‘Jane Eyre’ and I; a special literary comeback journey

janeeyre

I have been immersed myself in reading ‘Jane Eyre’ since last Saturday evening. Oh my.. I have loved it so much. I can’t believe the novel has entertained me, heart and mind, after I watch its movie version then find myself hating it.

It takes me years to have finally given it a try. This is because the film after effect. I dislike it a lot because I despise watching Mia Wasikowska pairing with Micheal Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011). I like Mia but not Micheal so yeah.. Plus, there’s nothing special for me about it. Just an orphan girl surviving as a governess then falling in love with a manly person performed by Micheal.

As flat as this film leaves a mark in my mind I ignore the book each time I go to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta. I mean like, why should I? The novel is considered as world’s greatest literature treasure but its movie version proves there’s nothing fantastic about it so why should I follow people’ choice?

Years before I am deeply into ‘Jane Eyre’, I enjoy reading her sisters’ works; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I love all of their masterpieces. It is not surprising that I am eager to read books by Charlotte Bronte. I firstly want to read her lesser-known books; ‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’ but I turn my eyes on other titles at that time.

Shortly to say, I decide reading ‘Jane Eyre’ mostly because I don’t have many reading choices about Victorian Literature in the bookstore. I am a traditional reader who prefer buying books in stores to ordering them via websites because I look forward shopping books in bookstores! The kind of shopping that makes me feeling so much happy, refreshed and confident.

After a series of wonderful experiences reading books by the Bronte sisters I automatically have ‘Jane Eyre’ on the back of my mind. So you may say I read the novel after not many classic books left in the Kinokuniya bookstore. A kind of forceful reason coupled with nature conspiracy regarding the series of experience reading books by the Bronte sisters but hell yeah!!

Now, I am so happy that I buy ‘Jane Eyre’ that rainy Saturday afternoon. The weather was wet but my heart was so cheerful for the first words stole my heart away, as what Victorian writers always do. My reading relationship with ‘Jane Eyre’ is unique, anyway.. It’s like I meet a special man but do nothing to even admit the crush feeling. Just when my heart is sort of empty I meet this guy again, I try approaching him then voila! We click then enjoy our journey at the moment.

That is all I can write at the moment. I share this because I and ‘Jane Eyre’ has an extraordinary linkage. It’s called “I can’t deny my first literary love for wherever I go I will return to it. Always.”

The picture is taken from here

Stepping Out From Reading Comfort Zone

Over the past few months, I have unconsciously stepped out from my reading comfort zone.  I just realize about this today. Books by John Steinbeck and Thomas Hardy are my comfort zones. I love almost everything they write. Especially for Hardy. His writing style matches my fondness. Hardy’s books steal my heart away only by reading their few pages.

It has all started with Anne Bronte and now Charles Dickens. I disliked first-person narrative yet I love Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’ and ‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’ despite they are written in first-person method. They impress me in different ways. They touch my heart deeper than I expect. They move my emotion.

I used to avoid reading any Dickens’ novels because I know his writing style doesn’t suit my preference. I have to seek Dickens’ titles that I believe will meet my liking and after some attempts I find ‘Our Mutual Friend’ then ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. Although Dicken’s decision not to further discuss emotional problems regarding Nell Trent’s grandfather stealing behaviors disappoint me, I am profoundly disturbed by the poor girl’s sufferings.

I can’t deny that Dickens is a very great, wonderful storyteller. I am completely amazed by the way he crafts so many characters along with their problems that speak much on what happen at the time. All those fictitious characters, various plots into one just book. Dickens is very brilliant.

After that, I force myself to read ‘Bleak House’. A little bit of force, I mean. I know the novel won’t entertain me as much as I want but I strongly believe it will present me with memorable trip once I finish reading it. I look forward to see what kind of impression that I will obtain after completing reading the book. I gradually learn to cope with things that I dislike because I know I mustn’t get stuck with Steinbeck and Hardy if I want to get more knowledge.

I have to start setting more adventures with authors or writing styles whose books I previously decline to read. The foremost reason is simple; I have to learn about myself on how further I can make peace with things I dislike and that includes books.

‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’, my second experience with Anne Bronte

tenant
picture source: en.wikipedia.org

Reading the first few pages of ‘Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ after long struggle for completing ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ makes me feel like finding an open road after months inside a humid, vast forest. So refreshing!

It took me by surprise finding the novel at the Kinokuniya bookstore last Saturday for prior visits proved nothing interesting in its classic literature bookshelves. So, I didn’t expect it so much. I thought my options would be books by Charles Dickens, again and again. Good thing about life is that it surprises you when you least expect it to happen. And so it did.

I read the title and although I glanced at other titles, I knew my eyes stuck at the book and I brought it to the cashier. I didn’t know much about ‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’, by the way, but somehow the information that I read that the book is the best by Anne Bronte intrigues me. Besides, my first experiences with Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’ is quite impressive so why don’t I read her another book?

