Any George Eliot Fans? Bronte sisters? Elizabeth Barret Browning? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 01-24-2009, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a lot of trouble finding anyone around here who's willing to attempt these authors. Are there any fans here? I sure would love to discuss some of their books, especially Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, or Jane Eyre.
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#2 of 25 Old 01-25-2009, 12:18 AM
 
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I love Jane Eyre. I read it first in high school for class but liked it so much I bought a copy and read it a couple of more times since.

I haven't read anything else by either the Bronte sisters or George Eliot
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#3 of 25 Old 01-25-2009, 12:59 AM
 
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Yes, I would call myself a fan. I've read all the novels by all four novelists and I've read a fair amount of EBB too. My two favourite novels in the world are Wuthering Heights and Middlemarch. Not sure if I'm currrently ready to reread Daniel D, but I could jump straight into a discussion of Jane Eyre, or a comparison of Jane and Dorothea as heroines if you like!
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#4 of 25 Old 01-25-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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LOVELOVELOVE Wuthering Heights and Silas Marner
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#5 of 25 Old 01-25-2009, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I would call myself a fan. I've read all the novels by all four novelists and I've read a fair amount of EBB too. My two favourite novels in the world are Wuthering Heights and Middlemarch. Not sure if I'm currrently ready to reread Daniel D, but I could jump straight into a discussion of Jane Eyre, or a comparison of Jane and Dorothea as heroines if you like!

That would be really fun! I probably need to go to the library and get a copy of Jane Eyre, since I don't own it. I borrowed it when I read it. But I do have my Middlemarch. I've never been in a book discussion group, so you can lead off if you like.
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#6 of 25 Old 01-25-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Well, would anyone who's read any of the books in question like to respond to either of these two questions:

1) Do you think Jane, being who she was at 18, would inevitably be attracted to an older man?

2) What is the difference between Jane's attraction to an older man (Rochester) and Dorothea's attraction to an older man (Casaubon)?

(Bonus Question for Wuthering Heights fans: How sexual or otherwise do you consider the "attraction" between Heathcliff and Cathy?)

There, starting off with sexual love questions--should appeal to everyone!
Come one, come all, and join in!
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#7 of 25 Old 01-26-2009, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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1) I'll let someone else take a stab at that, I'm really not sure.

2) Dorothea's attraction to Casaubon was very idealistic and spiritual. She thought that by marrying him, she would be doing something that would allow her to assist in making an important mark on the world. She felt she would gain all kinds of philisophical and spiritual wisdom by her close association and friendship with Casaubon. As she had never before experienced a more physical, instinctual type of love, she mistook her deep interest in Casaubon's important seeming work for romantic love, when in fact it was more of a spiritual type of devotion that dissipated once she became aware of the fact that Casaubon's work was going nowhere, and that he did not want to share it with her.

As for Jane, it seemed to me that her attraction to Rochester was on a deeper, more emotional level. In spite of his harsh seeming personality, he was the first to really see her, not just how she appeared, but who she was inside. He spoke to her as an equal, which of course was very unexpected given her position in society in relation to his. And he shared aspects of himself with her that helped create a deep attachment.

As for Heathcliff and Cathy, their love was certainly not platonic. Cathy's statement "I am Heathcliff" is the very epitome of a very deep romantic attachment. As far as it's being sexual, I think nearly all romantic attachments are sexual in nature. Some more than others of course. A recent screen adaptation of the book interpreted Heathcliff and Cathy's love as being very sexual in nature, which of course is not unexpected in a film adaptation. I don't know that Bronte's intention was that it should be interpreted that way, though. I would say though, that their relationship was of course far from platonic or it would not have interfered with Cathy's marriage.

Excuse me if any of my interpretations seem inaccurate, it's been awhile since I read these books. I need to pick them up again!
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#8 of 25 Old 01-26-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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Haven't yet read any George Eliot, and recall (this is many years back!) not caring for Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but I did just finish re-reading Jane Eyre and am planning on doing the same with Wuthering Heights sometime soon (I'm currently reading Mansfield Park, but I didn't see you mention Austen - not a Romantic writer in any case).

I agree that Jane and Rochester connected on an emotional and intellectual level. While much older than her, and having had some very bitter experiences, he also undergoes a maturing process through the novel, so in that sense they both possess points in which they are old souls and points in which they are still maturing.
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#9 of 25 Old 01-26-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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When I was 18 I was shocked that Jane would want a 38yo man. Now that I'm 38 . . . (Please don't misinterpret me, I'm not saying I want to hook up with an 18yo; rather, I now don't see Rochester as "really old.") I wonder if C. Bronte was saying that the only way a man in her society could be Jane's equal would be if he was 20 years older than she was.

