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.

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.

Dracula: Honestly, Travel Is Kinda Draining

This post only includes spoilers through chapter 4 of Dracula.

But first I found some cool stuff:


Jonathan finding Dracula’s inert body during the daytime.
So in chapter 4 as we’ve seen, Jonathan continues to have a horrifying time. I think it’s weird that Jonathan mentions that the vampire ladies want to suck his blood, though (51)? They only talked about kissing in the last scene, and based on Jon’s reaction to the mirror-throwing I assumed he would assume they were talking about actual kissing. The vampire ladies also appear to be able to morph to/from dust (56), unless that’s just Jonathan hallucinating as they approach? What do you think?

Jon is a newbie in terms of vampire lore, as we see again when the Szgany are unloading the “great, square boxes” (55) with no commentary from Jon. I CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT THOSE ARE FOR. tumblr_mpn4hrgfng1r6fdkno3_500

Jon keeps exhibiting the traditional behavior of literary Victorian women, eg “I sat down and simply cried” (57). I don’t blame Jonathan AT ALL for freaking out 24/7 while he’s in a vampire’s house. But it’s really interesting to me how far this book goes with it, considering that in most Victorian literature the women are constantly having fits of hysterics and attacks of the vapors while the men run off to do the deadly deeds. COMMENTS?

Jon also seems to fear that his experiences in Castle Dracula may have tainted him spiritually or something, implied by when he is considering escape and hoping that “the dreaded Hereafter may be open to me” (58). He doesn’t want to die but also doesn’t want to be damned to hell and I don’t really understand what is going on here, to be honest.

So far I am picturing Dracula as a dragon/leech/basilisk hybrid. Y/N?