A Reflection on the Blog, Eyre’s Head, elaborates on a my creative final project that I turned in for my Advanced Studies in Genre 400 class. The piece discusses my final project, which was a blog site I created using Wix to display Jane’s head (her overall thoughts and ideas) from the book, Jane Eyre.
Dr. Heidi Pennington ENG 414
3 May 2017
A Reflection on the Blog Eyre’s Head
Through narrative form, Bronte defines Jane Eyre as an imaginative individual that portrays her inner thoughts through her creative works and her imagination rather than her physical attributes. This can be seen through her imagination, which holds her inner desires and dreams. In Jane Eyre, Jane discusses with Rochester the struggle she faces in both of her dreams where she envisions herself at Thornfield Hall and the Red-room. The three pictures Jane paints at Gates-head display her emotions through her creativity. The three paintings are no ordinary pictures, but rather visuals of “morbid bodies and mystical landscapes” (Crow 2). Bronte “shows us that pictures, rather than words, have always been Jane’s chosen medium of revealing the inner recesses of her mind, and so we are given detailed descriptions of some of her paintings (Crow 1)” in the text. To portray Jane’s subjectivity, I too created a visual medium. I used the web to create a blog to allow the reader to have an interactive experience with Jane’s two dreams and three paintings. Through this medium, the viewer’s role as reader changes to become an interactor. By turning the reader into an interactor, the viewer’s interactive experience is intensified. The blog is used as a digital storyteller, a visual guide, to help the reader to imagine what goes on within Jane’s mind. Jane’s internal visualization becomes external through the portrayal of her thoughts, her dreams, and her paintings on the blog thus, illuminating her imagination and subjectivity through visuals.
The blog further connects the audience to Jane’s thoughts by providing an interactive experience. By clicking around the blog, the reader is taken out of his or her comfort zone to experience the visual. In this context, the reader has the freedom to interact with Jane’s mind and relate the visuals they see on the blog to previous experiences or memories. By “click[ing] on various links, [the reader is] traversing the story in whichever order [he or] she chooses, no two people can experience it in the same way” (Vance 139). Jane’s artistic vision is portrayed through hypertexts, which create multiple visuals, where as “a book, on the other hand, which has only the one written story, invites the possibility of limitless alternatives by expecting the reader to ask, “what if?” (Vance 13). A literary critic, “[Katherine] Hayles sees much narrative possibility in hypertexts, while scholars like Marie-Laure Ryan find them limiting, believing that, while outwardly hypertexts give an impression of numerous possibilities, they are in fact limited by the medium” because of the fact that “there are still only so many hyperlinks, so many paths” (Vance 13) for the user to experience. Instead of allowing the reader to generate visuals on their own, the blog is guiding them to view the dreams and paintings in a specific way. A viewer may disagree with Marie-Laure Ryan’s point of view. Although there are only so many possibilities to view the material portrayed on the medium, it allows for the viewer to see the material in a new light. The viewer is seeing the material in a new way, different from their original thoughts they had when reading same material in text form. The viewer can then generate new ideas from the visuals, link it to their own ideas or memories, and use it to help guide them to new thoughts. The “medium is the message” (Vance 11) and can also be viewed differently based on the viewer’s personality and interests.
The blog is a form of social media used as a mode for storytelling. Through imagination, immersion, and interactivity, the “physical attributes [of the blog] greatly affect how a reader relates to, for example, a character” (Vance 142). The colors, the texture, and the animation on the blog physically affect the mediums material output and the viewer’s idea of Jane’s subjectivity. Although “‘traditional’ narrative theorists who favor story over medium” claim that “our imaginations are active, and that our imaginations are most active if we self visualize” Vance 7-8), this form of visual narrative through technology changes the way creators and consumers create and view the character as well as the story. The medium can aide the viewer’s thoughts on the content to further their own visualization. The medium allows the viewer to continue to generate their own thoughts and ideas about the images along with the text provided to them in the blog. This illuminate’s new perspectives for the viewer. Another example where “the idea that the imagination is most active when we do not see things [is] a problem for moviegoers, who see the story played out before them. The narrative purpose of film remains the same: to connect to the characters; but the perspective on a medium’s ability to do so shifts considerably” (Vance 8). The blog is similar to a film because it is generating a visual for the viewer. The viewer’s perspective is changed depending on how he or she interacts with the blog. The overall goal of the blog is to use the content to simulate Jane’s thought’s and creativity to connect the reader to her character.
