Something in the Eyre

I have invented a new term: To Rochester.

To Rochester (v.): To gain something you want by behaving in one manner (often one’s natural manner) and then, once having attained it, to behave completely differently, which frequently causes you to jeopardize or lose said thing.

This comes, of course, from Jane Eyre. Have you read Jane Eyre? When I read it, I remember being struck by something. Not the fact that Rochester has a crazy wife in the attic (SPOILERS), but by the change in dynamic between him and Jane when they get engaged for the first time.

Pre-love-professing Rochester is awesome, in a typical Romantic hero kind of way. Moody, tortured, brooding, devastatingly clever and witty and ironic. He and Jane have fantastic banter, and who doesn’t love a good banter? They keep each other on their toes, and they slowly poke holes in each others’ defenses while keeping each other humble. You want so desperately for them to get together, so that they can be an awesome, banter-y, smart, sarcastic couple.

And then Mr. R admits that he’s in love with her, and she accepts his proposal (yay!), and all of a sudden it’s “I will adorn my Jane in satin and lace, and she shall have roses in her hair,” and never sully her lily-white hands with any work or care and WHO IS THIS STRANGE SAPPY MAN WITH NO CONCEPT OF THE COMPETENT PERSONHOOD OF HIS FIANCE?

(For a hilarious take on this, see Texts from Jane Eyre)

Honestly, it nearly ruins the whole thing. At least it did for me. The redeeming factor came when Jane left (SPOILERS) and got to be all practical and no-nonsense again although of course she loved him and then they were reunited (SPOILERS) and he was in no state to be a strangely jolly and verbose patronizing figure anymore. Plus Bronte then leaves out the dialogue so you can imagine that they went right back to teasing each other.

It should be easy to avoid Rochestering. You just keep doing what you were doing to get there. But of course nothing is as easy as it should be, and before you know it you’re trying too hard to prove that you deserve the job or role or opportunity you got, or you’re acting entitled because you got it, or you just go plain crazy about it and start getting all weird and spastic and after you flop around during a handshake with the CEO you lock yourself in the bathroom and demand of yourself, “What the hell was that?!”

Makes you wish you weren’t capable of higher-level thought.

Because that’s what does it! You “make it” somehow, you get somewhere you wanted to be, and all of a sudden there are all these new factors and questions in your life. Is this a fluke? Will it last? Am I actually good enough for this? Am I now somehow different (i.e. happy where I was unhappy, fulfilled where I was not, terrified where I was more or less bored but content) and does that change how I behave and even who I try to be? And you’re identifying the next thing you want, the next highest thing on the horizon, and maybe that requires a different approach than you thought or than the one you took that got you where you are. But how do you implement that without putting at risk what you just got?

Clearly the answer is that everyone should just calm down and be themselves and try to continue with the strategies that have brought them success. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. The good news, though, as far as I can tell, is that there is a period of danger–a “danger zone,” if you will, and if you watch Archer then you certainly will–in which you are most likely to start acting completely differently or strangely. Then, after some time, which most likely depends on what it is you’re adjusting too, you relax into the rhythms of your new life and get to be your old self again. It’s the concept of a “honeymoon period,” except it extends to all kinds of potential life events and can be something that drives you, and not just your less-than-saccharine friends, nuts.

Anyway, there you have it, folks: an addition to the lexicon that will no doubt serve you very well. Go out, use it, spread it, mention to everyone that you know someone devastatingly clever who comes up with random nonsense like this all the time. I’m off to read more classic literature and keep trying to capitalize on what other authors have done by reducing their plot points and characters to maddeningly general but also widely applicable pithy phrases.


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