Now that we know who has won, it may be time to turn to the matter of a Victorian novel about a governess and how she finds her way. And in the case of Lady Audley, her path is a little windier than most. The sensationalist novel begins with a variety of characterizations.
Firstly there is Lucy Graham, the uniquely fair and pretty governess who works under the care of a Sir Michael Audley, who falls in love with the woman and wishes to marry her if she may tolerate him well enough. And so they are joined as man and wife and Sir Audley becomes, for a time, one of the happier men to lord over the estate. In Lucy, he regains his youth, and finds in her a care that he never had for his deceased wife, who he married in order to gain land that he never really needed in the first place.
Then like a movie played out wherein the characters are not introduced in a direct right, we get to know, a George Talboys who is returning to England from Australia after having been away for a couple of years. He has made his fortune and is in search of his wife who he left for a time. Upon return to his homeland he finds her to have died and left in his care, a son, who has been kept with his grandfather.
George has no interest in raising his son, and stays with his friend Robert Audley, nephew to Sir Michael. But George's thoughts toward his deceased wife do not end, and on his way to visit a neighboring town, he disappears, leaving Robert obsessed in solving the answer to the life of his missing friend. And in Robert's quest, the secrets of Lady Audley are revealed.
By Sarah Bahl
Begins with the sound of 19th century British royal guard calling out the Royal Salute while in formation. The long line of men in red jackets and tall black hats buckled in gold under the chin; all carrying guns evokes a sense of authority, power, protection and mystery, all in one as the scene fades to a blur and then clears again to a young Queen Victoria, in a red thick velvet cape with black and white fur-like trimming, who is with her beloved King Charles Spaniel, and her lady in waiting. Emily Blunt begins the voice over, "Some people are born more fortunate than others," and so ensues a look into the life and lifestyle of the eventually to be Queen Victoria, who was ruled as a young child by the Kensington System, whereby she was disallowed to do anything on her own and even had to walk down the stairs while holding the hand of an adult at all times. She tells that every little girl wants to be her own princess, even the princess herself.
This system of rules, created and run in junction by Victoria's mother and her lover by insinuation, Sir John Conroy, seems to cover a two fold purpose: one that since Victoria is the only child with claim to the English throne, she has to be duly protected in all possible ways and therefore lives without peer. The second reason being that disallowing the future Queen any sense of autonomy will break her down into signing a regency agreement giving her German born mother control with Sir John controlling her mother.
There is a fluid variation in time sequence and it is now June 28, 1838. Queen Victoria is coronated as her feet cannot touch the ground, (her real life height was slightly under five foot tall). The time goes back to when Victoria is an ill teenager, refusing to bow to Sir John's pressure that she sign the regency order. The glow of a fire gives a warm orange-yellow illumination upon the ill girl, as she lies in bed, and her seeming captors. Sir John responds to Victoria's refusals to sign the order with violence, by taking the pen and forcing it into her hand. "I say you will," says he. The pen is thrown on the ground by her. "I say I won't," says she. This scene is thankfully interrupted by Victoria's lady in waiting who has come to give the princess her medicine.
At King Leopold's (who is the brother of Victoria's mother) palace in Belgium the politics of Victoria's stance are discussed between Leopold I and an advisor. It is Leopold who insists quite strongly of the marriage of Victoria to her first cousin, Albert of Germany. He is uncle to both of them.
Victoria continues to hold the hand of her lady in waiting as she walks down the stairs, skipping the last couple with childlike spirit. Meanwhile Albert is drilled by his advisor as to what novels the princess likes, what she is and is not allowed to do, as well as the types of her various recreations. It is strongly in Leopold's interest for Albert to marry Victoria, as this would solidify alliances among Europe's nobility to his favor. The film talks about Leopold's "survival" being based on having increased access to British resources, yet none of the characters in the film act as if they have survived a day in their lives, though they all have their own battles and sorrows.
Albert and his brother visit Victoria where she is staying in a palace belonging to the King of England. Albert attempts a sales pitch upon initially meeting the princess by claiming to have read Sir Walter Scott. The visit awkwardly continues as Albert, with his brother and Victoria, with her surrounders; play chess while they are gazed at to see if their relationship is developing.
It does, as the turning point is when Victoria asks Albert, "Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself in a game being played against your will?" He does not say he does but asks her if that is how she feels. She replies, "Constantly," and that, "I see them leaning in and moving me around the board."
