Category Archives: Jane Eyre


I had so much fun finding yesterday’s literary connection that I found one, or two, or maybe three more.

Today’s is brought to you by Charlotte Brontë.  I know, not your first guess of authors to be buddying up to Richard Wright, but here it is:

Then their eyes were riveted; a slate-colored pigeon swooped down to the middle of the steel car tracks and began strutting to and fro with ruffled feathers, its fat neck bobbing with regal pride.  A street car rumbled forward and the pigeon rose swiftly through the air on wings stretched so taut and sheer that Bigger could see the gold of the sun through their translucent tips.  He tilted his head and watched the slate-colored bird flap and wheel out of sight over the edge of a high roof.
“Now, if I could only do that,” Bigger said . . .

Doesn’t that sound like our good friend Jane Eyre?  Okay, fine, Jane was adamant that she was not a bird.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

But I’m pretty sure both of them were going for that whole “free flying” thing, so I’m still counting it on my list of connections.  Oh, and here’s an interesting essay about the bird imagery in Jane Eyre if your own wings want to carry you back to the good old days of pleasant reads.

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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Jane Eyre, Native Son


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Missing Jane

I don’t want to read The Trial today.  I feel crabby about Kafka.  Want to whine with me?

I woke up this morning missing Jane Eyre.  What happened to books like Brontë wrote?  Jane Eyre had some creepy, dream-like parts (as does The Trial), but I’m tired of

  • people without real names–Joseph K.  What does the K stand for?
  • weird relationships–I’ve never met you Fräulein Bürstner, but I’m Joseph K., and I’m going to stalk you and then passionately kiss you the first time we meet.
  • the author’s attempt to shock– What is up with the law books being pornographic drawings?  Or what’s with the bizarre beating of the wardens in the law office lumber closet?
  • lack of emotional connection to characters–How can I root for Joseph?  I don’t know anything about him.
  • experimental writing–I’m a primogeniture; I like rules.

Perhaps my rebellious feelings come from reading one experimental book after another: Mrs. Dalloway followed by The Trial.   I’m tired of feeling lost.  I want to care about characters.  I want to be able to follow plot.  For that matter, I want to enjoy reading.

What happened to happily ever after?  I miss Jane Eyre.jane eyre


Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Jane Eyre, The Trial


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Some Dads

Happy Father’s Day Sancho, Christian, Gulliver, Mr. Bennett, Fagin, Mr. Brockelhurst, Arthur Dimmesdale, Ahab, Arthur Shelby, Charles Bovary, Marmeladov, Vronsky, Damon Wildeve, Gilbert Osmund, Pap Finn, and Tom Buchanan.

Thanks for not being my dad.

You see, he’s pretty awesome.  And you guys, well, let’s just say that you’re best left where you are:  inside the covers of a book.

Dad Dance


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Not to Bum You Out

I’m so tired of all these women dying.  I’ve nearly lost track of them, first it was Helen, then Emma, Alyona and Lizaveta, Anna, Eustacia, and now Lily. Why?  Why must we read so much tragedy?  Why the death?  What’s wrong with a happy ending once in a while?

Then I stumbled across this article in my facebook newsfeed.  Friends, it’s worth the read (it even mentions three of our authors.)  The subject is tragedy.  The context is Christian worship.  The backdrop is our life.

If you only click on one external link today, I encourage you to choose the one above.  You can even leave the arguments about worship behind, but I’d love to know what you think about the tragedy vs. entertainment question.

Is our WEM reading list reminding you that we live in the valley of the shadow of death?  Is it drawing you face to face with the world of iniquity from which we would rather shield our minds?  Are the authors and their sin-filled worlds making you cling firmly to the Author of creation?  Is the despair of the characters wakening a vision of the evil that surrounds us outside the pages of fiction?  Or, are the novels a source of pacification and escapism?  Are the classics entertaining?  Should the classics be entertaining?


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The Fastest 300 Years EVER!

Sancho and the donkey.  Christian.  Yahoos and Houyhnhnms.  Elizabeth and Darcy.  Oliver.   Bertha-in-the-attic.  Hester and Pearl.   Moby Dick.   Uncles and Madams.  Rascal.   Anna-Kitty-Levin-Vronsky-oviches.   The Heath.   Isabel.   Huckleberry.   The Journeys of Henry and Marlowe.   And now Lily, whose outcome, at least for me, is still uncertain.

