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...Or, if you remember what you thought it was about before you read it.

Those of you who have not read Jane Eyre, nor seen the movie, could you summarize in the comments for me what you think the book is about... with specifics regarding plot... and what your occupation is? And how/what other Victorian literature you have read instead?

I realize this is a weird request, but it's research for a book. I promise.


When I asked my husband the question, he said, "It's about women. And there's yammering. Because they can't marry who they want to marry." He's a computer guy. I couldn't even guess what Victorian literature he's read, but I'd suspect it's like one work of Dickens forced on him in school.

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redmomoko
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
What about having seen part of several Jane Eyre movies?
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
Give it a shot!
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laurelar
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
Dann said basically what I would say. I've never read it, but this is the path my brain takes:

-Jane Eyre invokes thoughts of Jane Austen (for whatever reason, I realize she didn't write it).

-I hate Jane Austen. She is basically the Harlequin novel of her time.

-Its friends/sisters/whatever fighting over men who mostly stand around looking nice, and otherwise have no personality or redeeming qualities.

-It is raunchy. Much more raunchy than is appropriate for the time.

-And very drawn out. Often with Much ado About Nothing or Comedy of Errors. (both things which can get on my nerves.)

Sorry. Its what I think. (shrug) This is without googling it, which I am about to go do.

(I do like Dickens, though. More tragic and suffering.) Mostly, I like mysteries, current literature, or the occasional 30-something crap (good beach reading). So take my thoughts for what it is worth to you.
laurelar
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
Oh, hey, I didn't see the rest of your questions. I am a teacher. I've probably read a couple of Jane Austens (Seen movies), Dickens, and I tried so hard to read Lady Chatterly's lover, but I never got past the first chapter. I am sure there are other things... But everything else I am coming up with right now is probably American. (Scarlet Letter, Great Gatsby (which I hated)?)
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mrissa
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
There is a movie???
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
There's like 80 movies (and/or series). Or something. I've seen like... six? Seven? They are all pretty wrong, to differing degrees, though I like some of them.
dendrophilous
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
Jane is someone's poor cousin, and she somehow (I would guess as a governess, but I don't remember hearing about any children) goes to live with Mr. Rochester, whose (mad?) first wife is hidden in the attic. Eventually Jane discovers the wife. The house catches on fire. (I think Jane might go away for awhile.) Then Jane and Rochester get married.

*looks up the Wikipedia article* Heh. I only knew that much because I looked up the plot summary a year or two ago. Before that I knew nothing.

I'm a copy editor of physics articles.

I had to look up "victorian literature" because I do not carry around a list in my head (I haven't had a literature class since high school!). I've read various Dickens (Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, both for school, and I've seen A Christmas Carol a zillion times) and George Eliot's Silas Marner which I don't remember at all. And some children's stuff (Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, Kipling).
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
And my character may now be... a copy editor of physics articles! May I steal your career path for a character? :)
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skripka
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
I... didn't read much victorian lit. Does Hardy count? Not that I enjoyed it. Ugh. Boring and ...ugh. Bronte--Wuthering Heights is the only one I managed to get through. Didn't read the Little Women books either. Walden--I got through that, but do Americans count?

(my God. I'm horribly under-read, aren't I?)

Frankly, I preferred the poetry of the era. Oh, and Lewis Carrol. I read and researched the Alice books like crazy.

As far as Jane Eyre, specifically, everything I know about the book comes from Jasper Fforde. :)

Jane is an orphan who becomes a nanny to the daughter of R~; he's gruff and mean and prone to attacks from his crazy wife in the attic. Of course, Jane doesn't know about that until she and R~ are in love and almost married, at which point she runs off, nearly to India with a minister of some sort. The crazy wife tries to burn R~ and destroys the mansion, but then Jane comes back and they live happily ever after.
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Hardy counts. I can't stand him either, though.

Sure, Americans count, I guess... :)

Not bad on the plot points, either, though, I'm sure Mr. Fforde helped.
mechaieh
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
One of my best memories of college is of Claire Bloom doing a dramatic reading of Jane Eyre. It was hysterically funny (which was not my first impression of the book...)
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Interesting... Was it funny from the text, or was she putting an ironic spin on things? Or being hilariously dramatic?
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cicer
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
Never read the book or seen the movie, so I only know about this secondhand. I'm writing this out before reading other comments, so if I'm repeating stuff or misremembering details, sorry!