"The Duchess and Sir John?" he inquires, coldly referring to her mother as the former.
"Not just them," she says, referring to King Leopold and others. Albert tells her, "Then you had better master the rules of the game until you can play it better than they can."
She asks him, "You don't recommend I find a husband to play it for me?"
"I should find one to play it with you, not for you."
Their friendship progresses and continues after the King has died and the new Queen is on the throne. The film implies Victoria is more spirit than strategy at times in ruling her Kingdom and that some members of parliament did not react well to a little woman on the throne with female advisors which lead to general confusion as to outsourcing decisions in order to help the populace of England at large. By accounts the Queen proposed to Albert and their marriage despite ups and downs and squabbles related to the authority as well as the ruling of the Kingdom, was a uniquely happy one. When Albert died at the age of 42, from illness, Victoria spent the rest of her life in mourning. They had nine children together whose descendants live throughout the world.
By Sarah Bahl
Anna Sewell's only novel is one of eternal morality. The story of a handsome, well-bred as well as good natured horse and his journey through Victorian Era Britain.
Black Beauty, originally named Darkie, is born a dark colored colt with a white starred forehead, into a household of fair wealth, "the first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it." His mother's name is Duchess, and she was a favorite of the master's. He called her, "Pet."
When Darkie is caught by his mother running, kicking and biting with other colts of the field, she whinnies him to her side and explains to her son, that his play mates are cart horse colts and they are not of the most mannered variety. She tells him, "I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways: do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick, even in play."
At the age of four Darkie, receives his breaking in. He is in a very good place with a kind and sensible master, but still, he is disconcerted by the bit in his mouth and finds the weight of his master upon his back quite odd indeed. But he is coaxed and petted to quell the shock of the change. Darkie is also trained to become used to man's machines, such as trains, so he will not have to fear nor fret when at a station. Soon before their parting Darkie's mother gives him advice to last a lifetime:
There are a great many kinds of men; there are good, thoughtful men like our master, that any horse may be proud to serve; and there are bad, cruel men, who never ought to have a horse or a dog to call their own. Besides, there are a great many foolish men, vain, ignorant and careless, who never trouble themselves to think, these spoil more horses than all, just for want of sense; they don't mean it, but they do it for all that. I hope you will fall into good hands; but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up your good name.
Soon Darkie finds himself within the luxury of a lose box at Squire Gordon's estate. His stable mates are Merry Legs and Ginger. Merry Legs is a pert, tubby, plucky little grey dappled pony who is a fair favorite with children. Ginger is a tall chestnut beauty with a vigorous temper and a good heart.
It is here, Darkie is named Black Beauty, and he is again in a good place, with practical and compassionate owners. His one wish is for liberty. To run and roll upon meadow grass as he used to when a colt. He dislikes the steel bit, the straps and only being let out of his stall when he is needed. Though, every Sunday, the family would walk to Church and the horses would be let free for exercise in a large pleasant meadow.
"It was a great treat for us to be turned out into the home paddock or the old orchard; the grass was so cool and soft to our feet, the air so sweet, and the freedom to do as we liked was so pleasant - gallop, to lie down, and roll over on our backs, or to nibble the sweet grass. Then it was a very good time for talking, as we stood together under the shade of the large chestnut tree."
As the times in the orchard and meadow allowed the horses room for conversation, it was in this manner Black Beauty learned about Ginger's upbringing. Within Ginger's past were some reasonable caretakers, but also many abusers. Including those so very fond of the check reign, a strap that runs from the harness, directly upon the horse's neck and attaches to the back of its head. The tighter the reign, the higher the horse's head.
Check reigns were in fashion among a variety of classes, during the period, and such fashion caused much distress and suffering for the horse. Ginger rails against ill treatment and the check reign. Black Beauty's owners have never used it, so he has as of yet no personal knowledge of having his head and neck forced up. Ginger describes men as "brutes" and "blockheads" which many can be, but Merry Legs turns the sour mood around by reminding all of the good masters they have now.
But, such peace and quality of life pleasantries were not to last as the mistress of the household becomes direly ill. The estate is broken up as the master and mistress depart to a more temperate climate in desperate hopes, the change in environment will remedy the lady's declining health. The horses are given to friends. Merry Legs is never to be sold as per agreement. Black Beauty and Ginger are placed with the Earl of W- at Earlshall Park, a much wealthier estate than their former home. Here the mistress is fond of the check reign and insists upon its use despite warning regarding Ginger's temper.
