Book Notes: Jane Eyre

So. Jane Eyre. What a masterpiece. I have no idea how it was possible to write something like this without Microsoft Word. You’ve got to be able to go back and forth to make everything connected like Brontë did. Amazing talent.

Now, who’s with me in that Mrs Rochester wasn’t crazy? Nothing she does qualifies as crazy. She never harms anybody who didn’t harm her. She tries to kill the husband who locked her up and the brother who let it happen but she never does anything to Adele, Sophie, or Mrs Fairfax. When she comes into Jane’s bedroom, does she try to hurt her in any way? Nope. She breaks the wedding veil, sending a clear message about what she thinks of marriage. If she were such a raving lunatic as we are supposed to believe, how would she control her craziness so well around Jane? How come she didn’t trash the room or break anything other than the very meaningful veil?

Rochester said himself that Bertha had stretches of lucidity that lasted for weeks. Imagine being completely normal and lucid and being shut up in a small room with no company and nothing to do. Imagine not being completely normal and being locked up. For 10 years! This is torture. Even a true schizophrenic doesn’t deserve never to be outside or to get a breath of fresh air. Only a very robust psyche could bear all that and still make the moral distinction between the people deserving her rage and people who were innocent. If a guy did that to you, wouldn’t you try to shred him to pieces every time you saw him? She’d be insane if she had no rage against her husband.

The only reason to think that Mrs Rochester is crazy is that she looks insane. But how would you look after being locked in a small room without ever being outside for a decade?

Mr Rochester’s story can be disregarded completely because the guy spends the whole novel running hoaxes on people. He’s pathologically dishonest and lies even when it’s utterly unnecessary.

The novel is so good that it gave rise to the only good prequel I have ever encountered, Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Her Bertha Mason does, indeed, go crazy but it’s a worthwhile novel.

32 thoughts on “Book Notes: Jane Eyre”

  1. “to make everything connected like Brontë did”

    Wasn’t it serialized originally? That would give the author plenty of time to keep up on what’s gone before as new chapters were due…

    “He’s pathologically dishonest ”

    I wonder if any of the filmed versions include the scene where he dresses up as an old Gypsy woman… kinky.

    Now I’m wondering if he’s really blind or just using that as a tool to keep Jane around (and her comments noting that he seems to be ‘regaining’ his sight are just her noticing when the ruse isn’t working).

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  2. “like Brontë did. Amazing talent.”

    Are you aware of (and if so what do you think of) the theory that Charlotte wrote all the Bronte novels but she credited her sisters with some of them for her own reasons?

    It has some surface validity… which is more likely, an unassuming English family producing three major literary figures or an unassuming English family producing one titan?

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  3. I’ve been thinking about Jane Eyre for years, and have many inchoate thoughts about it. I started writing this when you posted this, wrote far too much in much too indisciplined fashion, then quit.. Then, I looked at it today, and thought, what the heck. Clarissa deserves this. Not to say your comment box is a trough, but I’m going to strew my pearls regardless, for the indifferent world to rut through insensibly, and disregard..

    My deep thoughts on Rochester, Jane Eyre, the Bröntes, Jane Austen, etc.:

    I think you are right. Edward Rochester is a plutocratic alpha male, not essentially malicious, but deeply selfish and used to getting his own way while never being inconvenienced. He’s like Fitzwilliam Darcy in his sense of entitlement, but even more so.

    Darcy never went to France, and in his pride and sense of rectitude would never have condescended to consort with chorus girls, forget having a child with one. Rochester is a sybarite and hedonist, Darcy is a bit of a prig. Darcy is also much more honorable and charitable than Rochester, but I think that Rochester might be more fundamentally kind. Rochester’s sins are definitely more scarlet than Darcy’s, but Darcy may – may – be more spiritually tepid than Rochester.. It’s hard to say.

    They’re both deeply flawed, Rochester much more so than Darcy. Rochester certainly suffered more, which implies that he needed that catharsis, far less than Darcy in his rectitude.

    What’s interesting is how women respond to them. One of the things I despise most about second wave feminist theory and criticism is how they deceitfully deny obvious psycho sexual dynamics in literature, and in life. They’re very interested in the needs and weaknesses of women, most especially upper middle class and elite women, but have absolutely no interest in acknowledging the needs of men, having little to no compassion for them, especially “low class” ones.

