Plot Twist AKA Constable

Constable comes into the story as a major player and character towards the end of the first half of Jack Maggs. Suddenly the entire outlook of the book is changed. Henry Phipps is gay?! Pip, the beloved Pip, infatuated by Estelle in Great Expectations is secretly carrying on an affair with Constable while in London. This is of course assuming, as I do, that Phipps is Pip from Great Expectations. However, even just the fact that there is a somewhat open homosexual couple in this novel is surprising. While Carey wrote this novel in the late 20th early 21st century, he has the novel set in the 1800s like Great Expectations. It is highly unlikely that this relationship would have ever occurred in a nineteenth century novel. Despite this, Carey introduces a one-sided love triangle of sorts. Constable and Phipps and Constable and Maggs. “My Secret? Yes. I am fond of you.” There is a possibility that this illicit, highly unlikely affair proves that Phipps is really Pip. This may explain why Pip was so infatuated with Estelle. He could have been trying to prove to himself and others that he was not gay. This could also be why he began withdrawing from his male friends. Perhaps he was developing feelings he knows he could not openly express? This could also be a reason why he keeps up the unrequited love with Estelle. If he pretended to be in love with a woman who didn’t love him back it would keep people from wondering why he had yet to marry. It’s possible his love for Estelle was an act so that he could secretly carry out his affairs with Constable and potentially others, to try and be happy. Perhaps Pip is Phipps and not just a new character from Carey’s imagination.

Guess Who?

Like authors before him that wrote their own interpretation of a famous novel, Peter Carey chose to take some creative liberties when writing Jack Maggs. The most noticeable of these liberties is his character names and inspiration. Fairly obvious of course is Magwitch being changed to Jack Maggs and Pip becoming Henry Phipps. Most interesting is Tobias Oates, a newly famous author who takes an interest in Maggs. Oates wishes to possess Maggs soul through hypnotism to help him lessen the pain. Oates is interesting because he quickly becomes an important character that did not appear in Great Expectations.

In chapter 21 the reader begins to see Jack Maggs or ‘Magwitch’ compose a letter to Henry Phipps or ‘Pip’. “In the early morning, by the light of four bright candles, Jack Maggs finally dipped the great albatross quill into the apothecary’s bottle. He wrote, Dear Henry Phipps, in violet-coloured ink.” This differs greatly from Great Expectations and readers begin to see how Carey has reimagined the life of Magwitch and Pip. Not long after this scene does Maggs return to have another session with Oates. “So sir, he called to Tobias Oates, it is my good fortune Sir, to have an audience. Have I become a fellow in a penny gaff? Mark my words Jack Maggs, said Oates, still staring at the firescreen, there never was a penny gaff of such importance. He then spun suddenly, and all eyes in the room turned to him. Look what we have today.” Earlier when we are introduced to Oates we learn he is a famous author and Mercy cannot believe that Maggs is unaware of who he is. Could Oates really be a thinly disguised Charles Dickens?

Perhaps Carey has done what Dickens himself has been known to do and insert himself, Dickens, into the novel. Dickens or Oates, Maggs or Magwitch, Pip or Phipps? For the most part, Carey’s creativity clearly stems from someone that the reader has previously been introduced to in Great Expectations if the reader had read the novel before this one. Though any reader reading Jack Maggs may assume that Oates is really Dickens in disguise because he would have been gaining popularity and fame at the time that Jack Maggs takes place. So who is Oates really? A product of Peter Carey’s imagination or perhaps Charles Dickens a new type of hypnotist?

Growing Older but not Wiser

 