One morning the mistress demands the reigns to be up far too tightly and Ginger lashes out, kicking her way out of the carriage harness. Black Beauty, now named Black Auster, is accidently kicked in the bargain and the lady misses the Duchess's garden party. All for the check reign.
Many ill treatments of the horses come from knowing ignorance such as use of the check reign or else from over exhausted systems, exemplified by low rung cab drivers who can hardly care for themselves, much less the horses. And the horses are never preferred above people.
Black Auster is sold from the Earl of W-'s estate, when his knees are broken by a drunken rider and the hair burned off as part of the medical treatment. The look of his knees causes him to fall into the middle class. He is first sold as a job horse. A client of the renting stable, takes a liking to Black Auster's quality and recommends him to a friend of his, Mr. Barry, a businessman whose doctor has recommended he take on a horse for exercise. Beauty would likely have had a well off home with Mr. Barry as the accommodations of the businessman's stables were sound including food of high quality. But his new owner had the misfortune of hiring two irresponsible grooms in a row; one who stole corn and the other time, by being lazy and not cleaning out the stall. So, in disgust and likely embarrassment, Mr. Barry sold the horse.
Beauty then finds a home in the city of London, with a good natured middle rung cab driver with a kind family. He is worked very hard, as all cab horses are, but is treated well. On passing, Beauty sees Ginger again. She is used up as a low cab horse and no longer fights for herself anymore. Her wind had been ruined by the check reign and she kept being sold lower down, until she found herself reaching for a piece of straw that had blown from Beauty's feed. She recognizes Beauty, but he cannot believe it is her at first, as she is now a tired creature, with buckling joints and glazed, empty eyes that are hoping for death. She does not kick or jump when she is mistreated anymore, as men are stronger. She was a beautiful, hard working horse, who did the best she could. They speak for a little while but then Ginger is pulled away. Shortly after, Beauty sees a dead chestnut horse in a cart. It has a long thin neck and blood runs out of its mouth. Beauty hopes it to be Ginger. He laments, "I saw a great deal of trouble among the horses in London, and much of it that might have been prevented with a little common sense."
Beauty's owner Jerry, eventually became too ill from the strain of a cab driver's life, contracting bronchitis, to run a cab on his own anymore. Beauty is now about 13 years of age. He is still a fine looking horse but for the knees, still he is not who he used to be. At yet another horse market, Beauty comes upon the uncommon good fortune of being bought by a fair man who fixed up Beauty with kindness and care to sell him to ladies in need of a calm, trustworthy horse. His new stable boy is Joe Green, who used to work at Squire Gordan's. Beauty is never to be sold, and he says, "My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my old friends under the apple trees."
By Sarah Bahl
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is a novel of Victorian sensibility, a magnifying glass upon an age and time, belonging to a people who valued society above all. Considered one of Wharton's finest works and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the novel held the last remnants of New York's dying leisure class, to a mirror, revealing the time for what it was, when people lived their lives within the bound of unspoken musings of the heart.
Their testaments and yearnings were never so vulgar as to be stated outright. And despite all the articulations of the age, there was a quiet hindrance to all emotive needs. For these reasons it was the age of innocence.
Wharton greatly admired her contemporary, Henry James and it is as if her prize winning novel perfectly juxtaposes The Wings of the Dove. Her writing style is as modernly succinct as his is prose-like and it is Wharton's perfectly sad Countess Olenska who fills the role of the dove, so lacking in Jame's works.
The question arises, as to how a dove should make herself situated among societal factors of New York's finest. "On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York," and on this January day "poor Ellen Olenska" as she is known in her family surfaces through the fixed mechanisms of conservatives who cherish their opera house for its, "shabby red and gold boxes," not because they could not afford new boxes but because a modernized Opera House would likely be more convenient for, "new people."
The house's homey and elegant quaintness turns its back on the modern, making itself a fine fit for Newland Archer, who "leaning against the wall at the back of the club box" with a serene sense of vanity, surveyed not so much the stage, with its unusually beautiful setting; but rather his fixation lay within the Mingott's family box directly across from him.
