by Charlotte Bronte
Smith, Elder, & Co. (October 16, 1847)
Summary in a Sentence:
Jane, a plain and penniless orphan in nineteenth-century England, accepts employment as a governess at Thornfield Hall and soon finds herself in love with her melancholy employer, Mr. Edward Rochester, a man with a terrible secret.
This isn't my first rodeo with Jane and Mr. Rochester. I first read Jane Eyre in college as part of a Victorian Literature seminar. And yes, that class was AWESOME. Instead of a conventional review, I'd like to touch on a few topics of interest.
Physiognomy and Phrenology:
"I noticed her; I am a judge of physiognomy, and in hers I see all the faults of her class."
Physiognomy was a popular method of character assessment in the 18th and 19th centuries using complicated charts which included measuring the width and height of the forehead and observing the way a person walked to determine certain attributes.
"He lifted up the sable waves of hair which lay horizontally over his brow, and showed a solid enough mass of intellectual organs, but an abrupt deficiency where the suave sign of benevolence should have risen."
Phrenology was a common means of character analysis at the time of Jane Eyre's publication. Developed by F. J. Gall, the practice is based on the assumption that certain traits or characteristics can be located on various points of the skull. Thus the 'organ of veneration' and such that is often mentioned in the novel.
"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."
Now, for an important query: Which movie adaptation should I watch first??
~ Read for Our Mutual Read, Women Unbound, All About the Brontes, and Take Another Chance Challenges ~