During chapters 14 – 19 the reader begins to see Pip grow older and transition from a child into an adolescent. As he grows older the way Dickens describes him changes as well. Before Pip always looked at things with a child’s perspective. Pip was small and confused, but now he is older and begins to notice the emotional and moral implications of his decisions. One example is his guilt over the convict resurfacing. “I became aware of my sister – lying without sense or movement on the bare boards where she had been knocked down by a tremendous blow on the back of her head, dealt by some unknown hand when her face was turned towards the fire”. This is the scene where Pip finds out his sister has been attacked and he later find out they think the convict he previously helped is the attacker and he feels guilty. “With my head full of George Barnwell, I was at first disposed to believe that I must have had some hand in the attack on my sister, or at all the events near relation, popularly known to be under obligations to her, I was a more legitimate object of suspicion than any one else.” Pip immediately begins to overanalyze, and blame himself. He honestly does not really have any reason to assume that this attack is in anyway his fault or connected to him whatsoever and yet he immediately assumes he has a hand in the attack. He obviously had no hand in the attack since he didn’t attack her and he knows he didn’t and he knows logically this is in no way connected to him but he is showing some true narcissistic characteristics here. Pip continues to grow older but it is obvious he is not growing out of his childish behaviors and emotions yet.

Rochester: Real or Fake?

Rochester: Real or Fake?

After finishing both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, I have decided that I like the latter more than the former. I feel like some will judge me as an English major that prefers Rhys to Bronte but I do. Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea is mentally and emotionally all over the place. At the close of section 2, he is thinking to himself and decides, “I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.”  Rochester is preparing to leave the island with his mad bride and to think back on this journey that led him to this is fascinating. Rochester in Jane Eyre is calm, assertive, and self-assured, but Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea is paranoid, insecure, and irrational. A complete stranger claiming to be his wife’s illegitimate brother send him a letter telling him she is mad. Rochester believes him. He has felt so insecure and on the outside of some conspiratorially secret since he arrived that when this man offers him an answer he jumps at the chance to believe it. Rochester has felt like an outsider since he married his wife and he doesn’t know why his marriage isn’t what he wants it to be, so he decides to believe a stranger who claims his wife is crazy. “How can one discover the truth, I thought, and that thought led me nowhere. No one would tell me the truth. Not my father nor Richard Mason, certainly not the girl I had married. I stood still, so sure I was being watched that I looked over my shoulder. Nothing but the trees and the green light under the trees.” This quotation further illustrates Rochester’s paranoia and his belief that everyone is hiding some truth from him. Which Rochester is his true self. Is Rochester truly the put together gentleman as he appears in Jane Eyre or is he simply better at disguising his deep-seeded insecurities and paranoia that are so apparent in Wide Sargasso Sea? This would help readers to understand his actions in Jane Eyre towards his ‘wife’ Bertha. Thinking that it is ok to lock her up and pretend she doesn’t exist. Perhaps he is really trying to lock up his past when he was paranoid, insecure, and naïve towards his life.

 

Rochester or Bertha? The Biggest Crazy.

Rochester or Bertha? The Biggest Crazy.

 

While reading Jane Eyre, it is easy to assume that the craziest, most lunatic character in the novel is Bertha. She is certifiably insane and has lived in an attic for fifteen years. However, perhaps the biggest crazy in the story is actually the person who put her there. Bertha, by any modern standards, would be mentally disabled and should be on medications to help her. She would have 24/7 support and care from qualified and trained nurses. Depending on her diagnosis she might go on to live a happy, healthy lifestyle. Rochester, on the other hand, would still be just as crazy and possibly in jail. First of all, Rochester locked a woman in an attic for fifteen years. That right there is domestic abuse whether he finds her unfit and crazy or not. “I now inform you that she is my wife, whom I married fifteen years ago, — Bertha Mason”… “Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family.”Secondly, he tries to hide her and succeeds for fifteen years.  For a decade this married man traveled around the European continent having affairs and mistresses, hopelessly trying to forget his wife locked in his house. He left his wife in the care of some poor young woman who only looks after her for the money and is not in any way qualified or equipped to handle this sort of situation. What kind of person leaves their wife trapped in an attic and trusts their care to a totally unqualified stranger? Furthermore, what kind of person leaves the country and pretends cheats on a woman who is still his wife without telling the other women. The culmination of his craziness, however, takes place when Jane arrives and he asks her to marry him. I mean how deranged do you have to be to think that you can marry another woman and have her live in the same house as your first wife that you have locked in the attic. The only place this would ever work is in literature and because its literature that won’t happen. He lies to Jane, his priest, and his friends and tries to deny it when he is confronted with proof. After that, he tries to defend all of his lunatic decisions from the past decade and a half that he has made regarding his wife. Even Jane, later in the novel first assumes that the fate has befallen Rochester is madness. “I Had Dreaded Worse. I Had Dreaded He Was Mad.” One of the people who know him best in life assumes that he was gone mad and it could be because of his previous actions. Perhaps the biggest crazy in Jane Eyre is not the mentally disabled person but the fully functioning adult who sees nothing wrong with his actions.

