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Friday, 1 March 2013

Jane Eyre: Retold - Ch. 1

Jane Eyre is my favourite novel. I can read it over and over again. Something about the story pulls me in every time. Maybe it's the fact that Jane is the underdog and I can relate to that - most everyone can. She pulls herself up from nothing and becomes a strong, smart and confident woman. The love story also gets me. The prickly, mysterious and intriguing Mr. Rochester... a man brave enough (for the time the story was originally written) to take on a woman who keeps him on his toes - his equal.

For me, Janes' story never grows old. Every film that is made of the story, I've seen - and will see. It's a story that lasts the test of time. It's the kind of story I would love to write myself. And as I try to write my own novel I look to Charlotte Bronte and her novel Jane Eyre for inspiration. Inspiration that comes in splits and splats. It's hard to wrap your head around writing a compelling story that people would want to read... a story that a writer wants to carry on writing.

So, why not try rewriting my favourite novel as a test. I will rewrite a major literary masterpiece, chapter by chapter - all thirty-eight of them... :S Am I crazy. Maybe. Well, yes I am. That really was an unfair question.

I will endeavour to rewrite a chapter a week - modernising the story somewhat, making a few other changes as I see fit and continually editing as I go along.

We'll see - I will see, if I can do this. Stick with it I mean - if I can, then maybe I can get the guts to actually get a crack on my own story when I'm done.

Here goes nothing... *gulp*


Jane Eyre: Retold
Chapter One

The rain pounded heavily outside and I knew there would be no chance of getting out of this house on this dismal day. I would be stuck inside with my dreadful Aunt and her even more dreadful children. My only saving grace being that my Aunt very rarely let me socialize with anyone but myself. Hopefully I could sit alone, undisturbed in the library thumbing my way through history and travel books until I was called to dinner. My cousins, Liza, Georgie and John were too good for me according to my Aunt. I might dirty them up with my lower class ways. This was never something that my Aunt would say out loud of course, oh no, she was too much of a lady for that. My Aunts actions were all I needed to know that she despised me. Why else would she not let me near her children and why else would she belittle me at my every turn?

My Aunt was jealous of anyone who had anything that she did not. She even went so far as to be Jealous of her own sister - my Mother. Now by association, she was jealous of me as well. When my Mother chose to marry for love and not money my Aunt rejoiced in her jealousy and hatred of her. She hated the fact that my Mother and Father loved each other, it was something she would never know. She rejoiced because as a result of that love, my Mother was cut off from the family and my Aunt became the heir. A great fortune was to be hers.

When my parents died in a terrible car accident, Aunt Reed had the perfect opportunity to envelope herself in her anger and jealousy. She adopted me into her home and family under the guise that I should (and could) be saved. She made everything look perfect on the outside as she paraded me around to all the social gatherings, while I was made to remain as quiet as a mouse. Heaven forbid I dare say a word as we mingled in "polite society." If I did, I'd never hear the end of it!  On the plus side when I did occasionally speak out or fuss, usually because my cousin John was taunting me, my Aunt was able to play up her part as the martyr. She, already a busy mother of three (and now a widow) had taken in a hapless child that was not her own. To all eyes that looked upon her in the town of Haworth, my Aunt was a saint. Behind closed doors and away from those approving eyes, I was the perfect victim. Trapped in my Aunt's cage and there at the ready should she desire to spew her disdain.

Fortunately for my Aunt, I pitied her. She was sad and loveless, which I knew was her own doing and for that I was sad. She might not deserve my love but she had it because I knew she was doing the only thing she knew how. My Aunt had never learned to love. She loved neither herself nor anyone else. I on the other hand did know love and that could never be taken from me. My Aunt and I could have been close and I wished we had. I felt a hollowness inside whenever she would send me to another room. She looked so much like my Mother - how I missed her. However, my Aunt chose to be stubborn and spiteful. She chose, not I. I felt great sadness when she would curse my parents and I. No matter how hard she tried to break me, to destroy the image and love of my Mother and Father, she could not. My ability to remain unbroken seemed only to spur her on and with every cutting word she gave me, I grew stronger, but never harder.

Aunt Reed could have had love and she could have had happiness - she could have followed in my Mother's footsteps. Instead she turned her back on true love and married according to what her parents and her society expected. She married for money and for status. Lucky for her my Uncle was a great man and when he was in this house, life was tolerable. I think he died of a broken heart. He would have loved my Aunt, if she'd only let him. In the week since his death in his room, all glint of life and of love that had existed, vanished. I felt completely alone and I was beginning to be quite at home with only myself to entertain.

I had been living at Gateshead Hills with my aunt and her family for close to a month by the time my Uncle died. A long, patience testing month. Now with my Uncle gone, I wondered how I would hold it together and not scream profanities at the sad little family that remained? More so, how was I not going to punch my cousin John right in the face!? "Patience is a virtue" I would say over and over again in my mind, hoping against hope that it would stick. I feared the inevitable - I would crack.

Crack I did. As I sat in the library that rainy afternoon, imagining myself in the exotic, far off places I was reading about, my cousin John appeared. What happened next happened so quickly I had no time to defend myself. John threw a punch so hard to the right side of my face that I fell off my chair, catching the corner of the reading table with my head as I fell. The room began to spin and become disordered. All I could hear was the faint sound of a laugh coming from John. How I hated him. In that moment I was done, all semblance of patience and virtue was gone. As soon as my body allowed I was on my feet screaming the most vile swear words I could think of as I tackled John to the ground. John cried as he covered his face against the blows of my fists which pummelled over and over again into his head and chest. I even managed to knee him in the groin a couple of times which had him doubling up in pain. How fantastic I thought! What a release!

Then it was over. Aunt Reed's hands were on me tearing me away from her precious son. A look of horror took hold of her face. I continued to scream and cry out as Aunt Reed's trusty housemaid Beth began dragging me down the hall to meet my punishment. A night in the most fearful room in the house. The room my Uncle had died in. I feared that black room. It housed death and death was something that, after the loss of my own parents, I'd hoped to never meet again. Death was unknown and scary. It was as black as the room I now found myself in. With a nod of understanding Beth ushered me into the darkness of my Uncle's room. She shut the door tight and locked it before making her way back to the library. Where I am certain she would have found my Aunt fussing and preening over my idiot cousin John.

I sat with my back against the door. I was alone with death and whatever else it might bring with it. In this house, being alone usually brought me comfort however at this moment fear of the unknown had taken hold of me and I couldn't catch my breath. My eyes darted about the room and they soon grew tired. They fixed themselves on one place, my Uncle's face. He starred into my eyes. The black of the room engulfed me and I passed out. I was not alone.

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