Saturday, 3 May 2008

Brontë on frankness and reserve

By this time he had sat down: he had laid the picture on the table before him, and with his brow supported on both hands, hung fondly over it. I discerned he was now neither angry nor shocked at my audacity. I saw even that to be thus frankly addressed on a subject he had deemed unapproachable --- to hear it thus freely handled --- was beginning to be felt by him as a new pleasure --- an unhoped-for relief. Reserved people often really need the frank discussion of their sentiments and griefs more than the expansive. The sternest-seeming stoic is human after all: and to `burst' with boldness and good will into `the silent sea' of their souls is often to confer on them the first of obligations.
I am finally, after many interruptions and failures of application, struggling towards the end of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, this being my third, and I swore my final, attempt to read it. Passages like this one make it seem worthwhile: I see the point of the book.

Call me a Philistine if you will, but I don't see the point of a lot of the rest. Such as --- oh, let us pull an example out of the air just at random --- Mr Rochester. Let me be clear that this is no mere objection to Rochester being a woman's man: a fantasy figure. For I would have a beer with Mr Knightley at any time, on a moment's notice.

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