Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Susan’s Newsletter February 2010

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February 4, 2010 Susan’s Newsletter
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

Good morning!  During the last hour I’ve had my head implanted on the kitchen table, stared at the computer screen, and debated on going with a book of great quotes or trying to put a 520 page book into several paragraphs worth your reading.  Stu lifted my head and poured coffee into my mouth (almost literally!), doing all in his power to get me to begin typing for you…the cat gave me the look that he would be perfectly behaved if I would just BEGIN….and the caffeine hit my fingers…I’m ready to try!  I read a book that will definitely be added to my top influential books for decision making in my life.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  The length was daunting, the cover dark….but I have been encouraged by so many of you to read this… I finally brought this treasure home.  I didn’t want to put the book down, and I don’t want to do injustice to the lessons and conversations with this note.  Stu had to leave today without a button, the dishes aren’t done, Camden has now been added to the morning scene with his face now implanted on furniture….morning…trying to think for you on this Thursday.  Here is a taste of what I underlined.  I hope that you can get encouragement by these paragraphs, and someday, when you are ready for a book that you will love and learn from…pick up and add Jane Eyre to your stack of personal favorites.  The book is on integrity…making choices that honor God regardless of whether we can rationalize straying from moral principles.  Regardless of any circumstances in our lives.  Decisions.  Living a life that honors our Creator.

On choices based on morality.  Making decisions about how to handle situations before put into circumstances where you aren’t thinking straight:
 …my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me.  They spoke almost as loud as Feeling….Who in the world cares for you?  Who will be injured by what you do?  Still indomitable was the reply:  I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.   I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad – as I am now.  Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?  They have a worth – so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane – quite insane, with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.  Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot. 

On remembering hurts:
She has been unkind to you, no doubt, because, you see, she dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine; but how minutely you remember all she has done and said to you!  What a singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have made on your heart!  No ill-usage so brands its record on my feelings.  Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited?  Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.  We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world…I hold another creed, which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention, but in which I delight, and to which I cling, for it extends hope to all; it makes eternity a rest – a mighty home…with this creed I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime, I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last; with this creed, revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low; I live in calm, looking to the end.

On believing in yourself, understanding yourself.
If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.

On a dear friend.
…she was qualified to give those who enjoyed the privilege of her converse, a taste of far higher things….she evinced for me a quiet and faithful friendship, which ill-humour never soured, nor irritation ever troubled.

The death of her friend…comfort given by her friend who was dying on heaven.
I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead, you must be sure and not grieve:  there is nothing to grieve about.  We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest.  I leave no one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me.  By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.  I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world:  I should have been continually at fault…”But where are you going to, Helen?  Can you see?  Do you now?”  I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.  “Where is God?  What is God?”  My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what He created.  I rely implicitly on His power, and confide wholly in His goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to Him, reveal Him to me.  “You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven; and that our souls can get to it when we die?”  I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to Him without any misgiving.  God is my father; God is my friend: I love Him; I believe He loves me.

Encouraging a friend who suffers because of regrets.
It seems to me, if you tried hard, you would in time find it possible to become what you yourself would approve; and that if from this day you began with resolution to correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to which you might revert with pleasure….Men and women die; philosophers falter in wisdom, and Christians in goodness: if anyone you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace to heal.  The instrument – the instrument!  God, who does the work, ordains the instrument…

Living in our “reality” versus what will never be.  Using reason to accept where we are….not wasting the now with unreal ideas and dreams.
Reason having come forward and told, in her own quiet way, a plain, unvarnished tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly devoured the ideal….I can live alone, if self-respect and circumstances require me so to do.  I need not sell my soul to buy bliss.  I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.  Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms.  The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the last word in the every argument, and the casting vote in every decision.  Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the dictates of conscience. 

Time management (in 1847! ha!) – comparison of a self-absorbed, sullen woman compared with what she could be if she had goals (discussion between two sisters leading different lives).
Georgiana, a more vain and absurd animal than you was certainly never allowed to cumber the earth.  You had no right to be born; for you make no use of life.  Instead of living for, in, and with yourself, as a reasonable being ought, you seek only to fasten your feebleness on some other person’s strength: if no one can be found willing to burden her or himself with such a fat, weak, puffy, useless thing, you cry out that you are ill-treated, neglected, miserable.  Then, too, existence for you must be a scene of continual change and excitement, or else the world is a dungeon: you must be admired, you must be courted, you must be flattered – you must have music, dancing, and society – or you languish, you die away.  Have you no sense to devise a system which will make you independent of all efforts, and all wills, but your own?  Take one day; share it into sections; to each section apportion its task: leave no stray unemployed quarters of an hour, ten minutes, five minutes – include all; do each piece of business in its turn with method, with rigid regularity.  The day will close almost before you are aware it has begun; and you are indebted to no one for helping you to get rid of one vacant moment; you have had to seek no one’s company, conversation, sympathy, forbearance; you have lived, in short, as an independent being ought to do. 

This book is hard to write on.  But I can tell you that the book is full of hope, friendships, the thoughts of the characters.  The book shows how those that pursue a life of holiness, thus having to make choices that hurt at the moment, bring about a higher life – a life that pleases our God.  This book is on deep friendships.  On encouraging each other to take life up to a level that we are capable of.  In our daily thoughts, decisions, prayers, choices in goal setting.  On seeking learning.  On choosing friends that encourage us to do right.   I could’ve picked great quotes, but I just couldn’t resist sharing with you why others have so adamantly encouraged me to read this….we can’t lead mediocre lives – when we know there are books out there that will bring us to a higher level of living & thoughts…to be better in our relationships, to have examples of choices others made before us….we are not rising to who we could be if we do not read, do not seek higher things.  Our choice.  Mediocrity?  Life.  Holiness.  Always a struggle.  I’m there with you….not on a pedestal.  Already snapped at every human I’ve come into contact with today (and living creatures)….but the smile comes after the snap, right?!?!?  So, onward with our day.  Rubik Cubes.  Sleet.  Friendships.  Solitude.  Continually trying.  And, if nothing else works…caffeine.  Have a great day.  I hope you are encouraged today to live.  To try.  To somehow get through this winter!!!  Ahhhhhhhhh – 20 minutes until we have to leave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Let the day begin!!  Susan

Latin for this week:  Age quod agis – Do what you do well. 

Works Cited:
Bronte, Charlotte.  Jane Eyre.  New York.  Penguin Putnam.  2006.  (First published in 1847)


 

Overview

Immediately recognized as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is an extraordinary coming-of-age story featuring one of the most independent and strong-willed female protagonists in all of literature. Poor and plain, Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer—the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again.

One of the world’s most beloved novels, Jane Eyre is a startlingly modern blend of passion, romance, mystery, and suspense.

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441146
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches

Recommended in Susan’s February 4, 2010 Newsletter