooned in her praise."

I assured him I was naturally hard--very flinty, and that he would often find me so; and that, moreover, I was determined to show him divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made, while there was yet time to rescind it.

"Would I be quiet and talk rationally?"

"I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I flattered myself I was doing that now."

He fretted, pished, and pshawed. "Very good," I thought; "you may fume and fidget as you please: but this is the best plan to pursue with you, I am certain. I like you more than I can say; but I'll not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of repartee I'll keep you from the edge of the gulf too; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself most conducive to our real mutual advantage."

From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irritation; then, after he had retired, in dudgeon, quite to the other end of the room, I got up, and saying, "I wish you good-night, sir," in my natural and wonted respectful manner, I slipped out by the side-door and got away.

The system thus entered on, I pursued during the whole season of probation; and with the best success. He was kept, to be sure, rather cross and crusty; but on the whole I could see he was excellently entertained, and that a lamb-like submission and turtle- dove sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased his judgment, satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste less.


Well, as Bronte reminds us, they are a couple of weird birds. But it is a little disconcerting to be unsure whether she knows just how weird this is. Don't you think one thing that makes it strange is that her account of feelings in other parts of the book, for instance in the bit I quoted before, is sometimes so persuasive?

Any challengers? Anyone remember a passage that would really make Bob bolt for the airsick bag? To save you some keystrokes, you can find the whole text of the novel here.

If no one rises to this one it's OK. Other schemes and plots are in the works for this book. So much to do, so little battery power.

6 Comments:

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Bob Blaisdell said...

Dear KP,
That's it. A team of Brontems are carting me from the room and delivering me to the booby hatch.
LOL,
--Bob

 
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