Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?

About a month ago, in a fit of romantic indulgence, I rewatched the Timothy Dalton BBC version of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This movie reminded me of a book I read nearly ten years ago: Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?

I immediately set out to track down and reread the book, finally ordering a copy off eBay. Sadly, my copy didn’t arrive on my doorstep until a month after I ordered it. However, my bellyaching is best reserved for eBay’s feedback section.

Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? is the second in a series of three books by John Sutherland, an English professor and literary critic (the other two books are Is Heathcliff a Murderer? and Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennett?). These books answer dozens of literary questions: “Who is Tom Jones’s Father?” “How Vulgar is Mrs. Elton?” “Is Daniel Deronda Circumcised?”

Sutherland uses the texts and literary criticism to answer his queries. Although I don’t always agree with his conclusions, Sutherland clearly and convincingly details how he develops his answers.

For example, in an essay speculating on whether or not Angel eventually marries Liza-Lu Derbyfield in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Sutherland refers to the text but also British marriage laws. Could Angel marry Liza-Lu? Not legally.

So, is Jane happy? I won’t divulge Sutherland’s complete answer, but I will tell you he hypothesizes that Jane is Rochester’s “faute de mieux” (for lack of something better). My romantic-potentially-biased answer? Jane Eyre Rochester lives in absolute and perfect bliss.

1 comment:

The Aspirant said...

Please save your copy so I can read it later. Thank you very much.