Um. Isn't it about some impoverished woman who goes to work as a governess for some guy and falls in love with him? But then he has a crazy ex-wife locked up in the attic. And then she leaves, the house burns down, but she comes back and he'd mangled but she loves him anyway? The end? Am I even close?
cicer
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
Just read the Wikipedia summary. Hey, I got more stuff right than I thought!
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captainblack
Nov. 7th, 2008 05:03 am (UTC)
I'm ignorant. Here's my answer. : )
Uh... Let's see.

I always thought Jane Eyre was a romantic kinda story about a lonely intelligent girl living on the moors or something like that, with her sisters. And they amused themselves by making up stuff together.

But now that I've said that, I'm pretty sure that I've conflated the plot with that of "Little Women"... Oh dear.

Well, you know sort of what my "occupation" history has looked like, right? I was a low-budget college teacher at Schoolcraft in the early 90's after I got my M.A. in Literature.
Then Momoko dragged me to Boston, where I worked a few lousy construction jobs for abusive bosses, then did some trashpicking, auditioned for some rock bands, and finally became a jobless shut-in with cats as my only friends and at that time wrote my only published story...
Uh-- to speed a up a boring story:
I had a few more weird jobs while my mah and I were getting http://www.neko-chan.com up and running in the late 90's, then when we moved back to Ann Arbor I had my first non-lousy construction job where I actually was treated as a human being and got my first taste of self esteem in 40 years.
I was laid off last year, but I got to keep the self esteem, and anyway http://www.neko-chan.com is doing more biz now so my mah needs me working at it full time now, so I don't have to get any more lead poisoning, lung or brain damage. Though I miss my painting friends.
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm ignorant. Here's my answer. : )
I think I like your interpretation the best. I may borrow it. You're conflating the Brontë with the story of Jane Eyre, and I think that's what my character would do.
captainblack
Nov. 7th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
Forgot to say what Victorian Lit I have read
Lord Dunsany
H.P. Lovecraft
Algernon Blackwood
Arthur Machen
Thomas DeQuincy
Edgar Allen Poe
Robert Louis Stevenson
Bram Stoker
William Butler Yeats
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merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
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daveamongus
Nov. 7th, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
I've read The Eyre Affair so I probably know too much. But if I had to take a guess, given that it doesn't come from the Dickensian arm of Victorian fiction, I'd say it's one of those books of distant romance, fraught with the sorts of manners and codes that defined the Victorian period. The romantic comedy of its time, where everything could be solved if people would just talk to each other and be honest, but oh noes, they can't, or they misunderstand something, or the hero is keeping his insane wife locked in the attic.
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
Interesting... Thanks for the data point!

You might be surprised by Jane Eyre. It was considered crude at the time because it was not very mannered. The choices Jane makes are more morally driven than code-of-conduct/societally driven, too.

behindpyramids
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
*gape*
I love Victorian novels. I eat them like buttery snacks, devour them like dirty dirty soap operas.

that said, is the movie any good?
merriehaskell
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
The movies... well... Hm. Okay, let's talk adaptations, not just movies, but also mini-series.

Of the ones on this list:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/janeeyre/history.shtml

The 1983 one made me doubt my reading of the book. How could something so dull be made from something so awesome? Plus, there's this big distracting zit on Jane's face through most of the Moor House scenes plus some others, so it broke my suspension of disbelief because you could track when they filmed things by the size of the zit.

The 1973 is supposedly the most faithful adaptation and the best-loved by Jane Eyre fans. I'm half-way through it. It's all right. You know how the 1996 Pride and Prejudice was both faithful and fully awesome? This is faithful and only about half awesome. So far... I need to finish watching it.

The 1963 one didn't particularly impress. I watched it a long time ago, though.

