Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 13

When Jane says, "for my part, I liked it better" (p. 141) regarding Thornfield with its master at home, I muttered a hearty, "Hear, hear!"  Because my goodness, did this book just get FUN!  Almost this entire chapter is spent in spirited banter between Jane and Mr. Rochester.  How it delights me.

I do worry a little about Jane and her "heavy, unwelcome thoughts" (p. 142), though.  There's that little thread of depression or trauma or whatever, popping up again.  Hooray for the arrival of Mr. Rochester to liven up her world, and of Mrs. Fairfax to call her out of her solitude.  Oh, this new change in her world is going to be so good for Jane!

(Yes, it is too!  Shh, now.)

Rochester and Jane amuse me so much.  The margins of this chapter are full of little notations, like "hee hee" and little hearts and stars and smiley faces.  And a smiley heart or two at especially delightful spots.  I love how Jane finds his abrasive manner freeing rather than stifling.  She says that "I could not have returned or repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part.  But harsh caprice laid me under no obligation" (p. 144).  In the previous chapter, she reacted similarly, saying that "the frown, the roughness of the traveller, set me at my ease" (p. 135).  Aren't she and Rochester admirably suited to each other from the first?  

And Rochester accusing her of being a fairy is completely adorable.  Almost as adorable as her answering him quite seriously.  Love it, love it, love it.

We also end with a some delightful hints about Mr. Rochester's Sad and Mysterious Past.  Oh, how tantalizing!

Favorite Lines:  "A present has many faces to it, has it not? and one should consider all before pronouncing an opinion as to its nature" (p. 145).

"Arithmetic, you see, is useful; without its aid I should hardly have been able to guess your age" (p. 148).

"As to the thoughts, they are elfish" (p. 151).

Possible Discussion Questions:

This is the second time we've gotten detailed descriptions of unusual artwork.  This time, it's by Jane's own hand.  Do you think these foreshadow coming events the way the ones she saw in a book at the beginning appeared to?

Mrs. Fairfax claims she "never clearly knew" (p. 152) about Mr. Rochester's past, but has only conjectured a few things.  Do you think she is telling the truth?


  1. in-joke, Hamelette: so you edify by the margents too.

    1. Especially when I'm leading a read-along! I didn't want to write in my copy of Shane because it's really old, and it was torture!!! I ended up sticking it full of little sticky notes so I could write on those. Some books (and all my read-alongs) demand marginal edification!

    2. I think Mrs. Fairfax is pretty much right on. She's not a gossip, & she certainly isn't the sort to pry into the Master's affairs (so to speak.) Obviously she knows Some Thing or Some One is behind that locked door, but seems to know and accept that Grace Poole is in charge, little else. When I try to figure it out, I would, from sounds, conjecture that the person was a woman. Her Master then turns up with an unknown,unrelated little girl. There's a title in that: The Daughter of the Woman in the Attic. Oh.That's tempting.But Mrs. Fairfax's morality is such that I can't believe she would knowingly let Jane go forward with the marriage. As much as it would pain her, she would have to tell Jane.

    3. Oh, I think she knows there's a madwoman in the attic. I'm just not sure if she knows that madwoman is Mrs. Rochester. I actually can't remember right now if, in the book, it turns out she knew or not. I do remember that in the 2011 movie version, she apologized profusely to Jane because she had no idea that was Rochester's wife locked up in the attic, and she never would have permitted the wedding plans to go forth if they'd known.

      But of course, she knows Adele is no relation of the woman in the attic, who has been there much longer than Adele has been alive, and Adele was clearly born and raised in France.

    4. The woman's confinement, as horrific as it seems today's standards, was almost lenient for the time - shelter, food, medical care. I don't have a sense of time for her confinement vs Adele's arrival.But it does make sense that Mrs.R had been there longer than Adele's life time. Where else could she have been? The next question is why would Rochester leave a young child in a house with a mad woman inclined to escape?

      Do you think Rochester came home with intention to make a extended stay at this time? Or was this sheer serendipity that found Jane waiting for him?

    5. Goodness me, yes -- Bertha Rochester was in a private home attended by a personal servant and kept from harming herself. Compared to mental institutions of the day, she was in paradise.

      However, I do not think there is any textual evidence that Adele is meant to be Bertha Rochester's daughter. Mr. Rochester tells Jane of Adele's mother, a Parisian socialite whom he left when he found her in the arms of another man. Only later did she have a child and claim it was his -- I think Rochester does have some uncertainty as to Adele's parentage, but since her mother died and he has the means to care for her and might be her father, he does the decent thing and takes her in as his "ward." Adele's own tale of her life in Paris with her mama would seem to bear all this out.

      Since it seems Adele has not been at Thornfield long (Jane is her first English governess), I think that perhaps Rochester came her to be sure she is indeed safe from Bertha. Mrs. Fairfax (I almost said Mrs. Hudson -- too much Holmesian reading for me!) said that he often visits abruptly, and stays for indeterminate amounts of time. I think he'd intended to stay a couple of weeks at most, but Jane changes everything.

    6. Also, Rochester speaks of Bertha's sexual promiscuity with revulsion -- I doubt he's touched her since he learned about her madness.

  2. Loved your post for this chapter. :) I have never taken notes while reading a book, but the idea does intrigue me. I do have a second copy of "The Fellowship of the Ring". Perhaps when I revisit that one I can bring out my pen. :)
    (A friend of mine was gifted a book by her sister with notes and private jokes and such inside. I always thought it was such a fun idea!)

    I certainly don't think Mr. Rochester and I would get along as he and Jane does. Grumpy or sullen people tend to make me nervous. I can never be quite sure if what I am doing is annoying them--or if they are just that way by nature. Usually I have to remind myself that they are probably just having a bad day. So I just try to be nice and smile. haha I'd probably annoy Mr. Rochester exceedingly. ;)

    1. Thanks, Natalie! I got into the habit of taking notes while reading when I was in college. I don't do it for every book, though. When I'm doing a read-along, or reading a very dense book, or reading non-fiction, I do. My LOTR copy has notes everywhere, different color pens for different times I read it.

      That's funny that you and Mr. Rochester would annoy each other!

  3. Aaargh! I haven't been able to comment for days - bad internet, busyness and heat. Then when I do my internet kicks my comment and I have to start all over!
    Anyway, I don't think Mrs. Fairfax knew Mr. Rochester was married. If she had she would have for sure warned Jane.
    I also don't think the artwork shows foreshadowing so much as it shows Jane's "otherness". I don't think it was typical of what a girl would have painted in those days.

    1. Jennifer, don't worry about it! This week was spectacularly weird for me too, and I'm way behind on replying to comments and doing new posts. Hoping to get regulated this coming week.

      And I agree with you on Mrs. Fairfax.

  4. The artwork emphasized women and doom, so I thought that it was perhaps a heavy amount of foreshadowing. There was too much detail in the descriptions for it to be a passing fancy of Bronte's.

    Jane's heavy thoughts go along with her longing for the outside world. Young adults often long for something "imagined" outside their normal lives. When they actually experience it, it can be something quite different than they imagined, and it helps them to appreciate what they had. I wonder if Jane will tread this same path???

    1. Cleopatra, I agree. I think it's got a lot to say about how Jane thinks and views the world, especially.

      Jane is fanciful, yet grounded, so I can see her wanting "something" beyond her life, but also accepting what comes her way, don't you think?


What do you think?

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)