Without further consideration, I bought the book. Along with the English edition of ‘Supernova’, I got two books for payment. I couldn’t be happier than that day. By the time I write this post, I am at the page 28 out of 590, LOL. A very long way to go. Yes, I know that. But given its straight-forwarded writing method, first person narrative, and definitely a much easier language than Dickens’, I believe I’ll finish the book sooner than the time I took for ‘The Old Curiosity Shop.’

Hopefully!

 

 

Finally… Charles Dickens!

I can’t remember how many times I pass through the Charles Dickens section at the Kinokuniya bookstore, Plaza Senayan shopping mall, Central Jakarta, without buying one of his titles until a couple of days ago my mind suddenly shifted from Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Cranford’ to Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.’

I have wanted to read ‘Cranford’ not long after I was so head over heels for Gaskell’s adorable language in her ‘Mary Burton’. I read the first few pages of ‘Cranford’ and as usual, Gaskell’s writing is so superb. She can always craft a gold out of straws. What seems to many of us as ordinary, boring views can instead be her rich resource. ‘Cranford’ is no exception.

But how didn’t I purchase it right after ‘Mary Barton’? Ok, let me be honest here. It’s because ‘Cranford’ features spinsters. No matter how light and cheerful the book is, as suggested by reviewers, becoming spinsters is by all means gloomy. I tend to avoid novels that touch spinsterhood. Apart from private matter about spinsterhood, I faced a very limited option to read after I had completed reading ‘Agnes Grey’ in the bookstore. Knowing that I didn’t have many choices since I have read almost all novels from my favorite authors that are in the store, I immediately remembered ‘Cranford’ once I had decided to read more materials in the Victorian era.

“Better to read a book that will satisfy my hunger on beauty amid personal issue than experiencing something I know it won’t even ignite my imagination,” my mind said at that time. So, I forced myself taking a very tough journey from office in Ciputat, South Tangerang, to the mall. It was a very tiring trip for I had to pass through some traffic jam points all along the journey. But I must not give up and directly went back at home because there was a good book awaiting me.

After a few hours on the road, I reached the store and found out ‘Cranford’ remained at the same point the last time I spotted it. I looked at ‘Cranford’ for a few times and almost brought it to the store’s cashier for payment but the spinsterhood issue moved my mind to reconsider the would-be decision. So, my eyes shifted to a tall bookshelf next to the ‘Cranford’ section. George Eliot, Sir Arthur Conan Dyle and definitely Charles Dickens. Prior to this visit, I have read at some initial pages of Dickens’ most popular novels, such as ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Hard Times’, and ‘The Pickwick Papers’, none of which wowed me by the words. My most wanted masterpiece from Dickens is ‘Our Mutual Friend’. I love it from the first words I read, giving the kind of sensation after I just read books by Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, the store does not sell ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and I know not when it will be available.

I have read the title of “The Old Curiosity Shop’, definitely but I never thought of it until that evening. I made use some valuable seconds to check some first pages of the novel at the internet given the battery of my smartphone was running out. I was not really awed with them but somehow I made a compromise. I was considering that I should try reading books from first-person narration as the reading experience with ‘Agnes Grey’ that applies such method proved to be impressive. Besides, it was time for me to seek books with complex plots with not many drama focusing on major characters. It was time for me to read novels that would overwhelm me with conflicts.

A refreshment from usual preference of beautiful, magical language as in Thomas Hardy or Elizabeth Gaskell’s masterpieces. So I bought the novel at the end. I was prepared for the long reading journey given its 500-something pages and by the time I currently on the page of 134, I am deeply immersed by the book.

The first page captured my heart. It keeps me wondering what the book will be at the end. Despite the many characters on the book, I can still follow what it has to offer because I know beforehand the core of the book. The characters of Nelly Trent completely touches my sympathy. I suddenly associate her with Hardy’s Tess. Then, I can feel the good humor sense of the book and finally………..

I applaud Dickens’ unquestionable writing skills, his vivid imaginations and his overall mind and heart put in the book. The book is so wealthy by far. In terms of story plots, language, human emotions and all important elements that readers want to digest within one book.

Thank you for myself. Thank you for eventually getting touch with the British most-beloved, prolific author after some years launching a journey into the Victorian literature. I am so relieved that I come to this point where I read books from Dickens, who can be said is the pivot of the Victorian literature.

Spellbinding Quotes, Lovely Words in ‘Agnes Grey’

I had been seasoned by adversity, and tutored by experience, and I longed to redeem my lost honor in the eyes of those whose opinion was more than that of all the world to me.

It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.

… the sun was shining through the blind, and I thought how pleasant it would be to pass through the quiet town and take a solitary ramble on the sands while half of the world was in bed.