"Mrs. Lovell Mingott, and her daughter, Mrs. Welland; and slightly withdrawn behind these brocaded matrons sat a young girl in white with eyes ecstatically fixed on the stage lovers." The girl in white, May Welland; grand-daughter of Mrs. Manson Mingott (who is too obese to attend the opera, but rathers to entertain at home) is simple and elegant in appearance. Gazing at the lover's scene below with one white hand tenderly caressing her bouquet of lilies of the valley.
May, Archer's fiancée, is the center of his focus. The inspiring scenes of Faust are a blurred nodding toward artful detail as Newland returns his gaze to the stage. Newland's balanced world of comfortably luminated sensibilities is tipped to a side, when Larry Lefferts, who, "was, on the whole, the foremost authority of 'form' in New York," exclaims, " 'My God!' and silently handed his glass to Sillerton Jackson," due to the venerable point, upon which the balance of Newland's new orbit is to now be pinioned on.
Countess Olenska had taken her seat and waits for her potential executioners to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. Lefferts, the foremost authority gave a thumbs down with, "I didn't think the Mingotts would have tried it on."
Ellen Olenska, cousin to Newland's fiancée, has had the horrifying Victorian luck of a poor marriage. To have had a less than virtuous matrimonial partnership is one matter. To actually reveal the propensity to lack self blame in public for it is quite another. Yet, there she was with her grave eyes daring to reveal the firm judgement she was being sifted through. As if the cannibals of the opera could eat her soul but found it tasteless for her countenance and features to reveal their taste for blood.
As family is family Newland's ultimate defense was to protect Countess Olenska. And so Archer left his box at the end of the act and made his way to find a place at her side. "Her glance swept the horse shoe curve of boxes. ‘Ah how this brings it all back to me - I see everybody here in knickerbockers and pantalettes!' she said, with her trailing slightly foreign accent, her eyes returning to his face."
Besides, there is never anything more charming to a man than a woman in an undefined position who does not care that she is so. Such was the twilight charm of Ellen Olenska. There is something pure about twilight. It is neither here nor there and its undefined state of essence brings to mind that nothing is so beautiful as that which is imagined.
Newland defends Ellen earnestly from societal retribution while at various dinner parties, including his sister's snide, as well as invasive, comments that Ellen should be named Elaine as Elaine is more elegant;
“ ‘It’s odd,” Janey remarked, ‘that she should have kept such an ugly name as Ellen. I should have changed it to Elaine.’ She glanced about the table to see the effect of this.
Her brother laughed. ‘Why Elaine?’
‘I don’t know; it sounds more-more Polish,” said Janey blushing.
‘It sounds more conspicuous and that can hardly be what she wishes,’ said Mrs. Archer distantly.
‘Why not?’ broke in her son, growing suddenly argumentative. ‘Why shouldn’t she be conspicuous if she chooses? Why should she slink about as if it were she who had disgraced herself?’ ”
He states that even if Ellen has had the fortune of an unhappy life, this is no reason for her to be an outcast. Yet, eventually Newland himself is guilty of setting up Ellen to be a low-life’s mistress rather than a reasonable man’s wife when he persuades her not to seek full divorce in order to preserve the family reputation. Ellen, who remains objectively disenchanted with her life carries on with a melancholy dignity that transposes time. She takes hansom rides with men, who are not her husband, in the middle of the afternoon, does not answer to her people of fashion as she feels they have not answered to her, and never seems to do anything truly mean to anyone else, as if innately incapable of cruelty. Ellen cannot seem to escape a double edge sword’s cut regarding her marriage, and it is as if her best defense is to become the perfect shade of grey.
Newland Archer, a lawyer of high society, a man of more talented propensity than most of his contemporaries was always on the verge of something truly great. Newland makes friends with those who are on the fringes of society but yet are somehow welcomed at its most advanced tables. And among these ornamental threads, Newland seems to find the most intact connections; such as Monsieur Riviere,
“That young tutor is an interesting fellow: we had some awfully good talk after dinner about books and things,” Newland said to May, while they are both riding in a hansom on their way back from a dinner party shortly into their marriage.
“The little Frenchman? Wasn’t he dreadfully common?” said May of M. Riviere. And by common, it is meant by May, “not unusually rich.” Many of their disputes are settled when May rejects a friend of Newland's as "common." But it is M. Riviere; Newland has the most in common with of anyone within the novel. Both men love conversation and are always standing tip toe on a precipice of a moment higher, “You see Monsieur,” M. Riviere said to Newland during the dinner party, “it’s worth everything, isn’t it, to keep one’s intellectual liberty, not to enslave one’s powers of appreciation, one’s critical independence?”
