They spoke almost as loudly as Feeling… “Oh comply!” it said. “Think of his misery; …soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?” Still indomitable was the reply: “I care for myself.
The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now.
Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. (Pg.322) As someone who is passionate and who tends to act with the heart at most times rather than logic, I just couldn’t fathom how Jane, someone who is madly in love, could summon up the courage to leave her lover and was able to put such strong emotions aside. I was baffled by her loyalty to her principles and found her to be a very strong woman. Now most people have a sense of right and wrong, but what’s difficult is following through and choosing between them. Jane had to choose between what’s morally right and her own happiness she chose the former and consequently she knowingly gave up what was most dear to her. Not many people are able to do that, however that’s not necessarily a bad thing as even Jane later on finds out through St. John.
St. John is the very epitome of an ideal, morally accurate selfless christian man, he devotes his life to putting others on the right path and in turn sacrifices his familial ties, bodily strength and even his love life as these are mere worldly desires. He deprives himself of any happiness, whether it be the woman he loves, Miss. Oliver, by forcing himself to not feel any emotion around her or having a death wish by going out and doing charity work in the roughest of weathers out of obligation and not genuine sympathy. Jane was on the verge of becoming like him as she too curbed her romantic emotions in order to become a virtuous christian. Even St. John asked for her hand in marriage because he felt as if she’d be a good missionary’s wife due to her stoic nature.
It is through a person whose actions parallel hers, she is able to see the wrongs in it and how as a christian being able to sympathize with others is also very critical which is something St. John lacks and is her driving force back to Mr. Rochester. This scene overall where she was fleeing Thornfield surprised me greatly as I couldn’t comprehend why she would willingly put herself in that situation after waxing poetic about Rochester countless of times and not just coming up with a solution that aligned with her ethics and that did not deprive both him and her of a happy life. She even sympathized with him, she listened to everything he said and told him she pitied him, yet she still followed through due to her principles at the time.
Her time with Mr. Rivers can be seen as a spiritual journey as by the end she is still a virtuous christian but her principles have differed.In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face.
(pg.297) What surprised me greatly is why Bronte incorporated so much supernatural imagery in the novel as there, despite my many suspicions while reading the novel, are no supernatural beings in it , it has nothing to do with the story. I don’t understand why Bronte went through great lengths at hinting at something not present. I was under the impression through most of the novel that there was something demonic up in the attic, from the very first moment Jane stepped on the third floor and heard that “preternatural” laugh and therefore was quite surprised to find out it was Rochester’s wife locked up in the attic. Even in the scene above where both Jane and the reader are first introduced to Bertha she is described as something inhuman, a beast, this gives an eerie mood to the novel and though meaningless to the novel as a whole it creates depth and suspense which were most likely Brontes intention for the supernatural elements. These elements suggest that something greater is at work, for instance we see almost of a prophecy when one half of the horse-chestnut tree splits away, “the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away.
(285) This resembles both Jane and Rochester and the act of it splitting is exactly what happens as later on Jane too splits away from Rochester. Overall this scene where we are introduced to Bertha happened to resonate with me because at this point we are aware that the figure is human, but even then Bronte describes it as something sinister and possessed and hence I couldn’t help the ominous feeling that it brought with it, a feeling too severe for just one crazy woman to bring along. These supernatural occurrences are scattered throughout the book from her uncle’s ghost in the red room to the prophetic dream she has of Thornfield Hall in ruins. Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, “Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot.””Yes,” responded Abbot, “if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that.””Not a great deal, to be sure,” agreed Bessie: “at any rate a beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same condition.
“”Yes, I dote on Miss Georgiana!” cried the fervent Abbot. “Little darling! – with her long curls and her blue eyes, and such a sweet colour as she has; just as if she were painted!”(pg.25) At this day and age with the invention of photoshop and plastic surgery there is no doubt that vainness exists. There is a social construct of beauty that most try to conform to.
