Monday, January 07, 2008

Jane Eyre

I have a weakness for Jane Eyre. It is absolutely my favorite story of all time. While I have stock answer for favorite movie (Born Yesterday) and favorite book (Jane Eyre), I somewhat doubt my favorite movie answer. After last night, though, I don't doubt my favorite book answer.

Last night, I stayed up to 1am watching a two-part Masterpiece Theater Version of Jane Eyre. It was good, not great, but I found myself incapable of turning off the tv or taping the end to watch later. I had to watch, that night, to get to the sweet ending.

This version tried to introduce "science" in the form of a naturalist houseguest and it didn't quite work for me but I admired the effort. There was also rather more canoodling between Jane and Mr. R than was plausible. No sex, but a couple of "sexy" scenes and I was like, "Oh, no, that is NOT Jane." But, overall, it told all parts of the story, including some of the early years which are often skipped entirely in film versions. Skipping them, I think, is a way of minimizing the importance of what happens to us in childhood. While this version emphasizes the "interesting" parts of the novel, it does give full coverage, which is great and challenging.

What I love about the novel isn't the plot as much as it's the main character. I love Jane. She knows herself so well and that is why I admire her.

I might not make the same choices as she made. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't (when I first read the book, I was sure I would). The ardent Christianity bothered me on my second read and I don't like it as a motivator. What I do like is that Jane will do as she sees fit, no matter what anyone else tells her. She also carves out her own version of Christianity to follow—she is not a puritan and can't completely turn the other cheek, but certain forms of immorality are unacceptable.

One great scene in the movie, which I'm not sure was in the book, Jane is telling someone [St. John] why she loves Mr. Rochester, even though he is a "bad man." She says, "I always knew myself but he was the first person who recognized me. And loved me because of it."

Exactly! We may be perfectly self-sufficient and independent and able to live without love (if necessary) but there is nothing sweeter in this life than being known and loved for who we are.

Segue to Mom….

And, that, I think, is why things are so hard and so easy with my mother. I have always known who I am. While I may muck around and make bad decisions, my basic sense of personhood and self-worth remains undisturbed. I only blame myself for the things that are my fault. I'll go out of my way to discover them but I won't take responsibility for things I can't control.

While the stuff with Mom is disheartening, because I assume that she does recognize me and love me for who I am, not just because I'm her daughter. I also know that I am who I am, and I am worthwhile, even if she can't always see it. What she thinks of me doesn't change me. It might make me feel bad, but that's all. It's not true just because she thinks it.

And, of course, she doesn't actually think it. She feels bad and dissatisfied about our relationship. She is torn between feeling underappreciated and worrying that she didn't do enough for me. But those feelings are coming from her and there is precious little I can do to change them.

We finally talked about all the issues on Saturday and, while frustrating at times, it was a good conversation. I'm glad that Mom said what she needed to say. What I needed to say was that I wasn't sure that anything I do will satisfy her. She agreed—she wasn't sure what it would take either!

The good news is that things are resolved, for now. And I am resolved that, in the future, I will remain calm and patient and not be offended or angry. I will listen and remember that I know who I am and I can handle it.

Plus, I'm going to reread Jane Eyre. It's about time.

Grateful for: Jane Eyre.

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