I Drank From Bronte’s Poisoned Well

“I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking, – a precious, yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.”

My recent read of Jane Eyre – not yet complete – has just brought me to that passage. I picked up the book a few days ago from the library and wasn’t sure how it would go. Would it be some herculean task to read, each sentence a small hurdle to get through? Upon finishing a chapter, would I inhale, feeling as if a new, boulder-filled hill lie in front of me and a valley behind? Reading for me is (and probably always will be) one of those experiences like fine wine or complex beer. You sip, you consider. Reading is luxurious and gratifying in almost every sense. A recently emailed installment of the Zen Habits newsletter touted the propensities of reading simply for pleasure. It’s not a task and should never be a chore. “Even ten minutes is bliss”, I think the phrase went – which is so true.

There are people who don’t like to read. Some of them are close friends, coworkers. They hate assigned reading, essay work, things involving words that they have to look at and sometimes comprehend. I have never understood what it means to hate reading, but it is definitely one of those things that you either love or loathe.

At this point you should realize I love reading. Give me a well-written story and hours will slip by, the world outside of the pages ceases, and my mind is completely engrossed in some other realm, the visuals unmatched by Scorsese – Jackson – Spielberg. Not that their work is sub par, it just never comes close to the sights in my imagination. This is why art frustrates me: I can never get the images properly from my mind into a tangible format.

Additionally, it bothers me to have to repress my verbiage, my thoughts. My writing capabilities have always surpassed my speaking capabilities for numerous reasons. One can’t delete something just spoken, and it’s easier to organize the words on paper. My train of thoughts has always run at about five hundred miles per hour, so when I open my mouth the words tend to tumble over each other. Given the chance to arrange my thoughts properly, the problem lessens, but I’ve failed in Sales for a reason. Objections? I don’t know. If you don’t want it, the first thought that comes to my mind is not a rebuttal, but some anti-confrontational mumbling: “Sorry to bother you, thanks.” On paper though… why is it I can’t say what I want? Does it stem from that childhood fear of being labeled a nerd? Some antiquated being? “Why the f//k is she talking like she’s from some stuck up old sh/t?” …or something.

Sometimes it feels like there are no words for me to say, and that results in behavior that makes me want to punch a wall. So when they finally do come effortlessly, in some form or mixture that actually sounds good in my head, all I want to do is let them out. Why is that wrong? Why – more importantly – do people still mix up “their” and “there”? “Lose” and “loose”? “Your” and “you’re”? I’VE SEEN THIS IN ADVERTISING, FOR CHRISSAKES. PAY ATTENTION.

That was quite a tangent, and I apologize. Where was I? Ah, that’s right. Some of my self-imposed goals as of late have been to just read a book without first reading the summary or the jacket (and never the Cliffs Notes [not even when past assignments required them]). Jane Eyre is one of those books I mistakenly thought was by Jane Austen, so my mental recollections were of past failed attempts at getting through Pride and Prejudice. (After this next round of library books has been completed, I’m going to give Ms. Austen’s works another shot.)

After a chapter or so, my assumptions proved to be completely inaccurate. The book is wonderful. The original clumsiness which I read with was merely due to the unfamiliarity of the phrasing. As Miss Eyre’s story unfolds – nursery to adolescence to young adulthood – I find myself completely engrossed. It’s like falling into a pensieve.

It would be alternately blissful and excruciating.

It was only after she met Mr. Rochester did the pages start turning faster, which means the book is not only being read but being comprehended. I’ve just arrived at the part where Miss Eyre was looking at Mr. Rochester – against her will.

Let’s revisit the statement again, shall we?

“I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking, – a precious, yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.”

Bronte, you’ve nailed it.

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve been in love, in lust, in …crush. Whatever you call it, my heart has wanted what my heart has wanted, and that phrase above was so completely accurate that upon reading that phrase I was unable to do anything but shut the book and mentally exclaim: “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I had to take a break from reading for a few moments just to share this with you, Reader, whoever you might be. Also because things were getting a little too intense for me and I needed to remember to breathe. It’s funny how so few words can call up such clear recollections of all the times I waited to see a specific person, all the rejections, all the hope that they only thought of me as I thought of them, against my better judgment. Then of course there were the feelings that occurred during our meetings – even the brief ones, even the ones in the very beginning, no matter how trivial. If you were in the vicinity, I couldn’t think of anything except to try and act natural. Act natural and stop giggling, damnit! Pay attention to the words coming out of your mouth – don’t try and force anything funny or charming or witty when your brain is somewhere in the middle of your chest. Was that your car I saw? The song that reminds me of you is now on the radio every time I turn it on. “When the minutes turn to hours and the hours turn to days”, indeed. You begin to do silly things like make sure your hair looks nice, check that your manicure is in decent condition. You wear lipgloss when you never have before. Have you ever been somewhere you don’t want to be (or somewhere you DO want to be), all …just in case? And oh, the pain, the wordless agony when you find out it’s all for nothing.

I don't need to review the situation, I just need to make more space in my head.

There is no more intense, no worse, no greater feeling than the one your heart calls up against your will.

I’m not sure if I envy or pity all the un-romantic people out there… but at least it ensures life isn’t boring.

Back to Bronte.


2 thoughts on “I Drank From Bronte’s Poisoned Well

  1. Ryan says:

    Jane Eyre is by far my favourite novel, and I read it every two years or so, and watch the movie when I feel the need for a quick spell at Thornfield. Yes, Bronte has a knack for encompassing emotion in the perfect phrase. I think what I love so much about it is Jane’s sense of self. I’ll have a post about this book down the line when I hit Favourite book in the meme I’m working on.

    I know where you’re coming from on weird looks when you use the breadth of your vocabulary. I’ve heard it from friends that they need a dictionary to keep up with me. My least favourite phase being “I stopped thinking on Friday afternoon, dumb it down for me.” For pity’s sake, exercise a few of those brain cells, it won’t kill you. I feel your pain.

  2. Larissa Horvath says:

    Thanks for the perusal and comment! You in turn made me sign up for the GoodReads challenge. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, but will read more nonetheless. 🙂

    High five to you, have a nice day.

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