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"Hopeless of the future, I wished but this—that my Maker had that night thought good to require my soul of me while I slept; and that this weary frame, absolved by death from further conflict with fate, had now but to decay quietly, and mingle in peace with the soil of this wilderness."
^^Best morbid quote EVER.

Okay, I'm not quite done reading yet, but close to the end, and as usual I'm finding the entire œuvre very thought-provoking.

1. I've always identified strongly with Jane in certain regards. She is quiet, unassuming, inexperienced, talented, and fanciful (the paintings which she showed Mr Rochester when he first sent for her sound disturbingly like something I would come up with).

Yet, in other regards, not so much. In my own experience, because of the naïveté that resulted from my upbringing, I found myself ill-equipped to handle various situations that arose. When I was confronted with a romantic interlude at 17, there was no way I had the common sense resulting in the moral courage that Jane displays in her handling of the Rochester situation. No way at all.

So, my question for you regarding #1 is: Do you think Jane's upbringing was such that she would have the knowledge and common sense necessary to resist the urge to stay with Rochester? I'm just having difficulty finding this believable, although I definitely admire her for her choice and resolve.


Anyone who tries to propose to ME by saying, "I want a wife: the sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life and retain absolutely until death" deserves (and I hope gets) a slap in the kisser. I would HOPE I would have more self-respect than to be a mere commodity.


( 17 pages turned — Post )
Jul. 17th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
Discussion through Chapters 19 (with hints from 27 as mentioned above)
#1a) I wondered if anyone wanted to talk about the paintings. I'll post a question about that in a separate entry.

#1b) Oh, absolutely, no question, Jane is just the one to resolve to stand firm on what she sees as right. My reasoning:

(A) She has seen things that were taught incorrectly and lived incorrectly (and in some cases, correctly), and by her own experience and reading, has learned to make up her own mind about what is really right and wrong.

(B) Mr. Rochester, who understands her best of anyone, notes in Chapter 19 on her own resolve and steadfastness, particularly anticipating your point, I think:
". . . For if I bid you to do what you thought wrong, . . . [m]y friend would then turn to me, quiet and pale, and would say, 'No, sir; that is impossible; I cannot do it, because it is wrong'; and would become immutable as a fixed star."
(C) The preponderance of Jane's conversations with Mr. Rochester rest on points of what is right. She thinks about what she says. She considers what she says--everything she says--in effort not to make an error or be found saying something foolish. I am not sure what standard she uses (for she doesn't have strictly biblical one, though it seems to be influenced biblically to some degree), but she seems to have spent much of her time analyzing the situations around her as right or wrong and resolving herself to act accordingly. It's almost as if she realized that though she cannot control whether others will do right, she can own pride in her own uprightness.

(I recall that are probably more example speeches from her time with the Rivers family, but I haven't yet gotten that far in my re-reading to cite specifics.)

Edited at 2009-07-17 04:19 am (UTC)
Jul. 17th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
Another mention from Chapter 19
I found another pertinent quotation on your Question #1, with Mr. Rochester as the Gypsy affirming recognition of Jane's inward resolve:
"I see no enemy to a fortunate issue but in the brow; and that brow professes to say,—‘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.‘ The forehead declares, ‘Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision. Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the dictates of conscience.‘"
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Discussion through Chapters 19 (with hints from 27 as mentioned above)
I'd love to discuss the paintings... I'll go over to that post in a bit and comment.

I guess I still don't find it believable, although the book definitely is consistent in portraying her as this kind of character, as the quotes you've shared show. She is definitely a keen observer. She doesn't talk about it, but it's possible she could have observed someone deal with a love situation at some point in her life and learned from that.

I guess from my own experience, even if you know right and wrong, sometimes you can be hoodwinked into doing something "less wrong" and think it's okay because it's not the actual sin itself, whatever it may be.
Jul. 17th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Discussion through Chapters 19 (with hints from 27 as mentioned above)
I know what you mean. I should have been wiser that I was, myself, in an early relationship which went a little too far before I saw the man for what he was. It's just too easy to make excuses and "be forgiving" until you really see the dangers for what they are.

I have mentioned in a reply in your later post about how Jane at least mistakenly not seeing the danger of Mr. Rochester's manipulation, lying, etc. So she did make some mistakes due to her inexperience.

I think she was ultimately able to hold to her moral ground because, as we see from early childhood, she had a stubborn streak about her character. I think she had learned from other, non-romantic episodes that one must hold steadfast for what is right--not like people who bowed to let Mr. Brocklehurst or Mrs. Reed continue in what was wrong. Jane was not going to be like that.

The thought of immorality was a clear and steadfast line. We must also remember that society then would have viewed as garbage a woman who had done what Mr. Rochester was trying to get her to do. The horror of what had almost happened--that she had almost been made Mr. Rochester's mistress was clear to her, and she was not going to be swayed to that sort of ruin--though she had been swayed to overlook other things until then.

Jul. 20th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Discussion through Chapters 19 (with hints from 27 as mentioned above)
It does definitely seem that Jane, in retrospect, sees that she was too quick to forgive his obvious flaws and that she erred in making a sort of god out of him.

And definitely, yes, she did have a stubborn streak...

I think in our day it's so easy to forget morality, even those of us who care to live an upright, moral life. We've seen so much sin and degradation glorified out there that I, at least, sometimes feel I've become too numb to it. The fact is, what is right and wrong doesn't change, and it's nice to read books where wrong is regarded as such with no excuses and compromises.
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
When I was confronted with a romantic interlude at 17, there was no way I had the common sense resulting in the moral courage that Jane displays in her handling of the Rochester situation. No way at all.