The Secret Identity of Jane Eyre

The secret identity of Jane Eyre

By Megan McAllister

 

Jane Eyre is a narrative of her own autobiography as she calls it. As the reader we got to watch her grow up as she matured from childhood into adulthood searching herself and the world around her for her identity. At one point in the novel she states that, “I had given in allegiance to duty and order; I was quiet; I believed I was content; to the eyes of others, usually even to my own, I appeared a disciplined and subdued character.” This quote comes from chapter during a time of disruptive transitions in Jane’s life. She has just lost one of the only people in her life that we have seen not be cruel to her. It is obvious that Jane admires Miss Temple deeply and is saddened by her moving off with her husband This quote speaks to Jane’s self-identification of herself as a now eighteen-year-old. For the first time she is off sort of on her own without anyone to guide her. She seems more self-assured and confident than she was as a child who had just lost her only friend to Typhus. She is also more subdued and quiet as she herself writes. This is a great contrast between the incident where she screamed at her aunt and now a school teacher. She obviously is in a good state mentally and emotionally since she was able to overcome to events of her traumatic and horrific childhood. However, I’m not convinced she is as well put together as she may seem. In that same paragraph as her previous quote is another that reveals a startling discovery about her supposed identity. She writes, “From the day she left I was no longer the same: with her was gone every settled feeling, every association that had made Lowood in some degree a home to me. I had imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind.” This quote reveals that Jane found her identity in Miss Temple. Her feelings towards Lowood which before seemed a sign of maturity and forgiveness are now revealed to only be caused by her relationship and feelings toward Miss Temple. She got her nature and habits from her as well. Miss Temple was more than simply a mentor she was someone who Jane strived to be like and embody. Jane was not concerned with being her own person because no one had liked her as a child for who she was; because of this she succumbs to the temptation of trying to copy others and be like others. This is proven further in a later chapter when she discusses goodness. She writes, “ I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele.” This statement made in chapter 12 proves even more that Jane defines who she wants to be and what she takes her identity in by others and not herself.

 

 

Happily Ever After, Or Maybe Not?

Happily Ever After or Maybe Not?

 

Is Heathcliff’s ending happy or sad?

 

At face value the ending of Wuthering Heights seems to be happy. Catherine and Heathcliff are reunited in death and Cathy and Hareton are going to be united in marriage. However, that does not mean that all is at seems, especially for Heathcliff.. The first instance we get of this is when Nelly is speaking to Heathcliff before his death. Nelly tells Heathcliff that, “’You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff,’ I said, ‘that from the time you were thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life; and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that period. …Could it be hurtful to send for some one–some minister of any denomination, it does not matter which–to explain it, and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts; and how unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before you die?” Heathcliff responds a while later with “No minister need come; nor need anything be said over me.–I tell you I have nearly attained  my  heaven; and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me.”

In this particular conversation Nelly is forwardly telling Heathcliff that for most of his life he has been an ungrateful heathen whose every actions have been for the wrong reason. She goes on to tell him because of that he is going to Hell. Despite this Heathcliff doesn’t seem to mind because he has already attained his heaven. So what does this mean? This questions opens a lot of potential possibilities none of which are fully addressed in the novel. So does Heathcliff end up in heaven or hell? Is it his own personal heaven where he is reunited with his long lost lover? To answer that one would have to questions if Heathcliff was in a right state of mind at all. He spent most of his life seeking vengeance against all who wronged him and punishing those with no part in it. To make a 360 at the end of ones life and claim that he has, “lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing,” seems miraculous. If Heathcliff says he has achieved his own personal heaven perhaps we, as the reader, should believe him; but at the same time, at the end of his life he has lost his purpose and will to live. Can achieving a goal of destruction really be celebrated or should pity be taken upon a character who lost so much?