Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is an orphaned governess who develops romantic feelings for her employer, Mr. Rochester, a man ensconced in tragedy. Sent away to an orphanage as a child by her cruel aunt, Jane’s attachments in life have been few. At Lowood, she gains a friend whose perspectives enable Jane to reign in her anger and find beauty in the darkest situations. At nineteen, Jane contentedly finds her place at Thornfield Hall, amidst the friendship of the housekeeper and her little charge, Adele. The peace is disturbed, however, when Edward Rochester, the wealthy, woeful owner of the mansion returns. For Rochester, Jane’s kindness and naivety are a catharsis for his troubled mind, and her imagination a refreshment. Jane finally has a “full life,” until a piece of Rochester’s past shatters her dreams. Jane Eyre is one of the most tragically brilliant pieces of Gothic fiction ever written, at times satisfying everything and nothing in a whirlwind of passion and drama that will appeal to readers for all time.

The Recipe:

Miss Temple offered Jane and her dear friend Helen Burns tea and a seed cake from her private dinner. These two women were probably the kindest and greatest positive female influences in Jane’s life, and this moment one which altered her character from becoming as bitter at the world’s injustice as Mr. Rochester, into someone who instead had learned to contain her passions and allow her logic and morality to guide her actions, as well as enable her to better aid and balance Rochester’s tempers and impulses. For this reason, I wanted to make a cardamom spice cupcake. However, as whole seeds are not generally a popularly preferred texture in cupcakes, I have chosen to use the spice already ground.

Also, at Christmas when Diana and Mary were to return to Moor House, Jane and Hannah were “devoted…to such a beating of eggs…grating of spices, [and] compounding of Christmas cakes…to have all things in an absolutely perfect state of readiness.” A customary English Christmas cake of that time consisted of various dried fruits (such as raisins, currants, and cherries), nuts (almonds), citrus juice, zest, and candied peels (from oranges and lemons) and various spices. To combine the concept of these two recipes, I created one that might be more appealing for the modern reader (and leaving out all the dried fruits most people aren’t fond of, though you can feel free to add some if you prefer).

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Orange Almond Cardamom Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Frosting and candied orange peel

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  •  salted butter 
  • all-purpose flour
  • ground cardamom
  • brown sugar
  • white sugar
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • large eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • 1 orange

For the frosting:

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For the full recipe and instructions, visit owlcation.com/humanities/Jane-Eyre-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Jane’s first friend at Lowood, Helen Burns, had a way, even when being punished, of thinking “of something beyond her punishment-beyond her situation: of something not round her nor before her.” How did this help her to overcome the hardships of her life? where was it her mind would wander to? Did Jane ever learn to observe this practise in helping her endure life’s obstacles?
  2. Helen also believed that “it is far better to to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you.” And “it is not violence that that best overcomes hate-nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.” How is this a completely different mentality than Jane had, and what reason did she give for believing this? Is that a common approach in our society? Would it be better if it were, or only in certain circumstances, and which?

For more discussion question prompts, visit owlcation.com/humanities/Jane-Eyre-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.

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