The Cocktail: Rose Water Cointreau Fizz
Oh hey, I didn’t see you there. Welcome back. Today we’ll sip on some rosewater as we discuss the darling love story of a woman and a brooding mysterious man. And thennnnn we’ll tear it apart with some sort of raging feminist point of view. Bottoms up!
2tsp raspberry juice
Flowers and tiny clothespins for garnish
Fill your glass with ice
Add the Cointreau, rose water, raspberry juice, and lime juice
top with soda water
Add whatever flower garnish you prefer and attach it to the glass using a tiny clothespin. It’s adorable.
The Book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
If I had to describe what it was like reading Jane Eyre, I would say it was like walking through a brick wall, but on the other side was a beautiful beach filled with puppies and rainbows. The book is maddeningly depressing until the last damn chapter. It also takes place in 19th century Northern England so it’s impossible to expect anything other than a depressing story. For those of you who haven’t had the joy of traveling to the desolate wasteland that is Northern England, its cold, and in the winter it gets dark at like 3pm; so all you want to do is sleep and eat Yorkshire pudding which is delicious, and gammon which I think is ham… I could never quite tell. Anyway, I had a point. The book is beautifully written but it’s sad, and it’s a love story but there’s this feminist undertone that really surprises! So let’s get goin!
Jane was orphaned at a young age and sent to live with her mother’s brother who was this nice rich man who had a horrible wife and three bratty children. So Jane Eyre is essentially the Cinderella of classic lit. Bad news, Jane’s uncle dies and because Jane was raised as a poor girl her awful aunt can’t stand her. Aunt Bitch…or Mrs. Reed, decides that the ten year old girl is the devil and locks her up in the same room her uncle died in. How nice. Jane’s cousins beat up on her and force her to do chores. The only solace Jane finds in the prison mansion are books! She loved books and knowledge. One day an old bible thumping priest named Brocklehurst comes to visit and ‘evaluate’ Jane. Of course his evaluation includes telling a young girl that she’s going to hell. He suggests that Jane be sent away to his school to learn some good Christian manners.
So off young Jane goes to Lowood Institute where girls are taught to serve God and their husbands. Any sort of vanity or glamour—like braids—were strictly prohibited. Of course, the school was run by a man, Mr. Brocklehurst, but staffed by women. Jane’s first year there was brutal. Her head mistress was a mean old hag, and Mr. Broccoli-butt checked up on her often. In fact. When she first began at Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst told all the other children not to talk to her and he made her stand on a stool for a whole day. Have you ever stood on a stool for more than a few minutes? It’s terrible. You get tired, like really really tired. But in the midst of all this torture, Jane meets a friend. Helen Burns is a sweet little girl who follows orders, reads her bible with vigor, and doesn’t question authority the way Jane does. Jane and Helen become the best of friends but one fateful night, Helen falls ill and dies of consumption or something old-timey like that. So Jane loses her dear friend. Again she finds comfort in her schooling. Her kind teacher Miss Temple encourages her through the years and Jane ends up teaching at Lowood in her early adult years. That is until she takes a job as a governess for a young girl in a large house.
Jane travels far and wide over the bleak and rocky terrain to Thornfield, basically a castle owned by Mr. Rochester. She arrives in the night and meets Mrs. Fairfax the housekeeper. As she gets the grand tour she hears an odd noise but her suspicions are quickly dismissed by Mrs. Fairfax. The next morning Jane meets Adele, the little French girl who is under the care of Rochester. It’s assumed by everyone besides Rochester that he is her father because Adele is the daughter of a French opera dancer who was Rochester’s mistress and only interested in is money. Adele’s mother abandoned her child so Rochester felt some sort of deep responsibility for a child that wasn’t his. Whatever. The man is full of secrets as we’ll learn.
So Jane and Adele get on well and go about their days. At this point, Jane has never met Mr. Rochester and to her knowledge he is some decrepit old man who sits and smokes his pipe all day. She is surprised to learn that he is a youngish, handsome, brooding man who she becomes instantly infatuated with even though he scares her. Something she never admits. He’s rich and she poor, but he treats her as an equal. They have riveting discussions and he finds her well-read and sharp. But he’s secretive and Jane mistakes that for the gap in their social classes. Through Jane’s time at Thornfield Rochester travels here and there and one of the times he brings home the beautiful Miss Ingram. Of course, Jane is instantly insecure and she does her best to avoid Rochester.
In the meantime Rochester is doing his best to get Jane’s attention. At one of his lavish parties he dresses up as a fortune teller draws secrets from his guests in hopes that Jane gives him any hint of affection. So it all comes down to the day Jane believes Rochester and Miss Ingram are engaged. In typical dramatic fashion, Jane tells Rochester she will look for other employment because he does not love her. He then tells Jane he has zero intentions of marrying Miss Ingram and that he loves her! Is anyone else out of breath yet? But Jane can’t possibly believe that he would love her because she’s poor, and plain, and little. If that makes someone unlovable, then I’m SOL.