    A tangential screed: This feminist sexism and classism is manifest in our politics now, in the way university educated women – in particular – despise Trump’s and Bernie’s working class base. The great lie of second wave feminism is that they care for all women. But they disregard the reality of blue collar work, the physicality of it.. There’ s no movement to balance the gender demographics of trash collectors or oil rig workers. The reason for that is obvious. And blue collar women know it. They know what their fathers, brothers and husbands and other men in their lives face, know that they are physically incapable doing that sort of work.. But their needs, the needs of the working class are beneath bourgeois contempt. Let a billion Latinos willing to work for a third of what will support a middle class family come here to compete in our labor market, it’s a matter of racial justice! None of them have degrees, they won’t be competing for our jobs! That’s one of the fundamental facts of our politics: contempt for the worker, especially the working man. Get his wife into the market to further suppress wages and compete with him! Send his kids off to public school to get them properly indoctrinated! Notice how so many of the so called “progressive” social movements of the past century have this economic logic to them, that of suppressing blue collar and middle class wages? Do you wonder why white women with high school educations went solidly for Trump?? They know the score. They’re keeping it on the 60 hour a week punch cards they and their husbands keep filing for minimum wage with management..

    Anyway, Darcy and Bingley both deliberately marry down, economically. They seek women of character and beauty, who will support and won’t psychologically harass them. Darcy isn’t going to touch Caroline Bingley or her like.. Why would he let a harridan like that into his life? Rochester in his foolish youth marries a beautiful mulatto girl of lesser rank (this is 50 or so years after Aunt Jane’s time when strictures were loosening, Rochester was an aristocrat from the peripheral anarchic North, far less substantial and much more liberal than Darcy) then has a child with a French mistress a child he supports and takes implicitly as his own, this is a huge credit to his character and then attempts to seduce his governess.. He flees the beautiful daughter of the neighboring landowning family for Jane Eyre. That says it all.

    Both Darcy and Rochester explicitly flee women of their own rank, of similar wealth and power. They don’t need or want the burden of dealing with their s**t.

    The women all seek men of greater wealth and power. Men that they are attracted to and are able to respect, to be sure. But men with wealth and social status before all else. There’s no way that Emma would ever condescend to marry Mr. Martin. Just ain’t ever in a trillion years gonna happen.. Unless Mr. Martin goes off to the West Indies, makes a gigantic fortune, then comes back with proper manners. Maybe then.. But probably not even then.

    Women are fundamentally snobs and economic materialists, concerned with social status (of some sort, not always monetary) before all else, in their sexual choices.

    I think Jane Eyre is in this way far more modern even than Austen, in that the residual social strictures of rural feudal aristocracy are falling away. Christianity saturates the story, in a far more obvious way than in Austen, but Jane Eyre is partially revolting against it. On the most essential level it is a deeply Christian story. It culminates in deeply flawed redemption.. Which is to say essential redemption in the only essential way.

    The way that Rochester treats his wife is obviously horrific. But I do not think it is from malice. She’s ill, probably schizophrenic. There are no hospitals or doctors or medications to effectively treat her. He’s limited and selfish, and doesn’t know what to do. What is he supposed to do? Seriously, Clarissa, what would you have done in his place? Especially if it wasn’t just a matter of illness, but of betrayals on both sides in the relationship? It’s a 19th century Gothic novel, we’re discussing. There were material and ensuing cultural constraints that limited people back then, ones that we do not today face. It wasn’t easy.

    I’m not making fundamental excuses for him, but I’m not condemning him, either. All of his subsequent sexual and romantic escapades while still married were betrayals. Sins, in other words.

    But here’s the thing about evil and sin.. I’m going hard core Christian on you here: evil only occurs for the sake of good, sin only for the sake of forgiveness, suffering only for the sake of transcendence.. The negative is nothing, its only meaning is to prove and validate the positive. In itself it doesn’t exist. It is only the necessary consequence of freedom, which is necessary for the sake of love.. Love cannot be coerced, only freely chosen. Thus, one must be free to sin, free even to irrevocably choose annihilation and evil, for forgiveness, repentance and redemption’s sake. For both justice and mercy’s sake.

