(And Charlotte Bronte, actually)
(SPOILERS abound. So if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, stay clear. Unless you’re like me, and you don’t care.)
OK, I figure I might as well explain my problem here, before y’all think I have irrational hatred of C. Bronte.
I don’t, really, except for the fact that she didn’t like Jane Austen, because she didn’t think her books were “real.” They lacked passion.
Right. And hiding a crazy wife in the attic is, um, real?
That, right there, is my biggest beef with dear Charlotte. She tried to make Jane so rational, so calm, so collected–and she succeeds, for about 75% of the book. Then–bam!–crazy wife in attic, and nice, rational Jane is going to run off to the moors TO DIE.
I realize this could be seen as a psychotic break or something on Jane’s part, which would lead to her totally rash actions. But that’s not what happens. She stays in her room the whole afternoon, evening and night following the bizarre almost wedding, then flees to the moors. With no money, no clothes,no ideas about where she’s going to go. She had money–she could have gotten a coach and at least gone to a town to get shelter!
I feel the entire book falls apart here, and doesn’t really get back to itself until Jane hears that Rochester is still alive. I realize, yes, that their reunion would lose poignancy and power if they were not separated. I’m not saying that a separation shouldn’t have happened, but that Jane does not behave at all in character. She just, whoops!, flies off to the moors! (“To die. In the rain. Alone.”)
To me, that really kills the novel. If I’m reading it, or watching it, (because there are some great scenes, before and after this episode), I skip this section.
(Oh, and more randomness–not only was she on the moors, but she’s apparently an amnesiac. WHAT?!)
Charlotte does something similar in Vilette, making Lucy Snowe, her heroine, a weeeeeeee bit unstable. She hears things, sees things, thinks she’s being haunted by the ghost of a dead nun (I think–it’s been awhile since I read it), and then you have the Famous Ambiguous Ending.
At least when her sister Emily wrote nuttiness, it was consistent nuttiness. Heathcliff is Heathcliff, until he dies, as is Catherine. Neither of them have totally random breaks in character–Heathcliff doesn’t get a conscience before he dies, and neither does she. Redemption doesn’t come to Wuthering Heights from those characters, but from their children.
Anyway. This is why I do not like Charlotte Bronte.