Well, I have finished Jane Eyre. For those of you who don’t know, Stephenie Meyer has counted Jane Eyre as a major influence in her work, so of course I read it. It was sitting around the house, so I thought, why not?
My relationship to Jane Eyre is nearly as ambivalent as my attitude to Twilight. Like Twilight, I read it when I was younger. Unlike Twilight, I still think the hero is a douche. I think I bailed right around the time Edward R. tried to trick Jane into a fake marriage (I had very little patience for Byronic antiheroes back then. I think I was like nine). So, Edward R. is douchier. I don’t think that can be disputed; he whines more in 500 pages than his vampire counterpart does in 2,500. Edward C. is just self-hating, but I don’t recall him blaming anyone else for his problems.
But the real question: Who is creepier? Hopefully, I can answer this in less than a nineteenth century tome, but I make no promises.
1. The Stalking, OH GOD The Stalking
We all know that Edward C. breaks into Bella’s house every night WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE (what? She’s cold! Who else will make sure she won’t die of exposure?) and watches her sleep, which…wow, dude. And remember all those times in Twilight Bella thought she was alone? Well, she wasn’t. JOIN A WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM, BELLA. Not sure anyone can top that, but let’s see what Edward R. has to offer! While not as sinister as a vampire breaking into a fair maiden’s bedchamber Dracula-style, Edward R. does do some pretty nasty things, but he doesn’t really stalk. This round goes to Edward C.
2. Power Differentials, What Power Differentials?
Edward C. is 104 years old, but he is very much 17 in his emotions and outlook (know any old guys who take ninety-degree turns at a 100 MPH?). He is dating a 17 year old girl. They are both high school students. Hmm. Bit skeevy, but workable. But then he’s also a super-fast, super-strong vampire. Who occasionally drags his girlfriend into his car because he hasn’t “had enough time with her” and because she “[can’t] go, not yet.” UM. Losing points, Eddie.
Edward R. hits on his destitute 18 year old employee who has no family or friends and tells her about all his ex-mistresses. He is 40-something. HMM. At least Edward C. doesn’t tell Bella about his exes. Not that Bella’s Edward has any. Call it a tie?
3. I’m Only Lying So That You Can Be Happy
Edward C. stretches the truth. It’s a fact. Some have even called him a pathological liar because he lies so dang much. However, when you’re an immortal vampire, lying is usually forgivable. What’s not forgivable is hiding key facts from his girlfriend like the bloodthirsty vampire on a revenge-fueled rampage. I swear, that boy hides more things than a ferret. And no, I don’t care if it’s “for her own good.”
Over on the Victorian front, we have…a much more severe problem. Rochester lies about a) his wife in the attic, b) his intentions to marry another girl, and c) his singleness (see a). Edward Cullen lies about the little things (usually) and is generally honest when confronted (usually). Rochester is…also honest when confronted. The problem is that Rochester is trying to rope an 18 year old girl into the position of fake wife in nineteenth century England, a society not known for its understanding of women’s issues. Worse, he tells his sweetheart that he will explain the full situation to her a “year and a day” after they are married. At the point that she has sex with a man out of wedlock, regardless of the circumstances, Jane will have very few options besides staying with Rochester. There is no way that Rochester doesn’t know that; in fact, I would be very surprised if he wasn’t banking on it. Edward C. at least tries to give Bella a choice in the matter of a partner, even if he usually fails epically. If Rochester had laid his situation out on the table, he would be way less creepy. Tragically, he did not, so this round is all Rochester’s.
4. General Weirdness
Edward Cullen wants to murder his girlfriend and keeps dropping dark hints about it. Edward Rochester dresses up as a gypsy woman to mess with Jane’s head. Eh. Rochester again. Yes, fantasizing about munching on your GF is wrong…er, but throwing a giant party to make the whole town think you’re marrying a woman to make your child’s governess jealous and then putting on some drag just to make things more fun…Rochester it is.
This outcome surprised me, I must admit; throughout my reading of Jane Eyre, I kept thinking that surely Edward Cullen would come out on top, but no, Rochester sneaked out with the prize. Edward Cullen makes a very useful creepy meter. Generally, if there’s something that I know even Edward wouldn’t do, it’s probably absolutely insane. Thanks, Edward!