Jane Eyre: Chapters 20-23

This post contains spoilers through chapter 23 of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

In case you missed it, Gingernifty wrote about the literary-inspired webseries “Autobiography of Jane Eyre” on her blog. I really need to watch that show.

How is the reading going? These chapters are a bit of a psychological seesaw. I mean, I’m pretty sure we only have a couple of chapters left. They’re getting together, Blanche is out of the picture, Mrs. Fairfax can’t help but approve…..

Right? Right?

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Oh wait there’s still half the book left. Um. Well. I’m sure it’s all honeymoons and libraries from here on out.

Chapter 20:

I can’t remember when I first read this book, but when Rochester is trying to calm everyone down that one night when Mason won’t stop screaming, and says, “It’s a mere rehearsal of Much Ado About Nothing“, I totally thought he was legitimately trying to pass off a midnight rehearsal of a Shakespeare play with him and Mason as the primary characters. Because I am an optimistic lunatic. Mason would probably make a good Claudio, though. There’s another Shakespeare reference in the chapter when Jane is trying to form a response to Rochester’s vague-and-somewhat-menacing request to justify his behavior. “Oh, for some good spirit to suggest a judicious and satisfactory response! Vain aspiration! The west wind whispered in the ivy round me; but no gentle Ariel borrowed its breath as a medium of speech: the birds sang in the treetops; but their song, however sweet, was inarticulate.” Ariel is a spirit that serves Prospero, an exiled duke and  magician in The Tempest.

I can’t decide if Jane is brave or insane to stay in that room with Mason while some mysterious blood-sucking monster is just on the other side of the door: “What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman’s face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?” Love really is blind because let me tell you I wouldn’t let Rochester get away with “everything is fine, shhhh don’t ask questions, we’re all fine here, now.” What would YOU do if you were in Jane’s situation, possessing only the knowledge she has at this moment? DISCUSS.

 

Rochester as good as tells Jane that he plans to marry Miss Ingram. He says it again in the next few chapters, and I’ve been thinking about it and I really don’t understand why. Is he trying to goad Jane into admitting her feelings for him? Is he actually considering marrying Blanche, as a way to protect Jane from his hot mess of a life? DISCUSS.

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He also has these delightful mood swings going on, as when he is telling Jane all of his feelings, breaks himself off, and then “his face changed too; losing all its softness and gravity, and becoming harsh and sarcastic.” I can only guess that he keeps being lulled into spilling his feelings to Jane because she’s a great listener, and then he’s like WAIT WHAT AM I DOING I AM A PROFESSIONAL CONCEALER. But more on that later.

Best quote of the chapter:

for if I bid you do what you thought wrong, there would be no lightfooted running, no neat-handed alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion. My friend would then turn to me, quiet and pale, and would say, ‘No, sir; that is impossible: I cannot do it, because it is wrong;’ and would become immutable as a fixed star. Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once.

-Rochester to Jane

Chapter 21:

I don’t understand why Jane claims that her dreams about the baby were a presentiment of her summons to attend to Mrs. Reed. Is she the baby, laughing and crying by turns, in this metaphor? Or is Mrs. Reed, because she’s lost so much health and wits? Or is Jane saying something else entirely? DISCUSS.

Blanche Ingram is such a perfect Mean Girl that I can’t help but enjoy her scenes. When Jane comes in to talk to Rochester, interrupting their billiards game, Blanche stares her down and asks Rochester, “Does that person want you?” Perfect. Write a manual, Blanche.

Rochester and Jane’s banter (or fight, or contest of wills, or all three) over whether she will go and for how long is one of my favorite scenes.

“but I shall advertise.”

“You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!” he growled. “At your peril you advertise!”

They’re a really good match for each other, and the book is constantly showing that through the way they counter each other’s arguments, how Jane’s stoicism calms Rochester down, how Rochester’s emotions help Jane open up…. IDK I JUST LOVE THEM, YOU GUYS.

