I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sassy Jane Eyre

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Inspired by this FlavorWire article highlighting one-liners and disses from "Pride and Prejudice", I wanted to feature some of the lines that I find pretty hilarious from "Jane Eyre".  Jane is so sassy to me, and I love that she can say some really unexpected things behind her solid, practical exterior.  The novel has this heavier connotation of Gothic melodrama but it's not all brooding and wives locked up in the attic!

Jane's commentary on Mrs. Reed's maid Abbot's thoughts of her, when she was but 10 years old, highlights the sort of biased thinking that most everyone in the Reed household seemed to regard Jane with.  (Guy Fawkes planned unsuccessfully to blow up the Houses of Parliament.)

“Missis was, she dared say, glad enough to get rid of such a tiresome, ill-conditioned child, who always looked as if she were watching everybody, and scheming plots underhand.” Abbot, I think, gave me credit for being a sort of infantine Guy Fawkes.

Once in Lowood, Jane comments on the horrible breakfast they are given with some more snark:

I perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess; burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon sickens over it. The spoons were moved slowly: I saw each girl taste her food and try to swallow it; but in most cases the effort was soon relinquished. Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted. Thanks being returned for what we had not got, and a second hymn chanted, the refectory was evacuated for the schoolroom.

Self-depracating humor here when Jane describes her first childhood drawing.  Of course she became an awesome artist when she's older.

I learned the first two tenses of the verb Etre, and sketched my first cottage (whose walls, by-the-bye, outrivalled in slope those of the leaning tower of Pisa), on the same day.

Mrs. Fairfax is such a kind lady from how I read her in the novel, so it is extra funny to me that Jane is a little exasperated by her insular view and thinks this when Mrs. Fairfax is surprised she had not heard of Mr. Rochester before:

Of course I did not—I had never heard of him before; but the old lady seemed to regard his existence as a universally understood fact, with which everybody must be acquainted by instinct.

There is a wealth of humor I think in the interactions between Jane and Mr. Rochester, especially during their engagment, but a lot of it is due to personality and character and not so much one-liners, so I'll only be mentioning a few instances in this post.  Like this one when Mr. Rochester wants Jane to talk more to him (and she's not about to do something that will make her feel uncomfortable!):

Accordingly I sat and said nothing: “If he expects me to talk for the mere sake of talking and showing off, he will find he has addressed himself to the wrong person,” I thought.

And Blanche Ingram - the woman Mr. Rochester courts to try and make Jane jealous - is ripe for sarcasm just because she's so entitled and unkind.  And I love this instance of Jane highlighting the unsuitable appellation Blanche's mother gives her:

“You see now, my queenly Blanche,” began Lady Ingram, “she encroaches. Be advised, my angel girl—and—”

“Show her into the library, of course,” cut in the “angel girl.”

Jane's interaction with the 'gypsy woman' is an interesting scene because Jane does not have to be demure and can speak up for herself, and this quick witted exchange between her and the gypsy is great fun to me.  And I also love the response that comes after this that Jane is 'cold, sick and silly' and Mr. Rochester the 'gypsy's' explanation of why.  (It shows how much he has studied her!)

“Well, and you want your fortune told?” she said, in a voice as decided as her glance, as harsh as her features.

“I don’t care about it, mother; you may please yourself: but I ought to warn you, I have no faith.”

“It’s like your impudence to say so: I expected it of you; I heard it in your step as you crossed the threshold.”

“Did you? You’ve a quick ear.”

“I have; and a quick eye and a quick brain.”

“You need them all in your trade.”

“I do; especially when I’ve customers like you to deal with. Why don’t you tremble?”

“I’m not cold.”

“Why don’t you turn pale?”

“I am not sick.”

“Why don’t you consult my art?”

“I’m not silly.”

St John.  A character who totally deserves a little sarcasm, given how presumptive and insular his views can be!  This is a great moment because Jane has let go a little of her awe of St. John in the face of him acting so pigheaded.

St John: “You cannot—you ought not. Do you think God will be satisfied with half an oblation? Will He accept a mutilated sacrifice? It is the cause of God I advocate: it is under His standard I enlist you. I cannot accept on His behalf a divided allegiance: it must be entire.”

Jane: Oh! I will give my heart to God,” I said. “You do not want it.

The last scenes between Jane and Rochester are full of teasing, which Jane uses to keep up Mr. Rochester's spirits.  It's so emotionally rewarding to see that interaction between the two of them, as well as being highly enjoyable.  Here's one that I love:

Jane:  “Have you a pocket-comb about you, sir?”

Rochester: “What for, Jane?”

Jane: “Just to comb out this shaggy black mane. I find you rather alarming, when I examine you close at hand: you talk of my being a fairy, but I am sure, you are more like a brownie.”

Rochester: “Am I hideous, Jane?”

Jane: “Very, sir: you always were, you know.”
Not a line from the book, but a fun addition to the 2006 miniseries!
If I've missed any of your favorite funny exchanges from the novel, feel free to share them with me in the comments!  And also share your favorite sassy characters!

Also, if you are a fan of Jane Eyre, I would really appreciate it if you would fill out this Jane Eyre fan survey I have on my website!  Here's some preliminary data I have from the participants I've polled so far! And here's a direct link to the questionnaire)

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