Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspiring women - Real and Reel

" I am not an angel," I asserted; "and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself."
- Jane Eyre

This quote, both describes my guest here today and the main protagonist of the book she is reviewing for me. Aparna Srivastava is pursuing her English Honours from the Miranda House, Delhi University. She inspires me, for the girl she is and the woman she aspires to be.

She describes herself as a passionate reader, writer, science enthusiast and a dancer. Also an amateur cook and avid follower of Tennis. At an age where probably most of the teenagers were rebelling or solemnly conforming with the societal norms, she smoothly crafted a path for herself, getting two of her stories dealing with women and their place in Indian society published in the Chicken Soup Series, simultaneously acing her academics and also performing at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010 as part of the Bharatnatyam dance troupe.

Her spirit and her passion for the very many interests she has, inspires me and I wish her the very best in whatever she chooses to do in life.

Thank you Aparna for answering a mid-night call and accepting happily to do this for me!


Jane Eyre

Why ‘review’ Jane Eyre? Isn’t it a ‘classic’ reserved for academic papers written by students of Literature, often as they procrastinate?

A brief review cannot possibly do justice to the richness of the novel – but it does remind book enthusiasts to revisit this brilliant novel; and urges the rest to read it very, very soon!

To those unfamiliar with the book, it is the story of an orphan girl called Jane Eyre. From being harrowed and hectored by her unkind Aunt and cousins, to becoming a governess and later struggling to find balance between reserve and passion as she falls in love with Mr Rochester, Jane Eyre offers huge insights into the anxieties faced by the female sex in a society that was deeply hostile to them.

Hostile because women were economically dependent and chained to men, with their few options involving becoming governesses, nuns or well, getting married. Oh, and being the sorry spinster of course.

Hostile because they were physically trapped at home, marred by anxieties of “female incarceration within domestic spaces.” (as Gilbert and Gubar write in The Mad Woman in the Attic…you think I’d write an article without quoting critics? And you must read TMWITAanyway, it’s wonderful)

Hostile because, the women were emotionally trapped by the strict appropriation of ‘feminine’ behaviour where women were expected to be silent observers sans opinions; angelic, ridiculously chaste and devoid of sexuality.

Jane’s story is a journey to find her identity. And the narrative very rich; it is full of metaphors of fire and ice, gothic symbols which express Bronte’s vision (which we now call feminist, and her language that of the female gothic) and are necessary because the world around Jane has no space to encompass desires and needs of women. And therefore Bronte’s language must.

Read this novel for its dealing with madness, read it for the figure of Bertha Mason. The Victorian age was wont to label women acting out of prescribed restricted codes of behaviour as mad and suffering from ‘hysteria.’ The text does touch upon this issue, though Mason’s being a Creole is a rather Eurocentric perspective. Why could not an Englishwoman have been shown to be mad? Why is Bertha Mason a Creole?

The text can be seen as dealing with the idea of psychological doubles: Jane and Bertha as alter egos. Bertha as an expression of the passion Jane must learn to repress. I remember reading Freud and Lacan as I set to understand this idea. Though I did not particularly ‘like’ their ideas, it was one of the most overwhelming experiences I had, as I’m sure rest of my classmates did. As we were groping around in the dark in our first year, this novel was among those that made us fall in love with our course. Understanding the novel was a process I deeply enjoyed.

And I’m sure those who set out to read it will enjoy it too!

-Aparna Srivastava


This is second post in my series of 'YOU' Inspire. Read the first post here
Written as part of the Write Tribe Festival of Words day 4 & 5.

43 comments:

  1. Wow, Aparna sure has many laurels to her name! Good choice, Aditi.
    What a fascinating look at Jane Eyre, Aparna. Isn't it sad that we still see shades of the Victorian era right here where women must pay such attention to how what they do and say might cause offence?

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    1. Well said...and it is sad to see the shades here still.

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  2. Now how I wish I had delgated todays post to somebody yea :-/ N taht proverb at the start is clincher for me... WTH would I want to be an angel n bear the burnt of it!

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  3. Jane Eyre is a classic favourite of mine :) Well done, Aparna! And, Aditi, very well done ;)

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  4. Beautiful! Aditi, applause to Aparna! Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classics and now I am tempted to read it, yet again! Thank you! ♥

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    1. So glad you want to read it again!!

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  5. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have been my childhood favourites. Thanks for rekindling my love for those beautiful classics, Aparna and Aditi!

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    1. Thank you and m uch thanks to Aditi for sharing my review with all of you!! :D

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  6. I remember reading Jane Eyre decades ago. This beautiful review of this book has revived the urge to read it once again. Kudos to Aparna for a fab review and doing so well for herself. And you did a fab job too, Aditi ;)

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  7. Great post Aditi and kudos to Aparna for all her achievements. I have not read Jane Eyre before. Will try to grab a copy soon

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  8. Jane Eyre <3 <3 - Thanks for such a lovely post. *runs away to read Jane Eyre again*

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  9. Your post reminded me how much I loved that book and how much of it is still relevant!! Great post!

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  10. Great introduction of Aparna , and what a super idea to delegate:-) Smart lady:-) I read Jane Eyre many years ago, so this was a nice "reunion" for me ... So well written Aparna - enjoyed the read:-) Thanks

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    1. Hehe thanks Eli...I was sweating last night until I got this brainwave ;)

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  11. Firstly Aparna what a super woman you really are! And secondly this is one of those magical books which stay with you for life. I know it does for me.. what a great pic for both the days Aditi :-)

    Richa

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  12. Aparna surely is inspiring,nice review.haven't read so far try to now.gr8 job aditi.dxbnidblog

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  13. Lovely post, great going Aditi and Aparna. This review brought back old memories, love the book.

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    1. For me too Sulekha...love the book!

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  14. That was beautiful! And Aparna you are a wonder woman! Kuddos. Jane Eyre, is one author who stays for life and more than that.

    :)

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  15. I recently read the unabridged version of Jane Eyre after being very unimpressed with the abridged version we had in school. I loved, loved the book and can't believe it was written by a woman that many years ago!!! Bertha's 'madness' as a real mental illness seems questionable and I find the concept of her and Jane being alter egos interesting. Great review!!

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    1. Yes just for that thought and concept I want to badly re-read the book! Glad you liked the review :)

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  16. I have read Jane Eyre and seen a B/W movie by the same name which was aired on DD then. Thanks Aditi and Aparna for refreshing my memory and as Corinne has rightly said that some of the Victorian era shades are still reflected.

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    1. Sadly yes Kalpana...glad you enjoyed the review!

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  17. Great job bringing the 2 prompts together...and that review sure is inspirational. Great work Aparna and great work Aditi :)

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  18. Awesome Aditi..
    And thank you for introducing Aparna to us.

    Jane Eyre was a brilliant author and a very strong person.. :)

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  19. Brilliant paper and deep analysis on Jane Eyre which is a must read. Thanks for sharing, Aditi:)

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  20. The quote by Jane Eyre clinched it for me and made me realise that I need to revisit the classics....
    Thank you Aparna & Adit.
    PS. I now know 3 Aparna's and all are super talented. ...is it in the name?

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  21. Brilliant post ! I have not read this and was happy to read, well written, simple and easy to understand, thanks aditi and aparna ! for the great post !

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