Despite this the people of the Victorian era held beauty in much higher regard than us and often openly shunned those who didn’t fit their perception of beauty. In this passage mentioned above, I was astonished to see the same treatment being extended to a child of 10. To be called such things at such a small and vulnerable age would no doubt result in multiple self-image issues later on, no wonder Jane found the thought of someone loving her so hard to believe and had Mr. Rochester repeatedly affirm that he was serious about the marriage proposal.
If it hadn’t been for these self-image issues the story would have undoubtedly progressed faster as Mr. Rochester wasn’t exactly discreet about his affections and when under the guise of the fortune teller even told Jane the following regarding her future ” Chance has meted you a measure of happiness… She has laid it on one side for you…it depends on yourself to stretch out your hand, and take it up” Despite this Jane still wasn’t sold on the fact that Rochester was alluding to them as she still belittled herself and couldn’t fathom how a wealthy man from a noble family could love someone as poor and ugly as she. Another thing that shocked me in the above passage is how the treatment of a child or even person could differ based on their looks and how a good looking person could get away with stuff without consequence.
It shows how when it comes to beauty even brutal acts could be accepted and thus it led to an altered conscious the people from the victorian age held when it came to justice. This showed to what extent the Victorian era was unfair as you were often judged by something you had little to no control of i.e. your looks and your wealth and how they valued these pointless and vain things over intellect and personality.
“Reader I married him” (Pg.457) This moment resonated with me despite being only four words. I have never seen this sentence phrased this way as it is traditionally seen as “Reader we’re married” or even”Reader he married me” which would seem fit in the Victorian society at the time. Bronte made this seemingly simple sentence into something that captures the essence of the main characters individuality and view on the patriarchy.
Through this sentence she doesn’t make herself subordinate nor does she make herself equal to Mr. Rochester but rather she puts herself above him. This isn’t the only feminist part in the novel nor is it the greatest as on page 110 she talks about the issues women have to face far more in depth: Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, .
.they suffer from too rigid a constraint, …
precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings..It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
However, I feel like this simple sentence delivered the same meaning to the reader and was able to condense all of Jane’s problems and life beautifully together. One of Jane’s major issues in life was not being able to decide for herself, but by saying I married him she was able to decide on a monumental decision that most women at the time, probably weren’t able to; she was no longer seen as little and subordinate but was rather a dominating force in the relationship and much to my pleasure she finally got a happy ending after overcoming many obstacles in life. This independent woman has evolved greatly from the one that once said, ” A new servitude! There is something in that”. Overall this one sentence captures her defiant nature in a time where women were to be passive and obedient and overall truly makes a remarkable heroine one that would always be treasured by the reader.”That is my wife,” said he. “Such is the sole conjugal embrace I am ever to know—such are the endearments which are to solace my leisure hours! And this is what I wished to have” (laying his hand on my shoulder): “this young girl, who stands so grave and quiet at the mouth of hell, looking collectedly at the gambols of a demon. I wanted her just as a change after that fierce ragout. Wood and Briggs, look at the difference! Compare these clear eyes with the red balls yonder—this face with that mask—this form with that bulk; then judge me, priest of the Gospel and man of the law, and remember, with what judgement ye judge ye shall be judged!” (pg.
298) I was shocked that I felt a sense of sympathy for Rochester at this point as he lied and manipulated Jane continuously and no one but him was to blame for things going down so terribly; how long exactly did he think he could keep the act up? Not to mention he was a horrible person due to the fact that he locked his wife up in an attic for almost 10 years, there must have been a better approach than isolating her like that, for instance putting her in an asylum for the mental is just one path he could have taken. However, despite not being perfect, even he did not deserve to be stuck with someone like that, she can’t even be called a wife. All he wants is Jane someone who is neither remarkable in any way, nor rich, she is plain, but in Rochester’s eyes the most majestic thing to tread upon the earth. I couldn’t blame him for wanting that as Jane too gives him back the love a wife should give her husband, whereas Bertha attempted to kill him multiple times and is described as both beast-like and as a vampire.
He tried to manipulate Jane into the wedding similar to how he was manipulated into, his first, by blindsiding her. Despite feeling pity for him Jane didn’t in any way deserve that she was open and honest with Rochester and put herself in a vulnerable position only for him to lie to her.