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I love books where a character returns to a place where they were treated poorly, but because they have changed and grown so much they are able to put the past behind them and show how much they are Unbothered. Jane’s return to Gateshead is triumphant, in spit of the tragedies that have befallen the Reeds. There’s a remarkable contrast between Mrs. Reed and her daughters, who don’t seem to care two straws about each other, and Jane and the family she’s formed at Thornfield. Even though the Reeds are a “real” blood family, the daughters want nothing more than to get away from each other and don’t seem upset about their mother or brother, either. Whereas at Thornfield, Jane honestly cares for Adele, Mrs. Fairfax, and Rochester, and they care about her.

 

Speaking of the Reed girls, they should form a Mean Girls gang with Blanche: “Young ladies have a remarkable way of letting you know that they think you a “quiz,” without actually saying the words. A certain superciliousness of look, coolness of manner, nonchalance of tone, express fully their sentiments on the point, without committing them by any positive rudeness in word or deed.”

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FYI: Dictionary.com informs me that quiz can mean “an eccentric, odd-looking person,” originating in 1775-85.

Eliza seems to be another Brocklehurst, except she only wants to affect her own behavior and life, not others, and Georgiana is fashionable but superficial. Eliza terrifies me, to be honest. I like routine as much as the next antisocial introvert, but she really takes it to the next level.

I do appreciate her tirade at Georgiana though, ending with best quote of the chapter: “if the whole human race, ourselves excepted, were swept away, and we two stood alone on the earth, I would leave you in the old world, and betake myself to the new.”

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Jane’s meetings with Mrs. Reed are cathartic but at the same time really frustrating. Mrs. Reed is driven by guilt to confess to Jane, but at the same time is determined to think of Jane as a terrible person and to blame her for Mrs. Reed’s own behavior: “You were born, I think, to be my torment.” She also has a skewed perspective on her husband and son: “[Mr. Reed] was weak, naturally weak. John does not at all resemble his father, and I’m glad of it”, even though Robert, the servant, has told us John’s “head was not strong.” Mrs. Reed is a very confused sad lady. Jane remembers Helen Burns, and how she lived and died, and the contrast is enough to give her emotional whiplash.

Chapter 22:

“How people feel when they are returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know.” Jane’s return to Thornfield absolutely kills me. She is so emotionally repressed, not because she isn’t passionate, but because she hasn’t had any outlet for positive feelings. But even her home-coming is poisoned by her feelings for Rochester, which she considers pointless: “I felt glad as the road shortened before me: so glad that I stopped once to ask myself what that joy meant: and to remind reason that it was not to my home I was going, or to a permanent resting-place.” 

AND THEN EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY TO SEE HER and I want to die from all the feelings. Awwww. Jane+Home OTP 2017.

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“Pass, Janet,” said he, making room for me to cross the stile: “go up home, and stay your weary little wandering feet at a friend’s threshold.” Kemendraugh pointed out on Twitter the similarity of Jane Eyre to Tam Lin, and I can’t stop thinking about it and I will probably do a post on it at some point, but also I never noticed this reference before. For those who aren’t familiar with her, Janet is the heroine of the Tam Lin folklore, who has to rescue her lover (Tam Lin) from Fairyland.

Rochester won’t let go of the Fair Folk jokes, but I assume when he mentions “a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh” he’s talking about these.  He also continues to be a dope about his supposed upcoming nuptials to Blanche, which, as I mentioned above, I do not understand his reasoning for.

Best quote of the chapter:

“I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead.”

“A true Janian reply! Good angels be my guard! She comes from the other world-from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so when she meets me alone here in the gloaming!”

Chapter 23:

Okay but are we going to talk about Rochester chasing Jane around the grounds of Thornfield with the power of his cigar smoke? “I walked a while on the pavement, but a subtle, well-known scent-that of a cigar-stole from some window; I saw the library casement open a hand-breadth; I knew I might be watched thence; so I went apart into the orchard” but then once she’s in the orchard, her “step is stayed-not by sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance.”