And it is M. Riviere who turns to Newland, years later to beg him to protect Ellen from returning to her monster of a husband. M. Riviere could not impede upon a closed sensibility toward divorce, but he did his utmost to keep Ellen’s family from forcing her to return to some vague beast of a man, known to be Count Olenska. M. Riviere held not personal gain from his protections toward Ellen. It was just that he, more than any man, eternally kept both taste and form folded at the corners as handkerchiefs within the pockets of his faded suit coat.
Newland married society and was swept away by its flow. He had a son and a daughter by May and when she passed away he honestly mourned her. Though now at the age of 57 Newland has a chance to meet Ellen once more, while on a trip through Europe with his son. They could talk as there is nothing like good conversation. But Newland cannot. Perhaps he needed someone or something in his life to be pure, as the yellow rose of friendship placed upon the threshold of eternity. For whatever reason, he sits on a bench outside of Ellen's abode and instructs his perplexed son, Dallas, "Say I'm old fashioned: that's enough." And so Dallas goes to see Ellen without his father. Newland remains on the bench, and it is not until the shutters are put up as the street has darkened from dusk to night, that he gets up and walks back to his hotel alone. Ellen remains a dove in the twilight, as if the background to a painting never fully completed but wondrous in its own right all the same.
"Come, own up: you and she were great pals weren't you? Wasn't she most awfully lovely?"
"Lovely? I don't know. She was different."
By Sarah Bahl
Written by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre is a partly autobiographical account of her youth at Lowood, an all girls school based on Cowan Bridge, where the four eldest Bronte sisters attended beginning the year 1824. But, before we enter Lowood, let us begin at Gateshead, the estate home belonging to the widowed Mrs. Reed. Jane is the downtrodden niece to the Lady of the Lowood Estate, who has taken Jane in because her husband willed before his demise that Jane should become a full member of the Reed family, and brought up by Mrs. Reed as one of her own. The Lady adheres to her husband's will, but not his sentiment in the least.
Jane is diminutive and maintains a consistently watchful countenance. She is held captive by the family's sensibility of distaste toward her in everything she does and stands at grand odds to her cousins, including; Georgiana, with her golden curls and large blue eyes, epitomizing the standards of Victorian beauty. Then there is Eliza, who is of no unique mien, but is "headstrong and selfish," as well as John who, "no one thwarted, much less punished; though he twisted the necks of pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs at the sheep [and] called his mother 'old girl.' "
Miss Eyre is the daughter of a clergyman who married a wealthy Reed daughter much to the aghastment of her mother's friends and family. Both her parents died of typhus while she was about a year old, and she had lived with her aunt ever since.
Now, at the age of ten, Jane can read but has had little formal schooling. Her favorite world is that of The Arabian Nights and Gulliver's Travels, as she is told she can join the vicinity of the Reed's lives as a child to Mrs. Reed and a playmate to her children, once she accrues a more, "sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner."
It is a cold and rainy November evening when Jane has found a temporary repast upon a window seat, with a thick curtain drawn before her and the howling tempest of fall season weather to her back, upon the window pains. She has her world of Bewick's History of British Birds and is greatly enjoying the pictures, as her imagination fills in the crevices of unspoken wonderings, "the two ships becalmed on a torpid sea I believed to be marine phantoms."
Her respite is sharply cracked open by John, who searches out his cousin to bully her, saying to Eliza and Georgiana, " 'tell mamma she is run out into the rain-bad animal!' " But Jane was not in the rain, and asked, " 'What do you want?' " of the grand Master Reed. John tells her, " 'You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentleman's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my book shelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows."
John, who is 14 years of age, positions his already brow beaten cousin to throw the book at her. He does not seem to read the books but utilizes them for physical ammunition. She hits her head against the door, from the strike of the volume, causing a cut that begins to bleed. He assails her further until she fights back and when she does, he cries out, " 'Rat! Rat!' "
The servants and Mrs. Reed come to the Master's protection, and Miss Eyre then hears, " 'Dear! Dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!
'Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!' " coming from the servants.
She is locked away in the red-room, where the elder Master Reed breathed his last. There, she is told by Miss Abbot, " 'Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away.' " Jane, is left with a bleeding head, alone in a large chamber, with thoughts of the boogeyman to comfort her. She becomes hysterical and quite ill from the combination of physical and psychological abuse.