No language can describe the effect of the deep, clear azure of the sky and ocean, the bright morning sunshine on the semi-circular barrier of craggy cliffs surmounted by green swelling hills, and on the smooth, wide sands, and the low rocks out at sea…

One bright day in the last week of February, I was walking in the park, enjoying the threefold luxury of solitude, a book, and a pleasant weather….

We are naturally disposed to love what gives us pleasure, and what more pleasing than a beautiful face…. when we know no harm of the possessor at least?

If she is plain and good, provided she is a person of retired manners and secluded life, no one ever knows of her goodness, except her immediate connections; others, on the contrary, are disposed to form unfavorable opinions of her mind and disposition….

…. he vainly seeking her, she longing to be found, but with no power to make her presence known, no voice to call him, no wings to follow his flight; ….. the fly must seek another mate, the worm must live and die alone.

 

‘Agnes Grey’, a beauty in simplicity

agnes grey‘Agnes Grey’ impresses me in a humble way that has very little connection with its happily-live-ever-after conclusion.

In contrary with a number of classic books from various authors that apply third-person narrations, ‘Agnes Grey’ surprisingly steals my heart with its first-person narration. I used not to read novels using first-person narrations because that seemed too easy. Besides, I thought authors who prefer using first-person narrations were unbalanced, meaning that they focused on one or two major characters. But ‘Agnes Grey’ proves me wrong.

While the character of Agnes Grey is very closely attached with Anne Bronte, the novelist can, too, voice other characters very well. I can wholly feel the arrogance of Miss Murray, the charisma of Mrs. Grey and imagine her situations in the Bloomfield family. I love how Anne Bronte depicts Agnes as a very consistent woman who defends her beliefs and values despite unfriendly circumstances, particularly while she teaches the Bloomfield children. The way she persists working as a governess despite failure with the Bloomfield family does not lessen her spirit to resume what she loves doing.

While I get used to read very thick novels with somber pitch, reading ‘Agnes Grey’, which less than 200 pages in the edition that I read, is such a refreshment. I shouldn’t always take the hardest way to enjoy life through literature. Not only the straight-forwarded plot with very few flashbacks that eases my reading process, the vivid description wrapped in lovely languages also makes the book is completely such a joy.

Although the book ends as many readers would expect, I salute Anne Bronte for her act of making it as normally romantic as possible. She puts her love life as important as her family affairs, her career, her pupils and the surrounding.

By the by, I adore the way Anne Bronte speaks so bold, cynical in the book. She gives critics to Miss Murray for her lavish life. She mocks the Bloomfield for their failures to teach their kids how to act civilly, control their tempers. She, too, highlights this issue when talking about Matilda who doesn’t even know how to behave like a girl should do.

The book really satisfies me. Not as striking as I feel with Thomas Hardy’s books but somehow ‘Agnes Grey’ is sufficient, especially in times when my current mood can be fluctuate at the moment. The perfect reading in turbulent times that lead for a constant scene.

the picture is taken from http://www.slideshare.net

‘Agnes Grey’ by Anne Bronte

anne bronteAgnes’s mother marries his father, Richard Grey, against the wishes of her friends and father, a squire. Mr. Grey, the clergyman of the north of England, is a fine man with modest income to make ends meet for the family of four. Agnes and Mary are the children of the overall six ones who survive in infancy and early childhood. Agnes’s mother is a very spirited woman, clever and smart, the kind of woman who knows how to keep his husband in a good spirit even if their lives turn sour after Mr. Grey’s property investment fails. Since then, his health becomes faltering, his mood easily gets sober.

It’s time for Agnes and Mary help financing the household. Mary uses her drawing skills to earn money while Agnes, despite initial rejections from her parents, opts to work as a governess. With all of her fine education taught by her mother, she is certain she can be a good one. So her mother gets her the first job as a governess in the Bloomfields family in the Wellwood mansion with a fair amount of payment. Agnes is nearly 19 year old when she leaves the house.

Their children are Tom Bloomfield, a boy of seven; Mary Ann, Fanny who will be four years old, and Harriet, a boy of two. Overall, Agnes finds it difficult not only to provide them proper education but also to tame their wild behaviors. She even feels she is treated just like a servant in the family. She doesn’t get along with the kids’ grandmother and especially their uncle who loves enslaving animals, which later influence them to do the same thing. Agnes gets more and more uncomfortable but she stays on her promise that she won’t give up amidst the hard times.

Until, she gets fired because the employers think her presence does not significantly improve their kids’ attitude for their manners uncultivated and their tempers unruly. So she goes back home with a belief that not all parents are like Mr. and Mrs. Bloomfield and not all children are like theirs. She has been seasoned by the adversity, and tutored by the experience, and she longs to redeem her lost honor in the eyes of those whose opinion is more than that of all the world to her (Agnes Grey page 38).