While paging through the Well-Educated Mind list of fiction books, I realized that Don Quixote was published in 1605 and House of Mirth in 1905.   300 years!  I congratulate myself and you, fellow readers, on plowing through 300 years of literature.   May the crop be plentiful!  I suggest a glass of red wine and some good chocolate to celebrate.



Christmas Is Coming

Readers are easy to shop for because they’re always happy to get a book.  But what if you want to validate their love of literature without adding to the addiction?  Here’s a list of some unique classic gifts that might appeal to us WEMers.  Feel free print it out and leave it in a conspicuous spot for the shoppers in your life.  Or not.

(If all went well, clicking on the picture should open a new window to the site where the item is available.)

Don Quixote

The question I want answered is do these earrings belong the beautiful Dulcinea of Don Quixote’s dreams, or the brawny girl of Sancho’s acquaintance?  Decide before wearing.

Pilgrim’s Progress

Because a Bunyan vest is better than Bunyan Shoes.

Gulliver’s Travels

The site says that the pages are still readable.  Never mind.  Do not buy this for me.

Pride and Prejudice

This is obviously a doll version of Darcy from the beginning of the novel.  You know, when he was really crochety, um I mean crotchety.

Oliver Twist

You could make up a batch of homemade gruel mix, put it in a mason jar, and add a festive bow, or you could give a Dickinsonian this lovely print of a giant gruel pot.

Jane Eyre

These hues of the moors are named “To the Stars,” “A Strange and Unearthly Thing,” and “Independent Will!” (Exclamation point the artists, not mine.)  Aside from the fact that I can’t imagine Jane Eyre for a moment considering her own appearance long enough to put on a coat of nail polish, they are kind of pretty, in a moody, murky way, of course.

Scarlet Letter

These days bearing a shirt with a scarlet A on it doesn’t denote you as an adulteress, although I think that meaning might be preferable.  So instead of clothing, the Scarlet Letter lover might appreciate this ignominious bracelet.

Moby Dick

The Herman Melville gift options seem endless, from “Call me Ishmael, maybe?” t-shirts to Captain Ahab Baby Swaddlers but this print is the item that really made my jaw drop.  It’s as striking and surprising as the novel itself.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Personally, I would much rather have a piece of Aunt Chloe’s pie.

Madame Bovary

What could be more fitting for Emma than a vanity mirror?

Crime and Punishment

There are hollow book safes available for nearly all of these classics, but this one for C&P has a certain, well, charm?  Although it doesn’t seem big enough to hide an axe.

Anna Karenina

If you can’t buy the gift you can always buy the pattern and knit it yourself this “adorable” and “cute” Anna Tea Cozy.  Also, shouldn’t it really be a samovar cozy?

The Return of the Native

And when in doubt, sending flowers is always a good idea.  Especially heather from the heath.  It’s much more beautiful than a furze faggot, and easier to carry.

Happy shopping and a Merry Christmas!  Oh, and don’t blame me if you get any of these things.


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Read Anything Interesting Lately?

Lest you think we’re total nerds here at A Classic Case of Madness, I thought I should clear up a little rumor:  We do read things other than the classics.  Just this year I read Death at Pemberly and The Eyre Affair.

Fine, whatever.  We’re nerds.  I own it.

Our good friend Norma, you’ve read her intelligent comments I’m sure, gave me this wonderful mystery by P.D. James as a Christmas present to share with our “classy friends.”

The novel is set at Pemberly, (duh), after Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage.  I don’t want to give too much away, but, there is a murder.  Don’t worry, all the Bennet girls are fine.

If you like mysteries, and you want to test your ideas of life after P&P against this wise, aged author’s, then you should give it a read.  Seriously, P.D. James is 91 years old and still writing novels.  If nothing else, you should read it to remind yourself that you are not too old to do anything.

The Eyre Affair is a book I picked up on the handy-dandy display of adult books that our local library sets out in the kid’s area for those of us stroller-tied to the bottom floor.  We had just finished up the actual Jane Eyre, and there was no way I was leaving this paperback for some ritzy, Peg Perigo pushing mom to snatch up without understanding the deep Brontë influence.

It’s the first in a series about a female detective named Thursday Next.  The book, by British author Jaspor Fforde is, well, um, let’s see . . .maybe the front of the book says it best:

Yeah, it’s sort of unusual, but in that great, “Are you smart enough to get his sense of humor” kind of way.  He makes you earn your laughs, and that I can appreciate.

Plus, four of our WEM books were mentioned within the first 14 pages.  See?

I will definitely be going back to read more of this time-travel, literary mystery fantasy, but maybe after we’ve gotten a little further down our list.  After all, I don’t want to miss any more of the jokes than necessary.