An apothecary, Mr. Lloyd is called and begins to ask questions of how Jane's nerves ended up in such a frightful state in the first place. Bessie, her favorite servant, does not seem to know exactly how old Jane is, and under guesses by a couple of years, in stating the girl's age. Mr. Lloyd gazes at Jane, and after Bessie is excused for dinner, he sarcastically asks her why she possibly minds living in such a grand abode as the Reed's mansion. When she explains her treatment, he asks her if she would rather live with a poor family. Her answer to this, is an adamant, "no." Mr. Lloyd asks her then if she should rather like school. Her answer is, " 'I should indeed like to go to school."
And so, on the 19th of January, Jane begins her journey to Lowood. But not before she informs Mrs. Reed, how she will tell of her treatment by them to others. She holds Mrs. Reed's fear of death above the woman's head.
While at Lowood, Jane becomes acquainted with near starvation, freezing cold and the psychotic Mr. Brocklehurst, who treats any girl who is not rich as a sinner, and even a wanton slave. The food is ill prepared and served in portions too small for growing girls.
At Lowood Jane meets Helen Burns, who loves to read and is patiently objective toward her new found friend's curiosity, and who is also the one person Jane truly seems to love. They meet when Jane interrupts Helen's reading of Rasselas to ask her questions about Lowood and the people there. Her friend has a hollow cough and is uniquely removed of all circumstances that surround herself.
The girls troop through cold, as we have received in D.C. this past winter, but without indoor heating and limited time at fireplaces, as only hebdomadally on Sundays could they spend time at a lit hearth. There were also no boots, so snow would get in the girls' shoes, and no gloves. Sleeping two to a bed is probably what aided them in surviving the night, in a large dormitory room, where temperatures would fall below freezing. The smaller girls would suffer the most harshly, as the elder ones, who were usually larger, coerced the less sizable youngsters out of a place at the fireside as well as confiscated their already limited food rations.
Helen was a lover of books and of fine intellect though, was consistently humiliated for slatternly behavior, much of which was either invented by her bully of a school teacher, Miss. Scatcherd, or not her fault. For instance, her nails were unclean, but only because the water basins had frozen completely the night before. No one had a wash at all, that day.
Helen, based on Charlotte's elder sister Maria was among the many deaths to come in the spring. The mainstay of illnesses was of one wasting disease or another, including typhus and tuberculosis. There is no mention of a full bath for the girls, so when spring came, the girls already weakened by the winter became particularly susceptible to typhus.
Helen passes away, wasted, and looking forward to a heavenly reward of some sort. Jane withholds anger in her heart over the treatment of her only friend. (The name Helen Burns, could be symbolic of a burning torch for the author.) After the deaths of many of the Lowood students, a public scandal ensues and as a result, conditions improve dramatically to create a reasonable, even acclaimed institution.
Jane remains at Lowood, as a student then teacher, until she is 18 years of age. Then, she hires out as a governess, seeking a newer form of servitude. She is hired by Mrs. Fairfax, the head housekeeper of the mysterious Mr. Rochester's estate, to teach his ward, Adele. The conversations between Jane and Mr. Rochester are one note short of a trashy romance novel for the beach: " 'Who talks of cadeaux?' said he gruffly, 'did you expect a present, Miss Eyre? Are you fond of presents?' and he searched my face with eyes that were dark, irate, and piercing." In the event that we, dear reader, with yellowed vacant eyes and drooling lips, have yet to break the bone of the most cliched storyline in all of English literature, by which to suck its very marrow, then we have done so now with Jane Eyre. That storyline being one of a governess and how she manages to marry well.
Mr. Rochester is spoiled, sarcastic, cynical and a withholder of unusual as well as dark family secrets. Eventually, after a few misadventures, Jane marries Mr. Rochester. But not until she comes upon her own wealth of 20,000 pounds via inheritance, that she shares with a couple of new-found cousins, to give her a reasonable fortune of 5,000 pounds. Jane is still haunted by Helen Burns to the end, "Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard and for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word, 'Resurgam.' " The novel really is not a tale about a governess who falls in love as the Rochester character is far too cliched and outlandish, if not highly written of course. It truly is a story of a school girl, who wants her sister back.
By Sarah Bahl