Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

January 2, 2006


Filed under: Articles,Criticism,Jane Eyre — by bronteana @ 6:40 pm

Some Things to Consider, I hope!

This article formed the preface to the 1988 Penguin edition of Jane Eyre. In many ways insightful, but in places slipping strangely into uncertain territory. As I read along, the first thing to grab my attention was a mention of 'Lord Rochester'. This is not, in fact, Lord Rochester- John Wilmot, but Mr Rochester gratuitiously elevated to the nobility. I have read much Bronte criticism, and it surprises me how often little slips like this occur. I am sure my professors would object to such things as creating entire plot points but I have seen that as well as imagined characters. I do not recall which article it was, but in one article about Mr Rochester (I think it was) I learned that there was damning evidence that Jane had been merely a tool for Mr Rochester (and patriarchy) all along for her first action in their relationship is to mail a letter for him. She is in fact mailing a letter for Mrs Fairfax when she meets Mr Rochester- and she volunteers to take it, in fact.

A wonderful professor of mine insisted that we must not only set up citations but thoroughly explain them to make best use of the evidence. Maybe this is what is lacking in this paragraph which deals with the Byronic 'dangerousness' of Mr Rochester:

Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is more clearly an adult's rendering of incestuous childhood obsession than are any of Charlotte Brontë's novels, but the romantically dangerous Rochester is most likely a remnant of the children's sensational world, the poetic antithesis of all that was dull, dreary, routine, and circumscribed in the world of Haworth Parsonage. Here is Jane's first vision of the man she will adore: Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing bright; I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height, and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted . . .; he was past youth, but had nor reached middle age. Like Emily's Heathcliff, that Byronic, doomed hero; yet unlike Heathcliff—who after all starves himself to death in his deranged attachment to the past—since, by the novel's end, after he goes blind, Rochester does become domesticated. The Gothic has become tamed, and redeemed, by ordinary marital love. However unlikely for Brontë's time, or for ours, Jane Eyre ends upon a note of conjugal bliss: I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together…. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. The orphan Jane is no longer "resisting all the way"; no longer, at this point, required to be Jane. The novel's passionate energies consume themselves as the apocalyptic fire at Thornfield consumes unregenerate Bertha.

Firstly, I have no idea what she means by Emily's 'incestuous Childhood obsession.' If anyone would like to speculate on this, feel free by all means (as always)! But let's look at this quote carefully. This 'first vision' is of a late man in a cloak, average in height, deep of chest, and angry. the cloak can't be important- it's wintertime. The physical description doesn't say much about his character, and his 'ire' and 'thwarted' look should be understandible considering that he just sprained his ankle falling from a horse! I'd like to suggest that it's quite a leap from this to pronouncing him 'byronic and doomed' and 'like Heathcliff'. As for the second quote, I wonder why Jane would have to resist herself? For, as she says elsewhere, she is 'indulging her sweetest desires'. How is she 'not being Jane'? She nowhere says that she has changed her thoughts or conversation to suit Mr Rochester- they happen to harmonise with one another. The image of their heart beats is not one of submission of one to the other- each is separate and yet familiar enough to be inextricable. Also, there are more than a few readers who would say the 'passionate energies' are by no means burned off with Bertha. That is granting far too much symbolism to Bertha- she is not the focus of eroticism that she is often made out to be.

And in a paragraph presumably about the 'increasing melodrama' of the work, after she discusses Mr Mason (who is not at all melodramatic, as the quote she uses illustrates) she moves on to Bertha:

When, later, Jane is brought into Bertha Mason's presence and mockingly introduced to Rochester's wife, she is naturally revulsed—she feels no kinship with this creature. And though Jane charges Rochester with cruelty in so despising and exhibiting his mad wife, claiming that Bertha cannot help her condition, Jane cannot really identify with the woman; and rather too readily forgives Rochester his curious (and ungentlemanly) behavior.