Now, the 2006 version (http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/janeeyre/) is not very faithful in many ways, but I think it may be the most successful adaptation. I prefer to judge movie adaptations of classics in regard to how much they bring the spirit through of the original to a modern audience. Like Baz Luhrman's version of Romeo and Juliet... I thought my reaction at the end of that was probably the same reaction that Shakespeare's original audience had: OMFG, Shakespeare, you suck for making me feel this bad, OMFG, you're amazing.

So, in terms of the 2006 version? I think that is the most successful adaptation by that definition.

Of the movie versions I've seen, I'm kinda eh on them all. Orson Welles has the best Rochester voice--well, duh. Ciaran Hinds and William Hurt are meh for Rochesters. My favorite young Jane is without a doubt Anna Paquin in the Zeffirelli version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116684/).
birdsedge
Nov. 7th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
Think I did read part of the book many years ago at school. Have seen several TV adaptations, mostly BBC which are generally pretty faithful to the book though of necessity abbreviated. Have recently read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

Plain Jane Eyre is sent by her stingy aunt to a horrible school where her best friend dies of consumption thereby starting the story in the wrong place and using up several thousand unecessary words. She survives and as the story proper starts she gets a job as governess (on her own initiative) to Mr Rochester's niece (Adele?) at Thornfield Hall. She meets Rochester when she causes his horse to shy and pitch him off. They make an instant bad first impression on each other, but gradually discover there is a meeting of minds despite Rochester being a bully and a liar and not terribly handsome, not to mention dallying with a flirty piece of muslin-wrapped, brain-free eyecandy. There's a visit to Jane's dying aunt (more wasted words) and a few kefuffles in the night, but I can't remember the order. Footsteps in the corridor, Rochester's room set on fire (Jane to the rescue) and a visitor who is mysteriously injured by a passing vampire (or someone with teeth) in the sekrit attic. Jane once more saves Rochester's butt by playing nusemaid until the doctor arrives. Rochester proposes to Jane. At the wedding someone (a lawyer? or Mr Vampirevictim himself?) turns up as Mr Just Impediment because of Wife Number One who is Mad Woman In The Attic. Despite thinking Rochester is sex on two legs, Jane's too hidebound to grab him with both hands and elope without benefit of clergy (as he wants to do), so she wimps out and flees, miraculously getting found in the middle of a moor by a very boring set of religious fundies who just coincidentally turn out to be cousins she didn't know she had. (Yeah, try slipping that past an editor these days!!!) Cousin StJohn persuades her to go a-praying and a-misionarying with him, but luckily she wakes up and smells the testosterone before she has her bags properly packed. She has a change of heart and decides she will jump the broom with Rochester after all, but on returning to Thornfield discovers Mad Woman has burned it down, killed herself and blinded and crippled Rochester who was daft enough to go walkabout on the rooftop. As karmic justice for dallying Jane gets a semicastrated version of Rochester, blind and dependent and not at all the man she fell in love with, but that seems to me enough because: Reader, she married him!

Other old stuff I recall dates from school: Dickens (Hard Times, David Copperfield, Christmas Carol) Hardy: Return of the Native; Jude-the-so-obscure-I-can-remember-a-thing-about-it. (I hated Hardy with a passion.) Austen: Northanger Abbey; Pride and Prejudice; Mrs Gaskell, North and South. About the only things I've re-read or read since school for pleasure or necessity are Hard Times and Christmas Carol, both for productions I was in (or working on).

My list is woefully short. Does having a complete set of Dickens count for anything even if I haven't read them? (The binding is pretty.)

Funnily enough I was intending to re-read Jane Eyre after reading The Eye Affair.
prettyanthony
Nov. 7th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
I haven't read it.

I thought it was Wuthering Heights (which I also haven't read) until a glance at Wikipedia showed me that I know absolutely nothing about it.

So basically, I thought Jane Eyre was about some unrequited love story where he or she isn't good enough so they go away and come back but by that time, the other person is married off or some shit and they die tragically.

See, I know nothing about it.

I read Pride and Prejudice and some Dickens excerpts in junior high. The only thing of Dickens' that I've read completely is A Christmas Carol which I adore.

I've read Lewis Caroll's Alice books. They're wonderful.
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