    I’ve always thought it interesting how Jane Austen, daughter of a clergyman, hardly ever mentions Christ or Christianity or religion explicitly at all in her novels. The Church as an institution is there in the far background, taken for granted as much as the trees, farms, fields and Napoleonic Wars are. There are several clergymen, but their status is assessed almost purely in terms of their economic status. Most of them are Mr. Collins, the most famous of these, does inflict Fordyce’s Sermons upon the poor Bennet sisters, but their reaction is utterly negative. The one explicit mention of Christianity as such that I can think of, is when Mr. Collins writes Mr. Bennet to counsel throwing poor Lydia off in her shame.. “And this is his idea of Christian Charity” quips Mr. Bennet. That’s the one time I think Christ himself is obliquely referenced by Aunt Jane.

    The Brönte sisters a half century later live in different world, one where the enclosure movement, capitalism and mass industrialization have disintegrated rural society and destroyed the traditional communities that made enchanted “pagan” Christianity possible. It’s still there, palpably felt, but it is evaporating. That’s why I love Helen. She is a creature of enchantment, a mystic like me. Rationalist attacks in the mid 19th century – most famously Darwin’s, but also lesser remembered “historical criticism” like David Strauss’s Life of Christ, culminating in Nietzsche’s nihilism – begin to give the so called “educated” an excuse to throw off the strictures against fornication and usury. Losing their religion is the necessary prerequisite to taking on full bourgeois pantheism. The bourgeoisie, as Marx recognized, is the true revolutionary class. They are also, not incidentally, of their very nature philosophical satanists..

    Educated “middle class” 19th Century women like the Brönte sisters and George Eliot – who is a similarly Christ haunted writer, who famously translated Strauss’s work and lost her faith because of it – are fleeing Christianity, but still grasping after its essential moral framework, even as they abandon its metaphysics and mystical world. But they can’t have it both ways. We cannot..

    It’s either the way of humility and the Beatitudes, or the will to power.

    It’s either we accept our organic and biological limitations, or else attempt to traduce them with technology.. There would be no feminism without the clothes washer, the public school, the grocery store, hormonal birth control and surgical abortion.

    The Bröntes are the spiritual great aunts of the Housewives of Atlanta, the 40 year old girls enjoying Sex in the City.. All those college girls backpacking the world reprising Nietzsche’s picturesque madness with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.. They have one foot in Jane Austen’s spinster cottage on her brother Edward Austen Knight’s estate at Chawton, and one foot in Shulasmith Firestone’s apartment in the East Village, locked up with her stinking corpse, waiting two weeks for the neighbors or landlord to finally notice her demise.

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    1. These are great observations, thank you. I do deserve them. 🙂

      Rochester himself explains the alternative to what he did to Berta. When Jane tells him that his treatment of his wife is horrid, he plunges into a narrative of what he would do if Jane started exhibiting the same symptoms of mental illness. He says he would have never locked her up. He would have loved and cherished her in illness as he would in health. Her mind, he says, is precious to him, and would remain so even if it were disturbed. The difference in treatment he is ready to give these women doesn’t hinge on their health. It hinges on whether he likes them.

      At the very least, he could have allowed Berta to see the light of day, go outside. He said himself she had whole weeks of lucidity.

      On another subject, it’s absolutely true that the plot of Jane Eyre is the foundation of the entire female romance genre. He treats her badly but that’s only because he really loves her and there’s a dark secret he harbors that she needs to cure him from. That’s the entire plot of 50 Shades of Grey right there. And every Harlequin novel in existence. There’s something deeply attractive to women in the idea that male mistreatment of them is a sign of looooove. It’s like we all learn in childhood, “the boys push you and tug your hair as a way of confessing their love.”

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      1. Exactly. It’s all wryly amusing, while absurdly tragic. Women want to be attached to the biggest jerk who will love and protect them. It’s a big bad world, and every girl needs a bad boy to defend her from it. Ted Bundy, Dzhozkar Tsarnaev, James Holmes, even Charles freaking Manson have all had dozens of female romantic pen pals after conviction. Even the very worst boys tap something deep within the female psyche, sometimes.