For a couple of months, Agnes enjoys her free time at home with the love from the family. Her father’s health is better than the last time she sees him and now she can entertain him by singing his favorite songs. No one is joyful with the failure she makes while working for the Bloomfield family. All are happy to receive her back and shower her with even more care and tenderness. Mary gets so well with her drawings.

Her mother tries to discourage Agnes when she touches the subject of becoming a governess again. But the latter firmness makes her mother gives up then advises her to advertise herself on her skills — music, singing, drawing, French, Latin and German. Soon the advertisement is written then dispatched. There are two parties that are interested in using Agnes’s service but her mother suggests the party who is willing to pay fifty pounds. She then departs for Horton Lodge, the place where the Murray family, her second employer, lives.

Miss Matilda, about 14 years old, is among the first who firstly sees her arriving at the family. Her sister, Miss Murray, or Rosalie, is about 16 when Agnes comes to the house. She is a very beautiful girl, tall and slender. She is lively, light-hearted and can be very agreeable (Agnes Grey, page 49). Miss Rosalie respects Agnes and the latter likes the former, too. What lacks in Miss Rosalie’s manner is her uncivil manners to nurses, governesses and servants. She has not been taught to moderate her desires or control her temper. She is often testy and capricious and is scornful.

Matilda is a tomboy girl, careless and cares so little about her appearance unlike her older sister. Matilda likes riding horses, headstrong and violent, and so unladylike.

John is about 11 years old who unfortunately grows up as an unruly, unprincipled, untaught boy. Charles, the mother’s particular darling, is a year younger than John, a selfish little fellow, naughty boy who brings only nuisance to Agnes. She completely has to be very patient to live with him peaceably and teach him.

The mansion is located almost two miles from the village church thus the family regularly attends the preaching. The kids’ arrogance really tests Agnes’s temper. She sometimes feels her life is foolish for she cares a lot for them but receives negligence in return. But her patience pays off. The kids slowly little less insolent and begin to show some symptoms of esteem (Agnes Grey page 55).

Miss Murray is now 18 years old and it’s time for her to come out by attending a ball. And after she returns from the party, she can’t help talking to Agnes the names of the gentlemen who admire her beauty; Sir Thomas Ashby, whom she calls as a young, rich but a beast. Then, she mentions Sir Hugh Meltham and Sir Broadley Wilson. Henry Meltham, a rather good-looking, a pleasant fellow to flirt with. Mr. Green, too, is among one of her fans whom she says a rich fellow but of no family. Mr. Hatfield, a rector, falls under her humble admirer.

One bright day in the last week of February while Miss Murray pays a morning call with her mother and Miss Matilda goes her daily ride, Agnes visit Nancy Brown, a widow whose son spends all day long working in the fields. Nancy has an inflammation in her eyes that make it difficult for reading. Agnes feels joyful to spend her brief with Nancy. She finds her days no longer lonely and even sees her life wiser and happier after talking with Nancy. Plus, she gets to know about Mr. Edward Weston, the curator of the church she often attends to. The two becomes better acquainted from which Agnes gradually has a crush on him.

On the other hand, Miss Murray enjoys the admirations from the gentlemen previously mentioned. She regularly attends the church just to enjoy what her fans say about her. Mr. Hatfield persistently approaches her only to later learn that Miss Murray plays with his heart.

Miss Murray eventually marries with Sir Thomas Ashby then becomes Lady Ashby. Not long after that, Agnes’s father passes away. She decides to leave the Murray family, return to her hometown for helping her mother setting up a school. While the school runs well, Agnes once pays a visit to Lady Ashby, who is now pregnant, when the family is in Horton Lodge. Lady Ashby completely greets Agnes like a great guest, providing her with a very comfortable room, a nice library and a very warm companionship. Although on the surface, Lady Ashby enjoys a luxurious life she admits that she is a bit unhappy. Her husband sometimes acts uncivilly while her mother-in-law is like a spy. From her, Agnes finds out that Mr. Weston is no longer at the Horton Lodge. She then returns home while feeling clueless on the whereabouts of the man who has made her unwilling to eat and has caused her mind not feeling at ease.

Before the clock strikes at six on a bright, beautiful morning, Agnes goes out of home. She walks toward the beach, enjoys whatever it has in store for her. She meets Mr. Weston there. They spend the morning together for the first time after her departure from Horton Lodge. He tells her that he now works nearby the place where she lives. He often looks for her but fruitless for Agnes rarely leaves her house and the school. All in all, Mr. Weston wants to meet her mother and eventually asks for her consent to marry Agnes. After he gets the approval, Mr. Weston expresses his wishes to marry Agnes and she definitely agrees to be his forever partner in life. The couple is later blessed with three children.

thank you to http://www.pinterest.com for the picture.