This post contains spoilers through chapter 16 of Jane Eyre.
I realized that I haven’t been making as many jokes or using as many gifs with this book as with the others. I’ve been trying to figure out why, but all I can conclude is that I take this book more seriously than our previous readalong books. Is that fair? You tell me.
That being said, I will try to include more gifs this time around by assigning a gif to each chapter that I feel encapsulates that chapter as a whole. Spoilers: I love these early chapters with Rochester. I love watching Jane turn him upside down in every conversation, his crazy unexplained moodswings, and their progression into a weird friendship.
Chapter Twelve, or
Jane is content with her life at Thornfield but is getting complacent and even bored with the sights and people. Fortunately for her (and the narrative) Rochester crashes his way onto the page because he doesn’t know how to drive, apparently.
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
This was revolutionary thinking for the time that Jane Eyre was published. It’s still revolutionary for some today, which is sad.
“Gytrash”: For some reason I’m having a hard time finding references to this mythological dog that AREN’T just quoting Jane Eyre. Here is a good blog post on it.
Chapter Thirteen, or
“Arithmetic, you see, is useful: without its aid, I should hardly have been able to guess your age. It is a point difficult to fix where the features and countenance are so much at variance as in your case.”
Jane Eyre is an old soul, and Rochester recognizes this almost immediately. I think it’s interesting that whereas Jane thought of the gytrash creature when she heard his horse, he suspected her of being a fairy when he first saw her. These crazy kids need to calm down with their flights of fancy.
Physiognomy: Victorians were REALLY into judging the outward appearance of a person and using it to figure out what their personality was. It also helped them be even more racist than their wildest dreams. Jane is referring to physiognomy when, for example, she notices his “full nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler.” Rochester is also referring to it when he asks Jane about his large forehead in the next chapter.
Chapter Fourteen, or
“It seems to me, that if you tried hard, you would in time find it possible to become what you yourself would approve; and that if from this day you began with resolution to correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to which you might revert with pleasure.”
“Justly thought, rightly said, Miss Eyre; and, at this moment, I am paving hell with energy.”
“I am laying down good intentions, which I believe as durable as flint.”
This whole conversation, but especially this bit, tells us so much about their characters. Jane has a rigid code of morality, and she holds to it, but she thinks that others are, or can be, as disciplined as she is. At the other extreme is Rochester, who is so aware of his own faults that he self-sabotages himself by being convinced he won’t hold to any resolutions he may make. Rochester on the whole in this chapter is very determined to show us how wretched he is, but can come across as whiny. I go back and forth with this guy.
Chapter Fifteen, or
“In short, I began the process of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony. I had not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame and destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness not to deviate an inch from the beaten centre. I had- as I deserved to have-the fate of all other spoonies.”
Rochester is a pretty sketchy guy. I like that Jane, as shocked as she must have been by this whole story, doesn’t dismiss him based on it but considers him as a whole, and observes his current faults and his current strengths. Ughhh I just love their friendship but I also love the part where she saves him from the fire and then he’s all “UGHHH I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” but doesn’t actually say that? I have feelings, people, about this chapter and these characters.
Apollo Belvedere: presented without comment.
Chapter Sixteen, or
Jane is getting real thirsty in this chapter, as well as incredibly frustrated by the cover story for the fire that she has to go along with.
When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring back with a strict hand such as had been straying through imagination’s boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common sense.
Arraigned at my own bar, Memory having given her evidence of the hopes, wishes, sentiments I had been cherishing since last night-of the general state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a fortnight past; Reason having come forward and told in her own quiet way, a plain, unvarnished tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly devoured the ideal-I pronounced judgement to this effect: –
That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life: that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.
Jane has no chill, especially not when she feels she’s let herself fall into unrequited love. I really love and relate to the above quote, though. Self-talk is never harsher than when you feel like you’ve made a huge mistake, especially when you knew you knew better. You know?
What were your favorite scenes from this section? Favorite quotes?
Did anything strike you as strange or confusing?
Do you find Rochester as a sympathetic character or just whiny?
What do you think of Adele? How does Jane treat her? How do other characters treat her? Do you think Adele is treated well or poorly by those around her?
How effective is the Mysterious House and Mysterious Grace Poole plot? How is the suspense being built, or what parts of the story/characters/setting are adding to the suspense?