Discussion Questions Jane Eyre CHs 33 – 38

1. “One does not jump, and spring and shout hurrah! at hearing one has got a fortune; one begins to consider responsibilities and ponder business; on a base of steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares, and we contain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with solemn brow” (383).

Why does Jane not “spring and shout hurrah” at the news of her received fortune?

Rev. Stephen Hislop, Missionary to India, photographed by Robert Adamson, c. 1843-47. From the collection of David Octavius Hill (1802-1870)and Robert Adamson (1828-1848) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rev. Stephen Hislop, Missionary to India, photographed by Robert Adamson, c. 1843-47. From the collection of David Octavius Hill (1802-1870)and Robert Adamson (1828-1848) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. “‘There I, humble as I am, can give you the aid you want: I can set you your task from hour to hour; stand by you always; help you from moment to moment.  This I could do in the beginning: soon (for I know your powers) you would be as strong and apt as myself, and would not require my help'” (404).

(1) What themes of the novel does this statement go against and what theme does it favor?

(2) How does this prove St. Johns invitation as a selfish act towards Jane?

Group 5 CB

Posted in Barrier, Character Analysis, Charlotte Bronte, Feminism, Marriage, relationships, Religion | 3 Comments

Discussion Questions Jane Eyre CHs 26 – 32

Dustjacket illustration of Jane Eyre by Lauren Gentry, depicting the doubling of Jane and Bertha. Bertha appears here as the "manifestation of the anger and frustration felt by Jane under the oppression of the male characters."

Dustjacket illustration of Jane Eyre by Lauren Gentry, depicting the doubling of Jane and Bertha. Bertha appears here as the “manifestation of the anger and frustration felt by Jane under the oppression of the male characters.”

1. “In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it groveled, seemingly on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing; and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face” (CH 26 438).

What did you think when you read this description of Bertha? Knowing that this this Rochester’s wife and that Rochester keeps Bertha locked away in the attic, how does Bertha relate to Jane’s fear of marrying Rochester?

2. “In-doors we agreed equally well. They were both more accomplished and better read than I was: but with eagerness I followed in the path of knowledge they had trodden before me” (CH 30 525).

How does Jane feel equal with Diana and Mary in this chapter? How does this sense of belonging that Jane expresses differ from how she felt when she still lived at Thornfield?

Group 4 AG

Posted in Barrier, Character Analysis, Charlotte Bronte, Gender, Jane Eyre, metaphor, Mood, Point of Ritual Death | 4 Comments

Discussion Questions for Jane Eyre CHs 21-25

Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron. The Bride (1869). Model is Annie Chinery (Mrs. Ewen Cameron). Albumen print.

Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron. The Bride (1869). Model is Annie Chinery (Mrs. Ewen Cameron). Albumen print. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

1. Jane was extremely happy that Rochester proposed to her, and yet she still felt uneasy about her upcoming marriage. Jane becomes discomforted when Rochester begins to spoil her with glorious things: “The more he bought me, the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation” (309). Why do you think Jane felt this way?

2. Jane has strange dreams leading up to her wedding. She tells Rochester, “I dreamt another dream…that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls” (325).  What do you think is the significance of her dreams and what do they represent? How does Bronte create a feeling of gloom and pending disaster in these chapters?

Group 3 MB

Posted in Betrothal, Character Analysis, Class and Rank, Jane Eyre, Marriage, relationships, Weddings | 5 Comments

Discussion Questions for Jane Eyre CHs 16 – 20

1. In chapter 15, Mr. Rochester tells Jane the story of his dramatic past, and that he has a “wish to be a better man” (171). How does this story compare to Jane’s upbringing? How do these similarities reinforce the overarching themes of the book? Do you find it odd, romantic, out of place, natural that Mr. Rochester confides in Jane? He states that it is “strange I should choose you for the confidant of all this” but also that she was “made to be the recipient of secrets” (171). What is your reaction to this intimate conversation?

Fortune-teller with a candle (1830) by Orest Kiprensky (1782-1836)

Fortune-teller with a candle (1830) by Orest Kiprensky (1782-1836) Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

2. In Chapter 19, Jane encounters a gypsy in the library who turns out to be Mr. Rochester in disguise. Why do you think he dressed as a gypsy for the conversation with Jane? Jane states that she “knew that gypsies and fortune-tellers did not express themselves as this seeming old woman had expressed herself” (202) What is Jane’s reaction to Mr. Rochester’s disguise? What does this scene reveal about the dynamics of the relationship between the characters?

Group 2 TK

Posted in Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, relationships | 1 Comment

Discussion Questions for Jane Eyre CHs 11-15

The New Governess, by Thomas Ballard, c. 1877. Private collection.

The New Governess, by Thomas Ballard, c. 1877

1. Does Jane enjoy being a governess? Or did she use the occupation as a means to gain more freedom? Is there another reason she likes teaching? Is she willing to stay now that she knows Mrs. Fairfax is “a placid-tempered, kind-natured women” (pg. 109) instead of another Mrs. Reed?

2. What is it about Mr. Rochester that attracts Jane when she plainly states that she doesn’t find him handsome when he asks her, “Do you find me handsome?” (pg. 132)? How does Jane’s view that “beauty is of little consequence” (pg 132) affect Mr. Rochester? What is it about their personalities that attract them to each other as well as the readers?

3. How has their relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester change when he told her that she “did not strike delight to my very inmost  heart for nothing” (pg. 152)? How will Jane do Mr.Rochester some “good in some way” (pg 152)? What is it that he’s hoping she will give him?