Clicking around the “Home” page of the blog, the viewer is experiencing a different mode of reading through interactivity. The reader is “affected by the computer in that it responds to a prompt, and the reader affects the computer by giving a directive. This mode of reading is clearly different than picking up a print novel and reading the words on the page straight through, as most scholars would agree (Vance 148).” The physical “materiality of the medium itself—the computer and its screen—change[s] the very nature of reading” (Vance 149). This requires a degree of adjustment for the viewer because the physical properties, such as the blog’s color and texture, are visualized by the creator of the blog, rather than the reader who creates the images with their mind. The material shapes the users experience and alters the viewer’s perception and engagement with Jane as a character. By creating this blog, I have changed the physical form to not only alter the act of reading, but “transform the metaphoric network structuring the relation of each word[, which is to] transform the context and circumstances for interacting with the words” (Hayles 23-24). For example, the home page is the supposed “starting place” for the viewer; however, if the viewer clicks around the blog and decides they want to send the blog to a friend, they may copy and paste the hyperlink from a different page, say the page with the First Painting, and send it to their friend. If the friend clicks the link, they are taken to the “First Painting” page instead of the “Home” page where they are supposed to start. This new viewer is given a different first impression of the blog than the first viewer. This reinforces the idea that the experience for each user can be different and that no two user experiences are the same.
The “Home” page is intended to be the starting place for the viewer. The viewer is first introduced to a set background of a dark forest. The title of the blog, Eyre’s Head, as well as the hyperlinks to take the viewer to the other pages on the blog fade on to the top of the screen. I intended for the animation of the words fading onto the screen to set the mood of the page. The blog serves as an adaptation of the novel, Jane Eyre, which is Gothic. The Gothic style is dark and generates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense to give the reader a sensational and dramatic story. I intended for the website to continue to display this Gothic style. The words fading onto the screen create that feeling of mystery for the viewer. When clicking and scrolling throughout the page, the pictures and words appear onto the screen. The animation could also be viewed as Jane’s thoughts appearing within her mind that are taking shape and form as the viewer spends time on the page. Although I, the creator, think of the animation in these two ways, a viewer may just do a surface reading of the animation by glancing over it. The viewer might think nothing of the animation and result to viewing the technique as merely “cool.” As the viewer scrolls down the homepage, they encounter the words “Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting” (Bronte 11). I placed this specific quotation there because in the text, this quote is used to address tales, stories, and narratives as the medium used to shape Jane’s childhood. The stories and pictures give Jane a positive experience. In a way, the pictures Jane sees on the page parallels how the viewer is seeing the blog. The goal of the blog is to give the viewer a positive experience interacting with Jane’s mind to allow the viewer to feel closer to her character. Although that is the reason for why I placed the quote on the home page, the viewer could see the quote as a foundational thought for the images that they will view when they browse onto the pages with the three paintings. Scrolling more down the page, the viewer will encounter a dark background with a line of color. The background is supposed to be a representation of the creative thoughts that lie within the subconscious of the mind. After a few seconds pass, four picture boxes should appear onto the page. Two of the boxes I made a solid color while the other two are pictures of a woman looking out the window and space. This was a stylistic choice to give the boxes a type of contrast. The words within each of the boxes are illuminated by a white outline to show their importance. The color white represents purity and goodness and illuminates Jane’s thoughts. Within the boxes, the viewer can click any of the hyperlinks to take them to another one of Jane’s thoughts on a different page.
The page, “A Thought from Jane,” is intended as an outlet for allowing Jane to speak directly to the viewer. This page is similar to an “About Jane” page because it is allowing the viewer to get to know a little more about who Jane is as a person. On this page, I have placed a picture of a silhouette of a young girl walking down a dark path within a forest. This picture is to represent Jane’s appearance and her journey. Since Jane’s character is never outlined through physical traits, the silhouette of the girl is to allow the viewer to imagine for themselves Jane’s physical attributes. Literary critic, Katherine Hayes, would most likely agree that this is an example that allows the viewer to self-imagine Jane’s physical attributes. The medium gives the viewer the possibility to create the visual themselves rather than limiting it to what can be seen from the image. Below the picture, is a thought from Jane. It is similar to a letter written to the viewer. In the thought, Jane discusses to the viewer that the paintings and dreams shape how she sees the world. She hopes that when the viewer sees these images, they too will shape how the viewer sees the world. The images will also shape how the viewer sees Jane as a person as well. I placed a quote from Jane Eyre within this letter to show the viewer that as he or she is browsing through Jane’s mind, she too can see them back through the computer. The viewer’s face is “like a new picture introduced to the gallery of [her] memory” (Bronte 136). The function of the medium is to place the viewer inside Jane’s mind but by browsing around, Jane too can see and get to know the viewer.
