Monday, June 27, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 10

We're leaving Lowood!  We're leaving Lowood!  La la la la la la!

I love those "gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sympathizing minds" (p. 99) who put an end to Mr. Brocklehurst's tyrannical, hypocritical rule at Lowood, don't you?  I'm very fond of people who can "combine reason with strictness, comfort with economy, compassion with uprightness (p. 99).  Come to think of it, that rather describes the person I'm always striving to be.  

Miss Temple married "a clergyman, an excellent man" (p. 100).  Charlotte Bronte's father was a clergyman, and she eventually married his curate.  But she also declined an offer of marriage from another clergyman, insisting she was unsuited to the role of his wife.  (Read more here.)  I don't actually have any insights to offer here, just the observation of the role of the clergy in Bronte's life and in Jane's.  A clergyman takes away Jane's beloved teacher and friend, and later another clergyman will seek to take Jane away from England and everyone she knows (and loves).  

Once Miss Temple is gone, Jane desires to leave.  First, she prays for liberty, but feels it's out of her reach, so then she prays for change.  That seems too much too, so finally she begs for a new place to be useful.  And that request is granted, though she seems to credit "a kind fairy" (p. 103) for the answer to how she can do that, rather than God answering her prayer.

And before she leaves Lowood, she gets a quick visit from Bessie, a link to the childhood that she is leaving behind.  I find it so sweet that Bessie named her daughter Jane.  She also brings news of Jane's cousins, none of whom seem to be doing very well in life.  And while she doesn't think Jane has turned out to be very pretty, she does think she's genteel and ladylike and accomplished, which is something.  She also brings the news that Jane has an uncle who is in the wine business, looks like a gentleman, and is now in Madeira.  I must admit that I had totally forgotten Bessie brought that news of Jane's Uncle Eyre here -- it's been too long since I read these first ten chapters!

Favorite Lines:

I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse to seek real knowledge of life amid its perils (p. 101).

Possible Discussion Questions:

When Jane's trying to figure out how to find a new place to teach, she sits up in bed "by way of arousing this said brain" (p. 102).  Do you find that physical motion or activity also stimulates your brain?

Jane says that until Miss Temple left, she had believed she was content (p. 100).  But now she isn't.  Is there a difference between believing you're content and actually being so?  How can a person be sure they really are content?  Is contentment something people even strive for much anymore?  Do you?

15 comments:

  1. Oh, how much I love your lines about leaving Lowood! My sentiments exactly. I felt so sorry for Jane when she lost Miss Temple and understand her comment about her teacher's intended: "a clergyman, an excellent man, ALMOST worthy of such a wife." No one would ever be completely worthy of Miss Temple in Jane's mind.

    I completely understood Jane's eager desire to get a reply from Mrs Fairfax (I'm sure you've noticed that there's never a period after Mrs or other designations . . . or is it just my edition of JE that omits the periods?), thinking that she's the "lady of the house." I imagine all of us have awaited a reply by mail and feeling that it will never come. Probably today, though, the replies come mostly by email.

    I, too, loved the visit from Bessie. I just think it so strange that someone would tell a person that she's not pretty. But that's just Bessie, I guess.

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    1. Sandy, my copy does have punctuation after Mr. and Mrs. Interesting that yours doesn't!

      But even today, yes, some replies don't come quickly enough, huh?

      Bessie is very forthright, so I think it works for her character. And keeps the moment from being toooo sweet. And lets us know that Jane is not pretty. That becomes important.

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    2. Was your edition printed in England? They don't use the punctuation for Mr. and Mrs. there.

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  2. Yes, indeed! I certainly love people and characters who are reasonable and compassionate but firm and always trying to do the right thing. They have such a good balance between their head and their hearts. :)

    The reunion between Bessie and Jane is so sweet.

    I think that a person will never be truly content until they seek Jesus. I struggle very much with contentment sometimes, so I know I have a long way to go. But, when my focus is on Jesus and all that he's done for me, I certainly feel more content than when I'm pitying myself or longing for different circumstances. Although, as in Jane's case, I think it is very healthy to seek new experiences. I think in a way, Rochester mirrors the "unhealthy" side of seeking new experiences. Jane didn't let her desire for something new drive her from one job to the next, but Mr. Rochester certainly did his share of discontented wanderings!