(Sickly baby--will try to post more tomorrow.)
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#10 of 25 Old 01-27-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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Omigosh, I'm older than Mr. Rochester! What a way to start a day.

I wonder if anyone *has* ever written a gender-reversed version of Jane Eyre. I'll never be a novelist, but I think the idea has real possibilities.

It has been ages and ages upon ages since I've read Middlemarch and I don't remember much but the names of the characters!

Jane could have married St. John Rivers, closer in age to herself, but still older, and for reasons the world would have praised. But Jane roundly rejected destroying herself in that relationship...

I think Jane, at 18, would have needed a potential romantic partner to have been older and more established in his character than her spoiled dissipated cousin, who seems to have been the only young man she knew well. She was all about studying the characters of others, and Rochester, by virtue of his age and difficult life, presented a captivating challenge.

No, I don't think she could have fallen for anyone her own age.

Hope baby feels better today, Murihiku.
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#11 of 25 Old 01-27-2009, 10:14 PM
 
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I agree, I think Jane was quite mature for her age and would need an older mate. It's been a couple of years since I last read Jane Eyre but I always thought of her as a more mature child. I'll have to re-read to refresh my thoughts.

I remember when I first read this book in high school how appalled I was that she would marry such an "old man". The older I have gotten the less appalled I am (or maybe I am just getting used to the idea)

Looks like I'll have to head over to the book store tomorrow to pick up a copy of Middlemarch.
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#12 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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[QUOTE=myjo;13067179]1) I'll let someone else take a stab at that, I'm really not sure.

2) Dorothea's attraction to Casaubon was very idealistic and spiritual. She thought that by marrying him, she would be doing something that would allow her to assist in making an important mark on the world. She felt she would gain all kinds of philisophical and spiritual wisdom by her close association and friendship with Casaubon. As she had never before experienced a more physical, instinctual type of love, she mistook her deep interest in Casaubon's important seeming work for romantic love, when in fact it was more of a spiritual type of devotion that dissipated once she became aware of the fact that Casaubon's work was going nowhere, and that he did not want to share it with her.


Yes, since she's compared to the famous nun Teresa in the Prologue, there's a strong suggestion in the text that what she wants from Casaubon is a Father Confessor. Ironically, he's no more up for that job than he is for the job of lover/husband, which she doesn't even know she wants until she meets Will.

Do you feel sorry for Casaubon at all, or do you just despise him?
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#13 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 12:12 AM
 
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1)

As for Heathcliff and Cathy, their love was certainly not platonic. Cathy's statement "I am Heathcliff" is the very epitome of a very deep romantic attachment. As far as it's being sexual, I think nearly all romantic attachments are sexual in nature. Some more than others of course. A recent screen adaptation of the book interpreted Heathcliff and Cathy's love as being very sexual in nature, which of course is not unexpected in a film adaptation. I don't know that Bronte's intention was that it should be interpreted that way, though. I would say though, that their relationship was of course far from platonic or it would not have interfered with Cathy's marriage.
Ooh, which adaptation was that?

A Victorian critic said something about how we never "doubt the heroine's purity for a second" even when she's in Heathcliff's arms. Until I read that, I guess I never had, but now I wonder. I actually don't think they consummated their relationship. I can't really imagine it because they are more like forces of nature than people. For example, I can imagine good fanfic depicting a sex scene between Jane and Rochester, but no way can I imagine the equivalent with Cathy and Heathcliff!
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#14 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 12:15 AM
 
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I agree that Jane and Rochester connected on an emotional and intellectual level. While much older than her, and having had some very bitter experiences, he also undergoes a maturing process through the novel, so in that sense they both possess points in which they are old souls and points in which they are still maturing.
It's interesting to think about their experiences before meeting. Both suffered; he had many more years in which to do so, but she seems to have grown in moral stature from her suffering faster than he did. Who would you say suffered the more after she leaves him? He certainly matures after that, but does she?
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#15 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 12:17 AM
 
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Omigosh, I'm older than Mr. Rochester! What a way to start a day.

I wonder if anyone *has* ever written a gender-reversed version of Jane Eyre. I'll never be a novelist, but I think the idea has real possibilities.
There are compensations--if you're older than he is, you get to call him Edward.

I love that idea about the gender-reversed Jane Eyre! With the mad husband in the attic?

Baby seems better, thanks!
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#16 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 02:15 AM
 
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There are compensations--if you're older than he is, you get to call him Edward.

I love that idea about the gender-reversed Jane Eyre! With the mad husband in the attic?

!
I don't want to call him Edward, though! I'd be looking at him as a potential son-in-law, probably, ew!

