A copy of the novel, a clean page in my journal, and my favorite pen: I am ready to begin Jane Eyre.
So Jane, like Oliver, is an orphan. I assume that she is meek and mild; a sweet child who is manipulated/oppressed/abused by others. At first, that’s the I impression I have of Jane.
Chapter 1 opens with Jane’s aunt and cousins snuggling on the couch. Jane is not permitted to be part of the group because she’s not a happy enough child. In my book’s margin I write, “Until she is happier, she may not join them–ha! as if excluding her will make her happier?”
Jane sneaks into the breakfast room where she hides in a window-seat with a book, curtains drawn around her to keep the cousins away. In my journal I write that Jane likes books. Hiding from the cousins doesn’t work for long. Cousin John soon finds Jane and uses the opportunity to bully her. Bronte gives a careful description of John; I write in my journal that he is a chubby, fourteen-year-old bully who has mama wrapped around his pudgy finger. Jane’s reaction to Cousin John is more than strong. I underline the following quote: “every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. ” This is a family member to fear!
John forces Jane to stand before him. He sticks his tongue out at her. Her reminds her that she possesses nothing in the house and is worth nothing to the people of the house. Then he uses her for target practice. Her takes the book she was reading and throws it at her. Even though Jane tries to move out-of-the-way, John hits her with the book which causes her to smack into the door, cutting her head open.
Assertive Jane appears. I underline another quote:
“‘Wicked and cruel boy!’ I said. ‘You are like a murderer– you are like a slave-driver–you are like the Roman emperors!'” Bronte then tells me that my protagonist has only ever thought these things before and had never spoken them aloud until now. I make note of this.
Ah, so Jane has a voice. And now she uses her voice to fight back against those who would attack her.
There is a hair-pulling, pummeling scuffle. Of course since the entire house is set against her, Jane is punished by being locked in the red-room, and Cousin John is comforted.
The chapter ends. Hmmmm… It appears that Jane Eyre is not as meek/naive/gullible as Oliver Twist. I’m glad. I’m ready for some spunk.