        The reason Rochester fell for Bertha was because she was beautiful. Typical boy’s error. He was seduced by a pretty face. She was bad, but beautiful. Then she went crazy. That’s why he imprisoned her in the attic. He never truly loved or respected her. Not really. He didn’t know her when he married her. She wasn’t good. If she had been, she would have maintained their relationship along with his respect in her “weeks-long stretches of lucidity.” Rochester wasn’t so malicious as to perpetually imprison her without reason. There’s more to the history that the novel only implies, that’s not spelt out. That’s why he insists Jane is different from Bertha: Because she is.

        It’s funny. When I was in high school and college, I had really no idea what made women tick. Like apparently almost everyone, I suffered from the default cognitive bias that everyone felt, thought and desired pretty much the same way I did. Projection. Presumed consensus.. I was so mired in my own perspective and desire, so self obsessed and absorbed, that empathy and detachment and understanding were impossible.

        I’d been convinced – because I’d been repeatedly told – that men and women are basically the same. I really believed it. Despite the incessant monsoon of contradictory evidence I’d been drenched with, like any idiot kid I didn’t analyze or understand any of it.. I was far from insightful or wise enough to “deconstruct the narratives” I was being deluged and pummeled with.

        I took John Cusak in Say Anything and Eric Stoltz in Some Kind of Wonderful as my models. I though that that sensitive, vulnerable, romantic schtick was the key, “what women wanted.” I met with some slight success.. But not enough.

        One key moment when the truth began to dawn on me was when I started reading the cheesy romance novels my mother was into at the time. The ones where the tall olive skinned duke has his forceful but inevitable way with the heroine.

        The second decisive thing was when I made my best friend of all time. He’s Italian, and he just did not give a damn about rejection. He would walk up to the prettiest girl in the room, and start “bullshitting” her. He’d start telling her stories. He was the son of the Russian ambassador, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.. Any damn thing that he thought of in the moment.

        I would stand there beside him, shriveling with embarrassment at his audacity. I can’t stand lying.. But the thing about bullshitting is that isn’t really deceit. The girls all knew he was full of it. But they did not care. They loved him for it. I’ve seen Roberto kiss a half dozen girls in the same night, in the same room. They all had seen him move through the crowd, working every female who responded to him (which was nearly every single one of them) and making out with 20% of them (that was his benchmark: “Charlie, you talk to a hundred girls, 80 will say no, but 20 will say yes.. And 20 is great success!”) They all had seen and knew what he was doing, who he was.. And they loved him for it.

        I learned. I never have bullshit like he did, but I now understand the secret. Women are not at all like men, erotically speaking. I do not think most people understand this, certainly not most women. Men are almost purely visual. Most teenaged girls have absolutely no idea what is running through boys’ heads, the sheer pornographic bacchanal in the typical boy’s skull. I mean, on some level they get that mini skirts, exposed midriffs and cleavage is enticing. But they really don’t understand where that exposed skin takes most boys – and mens’ – minds.

        Older women start to clue in, but I don’t think even they really get it. The debacle occurring on university campuses over sexual assault and consent is tragic proof of that. The gulf of erotic expectations is immense, and like always the second wave feminists ignore human nature and the self evident power differentials between the sexes to the point of self parody. We used to chaperons and parietals to protect women from men. Now we have consent forms, police and campus sexual assault tribunals.. But women and men are exactly the same, see. It’s all just societal malconditioning, and the boys are always to blame for not performing properly, properly conforming to feminist expectations.

        Women want to be desired. That’s what turns them on. Being the object of desire is the key to female eroticism. Desire confidentially and “dispassionately” expressed. It’s a weird paradox. You need to walk up to a woman and let her know you want her, perhaps even want her intensely, but do not give a damn if she wants you back. This is the logic behind the pick up artist tactic of “negging.” But negging is a crude technique. A really deft master knows that subtly and playfulness are the essence of the art. Turn the warm spot light of your attention on her, then – like Lucifer – tell her a seductive story, flatter her vanity, make her laugh, tease and mock her a little. Make her know you are interested in her, but are utterly unafraid of her and do not care at all if she rejects you, because you are untouchable. Modulating the nature and intensity of your desire is the trick.. I think of it as the light house evolution: cast your beam, then pull it away. Then bring the bath of light back. A few rotations is usually enough.