Yes, a mad husband, and a little boy ward, stepson from a common-law relationship with a French opera singer, and an evangelist cousin, and a wicked uncle.....
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#17 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ooh, which adaptation was that?
It was just recently on Masterpiece theater. I'm not even sure if you can get it on DVD yet. But yes, it depicted the consummation of Heathcliff and Cathy's love.

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A Victorian critic said something about how we never "doubt the heroine's purity for a second" even when she's in Heathcliff's arms. Until I read that, I guess I never had, but now I wonder. I actually don't think they consummated their relationship. I can't really imagine it because they are more like forces of nature than people. For example, I can imagine good fanfic depicting a sex scene between Jane and Rochester, but no way can I imagine the equivalent with Cathy and Heathcliff!
I guess when you asked whether we viewed their relationship as sexual, I was not thinking so much in terms of the actual act, but in terms of the nature of their attraction to each other. I really don't think Bronte meant for the relationship to be construed as sinful, that they had actually fornicated (which is exactly how it would have been viewed in that time.) But the nature of their attraction and love was definitely romantic, if not sexual.
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#18 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 03:14 PM
 
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It's interesting to think about their experiences before meeting. Both suffered; he had many more years in which to do so, but she seems to have grown in moral stature from her suffering faster than he did. Who would you say suffered the more after she leaves him? He certainly matures after that, but does she?
Suffers more...hmm...well, the near starvation was kind of rough for Jane, but doesn't really hold a candle to being blinded and maimed...

In terms of maturing, I suppose you're right that he matures more after they meet - he has already shown some signs of maturity in, for example, taking in Adele, but he cannot bear to give up his chance at happiness even if it means bigamy. Whereas later he comes to accept how wrong he was in that regard, and also comes to accept relying on Jane instead of being so overpowering.

I also think that they both mature in terms of recognizing their mutual need for each other (fortunately bounded by morality, thanks to the death of the first Mrs Rochester).
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#19 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Going back to Wuthering Heights, I have an interesting question. Does anyone here believe that the type of love that Cathy and Heathcliff shared exists in real life? I've read several romances where the hero and heroine seem to have this "force of nature" love for each other. But does it really exist, and if it does, can something like that last?
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#20 of 25 Old 01-28-2009, 06:37 PM
 
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Going back to Wuthering Heights, I have an interesting question. Does anyone here believe that the type of love that Cathy and Heathcliff shared exists in real life? I've read several romances where the hero and heroine seem to have this "force of nature" love for each other. But does it really exist, and if it does, can something like that last?
It doesn't exist in the realm of the sane. It can feel like it exists during the first, most intense time. It can't last I think, because although it could survive death, it couldn't possibly survive marriage, children, and domesticity. It's dysfunctional-incestuous-familial-tragic, pantheist-natural, and spiritual-demonic all at once--it has to end tragically, not in the comic mode with marriage.
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#21 of 25 Old 01-29-2009, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My experience certianly suggests that it doesn't exist IRL.

I wonder if Emily Bronte was mentally unbalanced, or just extremely imaginative? The book is so dark, it seems like a writer wouldn't be able to stay sane while writing it. I know I've read about her personal life, but I forget what I read. One of the Brontes died of TB, was it her?
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#22 of 25 Old 01-29-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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My experience certianly suggests that it doesn't exist IRL.

I wonder if Emily Bronte was mentally unbalanced, or just extremely imaginative? The book is so dark, it seems like a writer wouldn't be able to stay sane while writing it. I know I've read about her personal life, but I forget what I read. One of the Brontes died of TB, was it her?
I was glancing through something by some lit critic or other recently, who suggested that Heathcliff is something of Emily Bronte's alter ego. It may have been Camille Paglia? Apparently she was tall, dark, intense and masculine...
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#23 of 25 Old 01-29-2009, 10:20 PM
 
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There were six Bronte siblings and five of them died of TB (two as children). Charlotte was the only one who didn't and it seems she died of (I forget the technical name) extreme "morning sickness."
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#24 of 25 Old 01-30-2009, 01:00 AM
 
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Heathcliff might well be EB's alter ego. There's a famous anecdote about how she got bitten by a dog, and immediately seized a poker, heated it in the fire, and then used it to sterilize her own wound!
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#25 of 25 Old 01-30-2009, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Something interesting I read about her is that she was normally very quiet and shy. But she owned this huge boxer. The family had been told not to challenge this dog as the breed could be aggressive. But the dog started laying on the beds, so Emily was told that if the dog didn't stop, he would have to go. To Emily, that was not an option, the dog meant everything to her. Emily immediately started punching and screaming at the dog, telling him in no uncertain terms that he must stay off the beds. The dog took the abuse as meekly as can be, and never again layed on another bed. So I guess thats another example of her intensity and impulsiveness.
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