Group 1 TD

Posted in Charlotte Bronte, Class and Rank, Jane Eyre, Social Status, The Meeting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Romance Novels: Fantasy versus Reality

Mills and Boon DustjacketsOne of the major themes that emerges from Reader, I Married Him: Happily Ever After documentary is the jarring contradiction between fantasy and reality. The documentary goes back and forth between what a romance novel provides (fantasy and escapism for the reader) and how a romance novel gets published (cold, calculated, targeted marketing).

Underlying both is the role that addiction plays for both reader and publisher. In fact, throughout the documentary, you hear romance novels referred to as drugs (fix, sedative, and Valium) and publishers referred to as pushers.

What do you make of this co-dependency? Is there anything wrong in being “addicted” to reading romance novels? Is there something unethical about publishers who seek to leverage this addiction?

Thomas Sully. Thomas Jefferson. 1821. Copyprint of oil on canvas. Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia (216)

Thomas Sully. Thomas Jefferson. 1821. Copyprint of oil on canvas. Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia (216)

Thomas Jefferson was suspicious of novels that drifted too far into “fantasy,” and he referred to those that did as “trash”: “A great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels, and time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed. When poison infects the mind, it destroys its tone and revolts it against wholesome reading. Reading and fact, plain and unadorned, are rejected. Nothing can engage attention unless dressed in all the figments of fancy…The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust towards all the real business of life.” (Jefferson,  Letter to Nathanial Burwell, Monticello, March 14, 1818).

How should we weigh Jefferson’s condemnation of the escapism women often feel when reading a romance with the more utilitarian view of why we should read?

Posted in Feminism, Gender, I Married Him, Mills & Boon, relationships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Welcome to ENGH 202 Why Women Read Romance Spring 2013

Three Reading Women in a Summer Landscape by Krouthen 1908

Three Reading Women in a Summer Landscape by Krouthen 1908

Welcome to ENGH 202, Why Women Read Romance! If you are reading this post, you have found our course website.

Please look over the site to get a sense of the course, the novels we will be reading, and the course syllabus and schedule.

Download the files containing the syllabus and schedule so that you have them on your computer, or print them out so that you can reference them. Read both documents carefully since they contain the course policies and course requirements.

You are on the Class Blog page, the page where you get a chance to start a discussion or continue one we have in class. As part of your presentation requirement, you will get a chance to submit discussion topics to this blog, and anyone in the class can respond.

 

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Discussion Questions for Dark Lover CHs 21-30

Discussion Questions for Group 12: LB, JV, LW

1. “There were pictures of her everywhere. Black-and-whites, close-ups, colored ones. She was all ages, from infancy through childhood and into her teens. In college. One was very recent, having been taken white she was leaving the Caldwell Courier Journal’s office. She remembered that day. It had been the first snowfall of the winter, and she’d been laughing as she’s looked up at the sky. Eight months ago” (Ward 213).

Stepping foot inside her father’s room is an important moment in the novel for Beth. There are also strict differences betweem the style of Darius’ room and those of the other vampires. Why is this so? What important aspects of the room are useful to Beth, and why is it important for her to see her father’s room as it applies to her transition into the life of a vampire?

2. The characters in the novel all have to go through an evolution of sorts to fully understand their paths in life. What important transition is prominent in this section concerning Wrath and the Brotherhood, and how does this transition shape the novel as it continues to progress (*hint, think along the idea of going through a hardship to reach a point of ultimate satisfaction and order).

Posted in Barrier, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Character Analysis, Dark Lover, paranormal romance, relationships, vampire literature | 3 Comments

Discussion Questions for Dark Lover CHs 11-20

Discussion Questions for Group 11: JC, KH, KM, and KP

1.  “She suddenly needed some space, and Wrath let her go as they walked into a lemon-colored room.  Her feet slowed. The place looked like a museum or something she’d expect to see in Architectural Digest…She glanced down at the carpet.  The thing was probably worth more than her apartment” (133).

Darius’s house is described multiple times as being very elaborate.  How does this setting contrast with the actions and appearance of the other members of the brotherhood?  What does it tell us about Darius’s character?

2.   “Marissa wanted to see into his mind, an invasion she’d never risked for fear of his taking offense. But now everything was different. Maybe he would even kiss her after he finished. Make love to her. Maybe she could stay with him now. She would like to liv at Darius’s with him. Or wherever. It didn’t matter.

“She closed her eyes and reached out to his thoughts.

“Only to see the female he was really thing of. The human female. Only to see the female he was really thinking of.  The human female” (159).

Why do you think Marissa has held on to the fantasy of Wrath and her being together for so long?  How do you think this is going to affect Wrath and Beth?

Posted in Black Dagger Brotherhood, Character Analysis, Dark Lover, J. R. Ward, Mood, paranormal romance, relationships, vampire literature | Leave a comment

Discussion Questions for Dark Lover CHs 1-10

The Fearless Vampire Killers Movie Poster

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), dir. Roman Polanski, Movie Poster, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. Most people know that vampires don’t exist. The interest in vampire literature, therefore, derives not from the study of any physical reality but from the metaphorical sense of what vampires represent. The leading scholars of this genre agree that vampire literature allows us to play out our fears, especially since it tends to rise in popularity during times of great social change.

J. R. Ward (the pen name of Jessica Bird) published Dark Lover, the first novel in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, in 2005. It was an instant success.  What type of social change in America was underway at that time that the Brothers and their foes, the Lessers, might represent?

You might also consider that Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, the first novel in her vampire series, was also published in 2005.

Posted in Black Dagger Brotherhood, Dark Lover, J. R. Ward, metaphor, paranormal romance, social change, Stephanie Meyer, Twilight, vampire literature | 1 Comment