        I didn’t understand any of this when I was young. No one told me. No one told me that if you want to be attractive to women, you should carry a guitar around. Whether you can play the damn thing or not is not the point. It’s a prop, that she’s going to use to seduce herself.

        Another thing that no one ever tells you is that she’ll never approach you. Almost never. And if she likes you, her signals are often going to be so subtle to the normal daft male as to be utterly imperceptible. That’s why Charlotte Lucas’s advice to Lizzy about how Jane should approach Bingley was so very, very spot on. Hit him over the head with your interest, if you want him to respond.

        Also – and this is the most politically incorrect reality – you had better be taller, stronger and even smarter than she is. Being better looking is not necessary. But being emotionally detached and emotionally intelligent enough that she cannot push you around or bully you in any way is. You cannot be fundamentally weaker than she is in any way.

        You had also have at least as much money and social status as she has. You definitely have to have some sort of virtuosity in life that she admires.

        I have a book of thoughts in me on all of this. I’ll spare you the rest of it.

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        1. Everybody is different, CRC. With some women this would work. With some men it would work, too. For others this would be the exact opposite of what they need.

          I never minded poverty or vulnerability. I married my husband when he was unemployed, undocumented, and on the verge of being deported and I was a professor. I’d never had any shortage of suitors, including some quite wealthy. But I chose an unemployed vulnerable guy. He is taller, though, that’s true. Although I have no doubt I’d be just as into him if he were 5 feet tall. (I’m 5’6).

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          1. There are always exceptions and outliers in every set. I’m speaking of general principles and rules. Not all women want a taller man. Almost all do. Not all women assess a man by his ability to protect and provide, to make her feel secure. But almost all – on a fundamental, psychological level – do. Not every woman is drawn to broken “leader of the pack” bad boys who they can save and fix, who will upset their mother, scandalize and make all the other girls envious.

            Also, a lot of guys fall into the Say Anything “nice guy vulnerable” pattern, which is a total trap. That’s where you get what the internet dubs the “gamma simp” phenomenon, where guys think just because they’re nice and sensitive they should get the girl. They end up “friend zoned” and resentful, “incels.” That’s the cost of making your relationship transactional, as opposed to self sacrificial.

            What they miss is that Cusak was tapping the pattern in that story – every successful romance does. He was enacting the heroic archetype, just like Eric Stoltz did. They weren’t imposing an obligation on the girl. They were inviting and liberating her. Especially in Stoltz’s case in Some Kind of Wonderful (if you haven’t seen it, do – it’s the best John Hughes film) – he saves the popular girl from the hell of her own inauthenticity and insecurity, and inverts the paradigm, rectifying it.. He’s a Christ figure, in other words.. Which is incidentally what Jane Eyre does, whys she’s the heroic protagonist in that story. She’s the savior, not Rochester of St. John.

            Also, what women usually fail to consciously understand is the source of their own power, if they have any, and they usually do.. Usually a lot. Most women are the analogues of male incels, who fail to understand the true dynamic and rules of the game and end up resenting reality.

            Anyway, you – I assume – haven’t tried to woo women. And I have. You don’t really know what I’m talking about, or don’t want to admit I’m right.

            Any honest and perceptive guy who’s been to high school knows what I’m saying is true. All the freshmen cheerleaders end up dating the senior and junior football players. The cute goth girls end up dating the impudent guys with the bands. The burnout bad girls end up with the baddest burn out guys. All the socially awkward geeks of both sexes end up on the sidelines, bouncing off each other like nerf balls. Listen to Seventeen by Janis Ian. Janis was pretty, but her social ineptitude and introversion doomed her. That’s human nature, and you know it.

            Men can date younger, usually much younger. Women as a rule cannot, or will not. Girls between the ages of 16 and 26 – especially the prettiest third – have massive sexual power that declines until menopause. Men’s sexual currency is less, until the hit 26, and then it begins to increase. The top twenty percent of men, the attractive ones with the social power are in the catbird seat sexually. Polygamy and polyamory is an elite male game.