I’m not sure whether to laugh or be terrified. giphy-82

Once he has a captive audience, so to speak, Rochester falls back on his marry-Miss-Ingram-and-banish-Jane plan. I was laughing at “Mrs. Dionysus O’Gall of Bitternutt Lodge,” which Jane takes at face value, but rukbat3pern on Twitter observed “how representative all of the place names are of Jane’s emotional states in this book”. I hadn’t noticed this before! Let’s go back and read the whole book again because I bet that is a fascinating trail! Write me a post, Princess Lessa!

This scene is amazing and all of the speeches are fantastic (please go re-read Rochester’s “it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs” speech and Jane’s very important “Do you think I am an automaton?” speech)and I WILL RETURN TO THIS CHAPTER LATER because of Spoiler Reasons, but take note of the way Rochester, with no help from Jane, is justifying his behavior and choices to himself, ending with “I know my Maker sanctions what I do” right before they re-enter the house. Sounds fake, Edward.

Best quote of the chapter: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”

 

 

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Jane Eyre: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Monologues

This post contains spoilers for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1996) and Jane Eyre (2011).

A good Jane Eyre adaptation is hard to find. Gingernifty has a great post here on the literary webseries, “Autobiography of Jane Eyre.” As you may have seen on Twitter, I’ve watched (or re-watched) a couple of Jane Eyre movies lately. Below are my thoughts on how well each of them translates the novel to a visual medium.

 

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Jane Eyre (1993) does a decent job at smashing a 600-page book into a movie, but because of some odd story changes and William Hurt’s mediocre Rochester, ultimately it’s not one I would choose to rewatch.

 

The “childhood chapter” was one of the better parts of the movie, and possibly the best treatment of that section that I have seen. The child actors were really great (Anna Paquin plays Jane). It has to gallop through Jane’s growing-up years but it gives us at least one solid highlight at each stage of her young life to show us how she becomes the adult she does. Brocklehurst’s performance is a masterpiece of self-righteousness and deluded charity. I would have liked to see Miss Temple (played by Amanda Root <3)  display even a tiny bit of agency, but the contrast between her and Miss Scatcherd was a nice sketch.

Speaking of nice character sketches, I adore Mrs. Fairfax in this version. She’s cozy, proper, and just a little bit ignorant. Mrs. Fairfax is one of those characters who knows just enough to make you think she’s fully-informed, and once you realize she isn’t, you’re not sure whether to be angry or not. She’s not a villain, and she’s not working actively for or against Jane.

William Hurt as Mr. Rochester did not fill me with the same joy  as Mrs. Fairfax. He wasn’t bad, per se, he was simply mediocre and monotone. Did you even read the book? He should be Byronic and over-dramatic. There was almost no banter between him and Jane – even worse, scenes between them that are give-and-take in the book are more like lectures from Rochester to Jane. She has a healthy side-eye but that’s it.

Adult Jane (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) is probably the calmest, most reserved version of Jane Eyre I’ve seen. It’s accurate to the book, and I think she shows just enough in her face and voice to let us know what she’s thinking. Most Janes, because they’re trying to turn Jane’s narration into expressions on their face, wind up displaying different degrees of Distressed most of the time. Shout-out to the moment where she finds out about Blanche Ingram, and walks down the hallway, glances in the mirror, and whispers, “You are a fool” to her reflection. BOOM, 10-page monologue covered in a few seconds.

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Source

One of the most disturbing parts of this movie is Bertha, but not disturbing in the way you would probably think. I wanted to hug her so much in this movie. She seemed so sad and lost, and, occasionally, pissed off at her men-folk who locked her up. Even weirder (and more disturbing), the movie didn’t seem aware that it was making her so sympathetic. It was as if the movie relied so much on our shock making us hate her, that it didn’t bother to make her scary or threatening at any point. We see the results of her actions – the fire, Mason’s injury – but the connection is mostly implied. Bertha deserves better 2017. If you’re going to make her a villain,, at least do a compelling job of it.