Rochester finally convinces her that he has loved her since the day she came to Thornfield and they kiss passionately as a storm rages in the background. All is well at Thornfield and wedding arrangements are being made and Jane is giddy with love and excitement. The day arrives and everything is perfect…except for one minor detail…
An unwanted guest shows up. A jealous Miss Ingram? No. Adele’s mother? Nope. A Mr. Mason interrupts and claims that the wedding is unlawful! Why? Because Rochester is already married. BOOM!
REWIND! Remember that weird noise Jane heard when she first arrived? Well the noises continued through her stay at Thornfield. In fact, each one was louder, each attempt by Rochester’s wife, Bertha to get Rochester’s attention became more and more dangerous. For example, a mysterious fire broke out in Rochester’s room one night and Jane saved his life not knowing what started it.
So naturally, Jane loses it at the altar, and she demands to meet this wife of his. Rochester, clearly befuddled and angry, leads Jane to the attic where she meets Bertha; a crazy disheveled woman crawling around the floor. For some strange reason Jane gives Rochester the chance to explain why there’s a woman in his attic and he tells her his side of the story. He married years ago to a lovely exotic woman but somewhere down the line she became hysteric and crazy. Unable to please her or fix her, he slowly gave up on loving her and had her shut away in the attic, secretly attended to by one of the housekeepers. And he couldn’t divorce a woman with a mental illness. That would make him a criminal and douchebag.
Hearing this Jane leaves immediately. As would I. Despite Rochester’s begging, she packs up her things and starts walking. She ends up at the home of a missionary. Mr. John Rivers and his two sisters take Jane in and treat her like family…which they end up being. Oh! Jane also finds out that her dead uncle left her a ton of money so now she’s rich and working at a school and living with her cousins.
She leaves when her cousin John proposes to her. She ends up back at Thornfield and much to her surprise it’s been burnt to the ground by Bertha who died in the fire. Jane finds Mrs. Fairfax in the rubble and asks about Rochester. He’s alive, but he’s blind because he went back into the fire to save Bertha but she didn’t want to be saved. Side note: Bertha is another literary woman forced to kill herself because of a man. But simply enough he’s sitting in the garden behind the house.
Jane makes her way to the back of the house where Rochester is under a tree or on a bench, or whatever. She touches him and of course he knows it’s her. They embrace and spend their lives together and have children and Rochester gains sight in one eye. THE END!
* * *
So is it a love story? Or is it a political statement on the way women are treated? In the book we see a few classes of women. Mrs. Reed, Jane’s aunt and Miss Ingram who marry for money and social status. Jane and Miss Temple are women who were simple, but well read and truly cared about their education. And then we have Bertha; diagnosed with hysteria and shut away in an attic which only made matters worse. Each class of woman was heavily influenced by their male counterparts. Mrs. Reed and Miss Ingram were desperate for money and only men had money in those days. Very rarely did a woman own much of anything. Jane was influenced by Mr. Brocklehurst and his harsh judgment. In his eyes she was going to hell and would never be loved, so Jane believed him. Bertha’s diagnosis was most definitely made by a male doctor. So we have this culture where men are defining the lives these women lead. None of these women were truly themselves, but were actually what men made them out to be. Even Jane, with her sharp tongue and witty banter, was a product of the men in her life. In a way, Charlotte Bronte argues that women have two different people inside them. The outward self, made by men and their expectations, and their inside self, trapped in the attic of their minds unable to escape.
So why is this important? Why is Jane Eyre, written in 1847, still relevant today? Well yesterday was Equal Pay Day for women in America. A day to draw awareness to the wage gap between men and women. On average, women make $0.79 to men’s $1.00 for the same amount of work at the same level. It’s easy to overlook because $0.21 is nothing in today’s economy. But it eventually adds up. And of course, those defending this wage gap are often men. Their reason for being paid more than women? “Women take time off to have babies.” “Mothers can’t possibly give a job the same attention a man can.” “Women choose easier jobs.” “Women aren’t as smart as men.” “Women don’t know how to negotiate a salary.” “Women aren’t as athletic as
men.” The list is endless, and all wrong. I don’t need to fill this page with what women can do just as well, if not better than men. But once again, women are being defined, diagnosed, and molded, by the men in their lives.
Feminism has come a long way, hooray for the frickin vote! But we can’t be complacent. Without women, this country would fall to its knees and crumble. And if that’s not power, I don’t know what is. So it’s time. It’s 2016. Women deserve more than just the vote, more than just equal pay, more than to be topless in public. Women deserve to influence themselves and each other in a positive way. We are so conditioned to this definition men have for us. And while we love them dearly, it’s time for us to be less dependent on them. Because we are. Whether like it or not, whether we know it or not. Down with the patriarchy!