Tag Archives: Jane Eyre

1714. The incomprehensibility of tragedy

When Goldilocks broke into the Three Bears’ House she had to prise open a window. It came as no surprise to her that after all these years they had at last begun to lock their front door.

The first thing she did upon entering was to eat the porridge. As always one was too hot, one too cold, and one just right. Then there were the chairs to sit upon, and the beds to try. All this was done and she fell asleep in the third bed as was usually the case.

When the Three Bears came home they went through the customary rigmarole of who’s been this? and who’s been that? And there she was lying in Baby Bear’s bed!

She was dead.

“The poison in the porridge work!” cried Baby Bear, jumping up and down excitedly. “Hurrah! Hurrah!”

So enamoured were they with the success of their poisonous porridge that they let it loose on any character in any book they could lay their hands on. They became crazed with success. They became serial killers. First it was Humpty-Dumpty; then Little Red Riding Hood. Then it was Jack and Jill, followed by Snow White, and Mary Mary Quite Contrary. Before you knew it, it was Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw, then Lorna Doone, and Jane Eyre. Hamlet was on the list, as was King Lear. And finally came Winnie the Pooh.

Oh what a mistake that was!

What happened to Baby Bear? What happened to Baby Bear? They had murdered one of their own. It was an incomprehensible tragedy.

623. May contain spoilers

© Bruce Goodman 25 June 2015


I have just received an unsolicited manuscript from a Mr. Currer Bell. The novel is called “Jane Eyre”. Clearly the author needs to read Stephen King’s advice on how to write a novel. There’s lots of other advice out there as well, especially on the blogs. A quick perusal of these postings would convince Mr. Bell not to waste a publisher’s time.

Firstly, the little child character, Jane Eyre, uses and understands multisyllabic words that barely, by their rarity, would be given a place in an unabridged Websters or a non-concise Oxford Dictionary. “Fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching and the deficiency is supplied by subscription… by different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this neighbourhood and in London.” The author must learn to get out of the mind of an adult and into the mind of a child.

Secondly, it is mildly acceptable to establish a conflict with a co-incidence, but to have a co-incidence as the resolution of a conflict is abysmal. After days of crawling through the mud and rain of swamps, penniless, and without food, Jane Eyre collapses accidentally on the remote doorstep of her hitherto unknown first cousins. Not only that, but an even remoter uncle has just died and left her twenty-four thousand pounds. Yeah, right!

Thirdly, an inadequate and ugly Mr. Edward Rochester is married to a mad lady who keeps setting fire to the house. Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, the governess, have constant philosophical diatribes for pages. All they want is sex or, in Jane’s view, marriage. But oh no! they must talk. And talk. And talk. Four hundred pages could be squashed into one hundred and fifty if the editors of Mills and Boon took hold.

Fourthly, towards the end (I say “end” but really it’s about one hundred pages before the last paragraph) the Reverend Mr. St. John Rivers starts talking religion and doesn’t stop proclaiming salvation until the final sentence demands the slamming shut of the book.

As far as I’m concerned, the only occasion anyone would read such a novel is if there was no other book in the house and there was nothing on television.

Currer Bell shall be receiving the return of the manuscript and a copy of this review.

Now for the next unsolicited manuscript in the slush pile… It’s by Ellis Bell. I wonder if he’s related to Currer?