I have mixed feelings about the overall look of the movie. The interior sets are great, but the exterior visuals seem to be matte paintings for the most part. The music is so understated that it’s almost unnoticeable, which I don’t appreciate but maybe some people do. It was too subtle.

There were many changes to the story, some small, some large. I appreciated some of them because they helped move the plot along and streamline the story to fit into a movie. However, others were really counter-productive to the pacing and plot. The primary example is St. John Rivers character and sub-plot. Jane’s flight from Thornfield isn’t desperate, it’s organized and safe, undercutting the suspense in the final third of the movie. St. John isn’t a clergyman, simply a solicitor, who serves no purpose and adds no suspense to Jane’s arc or the plot, except to inform her that she has money. Even worse, there is no catalyst for Jane to seek out Rochester again, so the story just seems to sit and wait at St. John’s until enough time has passed for her to move on. Yawn.

mpw-56310Jane Eyre (2011) has totally different problems, but I love the atmosphere and some of the acting choices. It falls short due to the confusing story organization, the lack of dialogue, and some very strange and detrimental acting choices.

Mia Wasikowska as Jane is wonderful. I love how shoe puts her hands on her hips when she is thinking about her life and her choices (usually thoughts like “what am I to do with this poor fool?”). I love her delivery of the “do you think I am soulless and heartless?” speech, and the way she says “God help me” when Rochester is being dramatic and clingy (literally clinging to her). If it wasn’t obvious, she’s my favorite adaptation Jane thus far in my life.

The soundtrack is understated for the most part, but it builds on the story and isn’t weak. It’s very atmospheric and good for this story. I adore the costumes in this movie, as well.

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classic Rochester and Jane face-off. Source 

Rochester in this movie isn’t the best Rochester that could be, but at least Michael Fassbender makes him dramatic and emotional, as well as mysterious and occasionally selfish.

Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax is strangely antagonistic. I think they tried to make her tone foreshadow the darker parts of the story, but instead she comes across as really disapproving and melodramatic.

Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers is just a case of bad casting (although I do love Jamie Bell, I’m sorry, Jamie), and then the acting and directing conspire to make him one-dimensional and terrifying. The thing I like about St. John is that he is cold and rigid and perhaps hardhearted, but he also does a lot of good and thinks he is sacrificing himself for what is right. St. John in this movie is so unlikeable and tyrannical that he loses all depth.

The real issue with this movie is the frame-story structure. I have mixed feelings about it. I love that the movie opens with Jane fleeing Thornfield (with an appropriate amount of Distress) and then when she reaches the Rivers, flashes back to her childhood and what led her to this dramatic turn. However, the movie doesn’t clarify the progression and chronology of the story enough, making it very confusing and occasionally choppy. I’ve read the book several times and I still am surprised by the lack of explanation at several points that make the story difficult to follow. It relies on the albeit beautiful landscapes and imagery to tell the story rather than dialogue, except the visuals don’t tell a clear enough story, either. There are too many Meaningful Stares and not enough verbal interplay between characters to securely build the story.

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Source

Thanks for reading this post! It got longer than I expected.

I’ve been hearing lots of good things about the 1983 BBC miniseries, and I’d like to rewatch the 2006 film as well. What is your favorite Jane Eyre adaptation?

 

Jane Eyre: Chapters 17-19

This post is several days late and I’m sorta sorry and sorta not because I was too busy celebrating my birthday. However, I’ll try to be more prompt in future.

This week we read chapters 17-19. We met a few new characters, chiefly Blanche Ingram and Richard Mason, and learned that there really is no limit to Rochester’s tendency to play around with the emotions of people around him.

