Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thoughts: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte / Was Mr. Rochester handsome?

I finished rereading Jane Eyre weeks ago, but I still haven’t written my thoughts down properly. Of course, I still love the book, but I want my post to bring something new to the table. Then, I became bored, and read the back summary of copy of Jane Eyre. My big Eureka came next. This is the book back blurb of my 1962 Scholastic edition of Jane Eyre:

A dark deception stands between the shy, plain governess and her handsome, moody employer. Even Jane’s passionate love cannot erase her fear: What is the strange, crazed laughter she hears in the night? What forbidden secret is Mr. Rochester concealing from her—and the world?

The summary, as a whole, is okay, but there’s one description that irks the hell out of me. Handsome. I don’t know why they put that there, but Mr. Rochester is definitely NOT handsome. Jane actually describes him as quite ugly, and, correct me with I’m wrong, not that tall.

Mr. Darcy is wonderful, but I don’t think every romantic hero in history has to be breathtakingly handsome. Jane isn’t initially attracted to Mr. Rochester, because, let’s face it, he’s not that attractive. Things changed, though, once she got to know him. Even if he’s slightly neurotic, Mr. Rochester was passionate and truly cared about Jane, and maybe that’s why she fell for him. Take a look at this quote:

And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire.

See? Not ugly anymore, but definitely not handsome. I don’t know. I guess I was just bothered by the utter misrepresentation of Mr. Rochester. His deficiencies in the look department is what makes him unique as a romantic hero, the same way Heathcliff is known for his almost obsessive love for Cathy.

What do you think, though? Was Mr. Rochester ugly, handsome, or just unappealing?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thoughts: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier has been in my to-be-read pile for quite a while. I always chose some other book over it, because I read Cormier’s Wikipedia page and found out that he’s known for his pessimism. Damn you, Wikipedia, for scaring me away.

Jerry Renault is a freshman at Trinity—a high school ruled by the mafia-like Vigils and the cunning Brother Leon. When the school begins its annual chocolate sale, Jerry refuses to participate, and this begins a tidal wave of rebellion among the students. Jerry is viewed as a hero by his classmates, but is soon ostracized when the Vigils step in. Alone but refusing to give up, Jerry must ask himself: Does he dare disturb the universe?

I absolutely loved this book, which isn’t surprising since it reminded me of John Green’s novels. John Green is ONE OF MY FAVORITE WRITERS. Now, Cormier and Green are two completely different writers, but Cormier’s use of the T.S. Eliot line ‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’ reminded me of John Green’s use of literary references in his novels. Cormier only used a single line from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, but what a perfect line it is. It summed up the novel perfectly, how Jerry did indeed dare to disturb the clockwork-like universe of Trinity. Also, I’m a sucker for books that mention other books/poems.

And the characters! I can’t gush enough about them. Cormier didn’t describe them in great detail, but they came alive anyway through the dialogue. The dialogue was pitch-perfect. Every single sentence felt natural, and told me more about the characters than paragraphs of back story ever could. I have to say that Archie Costello, the Grand High Poobah, of the vigils is one of my favorite fictional characters. Ever. Talk about the devil in a teenage boy’s body. Mafia dons have nothing on him.

This book isn’t a feel-good novel that gives you hope. It was kind of depressing, actually, but the great thing about it is that it made me look within myself, wondering what I’m capable of. Like Jerry Renault, do I have the guts to disturb the universe?

Rating: 5/5


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