In the bar underneath the blog’s title, Eyre’s Head, the viewer sees the hyperlink titled “The Dreams.” The viewer is then given the choice to click the dream of Thornfield, the first dream, or the dream of the Red-room, the second dream. The backgrounds on the pages will be wither a moving space vortex or black squares appearing from thin air. I chose this background to represent the dreams, which are abstract. When the viewer scrolls down the page, they encounter a text. As a stylistic choice, I have recreated the dreams by writing them in first person in a different way; however, to keep the authenticity of the original text, I placed in phrases or words that refer to Bronte’s original version of the dream. For example, when Jane speaks of seeing Rochester in her dream, she says, “I was sure it was you; and you were departing for many years, and for a distant country” (Bronte 325). I incorporated this sentence into my interpretation of the dream to keep Jane’s thoughts the same. I also placed Rochester’s name within a dream to allow viewer’s who have never read Jane Eyre to understand who she is talking about. I used this type of narration to create a contrast between verbal text, which are the written dreams, and the visuals, which are the paintings. This verbal narration creates a visual within the mind of the viewer, but allows the viewer to create the image for themselves within their own mind. The dreams are intended “to forewarn Jane of trouble or good events. They reveal Jane’s passionate inner self to the reader but also serve as general symbols, interpretive representations, or direct reflections of Jane’s emotions” (Gordon 1). “These not only reveal Jane’s artistic ambitions and her suppressed personality, but through them Bronte foreshadows events later in the novel” (Crow 1). “Jane’s dreams thus reveal the raw emotions she attempts to mask in order to become the ideal Victorian lady” (Gordon 1). To connect the dreams to reality, the second dream becomes literalized in a painting, which can be seen within the “Second Painting” hyperlink under “The Paintings” tab.
In the bar underneath the title, Eyre’s Head, the viewer sees the hyperlink titled “The Paintings” with three dropdown subpages listed as “The First, The Second, and The Third.” The viewer has the choice to pick which painting they would like to access first. The background to each page will be either moving dark clouds, a starry night sky, or a rough sea. The backgrounds are supposed to add to the user experience by representing the types of paintings on the page. Below each of the paintings, I have included each of their descriptions from the passage found in the Jane Eyre novel. This allows the reader to connect the text to the visual, the paintings. “The first painting shows a ship’s mast, a bird holding a gold bracelet, and a bare hand rising out of a green sea; The second painting is of a hill below a night sky in which a cosmic female form is visible; The third is a human head rising out of the ocean supported by hands and resting on an iceberg” (Gordon 1). The first and the third painting echoes “the seascapes of Thomas Bewick,” while the second painting mirrors “Greek mythology” (Crow 2). The paintings mentioned within the novel state that they are watercolor. The technique of the watercolor is most likely used to portray the freedom the color has on the page. The colors blend together creating a fuzzy visual, like a dream-like state of mind.
For the first painting, I displayed many different versions of the painting of the green sea. The techniques used range from digital art, to ink, to watercolor. The difference between each painting shows that each artist has a different view of how they interpreted the image to look from the text. I have also placed an example oil painting by John Constable next to LilTarus’ Watercolor one to show Bronte’s inspiration for the painting’s Jane creates. After looking at all the images on the “First Painting” page, the viewer can conclude that the only image that is similar to John Constable’s is LilTarus’ Watercolor 1. Although that looks like it could be similar to the version described in the text, the viewer does not know for sure if it is the correct version. Through the other portrayals of the first painting, the viewer is given a different perspective when looking at each one.
For the second painting of the cosmic female, the viewer sees that the colors and representations are relatively the same. Although the paintings were watercolor, created by two different artists’, Caitlin Kuhwald and LovelyThings, the colors used the most are green and purple. In both renditions of the painting, the majestic woman is holding a ball of light. In addition, the viewer might not make the connection that the second dream that Jane has of the Red-room mirrors the Second Painting in the medium because I do not state or link the two pages together. Viewers that have read Jane Eyre and remember that detail might make that connection between the painting and the dream, but a person who has never read Jane Eyre before will most likely not. I did not connect the picture to the dream because I wanted the viewer to make the connection themselves or view it a different way.
