We're at Thornfield Hall! We're at Thornfield Hall! ::Cue lots of excited bouncing::
Um. Yes. I have been known to just start the book here. When I'm pressed for time and need a dose of Jane + Rochester. I've read the middle section and the very end probably half a dozen times more often than I've read the whole book.
Anyway! This is a longer chapter, but I figure lots of people will have a long weekend coming up if they need to catch up. SO much happening here! Jane arrives at Thornfield, Jane meets Mrs. Fairfax, Jane thinks Mrs. Fairfax is awfully nice for an employer, Jane realizes Mrs. Fairfax is not really her employer, Jane meets her new pupil and they chatter away in French, Jane asks a lot of questions about the as-yet-unmet Mr. Rochester and is unsatisfied by Mrs. Fairfax's answers, Jane explores the house, Jane hears weird and creepy laughter, Jane meets Grace Poole... busy times!
What is up with the guy at the inn in Millcote not knowing there's a place called Thornfield nearby? Dude, it's huge, full of Gothic Foreboding, very gloomy and atmospheric... that ringing any bells? Huh. Maybe he's new.
I love that Mrs. Fairfax right away distinguishes Jane as not being one of the servants. I know that governesses in that time occupied a sort of weird middle-world, not servants, but also not equals with their employers. How lovely for Jane to have another person in that middle realm whom she can confide in! And isn't Mrs. Fairfax a dear? Prone to chatter, but still, so kind.
And Adele is reasonably cute. I've always liked her line, "Aire! Bah! I cannot say it" (p. 120). That's always struck me as something a spoiled little girl would say, somehow. Though then she sings that song about a forsaken lady with a perfidious lover -- do you think her mother taught it to her in hopes that some day she would happen to sing it around Mr. Rochester and wound him?
But Thornfield -- wow, Bronte pours on the Gothic atmosphere, doesn't she? Right from the first, we hear about "the eerie impression made by that wide hall, that dark and spacious stair-case, and that long, cold gallery" (p. 116). Then the outside has those "mighty old thorn trees strong, knotty, and broad as oaks" (p. 118) -- don't they remind you of Mr. Rochester himself? Yet Jane's own room, and Mrs. Fairfax's little sitting room, are cozy and homey enough. And I would love to curl up in that library! Especially if I could coax a certain lord of the manor to give me the keys to all the book cases.
Mrs. Fairfax does tell us a few things about Mr. Rochester by what she doesn't say. Jane asks if she likes him, and she replies that she does because "the family have always been respected here" (p. 124). She says "his character is unimpeachable, I suppose (p. 124 -- emphasis mine), and that he is "rather peculiar" (p. 124). But why is Jane so very curious about him? She isn't satisfied with Mrs. Fairfax's account of him, and she ponders it -- but Mrs. Fairfax has already said he's rarely at Thornfield, so why should it matter to Jane what he's like? Unless she's worried about him showing up and making untoward advances or something, but she seems too sheltered to really have that on her mind.
Several bits of foreshadowing going on here too. Jane feels she's looking forward to "something pleasant; not perhaps that day or that month, but at an indefinite future period" (p. 117). And then when Jane sees all the old furniture in some of the bedrooms on the third story, she says they make Thornfield Hall seem like "a shrine of memory" (p. 125). Or perhaps a place to contain and lock away memories? And then, most blatant of all, is Jane's reference to Bluebeard, that fairy tale guy who locked up his dead wives in one room of his castle.
And here comes the Gothic Creepiness again -- Jane asking about ghosts, Mrs. Fairfax admitting the Rochesters "have been rather a violent than a quiet race" (p. 126), and then that "distinct, formal, mirthless" laugh that Jane says was "as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard" (p. 127). But the laugh gets attributed to Grace Poole, as unromantic and unghostly a person as Jane can imagine. Still, Mrs. Fairfax cryptically rebukes her with "Remember directions!" (p. 127). Ahhhh, something weird is going on here.
But Adele's hungry, and it's lunchtime, so never mind the creep factor, huh?
Oh! Does your copy have translations for the French? If not, try this page for some illumination.
"I will do my best -- it is a pity that doing one's best does not always answer" (p. 112).
"A child makes a house alive all at once" (p. 115).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Does Adele annoy you? Do you feel sorry for her? Do you not care about her much one way or the other?