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Wednesday, at National Review Online, Jessica Hornik Evans wrote about a conversation she overheard in a bookstore in (where else?) Portland, Oregon*, about all the racism and toxic masculinity in Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre isn’t racist or toxically masculine (or any other kind of masculine), but it is a dumb book.
(Spoilers ahead, but you should thank me for spoiling it.)
Almost every character in it is insane. The only exceptions are a couple of maids and Jane’s devoutly Christian boarding school roommate, which is ironic because all the other characters in the book need Jesus. Midway through the book, Jane is about to marry a “Byronic hero” (literature-speak for a male drama queen) named after some town in upstate New York, and the author goes on for about four pages on how silly the “if anyone objects, speak now or forever hold your peace” thing is at weddings because nobody ever objects.
Three guesses what happens next.
Turns out ol’ Schenectady has an insane wife he’s hiding in his attic, and bigamy in the 19th century is only for Mormons. Wedding’s off.
(Keep in mind that Charlotte Bronte, the author who tells us how insane Bertha (Wife #1) is, thinks Jane and Binghamton are the ideal relationship, which tells you how reliable she is. Also, there’s a pretentious umlaut over the “e” in Bronte, which I could probably look up how to type, but I’m not going to.)Meanwhile back at the ranch, Plan B for Jane is to marry her cousin and run off to India. She backs out at the last minute, not because, oh I don’t know, marrying your cousin and running off to India is a really bad idea, but because she hears voices that tell her Utica is back in the market.
Voices. In. Her. Head.
Out of the incestuous frying pan into the schizophrenic fire.
Turns out there was a fire over at Irondequoit’s place, and it just happened to kill the woman standing between him and Jane, and he just happened to be close enough to get severely injured himself, because that’s not completely suspicious. Reader, she married him, and sadly Charlotte Bronte died of really bad morning sickness in 1855, because the two deadliest things (other than civil wars) in the 19th century were being artistic and being pregnant, so she didn’t have time to write the sequel in which Ithaca got tired of Jane the way he did with Bertha, and starts trying to off her in hilariously inept ways while she’s oblivious, and everyone realizes the whole thing was supposed to be a dark comedy.
*Perhaps we should just be happy that there’s one business in Portland that hasn’t been burned down yet.Published in