            I could explain to you why patriarchy is the inescapable human default, one that we will never escape, no matter what the feminists do.. But I don’t have the to type it out. I have to go help my mother sod her planters.

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            1. Most men and women want the person they love. Short, tall, fat, thin, it’s all details. People tend to be very unaware of what attracts them, of course. I know this guy who for years said he was attracted to tiny, skinny Asian women. Then he married a huge, buxom Spanish lady and they’ve been luminously in love ever since. Or this woman I know who’s convinced that she’s into tall, blond Scandinavian types but always ended up with stocky, shortish swarthy guys. Finally married a guy from India. People are so clueless.

              Being able to attract a lot of dates is no guarantee of happiness, especially as one gets older. In the dating game, you only have to get lucky once. My husband had zero success with women in spite of being tall and beautiful. But then he hit the jackpot with me – and I’m truly the wife of one’s dreams. In the meantime, a super popular friend I know who always attracted tons of women is unmarried and miserable because it’s all fun when you are 26 but gets old when you are 46.

              My advice to people who are looking is this. Figure out who you need. Imagine that person in great detail. And then relax and don’t fidget much. You will meet that person almost immediately.

              Of course, the hard part begins after that when you need to integrate your neuroses and weave a comfortable, solid yet soft bed out of them for both of you.

              There’s absolutely no correlation between personal happiness and shortness, tallness, fatness, thinness, etc.

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              1. 1000% yes. My husband and I both married the first person we ever dated. Ten years and three kids later, I have no complaints. We are very happy.

                The weird part is that people confuse “dating success” with “prospects for a good long-term relationship”. Those are not remotely the same thing.

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              2. My sister met her husband when she was 19 and he 32. It’s been almost 20 years. Two kids and complete faithfulness even though both are VERY beautiful people.

                When it’s right, it’s right. It’s not for everyone but I do believe that most people do want to be in a loving relationship that lasts forever.

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              3. I think the problem is that too many people treat “dating” as the point, when what they want is a spouse. They don’t want to be single while they’re waiting around for the right person, so they spend years effing around with people they don’t want to have kids or share a mortgage with, just so they can have the status points that go with “in a relationship” (this is mostly women, of course. Men probably screw themselves over in other ways), or not be lonely or something (it’s a mystery to me).

                The problem with that strategy is that already being in a relationship deters most people who would be good spousal prospects. Decent, honest people do not poach other people’s partners.

                Dating, if you have to go that route, should be an Elimination Round game: the goal is not to go out to dinner or cuddle or get some nookie. The goal is to mine the other person for incriminating information, compare them to your rock-solid list of marriage-prospect dealbreakers, and as soon as they tick any of those boxes, you stop wasting your time and theirs and let them go: no regrets, no second chances. Neither of you is getting any younger.

                There was one guy who took me out to lunch a couple of times before I met my husband. I don’t think either of us would characterize that as “a relationship” or “dating”– never even held hands. He was nice enough. But as soon as I found out that he considered himself Catholic, even though he never attended church… I knew he wasn’t for me, and I refused any further outings with him. I sincerely hope he’s found a woman who is right for him, and I wish them all the best. The funny thing is, every time I read a screed like CRC’s above, I think of that guy. Does he think he was rejected for being “too nice”? Possibly, if he’s been reading a bunch of PUA literature. That stuff is toxic. I mean, probably a goldmine if your goal in life is to sleep with as many batshit insane women as possible. But assuming you want to meet decent people with the goal of getting married… sigh. That’s like going to a bunch of Chinese restaurants and then griping because you can’t ever find any good hummus there.

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              4. “Most men and women want the person they love”

                Types and desired features are what happens when a person is lonely and imagining what might make them happy. It has little to do with who people actually fall for… maturity lies in being able to recognize value (for lack of a better word) even though the packaging might not hit all a person’s desired bullet points.

                The longer and detailed and more specific a person’s list, the more likely they will never find anyone (or maybe don’t really want anyone, a long list of non-negotiables is an effective way of reframing desire to be alone (or inability to make the compromises necessary for successful relationships) as ‘standards’.

