|The first copy of JE I owned|
myself had this cover. My friend
Julie gave it to me for my 18th
birthday, and I took it to college.
Okay, well, I will try to reconstruct my thoughts. But it's 10:30 at night and I'm pretty tired, so I apologize right now if this is disjointed or whatever.
I think the very first line is splendid. "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day" (p. 11). No possibility. Because, for Jane Eyre at this point in her young life, there are no possibilities at all. She's a penniless orphan stuck living with relatives who don't want her, some of whom actively dislike her. No possibility.
In the second paragraph, she surprises us. "I was glad of it," she says. Right from the start, she is different, isn't she? I mean, compare her to Jane Austen's heroines, who all love to wander around outside in every sort of weather. Jane Eyre doesn't like long walks because they make her feel sad and inferior. She would rather stay inside and read. But this marks her as different. And her aunt disapproves of different. Mrs. Reed wishes Jane would be "lighter, franker, more natural." Which tells us that Jane seems dark, secretive, and unnatural.
Those three adjectives are soon confirmed. Jane hides herself away behind heavy drapes (secretive), preferring the dreary view and a book full of bleak pictures (dark), and she enjoys trying to understand a volume of paintings far above her comprehension level (unnatural). In fact, the most ordinary-sounding picture we get a description of, that of a lonely graveyard, she can't understand at all -- ordinary sentiment escapes her, but the wild and weird pictures, she has a real feel for.
Don't you think those first three paintings are so representative of what's to come in this story? Surely "the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray" (p. 12) is meant to portray Jane herself, standing alone against so many troubles. And "the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast" is Rochester, shattered and lonely and isolated. But then that "cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking" -- is that Rochester's first marriage? Is it what happens to Jane and Rochester's relationship when she learns the truth? I don't know.
But then there's John Reed. Oh, ick. What a terrible person he is. Fourteen years old, tormenting his helpless cousin, on the road to becoming a perverted piece of scum. He disgusts me.
And what an ending to this chapter! "Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there" (p. 16). ACK! So ominous and scary!
Favorite Lines: I was then happy; happy at least in my way (p. 13).
Possible Discussion Questions: Do you think I'm all wet when it comes to interpreting those paintings?
Are there helpful and good lessons to be learned from reading about things like child abuse? Can we learn anything useful from characters like John Reed?