For the third painting, the viewer sees a human head rising out of the ocean supported by hands and resting on an iceberg. Although the paintings were created by the same two artists that created the second paintings, the styles and colors used for the third painting are different. The first image by Caitlin Kuhwald displays sharp brush strokes, clearly defining the features of the white woman’s head and the texture of the iceberg. The second image by LovelyThings is not as clearly defined but rather fuzzy. It portrays a black woman covering her face with her hand as if she were trying to hide. Viewer’s that have read Bronte’s, Jane Eyre, might conclude that the women seen in this picture could be Bertha. Other viewers that have not read Jane Eyre might merely think it was a stylistic choice that each artist chose to do for their work. Both images allow the viewer to see the painting from a different perspective because of the way the style and colors convey the image.
Overall, these paintings are portrayed to “reveal Jane’s inner feelings of despair, her preoccupation with death, and her longing for love–feelings that a sensible Protestant young woman could not explicitly acknowledge. However, as well as what the paintings suggest of Jane’s state of mind as a schoolgirl, these images foreshadow later scenes in the novel, blending both Jane’s past and her future” (Crow 3). The paintings are portrayed to the viewer through this medium to give a visual to allow them to further understand Jane’s subconscious and her creativity. It is clear that Jane does not paint simple landscapes, but rather imaginary ones, which leads the viewer to believe that Jane is no ordinary Victorian governess.
The blog serves as an external visual rather than an internal one that is generated by the mind of the reader. The blog inspires and guides the reader to help generate new ideas and thoughts about Jane as a person. This medium shows Jane as an imaginative individual and portrays her inner thoughts through her creative works, which include two dreams and three pictures. Her dreams at Thornfield Hall and the Red-room are described through text while the three pictures are displayed as visuals. This contrast between visual and verbal narrative guides the viewer as well as continues to allow the viewer to imagine Jane for themselves. I used the web as a medium to display Jane’s subjectivity. This interactive experience further illuminates the reader’s understanding of Jane. It turns the reader into an interactor as well as a viewer. The blog is a digital storyteller that generates Jane’s subjectivity through animation, visuals, and text. Jane’s internal visualization becomes external through the portrayal of her thoughts, her dreams, and her paintings on the blog. Overall, I have examined the influence of digital media on the narrative experience for both the creator, which is myself, and the viewers. The viewer is able to experience Jane’s mind through cerebral and physical interactives on the blog. I have attempted to literalize and materialize Jane’s mind through the use of this medium, which is literally Jane Eyre’s head. What I have created for this project is only a small section of Jane’s mind. More visuals and texts can be generated to engage the viewer and provide a more interactive experience. There are endless possibilities for this medium but for now, this all time will allow.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. Stevie Davies. Penguin Books, 2006.
Constable, John. “Constable Seascape Study: Boat and Stormy Sky.” Oil. Royal Academy of Arts, London. 1824.
Crow, Anne. “A picture is worth a thousand words: Anne Crow explores the significance of Jane Eyre’s paintings and their importance in the context of the novel.” The English Review, vol. 19, no. 1, 2008, pp. 25-32. Literature Resource Center. go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=viva_jmu&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA195134700&it=r&asid=e032feccbb348f38028bebb83de05ed6.
Gordon, Allan. “Dreams in Jane Eyre.” The Victorian Web. Brown University, 2004. http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/cbronte/gordon15.html.
Hayles, Katherine. Writing Machines. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002.
Jane Eyre. Dir. Cary Fukunaga. Perf. Mia Wisikowska, Ruby Films, 2011.
Kuhwald, Caitlin. “Corpse.” Watercolor. 2015. http://californica.net/2015/06/30/caitlin-kuhwald-jane-eyres-watercolors/
—. “Evening Star.” Watercolor. 2015.
—. “Iceberg.” Watercolor. 2014.
LovelyThings. “3 from Jane Eyre, Original Paintings.” Watercolor. 2009. https://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/lovelythings/269041/3_from_jane_eyre__original_paintings/fine_art/painting/people
LilTaurus. “Jane Eyre Watercolor 1.” Watercolor. 2014. http://liltaurus.deviantart.com/art/Jane-Eyre-Watercolor-1-Depiction-452887877.
Phatpuppy, “Sweet and Scary.” Digital Art. 2006.
Square-ball. “Jane Eyre’s First Watercolor.” Digital Art. 2008. http://square-ball.deviantart.com/art/Jane-Eyre-s-First-Watercolor-105072404.
Vance, Barbara R. The Dialogue of Narrative and Media: How Expectations of Form and Function Shape Story Analysis, The University of Texas at Dallas, Ann Arbor, 2013, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: Literature & Language; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: Social Sciences; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Arts, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1492335600?accountid=11667.
Webb, Dana. “Eyre’s Head.” Wix, 2017. https://danawebb.wixsite.com/janeeyre