Thornfield is turned upside down and inside out when Rochester’s dependents learn that he is bringing PEOPLE home to visit. The house gets a makeover and is filled with a bunch of new faces, from the lords and ladies to their servants, including “abigails” which apparently was popularized as a term for maid by a play called The Scornful Lady. It also might be a reference to Abigail in the Bible, who is very hospitable to her husband’s visitor, David (not in a dirty way, but then she does end up married to him so whatever).

I love the juxtaposition between how the fancy ladies from the Leas appear, and how they behave towards others. Adele especially considers the ladies (and gentlemen) as a sort of in-house show, and when Jane first sees them they are described beautifully: “with dress that gleamed lustrous through the dusk” and “they then descended the staircase almost as noiselessly as a bright mist rolls down a hill” (chapter 17)However, their treatment of others, especially Jane and Adele, is less than attractive. Blanche Ingram calls governesses such as Jane “incubi,” and her mother notes that in Jane’s features “I see all the faults of her class” (chapter 17). Some of them, like the young Eshtons, are shallow; some are haughty like Lady Lynn and Lady Ingram; some like Blanche are just witty enough to be malicious.

Blanche Ingram is hilarious in her efforts to seduce Rochester, or make him like her. She is obviously attempting to flatter Rochester’s vanity when she talks about how awesome James Hepburn of Bothwell is, even though he was A KIDNAPPER. Acknowledging her own beauty, she acknowledges Rochester’s ugliness when she says, “I am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a foil to me” (chapter 17). Like, she’s not even subtle in her attempts and it’s absolutely precious. If Rochester falls for her, he has serious problems. Not that I’m worried about that like Jane is.

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Jane, giving Blanche the side-eye

Jane is getting really obsessed with Rochester at this point: “I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking; a precious, yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless” (chapter 17). Audience, meet Jane, who lost every last bit of her chill. Or has she? Again, talking about Rochester’s physical features: “they were more than beautiful to me, they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me.” Even though she knows her love is hopeless, she admits “and yet, while I breathe and think  I must love him” (chapter 17). She is a little self-aware, as she realizes “I was forgetting all his faults, for which I had once kept a sharp look-out” (chapter 18).

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Jane’s inner expression re: Rochester

 

The charades are really fun. Did they let Blanche pick all of the topics? “Bride,” Eliezer’s hunt for a bride, and “Bridewell”? She HAS NO CHILL. Even less chill than Jane, and we’ve already established that Jane’s inner chill is completely decimated.

Richard Mason’s appearance is startling, both to us and to Rochester. Like where did this yokel come from and why did he happen to come at the same time as all of these other folks? CONVENIENT, RICHARD, VERY. I like Jane’s dismissal of him, even though he’s like a hot young stud: “His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life–at least so I thought” (chapter 18). And compared to Rochester, Mason is completely boring. As Jane says: “I think….the contrast could not be much greater between a sleek gander and a fierce falcon: between a meek sheep and the rough-coated keen-eyed dog, its guardian” (chapter 18). Granted, Jane is incredibly biased.

I feel so bad for Adele in this section. She’s just a kid that wants to be a grown-up, a “cool kid,” and look like the pretty ladies, but she is often shunted aside and people like Blanche treat her with contempt. To be fair to Blanche, even Rochester treats Adele contemptuously at times, but that seems to be because he is specifically reminded of Adele’s mother.  ANYWAY Adele seems like a nice kid and she deserves better.

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Speaking of Rochester being kind of a butt, I really disapprove of his gipsy disguise. I mean, there’s a lot of good reasons why he shouldn’t dress up like a poor, outcast minority but also he shouldn’t use it to trick Jane. Rochester goes to a lot of trouble in his attempt to manipulate Jane into confessing feelings for him, and it’s gross.

