Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 3

After the fervor of the first two chapters, this one feel a little tame.  It's kind of an interlude, I guess, bridging from Jane's terror in the Red Room to her leaving Gateshead Hall.

I feel so sad for little Jane, that she feels "an inexpressible relief, a soothing conviction of protection and security, when I knew that there was a stranger in th eroom" (p. 25).  Poor thing really is terrified of her aunt and cousins, and with good reason, as we have seen.  I'm glad this apothecary is kind and sensible.  

Do you think that Jane suffers from some sort of PTSD-like affliction?  She says that the Red Room experience "gave my nerves a shock, of which I feel the reverberation to this day," which involve "fearful pangs of mental suffering" (p. 26).  And she seems to be not just in shock, but depressed in this chapter, crying even though she tries to stop, not interested in things that used to fascinate her, and not eating.  That can be our Possible Discussion Question for the day.

And my goodness, how that song she quotes Bessie as singing describes her later experiences, right down to the moors and the gray rocks, the hard-hearted men and weary limbs.

I must admit I did chuckle at one point in this chapter, though, when Jane says she thinks Abbot suspected her of being "a sort of infantine Guy Fawkes" (p. 33).  Maybe I chuckled because the idea of blowing Gateshead Hall up with gunpowder feels like a good idea.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting. Even though I resist taking 21st concepts (e.g., PTSD) and applying them to older literature (e.g., 19th century British novel), I applaud your creative thinking in your reader response. Perhaps, though, Bronte wants readers to identify with and sympathize with Jane; readers in the 19th century had plenty of emotional roller-coasters in their lives (and I do not think we need to resort to PTSD labels to see the identification connections). You've nearly persuaded me to join the reading. Well, nearly.

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    1. Come on, Tim! Jump in. We're having a grand time reading and discussing Jane Eyre!

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    2. Tim, don't you think that PTSD has existed a lot longer than we've called it that? I certainly think it has. In WWII, we called it "combat fatigue." In WWI, it was "shell shock." And so on. While I don't think Jane has PTSD specifically, she certainly shows signs of an ongoing emotional damage that stems from that experience.

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  2. What a relief to find someone who likes Jane, Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary. I immediately liked him! I loved the part of the chapter when he returns the next day after Jane's illness and really understands Jane's feelings. He's really a hero to the poor little girl.

    My heart went out to her when the little dish and Gulliver's Travels didn't interest her. It was a "too little, too late" moment for her. It reminded me of grief that I've felt when losing someone very dear to me and losing interest in things that used to be so important. This was a happy/sad chapter for me.

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    1. Sandy, yes, I could just cheer for Mr. Lloyd. Finally, a bright spot in Jane's life, albeit a brief one.

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  3. I love how Bronte further illustrates Jane's despair. The tart brought to Jane on the beautiful china (I love china and relished Bronte's description of this dish) that Jane in turn had no appetite or heart to enjoy. Then there was the copy of Gulliver's Travels. It used to bring Jane such pleasure, but it seemed dreary to her now. "I closed the book...and put it on the table, beside the untasted tart."

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    1. Lucy, yes, those concrete examples of how this has affected her really make Jane's despair realistic, don't they? Poor, sad child.

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  4. As a mom, the thought that I could scar my children for life is something that makes me think carefully about my actions and words. Childhood memories can have a lifelong affect, and how dare Mrs. Reed break her word to her husband! If nothing else she should have treated Jane at the very least in a kindly fashion out of regard for her husband. It all goes to show her character as a self-centred woman.
    I too thought the poem very evocative of what is to come.
    The doctor was sweet although I'm afraid his well-intended advice turned to more pain for Jane at first.

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    1. Jennifer, I agree! I can remember things that my parents said to me, not intending to be hurtful, but that still sting. It's such a heavy responsibility, isn't it?

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  5. I loved how Bessie's song foreshadows Jane's trials later on. Poor thing! :(

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    1. Natalie, I know -- really nice bit of foreshadowing there.

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  6. I wouldn't say that Jane has PTSD, but a person with PTSD might have some of her symptoms. When a person has PTSD, they have episodic memories of painful moments, so it is like they are reliving the painful moment that happened in the past. When Jane says she has "fearful pangs of mental suffering," what do you think she means?

    It was funny how Abbot compared Jane to an "infantine Guy Fawkes." I am glad that gave me a little bit of a laugh because the rest of the chapter made me sad.

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    1. Ekaterina, I'm not sure what Jane means by her "fearful pangs of mental suffering." Maybe flashbacks? Maybe depression?

      And yes, that comparison to Guy Fawkes was a needed bit of levity :-)

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What do you think?

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