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    1. Natalie, oh, that's such an interesting point about the difference between Jane and Rochester in their searches for new experience. I think the reason WHY they're seeking new places and people makes such a difference, doesn't it? Jane wants to be useful, and Rochester just wants to be diverted.

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    2. I completely agree about their reasons you mentioned. :)

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  3. I think that contentment and peace are what everyone wants whether they are mothers, wives, movie stars or leaders of nations. And I agree with Natalie that those prized commodities only come through Jesus. Once I started focusing on him and others, life became easier and more enjoyable (though I still get off track plenty of times).

    Also, I agree with Sandy. Imagine telling someone they aren't handsome to their face. For even an independent, strong person like Jane, it stung.

    I'm excited for Jane though as she seeks a new life.

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    1. Lucy, yes, poor Jane. Bessie was never especially nice before, so it's not out of character here, but it's not very kind, still.

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  4. "When Jane's trying to figure out how to find a new place to teach, she sits up in bed 'by way of arousing this said brain' (p. 102). Do you find that physical motion or activity also stimulates your brain?"

    Oh yes! If I find I'm having trouble focusing at work or some other mental task, I find that a brisk 10-20 min. walk wakes my brain right up, and enables it to hone in again. Science is beginning to provide much evidence too: physical motion--cardio, more specifically--increases the brain's capability to learn, memorize, focus, and think. It's SO incredibly fascinating to me to read things within literature that people simply found intuitive, for which modern science is now providing hard evidence as proof of truth. Isn't it incredible?

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    1. Kenia, that's great! I should try that more often. Once upon a time, I would pop my toddler in the stroller and go for a walk to figure out plot problems and so on for my writing. Doesn't happen anymore (once he started to talk, a quiet walk was a thing of the past, and now I have 3 chatterboxes), but I did find that worked well. Isn't it great when hard evidence backs up something that makes sense?

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    2. I totally agree with you, when I was writing my thesis and felt stuck, just a round through the lab would already help to get new ideas and insights.

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  5. I would say that caffeine has more to do with moving my brain to activity than physical motion. That, of course, is a phenomenon that I have only experienced since being a mom. I made it all the way through college without any caffeine, but motherhood is a different animal all together.
    Aaah contentment. I'm struggling with this concept right now. Basically, I'm very happy with the eight children that I have, but there is a little part of me that niggles and prays(read begs)for another baby. But I ask myself, "Will one more be enough?" I suspect it won't so I'm trying to learn contentment with the eight I have. 90% of the time I feel like I've achieved it, and then I'll see a pregnant woman or hear about a friend who is pregnant or see a tiny baby and all those emotions and longing wells up inside me. Paul said he had learned to be content wherever he was - I'm still striving for that.
    I loved seeing Bessie again and had also forgotten that she came for a visit. She must have seen some good in Jane to have given her daughter the same name. The lives of the Reeds is to be expected - no character training so they're not going to do well has adults.
    Things are looking up for Jane!

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    1. Jennifer, that's true for me these days :-D And I'm a morning person, so a lot of times my brain works a lot better in the first part of the day than later on. I drank coffee once in the bluest of moons during college, and during my first few years of married life too. It was like a once-a-week treat while I was writing on my day off. But when I'd had my second baby, suddenly coffee with breakfast became a lifesaver.

      I am struggling with similar feelings right now. I would love a fourth baby, but for over a year, God's answer to that prayer was either "no" or "not now." And then I got this wart on my finger, and the treatment for it causes birth defects, so until that gets cleared up, babies are out of the question. But I have 3 friends who are pregnant right now and wow, it's tough. I'm really struggling with some anger at my body and the doctors for not healing this wart yet (I've had it since October), and trying to learn patience and acceptance from it. Still striving, like you said.

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  6. I thought it was so kind for Bessie to name her daughter Jane, but it confused me that Jane didn't seem really touched...

    Anyways, for your discussion questions:

    1). Yes. Definitely.

    2). Hmm, maybe a person could be sure he is content when thought of things he doesn't have don't distract him from God or other important aspects of his life?

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    1. Meredith, that's true -- Jane didn't mention any kind of pleasure about that naming. Maybe she assumed it was NOT in her honor?

      That's an interesting thought on #2. I will have to ponder it.

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