Saturday, June 18, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 7

I really hate this chapter.  This chapter is why I often skip straight to chapter 11 when I only have time to re-read "the Good Parts Version" of my favorite novel.

I really relate with Jane when she says that "[t]he fear of failure in these points harassed me worse than the physical hardships of my lot" (p. 72).  I fear failure more than just about anything.  I know a lot of people fear public speaking, but I fear it only because I'm afraid I'll fail at it.  

Anyway, yikes, Lowood is horrible.  Cold and hungry children are NOT going to learn patience and hardiness.  They're going to learn to do whatever is necessary to relieve those conditions -- witness the older girls bullying the younger ones in order to get a little more food.  

Then Mr. Brocklehurst pontificates about how awful Jane is, drawing out the revelation of just what her iniquity is in an almost laughable manner.  Once he pronounces her a liar, there "came a pause of ten minutes" (p. 80).  This made me chuckle, because I think Jane means it felt like ten minutes, but surely it didn't really last that long?

Possible Discussion Question:

When Jane breaks her slate, Miss Temple seeks to reassure her, and Jane says her teacher's "kind whisper went to my heart like a dagger" (p. 79).  Why do you think that act of kindness hurt Jane, but Helen Burns smiling at her was a comfort?

15 comments:

  1. To disappoint a friend is so much more painful than to disappoint a stranger or an enemy. Given the standards of Lowood, Jane likely feared Miss Temple would have to take on the responsibility of replacing the slate. Helen has already found a place in Jane's heart, and she can reassure Jane even more than Miss Temple can.

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    1. Kelda, maybe that's it. I'm not sure!

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  2. Sorry I didn't comment on the last posts. But here I am! I can see why you hate this chapter. Lowood is just SO awful. And Mr. Brocklehurst...ugh.

    Heehee, I wondered at the "ten minutes" too. That makes sense if Jane only felt it was that long. I had a hard time imagining a silence of ten minutes!

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    1. Natalie, don't fret! I expect people to catch up as they can. I myself have been falling several days behind on replying to comments -- that's life!

      I have to think the "ten minutes" is meant to be humorous. It makes no sense otherwise.

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  3. Your only quotation, Rachel, was the only line that I highlighted in the whole chapter, partly because I can identify so much with Jane's feeling and partly because I couldn't stop reading to highlight. This chapter was just awful in the description of what went on at Lowood.

    Sunday is supposed to be the happiest day of the week, but I saw not one happy incident in the Lord's Day described. The description of the cold made me shiver even on this very hot summer day in New Mexico! And the memorization that these little girls had to do was inhumane! Thank goodness for a person like Miss Temple in that institution!

    The funny part of the ten minutes, if indeed they were ten minutes, was watching Mrs. Brocklehurst rock back and forth during that time and the two daughters saying over and over again, "How shocking!"

    Weren't those older girls ("great" girls, as Jane calls them, probably not referring to their personalities) mean? But oh, so typical of older children's taking advantage of younger ones?

    I can see why you sometimes skip this chapter. It is certainly emotional!

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    1. Sandy, yeah, I tend to just zoom through this as fast as I can. This is the first time in years I've taken my time with it.

      Sunday is also supposed to be a day of rest and spiritual renewal, and none of that was going on here either. Blech.

      And you're right, that would be a funny ten minutes!

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  4. I've actually been enjoying Lowood in a sense because, while the practical aspects of life are rather horrible, I do see a growth in character of both Jane and Helen because of the deprivation. Not that we need such deprivation to grow spiritually (no, I do not agree with Brocklehurst), but at least we learn that we can have spiritual growth under these circumstances, and that is a comforting thought for anyone who has to face a situation similar to the struggles of the girls and teachers at Lowood. While we don't have control of our situation, we do have control over our response to it.

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    1. That's a cool point, Cleo. I think sometimes when we have to fight against something, that can really help us define what we believe and who we are.

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  5. I think you actually dread this chapter more on a re-read. The chapter starts out badly with Brocklehurst showing up and Jane thinking everyone will hate her now, but it ends well. Jane realizes that everyone will still like her if she continues as she started. If we have a good conscience we don't need to fear someone's wrong thoughts about us. That doesn't mean it won't hurt, but we can hold our heads up and continue to do right.
    I think everyone loves Miss Temple even more after this chapter - if only she was fully in charge of running the orphanage.
    I do love how Jane sees the hypocrisy in what Brocklehurst says and how his wife and daughters look when they show up. Children can be very perceptive.

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    1. I just realized that I put Chapter 8 in with 7. I guess I just couldn't leave Jane alone and sad at the end of 7 so I read 8, and they became one chapter in my mind. :)

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    2. Jennifer, I have been kind of dragging my feet through this part because I don't like having to stop every chapter -- I want to get it over with once I start. Which makes me not want to start. So I don't blame you for lumping them together. Soon I'll have the opposite problem and want to read faster and faster.

      I like your point about having a clear conscience making all the difference.

      Children are often much more perceptive than we expect, I think.

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  6. That picture is amazing, it shows so well how small Jane is and how intimidated she must have felt. I really like her describing Brocklehurst as a pillar, it's so vivid.

    The adaptations (the 2006 one mainly) have really influenced me, I found upon reading this chapter. I expected Helen to have her hair cut of, like in the adaptation, in stead, it's just one of the other unknown girls. Strange, how you mix up books and adaptations in your head.

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    1. Birdie, I know! I couldn't find a book cover that matched the tone for this chapter, but then I stumbled on that illustration and knew I had to use it. So striking.

      I'd forgotten all about the hair-cutting -- but I've only seen the 2006 once.

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  7. I dislike this chapter too!

    Perhaps Miss Temple's whisper felt like a dagger because she was an adult and felt formidable to Jane because she was far above her. Both in height and in maturity. Then Helen's smile felt warm because Jane considered herself and Helen to be equals whereas, Miss Temple was not considered an equal.
    Looking back on my response, I'm not sure if it will make sense, but that was my first thought.

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    1. Ekaterina, that's very possible. Just the difference in their positions regarding Jane could make a big difference in how their encouragement felt to her.

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