June 3, 2005

No Improper Pride


I am currently re-reading Jane Eyre (such a wonderful book!), and I ran across this quote:

"I have not much pride under such circumstances: I would always rather be happy than dignified."

This is a very wise attitude, I think. One thing that always bothers me when I am reading Lucy Maud Montgomery, for instance, is her value for pride and dignity. In the Emily books, Emily's main attribute, other than her love and skill for writing, is her pride. She is portrayed as always 'holding her head high' metaphorically and literally. It is rather sad, really-- the books are wonderful, but at the same time dangerous because pride is a folly to which the age of girl that the books are written for are particularly susceptible. Emily in these books goes for many, many years unhappy and lonely, because her pride will not permit her to encourage the man she loves; indeed, it will not let her admit to herself that she loves him. But the author never (in my memory-- it has been several years since I last read these) shows a dislike to this pride-- actually, you can tell she rather approves it.
Charlotte Bronte, on the other hand, shows a very wise attitude to pride, which is really the subject of Jane Eyre. The book shows many different types of pride, both proper and improper, and the conclusion reached is that the only pride worth having is the pride of morality-- the pride that keeps us above sin. As Jane says when explaining to Mr. Rochester, after they almost marry, why she must leave--

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man."


Anonymous said...

Jane Eyre is among my very favoritest of books. When I read that book for the first time several years ago it became a part of me in a way that few books do.
Is this your first time to read it?

fa-so-la-la said...

No, third actually! At first it took a bit to get used to, because I have been reading alot of Jane Austen lately and Charlotte Bronte's elaborate prose seemed so extraneous after the clean-ness and tight-ness of Jane's. Like going from Bach to Handel. But now that I have gotten myself back into Bronte mode I am thouroughly enjoying it. It is a pity that there is no movie of it that does it justice, although the Samantha Morton one is OK.

By the way, would you mind clueing me in as to your identity? I'm a bit at a loss! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, do you have any multifarious friends? If so, one of them is me!
I like making people guess. :)
Here's a hint: I've seen Nickel Creek live.
Out of the 5 versions of Jane Eyre I have seen, I agree with you that the one with Samantha Morton is the best, but it has never been yet made in the worthy of the book fashion that Pride and Prejudice was.

fa-so-la-la said...

Sorry, still in the dark.
You see, my friends all tend to be a bit multifarious, in that good playing-army-men-with-their-siblings-one-minute-and-discussing-doctrine-the-next way.
Whoopeeee! Tell me about the others! I'd love to see them.
I could have a Jane Eyre Marathon!!!

Anonymous said...

The 5 Jane Eyre versions that I have seen and consider worthy to some degree or another are as follows:
1997- CiarĂ¡n Hinds and Samantha Morton
1996- William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg
1970- George C. Scott and Susannah York
1944- Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine
1983- Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke

fa-so-la-la said...

Ho Ho! I have seen the first and last of those, but I shall have to track down the others! Thanks!

beatrice said...

PLEASE clue me in!!
I havn't the foggiest, really...wait, would that quote carry any level of significancy with you?