Source Text: Jane Eyre
For this exercise, I chose the scene in Jane Eyreduring which Jane grapples with her tendency to prioritize her emotional intuitions over her voice of reason. Commanding herself to craft two portraits – one of herself alongside one of Blanche Ingram – Jane employs her art as a means of self-criticism as she accentuates stark differences between herself and Blanche. Glimpsing the internal conversation Jane embarks upon, readers hear Jane praise Blanche’s perfect, ivory-like features, dismissing her own as unremarkable, and perhaps even grotesque. This entire practice is meant to be an exercise in self-discipline as Jane attempts to end her fantasies of life and love with Rochester – a man she perceives as being far beyond her reach and status. In the end, she finds some solace in this activity, and vows to compare the two finished portraits whenever she needs reminding of her own inadequacy. Because this scene takes up around two pages of the novel, I have provided the page numbers instead of fully copying the scene out: pages 185-186.
Translating one of Jane Eyre’s most memorable moments of self-deprecation and artistry into a Tumblr post filled with sorrow and angst was both extremely enjoyable and a challenge. Attempting to master the emo-esque style for which Tumblr is notorious while retaining the integrity of Jane’s sentiments and stern nature, I found myself wrestling with what point of view I wanted to utilize in order to make the post feel both organic and modern, as well as how to craft a message that concisely summed up Jane’s internal dialogue without phrasing the post as solely introspective. Additionally, I found myself struggling to decide how to portray the portraits Jane creates in a modern, yet authentic fashion.
By choosing the medium of social media, the dynamic of this scene automatically shifts. Engrossed in this scene from the perspective of the novel, one is exposed to explicit dialogue within Jane’s own mind. One is in tune with both the authoritative version of Jane for whom the desire to discipline herself is paramount, and the version of herself who is struggling to check her own emotions and perceptions regarding Rochester. The war between these two pieces of Jane is captured clearly and seemingly fully by the scope of the novel and the style of first person narration which appears to lower all of Jane’s walls as she recounts the thought patterns flying through her head and heart. However, when translated to a public platform outside the confines of Jane’s own mind, this introspective conversation must be mediated differently, as internal dialogue is not typically spelled out explicitly by someone’s online postings. Instead, friends and followers must piece together an individual’s internal state from a series of clues – a change which makes the job of the reader a bit more difficult and interpretive.
It is for this reason that I chose to phrase the post in a conversational manner, as if Jane is talking to her followers and reminding them of their worthlessness. While harsh and extremely sorrowful, this style of writing more closely captures the spiritof a social media platform like Tumblr. While revealing her own struggles, the Tumblr platform allows Jane to have a conversation with herself in a way that feels organic and relatable to any followers who are feeling similar sentiments, as her internal crisis is coded in a projection of her emotional state onto her readers. Remaining both inquisitive and demanding in this style, Jane seems to be calling out to her readers for validation, as well as commanding them to see reason over emotion every time – advice that is, in reality, merely a coded message for herself. Expressing this in all lower case letters was meant to add to the dramatic, emo-like expression of internal turmoil which is characteristic of Tumblr. Additionally, I aimed to make Jane’s remarks genuine to her, but also a bit more edgy than expressed in novel form, reflecting the shape they might of taken in today’s age and thus better reflecting the style Tumblr often takes.
Aside from wrestling with how to craft Jane’s post itself, I struggled with how to accurately portrays Jane’s portraits of herself and Blanche Ingram. I felt as though having two separate images alongside one another, while more closely demonstrating the actual plot of the novel, would not convey the gravity and strangeness of Jane’s illustrative endeavor. Reading the novel, one is allowed to imagine what each portrait would look like, and while strange, Jane’s actions don’t seem as absurd. I feared that, in translating the scene to Tumblr, portraying two disjointed images would not convey the message of comparison and looming sadness that was felt in the novel. For this reason, I decided to craft one image, with Jane portrayed as a dark entity with a stern facial expression, with Blanche Ingram’s ringlets and ivory skin shining in front of her. To me, this image conveyed the looming sense of Blanche’s superiority which Jane feels, and better fit the Tumblr model as it had one dramatic image with an emotionally intense sentiment expressed below it. While losing the integrity of having two separate portraits, I almost feel that having one image with a hazy, yet illuminate Blanche Ingram shining over Jane paints a clearer image for readers of Jane’s sentiments – she will always be in Blanche Ingram’s shadow, and she must abandon hope of ever escaping. This image is, to me, a more visceral reminder of Jane’s relegation to the background as she watches the relationship form between Blanche Ingram and Mr. Rochester, providing a clarity of message which I find more compelling than the image of two portraits I experienced reading the novel form.