My sister-in-law talked about this at length (well, not about YOU, of course, but about Jane) and discussed how unrealistic it is that in the bulk of literature, we see sensible, mature characters who have been raised by immature, selfish, and at times absolutely bonkers parents/guardians. Although it's nice to think that children can "rise above" so to speak, I've seen first-hand that this happens only rarely, and then only in the case of some outside influence (such as a teacher or other adult who acts as a type of mentor and a balance to the insanity at home.) Very rarely does a child merely "overcome" and become a sane, rational, and sensible adult after living through the type of abuse that Jane suffered with the Reeds.

I'm just sayin'.
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
See, and having been one of those kinds of kids, that's why I'm so sceptical. To put it plainly, when you don't know what men can DO (and will do), even if you have a vague knowledge of the marital relationship, when a man starts charming, touching and kissing you, you get carried away and think it's the real thing because you simply don't know any better. Especially so if you've filled your mind with romantic stories and notions already.

Granted, Rochester did really love Jane, so it's kind of different. But the fact that she was so aware that he MIGHT be toying with her, along with her good sense - just not reality. You're right, it takes someone from outside to balance it out, and sometimes kids don't get that until later (as in my case, not until I was 22 or 3).
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
And we both know that if Jane hadn't been the type of girl that she was (not willing to do something wrong) he totally would have made her his mistress. His love for her did not equal moral goodness on his part. At no point did he put her needs above his own: in that case he's a completely selfish character. He "really did love Jane," but yet I don't see that that love caused him to steer her to make right choices, or even make the grand, noble gesture that we normally expect of our literary heroes (such as copiously avoiding her once he knew he was falling for her, or sending her away "for her own good").

you simply don't know any better
Exactly! And how DID Jane know better, romantically speaking? How did she know to keep Rochester on pins-and-needles, even after they were engaged? How did she know to tease him, quasi-reject him, and keep him guessing? As far as I can see, she never had any experience with witnessing romance first-hand, either in the Reed household or at L. school.
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
True. That's where the danger lay, in the fact that Rochester was willing to compromise good principles to satisfy his own needs... or wants. If it had been me in this situation, he probably would have gotten his mistress in the end if he used reasoning that sounded like it wouldn't be Really Sinful (regardless what it would have ended up to be).

It's interesting considering what you pointed out earlier - that at first Rochester seemed determined to keep distance between himself and Jane - that he then gave in and apparently stopped trying to do what was best.

I've always felt sorry for Rochester, too, though, in having been trapped into marriage with Bertha. Yet I'm glad Charlotte is so specific about the details. Even an annulment would not have been appropriate (could he have even gotten that), since they had clearly lived as husband and wife for some time before she got totally out of hand.

And of course then there would have been no story, either, and Rochester needed the bad experience to teach him a thing or two.
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
There's another redeeming facet of Rochester's character, but it doesn't come up until a much later chapter, so I'll save it in the discussion until then.
Jul. 17th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
since they had clearly lived as husband and wife for some time before she got totally out of hand.

Interesting. I had never caught that. I had always assumed that the detail that she tried to murder him on their wedding night indicated that there really had been no marriage relationship. What passage are you referring to? (I haven't gotten my re-reading up that far, so it may be in a section I have long left unnoticed and forgotten.)

Edit: Oh, my. It seems I can't construct a proper sentence today. Please forgive the poor sentence structure. . . I'm in a hurry to finish my weekly errands, but wanted to enjoy the conversation while I was thinking about it. :-)

Edited at 2009-07-17 08:00 pm (UTC)
Jul. 20th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
It's in the part where Rochester is telling Jane about his past life. I think he said he and his wife were together four years before it got to the point where he chose to take her to England.
Jul. 17th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
How did she know to keep Rochester on pins-and-needles, even after they were engaged? How did she know to tease him, quasi-reject him, and keep him guessing?

Did she consciously do this? What makes you think so?
Jul. 17th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
From Chapter 24, a few paragraphs after the song he sings her until the end.
Jul. 20th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
That's what I'm wondering too?

And is this just what Jane does, or is it something most women are supposed to do (and just magically know--does everyone else have a fairy Godmother who tells her these things)? This kind of stuff is where I'm totally baffled in real life. I don't even know about most of the games we are or are not expected to play in social and romantic settings.

What's wrong with "I like you, you like me, let's go together?" Are we supposed to joke around and pretend we really don't like someone when we do? Is that the "challenge" guys supposedly like? (I'm afraid I'll be single forever if that's the case. ;)
Jul. 20th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
I'm of the mind that if it takes playing games to win a husband, he's not worth having. If he really likes and appreciates you, he will pursue without any help from you.

According to my husband, the challenge is in the wooing. You already have a mutual attraction, and it's the gaining of trust and confidence and overcoming the girl's resistance/reluctance/inhibitions/whatever that makes the pursuit interesting.

Therefore, I think that resisting temptation and maintaining a discreet distance from the man wooing you is sufficient challenge. It gives the man something to pursue on his conquest to earn the right to call you his own. It's not about playing games and being silly (not that Jane was silly; but she did seem to have an oddly well-developed sense of sparring).
Jul. 20th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I agree with this wholeheartedly.
( 17 pages turned — Post )