However, he does give a tremendous description of Jane’s current state: “You are cold, because you are alone; no contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. You are sick: because the best of feelings, the highest and sweetest given to man, keeps far away from you. You are silly, because, suffer as you may, you will not beckon it to approach; nor will you stir one step to meet it where it waits you” (chapter 19). I think it’s pretty apt; DISCUSS? Do you agree or disagree? To me it seems like Jane does separate herself from other people, both because she has been used to people disregarding her, and because she doesn’t trust anyone. tumblr_npjp6o7ArQ1snwj8no2_250.gif

We also hear Jane’s life goal in this conversation with the “gipsy”: “The utmost I hope is, to save money enough out of my earnings to set up a school some day in a little house rented by myself” (chapter 19). It’s interesting that she uses “hope” as, something she has a fair expectation of, rather than something she wants but can’t have (like Rochester).

Rochester acts more like himself in this scene, both when he is the gipsy and when he is not. He shows that he is very aware of Blanche’s regard for him and that it is based on money: “I would advise her black-avised suitor to look out: if another comes, with a longer or clearer rent-roll; he’s dished” (chapter 19). And he treats Jane like he has always treated her: half kind, half critical, and likes teasing and judging her in an attempt to draw her out of her reserve. Spoilers, Jane: he’s getting real thirsty.

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Rochester’s society self versus his “real” (?) self with Jane is such a ridiculous contrast. He needs to get it together. Please don’t hate me if I link this scene, I can’t stop thinking about it in regards to Rochester. What a clueless child.

Some questions I have:

  • Do you think Blanche considers Jane a threat to her own relationship with Rochester? Or does she not consider Jane a threat so much as beneath her contempt?
  • What do you think of Rochester’s choice to disguise himself? Justified? Immoral? Why or why not?

 

Jane Eyre: Further Reading (1)

I’ve tracked down some interesting blog posts and articles about subjects mentioned in recent-ish chapters of Jane Eyre. I won’t be discussing chapters 17-19 until this weekend, but WOW do I love all of the drama going on, especially with the influx of new characters.

Through Jane’s situation at Thornfield Hall, and especially via her interactions (or lack of) Rochester’s visiting friends, we get a good idea of what life was like for a Victorian governess. If you’d like a nice overview of the kind of job women like Jane had, read The Figure of the Governess by Kathryn Hughes:

Life was full of social and emotional tensions for the governess since she didn’t quite fit anywhere. She was a surrogate mother who had no children of her own, a family member who was sometimes mistaken for a servant. Was she socially equal or inferior to her employers? If the family had only recently stepped up the social scale, perhaps she’d consider herself superior. She was rarely invited to sit down to dinner with her employers, even if they were kind. The servants disliked the governess because they were expected to be deferential towards her, despite the fact that she had to go out to work, just like them.

Kathryn Hughes apparently has written a whole book on the subject of governesses.

Here’s a letter from Charlotte Bronte in which she talks about governesses and how important it is for women to be financially independent. I couldn’t find the full text online aside from the scans of the original letter.

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Painting by Richard Redgrave. Source with painting commentary. 

Meanwhile, Jane and Rochester still haven’t shut up about Physiognomy, so I found another article about it, including some interesting visuals from Victorian phrenologists/physiologists, showing how they analyzed faces to learn about the person’s personality.

Together these pseudosciences should not be viewed as fanciful, benign, or just misguided scientific endeavors of the 18th and 19th century, but rather portentous and troublesome practices, leading to or even perpetuating prejudices and long-standing biases. People could be easily categorized, labeled, and judged, not on merit or deed, but by their mere physical appearance. As a result, phrenology and physiognomy caught the interest of certain individuals with strong ideological convictions who wish to use these pseudosciences as justification for social, racial, religious, or political change.

Last but not least, the mysterious Mr. Mason (who shows up in this week’s reading), is from Spanish Town, Jamaica. I found you some awesome old maps of that area, for no good reason at all except OLD MAPS, Y’ALL.

Jane Eyre: Chapters 12-16

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

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actual footage of Rochester’s entrance.

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.

Best quote:

“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

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Rochester has an odd idea of polite conversation.

Best quote:

“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

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Jane is good at avoiding conversational blunders.

Best quote:

“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.”

“Sir?”

“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

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Best quote:

“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

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Jane finding out about Blanche, probably

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.