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              5. Yes! You aren’t buying a refrigerator so don’t make a list of specifications. Look for the feeling. How do you want to feel around this person? That’s what matters.

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              6. You can definitely go overboard with that. But, you know, it’s not all or nothing either way. That feeling is great. It’s also good to have basic minimum standards and not waste your time with people who don’t meet them.

                I knew a guy in college. Absolutely charming, fun to be around. Always made me feel like the only gal at the ball. I turned him down because when he asked, he was currently dating a girl in my English class. Standards!

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              7. My favorite is when in TV shows people are dating for months, sleeping together obviously. Then finally one of them says, “do you want to become exclusive?” I mean, what? Isn’t it a given that you don’t whore around while you are with a person? It’s beyond ridiculous.

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              8. Well, my original point – my only overarching point – is that Darcy, Rochester are both archetypical and that their characterizations point to interesting realities concerning sex and gender.

                I’m not claiming my analysis of the stories, and my musings on the general gist of psycho-sexual relations between men and women are exactly correct, or that I understand all the irreducible and mysterious complexity and nuances of sex, desire and gender.

                I’m just throwing down as eloquently as I can in a combox, trying to say something interesting and I hope true, so as to catalyze an interesting exchange to expand my own understanding.

                Notice how Darcy, Rochester, Mr. Big in Sex and the City and Sadistic Billionaire Guy in 50 Shades of Grey all share certain similar characteristics.

                One of them is that they are all objects of erotic obsession by millions of contemporary women. Another is that they are also all the creations of female authors. They are all also alpha males who have what I’ll characterize as a “detached manipulative obsession” with the heroines of their respective stories.

                Darcy is the least manipulative man, and Lizzy is the most self actualized and self respecting woman of the four examples. It goes straight down hill from there, until we end up today with 100’s of millions of women fantasizing about being locked in a dungeon and whipped by a billionaire.

                In the more modern cases of Mr. Big and Billionaire Sadist Guy, their fascinating (to women) male eroticism is objectifying, even dehumanizing. I know nothing about Sex and the City and Mr. Big apart from the fact (I think it’s a fact, correct me if I’m wrong) that he treats the women in the story like his concubines, and they seem to love it.

                That’s interesting, isn’t it? Men don’t write stories like that. Women do.

                Why is that? Men don’t write those type of male characters.. They rarely write pulp romances to begin with, and when they do, you get Nicholas Sparks. Not sparkly vampires who love you enough to suck all your blood from you to make you undead.

                What’s going on ladies? I mean, really now. 50 Shades? In the so called feminist Utopian present? At least Darcy was a true gentleman.

                I’m pretty sure my thesis articulated above about women desiring being desired is correct. I’m sure because of long experience with dozens of women. It’s the psychological analogue of our respective anatomies. Men desire women, women desire that desire, they receive subsume magnify and return it. Often exponentially so. Sexual desire is fecund in manifold ways.

                We each embrace and envelope and balance the other in our respective ways, it’s ying yang, is what I’m saying..

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              9. @Clarissa ” Isn’t it a given that you don’t whore around while you are with a person?”

                I thought so too, but apparently not. Kids these days…

                @CRC There is a fairly hilarious Jordan Peterson take on that:

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            2. “I’m pretty sure my thesis articulated above about women desiring being desired is correct. I’m sure because of long experience with dozens of women. It’s the psychological analogue of our respective anatomies. Men desire women, women desire that desire, they receive subsume magnify and return it. ”
              I’d love to know where you see bisexual and lesbian women in your sexual schema. In fact, based on my own “long experience with dozens of women” (and, you know, being a woman myself) I’m quite sure your thesis is 100% wrong.

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        2. Yeah, that “every woman” part is BS. A lot of women? Maybe. When I married my husband, I was making about 4x what he was. He had the two traits I found absolutely non-negotiable in a partner: he is totally honest, and sincerely religious.

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        3. “Most teenaged girls have absolutely no idea what is running through boys’ heads, the sheer pornographic bacchanal in the typical boy’s skull.”

          Sorry, but this really makes me laugh. You have clearly never been a teenage girl.

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