I have read this scene very many times and I have never detected mockery. Rochester speaks ironically, but not mockinging and these are two different things. he does not believe that Bertha is his wife in any other than a nominal sense. Otherwise, I fail to see where this comes from. And why can Jane not identify with Bertha? Why does she reproach Rochester, then- when throughout the novel she has been anxious for him to get rid of her for his own safety (in the figure of Grace Poole)? She has changed her position, apparently but the article does not acknowledge this. She does feel at least enough 'kinship' to refer to her as a 'poor woman' and not a monster or a beast any longer. In addition, she says nothing about Rochester's 'exhibiting' his wife. He has not been 'exhibiting her'- she has been concealed for ten years. He wishes now that his secret is known, to have it known completely.

I write on this article mostly because this following paragraph touches on a nerve I have. It is regarding the 'Whitcross' section of the novel. It begins:

Numerous readers have felt that the long Whitcross section, consisting as it does of nearly one hundred pages, is an awkward digression in Jane Eyre; and one is nudged to recall that the publishing firm of Smith, Elder had rejected Charlotte Brontë's earlier novel, The Professor, as "undersized." (But if Currer Bell would write a full-scale, three-volume novel for them, they would be "most interested.") Still, the carefully transcribed section is required for symmetry's sake. Brontë's authorial strategy is to balance one kind of temptation with its obverse (if Rochester is all romantic passion, urging her to succumb to emotional excess, St. John Rivers is all Christian ambition, urging her to attempt a spiritual asceticism of which she knows herself incapable).

There is a startling tendency to view this part of the book as the artcle describes, and I think it is completely groundless. All I will conceed is that it is evident that Charlotte is playing with the Gothic convention of the two men- one dark and dangerous, one fair and virtuous. It is one of the most vital sections of the work- not an 'awkward digression.' It would take far too long for me to outline my reasons, here but I hope to use one example to at least challenge this perspective. There is a point at which St.John attacks Jane's feelings for Mr Rochester, claiming that the 'tie' she cherishes is unlawful but also that she is being selfish and will live obscure if she persists in it. It is only one brief statement he drops, and yet very profound for at the end of the novel there are two things that I am sure no one would seriously dismiss. Jane is 'living with and for' what she 'best loves on Earth' (Mr Rochester), living 'for' him unselfishly when she could live contentedly and selfishly with someone more conventionally eligible or on her own. But more importantly, instead of dying nameless in India, an anonymous female missionary following the program not her own, she has written her autobiography, claimed her life and sealed her name to it- the very opposite of 'living obscure'!



  1. These are really interesting quotes Bronteana! I do agree with most of your arguments, especially the one about the Whitcross section.
    I would, however, like to add something about the first quote:
    From the way Bronte describes Jane and Rochester’s relationship in the end, I feel like perhaps she is suggesting that a relationship such as their is impossible to be real..that it may not exist in the real world. First of all, they have to live in relative isolation in Ferndean and the kind of relationship they have seems too perfect to exist: “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” (like why is there such perfect harmony? Where else is there such flowery language?). Perhaps Bronte is satirizing an intense relationship (?).
    Also, the moment Jane achieves “perfect concord” with Rochester (or seems to), the book ends. Art ends. Perhaps this means Jane had had to choose between Rochester and her art (her tale, her book), and when she chose the former, she lost her art (one could argue that she lost an intergral part of herself?)

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 2, 2006 @ 11:24 pm |Reply

  2. The ending has some ambiguity, I think. I have heard a lot of people make claims about what their life was like, but I think there is very little textual evidence to go on. We don’t know, for example, that they stayed at Ferndean at all. Mr Rochester presumably still has his villa on the Mediterranean at least and Jane boasted enough money to build her own house. I think the only clue is that she says that they and her cousins visit eachother often- so they are at least travelling to see them and it seems they did live several days journey from Mr Rochester’s lands in any case. But that’s not enough to say that they did not live a mostly secluded life either.