Best quote:

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?

DISCUSS:

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?

 

 

Jane Eyre: Chapters 7-11

This post contains spoilers through chapter 11 of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

How is the reading going? Fallen behind? Racing ahead? I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to this next week’s reading. Because reasons.

In case you missed it:

  • The #EyreAlong tag right now is mostly me. Y’all need to step up your Twitter game or I’ll just keep live-tweeting Jane Eyre movies.
  • Jane Eyre: Jedi Knight? on the blog.

Continue reading “Jane Eyre: Chapters 7-11”

Jane Eyre: Jedi Knight

This post contains spoilers for chapters 1-9 of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. We should be through chapter 11 by Saturday.

Readalong PSA: If you haven’t checked out or contributed to the #EyreAlong hashtag on Twitter yet, what are you waiting for?

I’ve been reading the Lowood chapters and watching how much Jane learns and grows while she’s there, especially through the influences of Helen Burns and Miss Temple. I realized that Jane’s growth arc so far has a lot of similarities with a Jedi-in-training.

(Yes, I am a huge Star Wars nerd, but if you didn’t know that about me already, then it is good that we are having this talk.)

Without further ado, let’s look at the parallels between Jane’s upbringing through age ten of her life (and through chapter 9 of the book) and a Jedi Pawadan’s training during the Old Republic.

Jane leaves her family at a young age, just like a potential Padawan would.

All right, so most Padawans are taken from their families as babies or toddlers, but I mean, if starting his Jedi training a little older worked for Anakin, it should be okay that Jane is older, too, right?

Right?

In Jane’s case, she has zero regrets about leaving her home with the Reeds and while her thoughts may dwell with her “mother” Mrs. Reed, they are thoughts of blame, not fear for Mrs. Reed’s safety. She doesn’t have a lot of emotional entanglements, which Jedi frown upon.


Jane grows up in an austere educational institution where practicality and quiet are valued.

Jane objects to way the students are constantly harangued for their behavior, and how unimportant the needs of the body are considered by those in charge. Young Jedi Padawans live and learn at the Jedi Temple and have to learn to value the galaxy at large over their own feelings and needs.

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The Jedi Temple. Source

Jane has to pass a few tests at Lowood, just like the Initiate Trials of a potential Padawan.

Jane doesn’t know anyone at Lowood when she first arrives. She has to defend herself against older bullies. She has to defend her reputation when Mr. Brocklehurst tries to turn everyone against her. She’s behind in academics and has to struggle to catch up.  Jedi Padawans have to pass their own test when they join the Jedi order called the Initiate Trials. This is to prove that they’re worth training to use the Force.

Jane has a lot of Feelings that she has to master or let go of.

Helen Burns is constantly calling Jane to the floor for being disproportionately angry, vengeful, or self-pitying. Due to her influence, Jane tries to at least suppress some of her darker emotions. Of course, as we all know, letting go of one’s fear and anger, but also stretching out with one’s feelings, are very important for the Jedi order. Padawans are trained in serenity and calm.

Jane admires kind older girls like Helen Burns and teachers like Miss Temple, just as a Padawan emulates Jedi Knights and Masters.

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Symbol of the Jedi Order. Source 

Jane immediately gravitates to the forbearance and kindness of Helen Burns, another “Padawan” in training, although she’s older than Jane. Jane also  admires Miss Temple, the superintendent and a compassionate, educated woman. If Miss Temple is Jane’s Jedi Master, does that make Brocklehurst Yoda? I’m just asking. Jedi Padawans have to learn from Knights and Masters, and eventually are trained under one particular master who chooses to mentor them. Miss Temple is Jane’s mentor Jedi Master.

I can’t wait for Jane to build her lightsaber and complete the Jedi Trials.

What do you all think? Can you think of other ways Jane is emulating the Jedi Way?

All of that being said, I would still like someone to write me a Jedi AU fanfic of Jane Eyre.