So, what other companion books should I add to my library queue?


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Jane Eyre Again

For viewing number three I chose this Jane Eyre.It’s the 2007 Masterpiece Theater version.  I’d heard good things about it and right from the start felt the gothic mood.  There’s plenty of fog, bluish lighting, and creepy dreams.  It’s an unrated 228 minute 2 disc DVD.  This version sacrificed details for the sake of the gothic and the romantic. 

In the first 10 minutes of the movie (I know because I was on the treadmill running–very aware of the time) Jane is thrown in the red room, sent to Lowood (if you hadn’t read the novel you’d be very confused about this part), sleeps next to Helen when she dies (no conversation about her Hevenly Father), and becomes a teacher who receives a response to her advertisement.  Whew!  It was a good thing I was already running and could keep up!  After rushing through so much plot, I wondered how what was left of the story would fill two dvds, but it does.

Jane arrives at Thornfield.  The mannor is beautiful as are the costumes.  Adele is played by a teenager which makes her unchildlike behavior that much more awkward to watch.  This portrayal has the French opera dancer leaving infant Adele in a basket with a note for Rochester.  Disc 1 ends with Jane returning to Gateshead to see a dying Mrs. Reed.

Disc 2:  The actors made the propasal in the orchard believable.  The veil tearing scene is brief.  Jane’s having a strange dream, wakes to see a candle being held close to her face and the scene ends.  The after-wedding drama is cut short.  I thought perhaps it had been skipped all together, but later Jane has a flashback when she has amnesia.  Yep,  amnesia.  Jane Elliot is the name given to her by the Rivers sisters.  St. John finds a sick Jane on the moor and carries her home. 

The interactions between St. John and Jane are enjoyable.  His proposal scene is cut short which was sad because I so enjoyed St. John.  Sitting alone, Jane hears Rochester’s voice while she’s considering Rivers’ proposal.  She does not call back to Rochester.  The reunion of Jane and Rochester is sweet.  He so desperately needs Jane that he cries when she returns to him.  I got a little teary-eyed myself.

The back of the DVD case says: This lavish and sensual new version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel is modern and moody, timeless and romantic. 

College students, don’t try to cheat and watch this version thinking you’ll get away with not reading the book: many details are moved, changed, or omitted.  Lovers of Jane Eyre, watch this version.  The actors swept me into the story and even after 228 minutes, I wasn’t quite ready for it to end.


Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Jane Eyre in Episodes

Were you sad when I started my cinematic experience of Jane Eyre with this movie?

Were you wishing I had picked this one instead?

The BBC version and I have spent quite a bit of time together this week.  For those of you haven’t had the pleasure, it is long: as in 311 minutes divided into 11 episodes.  With all that length, the BBC had the luxery of being accurate to the story.  In fact, while watching the first episode I was tempted to dash upstairs and grab my copy of Jane Eyre to read along with the actors.  Obviously when a novel is turned into a screenplay there will be changes, but for accuracy I give the BBC’s version a thumbs up. (except for showing Helen Burns’ tombstone right after her death.  Tsk, tsk.  What were you thinking BBC?).  The Reed sisters do show up when Jane returns to see her dying aunt, but they’re not given many more lines than the silent cousins in the 2011 version. The BBC did include St. John’s Miss Oliver for a cameo.

For appearances?  well….  It looks a little like a soap opera.  No, a better description is that it looks like a play.  It was made to be a television series.  There is a little opening and end credits for each episode.  The costumes, sets, and scenery can not compare to the 2011’s version.  I did enjoy Dalton’s Rochester.   I’d advise viewers to give Zelah Clarke time to grow on you.  At the beginning I did not enjoy her playing Jane as an adult, but by the end I liked her.  Pretend you are at the theater seeing actors on the stage and you’ll enjoy Jane Eyre by the BBC.

Now look what I get to watch this week.


Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Tidal Wave to Gramma

Trying out Skype and my parents’ new faster internet, the boys and I decided to show off how many sunflowers and marigolds had sprouted in the mini-garden Mom helped them start during their recent visit.  As I tipped the starter tray of seedlings toward the webcam about a cup of water spilled out, and while it spared my computer, a devise who’s had it’s fair share of liquid collisions, my copies of Jane Eyre and Moby-Dick emerged soggily from the deluge.

I think The Whale should be just fine, but I’m worried about Jane.  I don’t think she’s ever even been to the shore.


Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Jane Eyre, Moby-Dick


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