Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reader, I Wandered in the Leafless Shubbery

Yesterday afteroon, I went out and bought a used Penguin of Jane Eyre (one of the many books I had jettisoned, some of which I am slowly replacing), so I could read beyond the opening line, "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

And was immediately rewarded by the scrumptious second line:
"We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question."

Charlotte Bronte writes like a boxer--a quick jab followed by a thorough pummeling.

But look! Here's the last line of the story, though not the last line of the book, whose final chapter is more by way of an epilogue. Jane has returned to the blighted Mr Rochester, her love, and at the end of their reunion:
"We entered the wood, and wended homeward."

Really, the whole novel has been the tale of this curious girl/woman wandering bravely through an immense maze of ominous shrubbery, until finally she makes her way clear--on her own terms.

Illustration by Edward Gorey (from the Gashlycrumb Tinies).
I tried to find some images of his ominous shrubbery, a murderous topiary perhaps, but couldn't, though he draws them plenty, in The Dwindling Pary, for instance. This will do--though it's more suited to the death of Jane's only friend, Helen Burns, at Lowood School.

*****Don't miss Shaenon Garrity's Edward Gorey's "The Trouble With Tribbles".


deanna said...

I hadn't read it until two or three years ago, and then Jane became a favorite. I was donating plasma a lot that year; you have to wait a long time to "donate", because they pay; and I increased my literary experience by a bunch.

momo said...

I was very passionate about this novel when I first read it, but it has now been many many years.

I'm sorry, but now that you have said the word Shrubbery I am compelled to link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UbtcmjfKa8

fresca said...

DEANNA: The Red Cross should advertise that as a benefit from giving blood: time to read!
Do the sites have classic novels sitting around?

MOMO: Painful! "Even those who arrange and design shubbery are in considerable economic distress, in this ppoint in history. ...I am a shrubber."
If I were ever in a position to give a political speech, which is highly unlikely, I would quote that. I think Mr. Obama looks too much to Lincoln and not enough to the Holy Grail of Comedy, Monty Python.

*feels weak from silliness*
I had also thought of the Knights Who Say Ni, but I have not actually seen that movie in many years (probably as long as it's been since I read Jane Eyre, having rather overdosed on both of them)---I'd forgotten how funny it is.
Thank you for the link, to remind me.

deanna said...

You bring your own books. They show movies, and most people watch those, but I sailed, oblivious to the monitors, through Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Anna Karenina, and many others (some even contemporary). It was a good gig.

fresca said...

Wow, Deanna! That was some serious reading. And all while saving lives too---good for you!