Friday, October 14, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 31

And so Jane begins her newest adventure, teaching poor young girls.  I do like her attitude that "the germs of native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind feeling, are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the best-born" (p. 415).  Yet, she feels as if she's sunk to a lower place in society than she previously possessed, which I'm sure she has -- schoolmarm to a bunch of commoners must be a lower station than private governess to a gentleman's ward.  What I love best here is that Jane points out that she should not hate or despise herself for feeling this because she knows it is wrong to feel herself degraded.  Recognizing herself as being petty and weak is a great step forward.  Way to go, Jane!

I also love how worried she still is about Mr. Rochester.  She worries that he will be driven to "desperate grief and fatal fury" (p. 417) by her disappearance.  

And then here's St. John, kindly inquiring as to whether Jane likes her cottage and job.  I do like him for that.  But then Miss Oliver turns up, and he gets all flower-crushing and distant.  St. John, St. John, you're such a stubborn fellow, but not in the good way, I fear.

Favorite Lines:

God directed me to a correct choice.  I thank His providence for the guidance! (p. 416)

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane says of Miss Oliver possessing both beauty and fortune, "What happy combination of the planets presided over her birth, I wonder?" (p. 421)  Do you think she's being tongue-in-cheek here, or does Jane believe in astrology?  

8 comments:

  1. I love that Jane admits to her faults and is honest about them - in this case, calling out herself for feeling degraded. She might be "good" but her internal struggles and wrong thoughts make her good but relatable not good but horribly pious (a la dear Fanny Price of Mansfield Park). I think Jane might be tongue-in-cheek with regards to her remark over Miss Oliver. Jane knows well enough that she herself is plain and poor and I see it more as a sarcastic "well darn you got lucky didn't you?" Having said that, superstition was well and alive in the 1800s so Jane could well believe in astrology. I'd have to read the passage in context.

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    1. Elf, yes! That's what makes me really love the depth of this character. She is not perfect, and she knows it. But she doesn't wallow in her imperfections, she fights them, like I do.

      I felt a little bit of sarcasm there too, so kind of was wondering if it felt that way to others too, or if it was just me.

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  2. "All flower-crushing and distant." Hahaha. Oh, St. John.

    It IS so sweet that she still worries over Rochester. It's almost easy to forget about him while reading about her "new" life, but every time she brings him up I'm happily reminded of that part of her story and get all excited for when she's reunited with him. :)

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    1. Natalie, yes, I love how Bronte lets us know that all is not over between Jane and Rochester by having her think of him juuuuuuust often enough :-)

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  3. I really like your comments on this chapter. The only thing I can add to it is saying, I agree with The Elf.

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  4. I too love the quote about the young girls that Jane is teaching being every bit as worthy. I was happy that Jane had this quiet, simple time to decompress after all the previous drama.

    I always viewed Jane as being so comfortable in her own skin, but perhaps there was a touch of envy in her remark about Miss Oliver being so blessed with beauty and fortune.

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    1. Lucy, that's such a great point! Jane needs this quiet, humble, simple existence. It's where she really figures herself out, I think. She's always been self-assured and self-possessed and utterly cool, but I think it's here that she learns she can provide for herself, she can be successful at a job people think is hard, and she can be her own person away from any guiding teachers or love interests with overbearing ways.

      And you're probably right. It does echo a bit Jane's wish earlier to be beautiful and rich so she could make Rochester want her (before she knew he did want her just as she is).

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