For half my life, I've been told I had to read this book. And I have wanted to. Once upon a time, I planned on reading a Brontë classic every year until I grew tired of them. Year one, I read Wuthering Heights; I enjoyed it. Year two, well, I decided to put year two off for a while. Like six years.
And it's been difficult, because for many years people have assumed that I've read Jane Eyre. Apparently, you cannot pass through college as an English major without having read Charlotte Brontë's most famous novel. And you certainly cannot attain an MFA in writing without understanding “plain Jane” and Rochester's secret. Repeatedly it has been assumed I've read it, and repeatedly I had to stop people from talking before they ruined the mystery.
I knew I'd like Jane Eyre, but what I didn't expect was the shocking surprise. I knew Rochester was hiding something—who doesn't? But, really, who in their right mind would expect that? So, somehow, all those years, I remained spoiler free. And it would be nice for me not to spoil it for the few who have not yet read it. But I'm kind of a jerk, so I don't care. Not only that, but I like to show off—I'm that guy on the beach sporting the speedo. Oh yeah, check me out!
Besides, the person who hasn't read the book will not believe me. I wouldn't have believed it had I heard from someone else. So screw courtesy.
Rochester's hiding something evil in his attic. It's obvious the second Jane steps foot in Thornfield Hall that someone is up there. But while I expected a ghost tale or a crazy mother, what Jane and company found was much worse...
That's right, Teddy Freakin' Ruxpin. I know what you're thinking. Either this guy is a complete dork, or this book is not what I expected. You're right.
What gets me is not so much that evil Teddy is lurking—it's what we expected from a talking bear with the eyes of a molester—it's that all these years I thought Teddy Ruxpin was the creation of some crazed toy makers. Lo and behold, the Teddy Ruxpin you once welcomed into your home and your heart was inspired by an English novel of the mid-nineteenth century. Now, don't you feel stupid? I did.
Add that to the stupidity I felt when I read Wuthering Heights and discovered that the protagonist was Heathcliff. Yeah, the cat. The 1980s were obviously very influenced by the 1840s. Thank God for the Brontë sisters, without them we probably never would've had slap bracelets, parachute pants, or Run-DMC.
Next up on my list of Bronte sisters, Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It may be six years, but I'm sure, as I do look quite forward to it, that I will fit time in my reading schedule much sooner. I find great promise in the tale of a rich businessman and his daughter, lonely residents of Wildfell Hall. Contrary to all societal expectations, they take two poor kids from Harlem into their home and find a family.