Books and Movies Reviews

Children, Madness, and Freedom

Positionings: Theoretical and Personal
In considering Charlotte Brontë's, Jane Eyre, I would like tofirst say a bit on the position we will be looking from, so to speak. The form in which this book is written, that of a fictional autobiography which is retrospective, and therefor confessional, is a form which grants considerable psychological freedom to an author. Freedom of this nature often affords an author a proxy whereby issues or desires to painful or personally controversial may be played out upon a more detached field. It is the opinion of this writer that in such cases (and of course others) one may view the plot of the story, its conflicts, and its characters, not only as "external" objects of the authors scrutinies but also as signifiers of aspects of the authors "internal" topography.The one view does not preclude the other.
This said let us look briefly at the principal conflicts within the drama of the text, which having a degree of subtly, and multisidedness, by no measure slight, it should be said, nearly evade delineation. Thefirst of these, which could be seen to give form to some of the later, is what could be called, more or less, a body/mind conflict. This takes the shape of, among other things, a struggle between ecclesiastical and carnal love. It is also seen in the conflicts between will and passion, between wild(er)ness and civilization, and also between reason and desire. These issues in turn are tied in (or interwoven) with issues of gender, class, self-possession, and freedom.
The characters whose significance we will concern ourselves with are, in turn, the child Jane Eyre, somewhat briefly Helen Burns, Bertha Rochester (the "madwoman in the attic"), and, again briefly, Adèle. Jane Eyre's narrating voice is of course taken to signify the author and as such will be perpetually our interest. These prefaces aside let us commence our excursions. …


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