Friday, August 5, 2011


Shockingly, I just read Jane Eyre for the first time at the age of 24. Crazy, right? I’ve been obsessed with English culture ever since I studied abroad in London. The grass is painfully green and the sky is remarkably blue. As I read through the novel, I put images in my own head, and these images often came  from 19th century paintings of the women and the landscapes of Jane Eyre’s time.  This post isn’t terribly deep, so bear with me. Instead, I was inspired by the beauty of Jane’s surroundings. 

Jane, who is not the most beautiful girl, falls for Rochester and wants to marry him even after his face has been destroyed in a fire. Jane is not shallow at all – she loves him regardless. She states:

“Most true is it that 'beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’”

Thomas Gainsborough seems to fit here. Gainsborough creates magnificent portraits of women. They are dreamy and romantic and the women are dressed in their fanciest attire. I can picture a triumphant Jane at the end of the novel in one of these portraits. Rochester would definitely commission one of these to painted because he also saw beyond Jane’s plainness. Aren’t they wonderful and oh-so-British?

Here’s a fantastic description I found of the countryside:

"A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway."

It’s like Bronte was staring at this painting when she wrote those words:

This painting by Turner is not of Jane’s backyard – it’s at sea. But I think the energy of the snowstorm that Turner captures works with Jane’s words.  The swirly mess that Turner paints is like the “wintry Norway” that Bronte describes.

What do you think about my choices? Do you know of any other paintings that connect to Jane Eyre?

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