What I want to know is, how does Charlotte Bronte keep lines like "Oh, Jane, you torture me!" (p. 298) and "Make my happiness -- I will make yours" (p. 299) from sounding like sentimental, hackneyed claptrap? Why do I thrill over this chapter (it miiiiiiiiight be my favorite) and find it not merely believable, but wholly delicious? It amazes me, I tell you. It's her first published novel, but it is almost startlingly good. In my humble opinion, anyway.
So anyway, my margins for this chapter literally have the word "swooooon" written in them. And also thirteen hearts marking favorite lines and phrases. Ahem. I'm not usually so full of girlish swooniness, but in this case, I just can't help myself.
Bronte switches to the present tense again, like she did in the last chapter. It's almost a little stream-of-consciousness there too, letting us feel Jane's apprehension about encountering Mr. Rochester.
Really, I could just gush and gush about this chapter. Jane not letting Mr. Rochester's pronouncement that she must leave Thornfield knock her down, being her usual sturdy self. Rochester almost calling her a term of endearment, then mocking Blanche for being "an extensive armful" (p. 293). Jane's voice being "not quite under command" (p. 294). And then... well, I marked "here it comes :-)" in the margin.
Jane is usually very in control of her emotions, but here, "[t]he vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery" (p. 295). And since we know she's not given to emotional outbursts, we thus know just how strong her feelings for Mr. Rochester are. And, before long, how very powerful her inner will is, that she can overcome those masterful emotions.
And here comes the foreshadowing again, huh? Jane says, "I see the necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of death" (p. 296). Oh, Jane.
And doesn't Jane's whole speech about not being a machine without feelings remind you of Shylock's speech in The Merchant of Venice where he tells everyone that just because he's a Jew doesn't mean he's not human? Jane tells Rochester that just because she is "poor, obscure, plain, and little," that doesn't mean she is "soulless and heartless" (p. 296). And so, he proposes deliciously, and yeah... I probably should stop before this overdue post gets even longer.
But before I go, let's just point out that Rochester very carefully words one question he puts to Jane. He asks her, "Am I a liar in your eyes?" (emphasis mine)(p. 298). He doesn't say he's not a liar, he just asks her if she sees him as a liar.
Sometimes I love Mr. Rochester so deliriously much, but sometimes I suspect he's a master manipulator who has not only messed with Jane Eyre's mind and emotions, but mine too.
And then there's a big storm, and the next morning, they awaken to discover that "the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away" (p. 300). I wrote a paper back in college on how that tree symbolizes Mr. Rochester. We'll come back to it in later chapters.
"Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?" (p. 295)
"I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you, especially when you are near me, as now; it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; an then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly" (p. 295).
"I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you forever. I see the necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of death" (p. 296).
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will" (p. 297).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Mr. Rochester says Jane has "an eye for natural beauties, and a good deal of the organ of adhesiveness" (p. 292). Have you ever heard/read of such a thing as an organ of adhesiveness? I admit I'm imagining a bottle of glue somewhere inside Jane's stomach.