My thoughts as I read through Jane Eyre, Chapters 15-23.

Reading for the Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Mom – we’re meeting up October 7 to discuss it! Alas, the time has come and I’m not yet finished… there will be one more post at a later date when I do finish. Until then, here are my thoughts on the plot and characters and you will find posts on previous chapters at the bottom of this one. :-)

Did you miss the previous posts?

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (My excitement about starting the book and my review of the Masterpiece Theatre version of the movie)

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (Chapters 1-8)

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (Chapters 10-14)

Classics Bookclub

Warning: Spoilers!

“I liked bonbons too, in those days, Miss Eyre…” – Mr. Rochester

I was wondering, as I read, what made Jane come to love Mr. Rochester? That’s the nice thing about being able to re-read classics like this. You can delve deeper, study the characters – like Dumbledore going back to re-live and study his memories. I almost feel as if I were there again, but this time my vision and senses are sharper.

So, what made Jane fall for Mr. R? He wasn’t handsome (though according to Jane he had “fine eyes”). Maybe it’s something in her; although she may not understand his sense of humor completely, she isn’t thrown off by his manner as others are. She is one of the few (maybe the only) people who can match him in wits and have an actual conversation. She also is able to overlook his flaws, knowing that he has had grief and “family troubles”.

It wasn’t like it was love at first sight, though. Remember there is 20 years difference in age between them and he’s quite dark and troubled with mood swings, though Jane isn’t put off by his moodiness. Some good did come from Jane’s sad upbringing – she didn’t expect kindness and would have felt uncomfortable if (by her own admission) he had been very handsome and polite to her right off the bat. I think she would have felt out of her element. And she’s been so little around men that she has no preconceived judgments. She accepts that his moodiness is “his way” and remains his friend.

I do notice that Mr. R is very perceptive, he’s quick to apologize if he offends (at least to her, which shows he does respect women who deserve it) and he’s fairly honest and forthright. A little too much so at times.

There’s a quote I really love that I think applies well to Jane and Edward:

Love is Friendship set on Fire

Jane slowly warms up to Mr. R and his manner toward her:

I never seemed in his way; he did not take fits of chilling hauteur: when he met me unexpectedly, the encounter seemed welcome; he had always a word and sometimes a smile for me: when summoned by formal invitation to this presence, I was honoured by a cordiality of reception that made me feel I really possessed the power to amuse him, and that these evening conferences were sought as much for his pleasure as for my benefit.

Then an adventure/near-tragedy brings them even closer together – the fire that almost burned Mr. R to death. It’s funny how Mr. R teases her even though he must have been shaken up. I love this:

Though it was now dark, I knew he was awake; because I heard him fulminating strange anathemas at finding himself lying in a pool of water.

Mr. R: Is there a flood?
Jane: No, sir, but there has been a fire: get up, do, you are quenched now; I will fetch you a candle.
Mr. R: In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre? What have you done with me, witch, sorceress? Who is in the room besides you? Have you plotted to drown me?

Then they have their first truly romantic moment. :-)

He held out his hand; I gave him mine: he took it first in one, then in both his own…

He paused; gazed at me; words almost visible trembled on his lips, – but his voice was checked…

Strange energy was in his voice; strange fire in his look…

He calls her his “cherished preserver” – so sweet! She couldn’t sleep that night… who could after that?

Then of course Mr. R leaves the next morning without even seeing her (WHY?) and Jane goes through some torturous doubts. Just when she’s starting to realize the extent of her attraction for him, she finds out about the beautiful gold-digger, “the Honourable Blanche Ingram”. She tries to bring herself mentally back into “the safe fold of common sense.” She’s so mortified at herself for harboring hope that Mr. R might feel something for her, there are four or five paragraphs in which she scolds herself mercilessly, calling herself fool, idiot, Blind Puppy… good thing she’s not into swearing. Good grief, she even took it upon herself to paint two portraits, one of herself and another of how she imagines Miss Ingram to look. She makes herself compare the two.

It’s obvious she’s used to severe punishment designed to make the guilty party feel complete humility and shame. At least she kept it to herself and didn’t feel she had to go public… walk around in circles outside (in the pouring rain) with a sign tied around her neck that said, “Blind Puppy”. Oh wait, that scene was from an overdramatized version of the movie, wasn’t it. ;-)

What with all the time that has passed and Mr. R showing up on horseback with Miss I, I’m sure Jane began to wonder if she had dreamed that whole fire incident.

