Monday, November 17, 2014

Jane Eyre Read-along: Week 9

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

Introduction:  "Jane! Jane! Jane!"

In this weeks reading Jane has been living for some time with her cousins, St. John Rivers, Mary and Diana.  One night shortly after going to bed she has a feeling that startles her and hears a voice:

"The feeling was not like an electric shock, but was quite as  sharp, as strange, as startling:  it acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor . . .
I heard a voice somewhere cry --
'Jane!  Jane!  Jane!'  -- nothing more"

This Week's Discussion Questions for 
Chapters 34 - 38
(Questions Provided by

1.) The marriage that St. John Rivers proposes to Jane would be unconventional from an emotional point of view. What do you think about this hypothetical match? 

I agree with Jane that it is not reasonable because St John is proposing it for the wrong reasons.  Rather than professing his love he merely feels that a woman working with him as a missionary who was not married to him would create to great a stigma.  While Jane desires to help him she realizes that marriage is out of the question.

2.) In what ways are St. John Rivers and Rochester alike?
I see in both men a hard resolve to act in certain ways that represent a will that refuses to compromise or even consider alternative views.  In Rochester's case this is more understandable, but I am surprised that St. John Rivers' faith allows him to be so uncritical when reviewing his own attitudes. 

3.) Is it surprising that someone with the strength of character that Jane possesses would be so influenced by St. John Rivers as to almost accede to his marriage proposal?

Yes, it was surprising to me.  In spite of a strong will that she had demonstrated almost from the beginning of the story she almost acceded.  Not only that,  she had such a long battle within herself over his proposal.  After the second time she turned him down I expected that she would put it behind her.  I found this one of only a very few aspects of the story that disappointed me a bit.

4.) What do you think of the seemingly psychic connection that manifests itself between Jane and Rochester at a critical moment in the plot?

I think this is part of the magic that happens when two people have a true connection with each other based on love.  They may try to deny their feelings and turn away for a time, as Jane did in running off and almost starving to death;  but eventually they come together.

5.) What do you think would have happened if, upon her return to Rochester, Jane had found Rochester's first wife, Bertha, to be still alive?

I think that Jane would not have agreed to Rochester's original proposal.  However I imagine she might have worked with Rochester to find a way around the existence of Bertha as an impediment to their marriage.

6.) By the end of the novel, how has Rochester changed? 

The most important change is his realization, shared by Jane, that he can live a better life through the fulfillment of loving and living for another person.  I think that in doing this he has overcome his spiritual blindness;  this happy event is underscored by the partial recovery of his physical sight.

7.) How satisfied are you with the ending of this novel?

The book is one I have read and reread with increasing enjoyment.  I admire Jane's character and enjoy the literary quality of Charlotte's creation.  Once again, I am as satisfied as Jane and Rochester are happy.  
They have become fulfilled with their life together and with a son who has inherited Rochester's brilliant black eyes.  The reward for Jane's perseverance and the redemption of Rochester are all one could ask for.


Brian Joseph said...

Hi James - I agree, this is a novel that needed a happy ending. Though Rochester has paid a price, he does seem to have found fulfillment.

James said...


Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I did. Like other great novels it gets better every time.
Your insights along the way added immensely to my reading pleasure.

Maria Behar said...

Great, insightful answers, James!

I really like your observation about Rivers's unquestioning belief in the rightness of his motives and actions. You're right -- a true Christian would be more objective, since Christianity emphasizes that no one is perfect.

I, too, found it surprising that someone of Jane's strong personality would almost accept Rivers's proposal. I can see how you would have found this disappointing. It almost seems to be a flaw in the novel. I think it was partly because Jane had despaired of ever being able to marry Rochester, so she decided to "settle".

I LOVE your answer to question #6! Yes, Rochester has come to realize how futile it is to simply pursue pleasure, and be able to control the people around you. And your observation about his spiritual blindness being underscored by his physical blindness is definitely true.

As you know, I have mixed feelings about the ending. Of course, I'm VERY happy that Jane and Rochester were finally able to marry, and have been very happy together for 10 years. Jane hints that they have at least two children when she mentions "his firstborn" being put into Rochester's arms. All well and good, but I find it very sad that Rochester was so severely injured....I would love to ask Ms. Bronte if that was really necessary. I don't believe it was. So, for me, the ending is a bittersweet one. Still, I do find it romantic!

Thanks so much for participating in this read-along! I'm really looking forward to your review!! :)

James said...


Thanks for your comments. They have enhanced my understanding of the novel. I will have to consider further your dismay at the severity of Rochester's injuries. I am not sure what to make of this and find your view to be both understandable and potentially appealing.