Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 19
We're halfway through the book! Yay us.
This is one of my favorite chapters. I love this scene in the 1983 movie version (so much so that I blogged about it here a while back). I like how smart Jane is here -- right from the beginning, she suspects this is no "sibyl," and she answers mysterious questions with snappy, intelligent rejoinders. Throughout, she is, as Rochester says, "very correct, very careful, very sensible" (p. 240). But isn't she always? We expect nothing less from Jane Eyre, and yet who among us would have such aplomb, especially at the age of 18? Remarkable girl.
Mr. Rochester knows her well, too, doesn't he? He knows she needs self-respect, that she uses reason to govern her passionate nature, and that she is obedient to her conscience. If only he were the same, eh?
By the end of the chapter, Jane tells him she could dare censure "for the sake of any friend who deserved my adherence" (p. 242), which reminds me so much of that moment back in chapter 8 when Helen Burns told her, "If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends" (p. 83). Helen, of course, meant that Jane's conscience would be her friend, but Jane is ready to put that idea into more palpable action here, willing to stand by Rochester if he deserved it, if her conscience approved of him as well, as it were.
Which, of course, he doesn't and it won't. But we'll get there.
"...what is in a palm? Destiny is not written there" (p. 234)
"'I can live alone, if self-respect and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure, born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give'" (p. 238).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Jane here says that the little romances among Mr. Rochester's guests "promise to end in the same catastrophe -- marriage" (p. 235). Do you think she really sees marriage as a catastrophe? Or only such marriages as they will make? Or is she just messing with the "gypsy" when she says this?