Chapter 17 – Mr. R, being his maddeningly forceful self, insists that Jane accompany Adele to meet him and his fine company:

Jane: Yes, he said that from mere politeness: I need not go, I am sure.
Mrs. Fairfax: Well – I observed to him that as you were unused to company, I did not think you would like appearing before so gay a party – all strangers; and he replied, in his quick way: ‘Nonsense! If she objects, tell her it is my particular wish; and if she resists, say I shall come and fetch her in case of contumacy.’

Is he really interested in her company or does he just want to exercise his power?

Five pages later, Jane admits for the first time to herself that she loves Mr. R:

…my eyes were drawn involuntarily to his face: I could not keep their lids under control: they would rise and the irids would fix on him.

I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

(She sees him look at the ladies and expects them to be pleased with his attention but they don’t react)

“He is not to them what he is to me,” I thought: “he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine; – I am sure he is, – I feel akin to him, – I understand the language of his countenance and movements; though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him…”

“For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract: I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him. I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered: – and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him.”

It’s painful and so moving at the same time, seeing how much she cares for him and yet they are so far apart, both physically and in social station. This is the best description of a kindred spirit I have seen so far. Jane and Edward Rochester are kindred spirits.

Blanche Ingram, my impressions:

Blanche is proud (haughty), knows she’s beautiful and feeds on the admiration she gets – probably sees Mr. R as someone she must have admiring her (imagine the frustration at not being able to get a man who isn’t even good-looking in her estimation), probably a little bitter at her circumstances (lack of fortune) and taking it out on others by making others feel insignificant (she plays on another lady’s ignorance mercilessly, making fun of her without being outright about it), she doesn’t like children and isn’t sensitive to their feelings. Not to mention putting governesses down in front of Jane and then repeatedly calling her “that person”. It’s worse than being rude to her face, as if Jane is at the same status as an animal.

Impressions of Jane:

Deep down, Jane’s character obviously feels with great passion. Still. She hides it well but the way she thinks reveals to us that the fiery little girl she once was still lives inside of her.

If Miss Ingram had been a good and noble woman, endowed with force, fervour, kindness, sense, I should have had one vital struggle with two tigers – jealousy and despair: then, my heart torn out and devoured, I should have admired her – acknowledged her excellence, and been quiet for the rest of my days.

So what are your impressions of this segment? Why do you think Jane fell in love with Mr. Rochester?

Previous posts:

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (Chapters 10-14)

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (Chapters 1-8)

Currently Reading: Jane Eyre (My excitement about starting the book and my review of the Masterpiece Theatre version of the movie)


8 Responses to Currently Reading Jane Eyre (Ch 15-23)

  • Your thoughts on the movie about Jane having a heart are interesting.

    I agree that she often seems stiff, but she definitely shows her emotion by the end of the book.

  • I’ve enjoyed your diary segments also — far more detailed than mine! And illustrated! =D

    You have so much fun with it. I love that!

  • I agree that Jane and Rochester are kindred spirits but Mr. Rochester has some growing up to do in many ways. Have fun finishing the book. I believe he does mature into a more principled gentleman who is worthy of Jane.

    I love the Ruth Wilson 2006 Jane much better than the other versions as well.

    Your pictures are wonderful….they go so well with your musings.

    I like wandering in used book stores looking at the old versions of classic books….wondering who had them, who read them, etc. I’m a little envious of your copy of Jane Eyre!

  • I really like how your are reviewing the book. I like the quotes you have chosen.
    I am truly enjoying the “diary version” type reviews. Look forward to reading more of what you have to say in regards to Jane Eyre.

  • I agree that Jane and Rochester are kindred spirits. They have a special connection, that’s for sure. I also think Jane appreciates being with someone who really listens to her and cares about her thoughts. She hasn’t received that treatment very much in her life!

  • I did a character analysis on Rochester and Darcy.

    Book Reviews

  • I LOVE this book and have always been very drawn to this kind of relationship in literature. But honestly – if you dropped it into your own everyday life (giving it the proper context of course) it would be considered dysfunctional. Wish I could write more – but the toddlers are dragging me out of my chair… Interesting analysis!

  • I need to start analyzing the books that I read. Not sure when I’d have the time to actually get the pen to the paper though…or the fingers to the keypad.

    LOVE your new blog look! And thanks for submitting again!

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