Monday, November 03, 2014

Jane Eyre Read-along: Week 7

Welcome to the seventh week of 
the 2014 Jane Eyre Read-Along,
brought to you by

Introduction:  "I forgave him all:  yet not in words,"

In this week's reading Rochester has betrayed Jane and wounded her to the core.  But he tries to make amends, to persuade her not to leave him and Thornfield Hall.  That is not to be, but he asks, "Will you forgive me?";  Then Jane shares her thoughts with her dear readers:

"Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot.  There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner:  and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien -- I forgave him all:  yet not in words, not outwardly:  only at my heart's core."

This Week's Discussion Questions
for  Chapters 24-28

At several points both Rochester and Jane refer to each other in terms of mythical creatures and magic. Why do you think that they do this?

The questions get harder to answer, in part because our two main characters are harder to decipher.  The use of mythology on Jane's part may stem from her imagination combined with an inability to relate directly to Rochester's situation.  Perhaps that is true of Rochester as well.  They are far apart in class and station, making Mrs. Fairfax's doubts about the match seem very realistic.  Yet, here we have two lovers--at least two proclaiming love for each other--who resort to imaginary beings as referents.  One result of this is the feeling that their relationship is unreal. Perhaps that is the author's intent.

In Chapter 24 when Rochester jokingly compares Jane to a Turkish slave girl Jane becomes indignant and replies sharply to him. Does this say anything about Jane’s personality and the relationship between the two?

For this reader it confirms my belief that Jane is a very strong-willed and independent young woman; albeit a woman who is filled with doubts that manifest in some tentative reactions.  But not here, not when she feels she is demeaned by Rochester's unseemly joking manner.  His inconstant behavior suggests he may have his own doubts about their relationship.  His bravado and joking manner may be his way of hiding his true feelings.

At one point, after gazing at the damaged horse-chestnut tree, Jane gathers apples in the garden and remarks “ I employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe” Do you think that there is any significance to this?

Jane seems to be trying to reassure herself that there is something good (ripe) to preserve in her relationship, something on which she might focus.  In the previous paragraph she speaks to the damaged horse-chestnut tree saying,  "You did right to hold fast to each other . . . I think, scathed as you look, there must be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion at the faithful honest roots . . . the time of pleasure and love is over with you:  but you are not desolate: each of you have a comrade to sympathise with him in his decay." Is love and pleasure over for her and Rochester or is this a premonition, reinforced by her dreams (see next question)?

In chapter 25 Jane relates to Rochester several of her dreams. What do you make of them?

In one dream she saw a "dark and gusty night" and while wishing to continue with Rochester, "experienced a strange, regretful consciousness of some barrier dividing us."  As if this is not ominous enough she continues, "I dreamt another dream sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin".
These dreams, following the episode in the garden seem to surely foreshadow the events of the Wedding interrupted in the following chapter.  It seems that in spite of Rochester's professions of love and offering his hand in marriage that Jane's world is coming apart, and has been ever since the ominous rending of the great tree at the end of Chapter Twenty-three.

Rochester is revealed to have perpetrated a major deception upon Jane in regards to his first marriage. What does this say about Rochester?

If there were any doubts that Rochester was not to be trusted they have been shattered by this episode.  It is difficult to fathom what he was thinking when he proposed to Jane, knowing that his previous marriage was a possible impediment even though he seems to feel this can somehow be overcome.  He said it best when he told Jane "you must regard me a plotting profligate -- a base and low rake".  Indeed!

What do you think of Jane’s decision to flee from Rochester?

I believe she feels that she has no choice.  She is fleeing from Thornfield and everything that Rochester represents.  The one person in whom she had placed her hope had deceived her and left her life in a shambles.  The question is will she be able to recover from this terrible episode.


Brian Joseph said...

Great analysis James.

These two characters are so powerful, yet you are correct, they are an enigma.

I think that you are on to something inference to there being an unreal quality to the relationship and hence the mythology.

The reference to "The faithful honest roots" are indeed important and indicative of the characters.

Rochester is indeed a plotter. It is interesting how so many readers, myself included, feel that we can forgive him for it.

James said...


Thanks for your insights. The novel is richer with every reading and our on-line discussions provide even more to think about.

Each reader reads the novel in his own way but together we have a multi-faceted vision that is richer still.

Maria Behar said...

Oh, I LOVE your answer to the first question, James! Indeed, this would be a very clever way for Jane and Rochester to handle their feelings in this unusual match. And yes, it could very well have been the author's intent to heighten the sense of unreality in such a relationship, through the use of such terms as "fairy, and "witchery". Very insightful!

Jane's reaction to Rochester's joke about the Turkish seraglio seems a little too strong. Rochester was actually paying her a compliment. On the other hand, I guess I wouldn't want to be compared to a slave girl,even in jest, and as a sort of compliment. Lol. I think the whole situation does turn into playful banter toward the end, though.

Regarding the apples, I agree that Jane was quite possibly, albeit unconsciously, trying to reassure herself. Good point.

No, Rochester is certainly not to be trusted, and yet....even as I condemn his actions, I find myself feeling VERY attracted to him. His feelings and conflicts are rather poignant. He's somewhat like a little boy, in trying to have his cake and eat it, too. I don't know....I was totally infatuated with him the first time I read this novel, even as I deplored his actions! But well, he reformed at the end. What I find so attractive in him is his passion, his capacity for love. I also admire his razor-sharp wit! His erudition makes itself very evident in many of his statements. I think, had I been in Jane's shoes, I would have fallen in love with him just as fast!! Lol.

Your insights on this novel are interesting and intriguing, as are Brian's. And I agree with your last statement: "Each reader reads the novel in his own way, but together, we have a multi-faceted vision that is richer still." Very well put!

Thanks so much for participating in this read-along!! :)

James said...


Thanks for your kind comments. And also thanks for your own astute observations, especially comparing Rochester to a little boy. He certainly demonstrates some aspects of that in his behavior, yet I share your feeling of attraction to him in spite of his untrustworthy and sometimes unpredictable behavior.