    The perfection of their marriage is the true Christian ideal- not what I think we still have today (as the Christian ideal, I mean. This seems to be still that the Man is the ‘Head’ of the woman- ie, not ‘one flesh’). The ‘flowery language’ is an allusion to the book of Genesis- at the creation of Eve, Adam’s first words are:

    ‘This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called “Woman” for she was taken out of Man.’

    Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.

    I think she was again trying to strip away convention from the meaning of these words. This might also explain why the narrative of their reunion takes place (and never moves out of- as far as we are told) the Eden-like glade of Ferndean- they have achieved this Biblical vision of the ‘perfect’ union. I thinkt here is something like this underpining the ending. People did react with shock to how Jane and Rochester acted ‘like animals’- or in other words, they were not ashamed of their nakedness?

    (The scripture is also refrenced elsewhere in the Bible- and it is very likely that they all have resonances here. CB was very careful with her allusions. The same image and line is used as a metaphor for the union of Christ and his church- ideal Christianity, as well as ideal marriage. You can search them all through this Bartleby extext: )

    Do remember the book does not ‘end’ with their marriage! We are taught to think so, but it ends with St.John in India, dying uselessly. Jane continued to keep her art of writing for at least 10 years after her marriage before she finished her autobiography. If she had not chosen marriage with Rochester, she would have been forced to ‘throw all on the altar’ for St.John’s plans. He declares he would ‘set her tasks’ from ‘hour to hour’ and be constantly at her side- not to comfort her but to control her actions. To ‘help’ at first but only until she does what he wants automatically. I cannot see him encouraging or even allowing her the liberty of writing or drawing. he would be very likely to reproach her for wasting time that she could be using more productively. In a more physical sense, I think one might say she is creative in birthing a child who brings an end to the possibility of her life being vain. Helping another human being is wonderful but giving life is so much moreso.

    I think you were on the right track, but I see the loss of that part of herself as being the end in store if she had accepted St.John- who constantly demanded that she suppress half of herself at all times. St.John might have offered a more conventionally appealing vision of marriage- if Jane were the conventional sexless Victorian bride which she decidedly is not. He would ‘influence’ and rule her until she died.

    Considering where the book ends, and these scriptures linking the ‘one flesh’ idea with marriage and Christianity, it could be that Charlotte is commenting on religion in a more comprehensive way than it seems. (You know, considering how often people are confused about the book ending with St.John?) When I first read Jane Eyre when I was about 15, I honestly thought it might all be allegorical! I don’t think so now, but I can’t shake the thought that there’s something like it going on…

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 12:20 am |Reply

  3. Thanks for the link! The allusion to that scene in Genesis is indeed vital and something that had not occured to me before.

    I do see your point in what would have befallen Jane had she chosen St. John. However, how about if she had not chosen any man? What would her life be like if she was still single? I do think though that because Jane does need to have the sexual part of her nature gratified, she would have to choose a man eventually (i.e.marry?). However, perhaps Charlotte is suggesting that even even a man like the “reformed” Rochester will steal something from the woman: in Jane’s case, her art. I still think though..that because neither Jane (as an autobiographer) or Charlotte (in giving voice to Jane) devotes hardly more than half a page to what happens after her marriage, one can argue about how much her life was eventful (enough to be made into art in a book) after her marraige. She says she has been married 10 years but all that is squeezed within roughly 2 pages. What happened in the interim, between her marraige and St. John’s death? We know very little of it. Perhaps it was not enough to be converted into art? Now if Jane had not married, she would have continued to suffer (?!) and perhaps we would have gotten a longer book. A book that’s immortal.

    Instead of ending with a marriage, the book ends with a death: the death of St. John, the Christian ideal. If one assumes that end of the book is end of a work of art, did Bronte mean that inorder to sustain art, one needs an input of Christian ideals, i.e. religion?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 1:29 am |Reply

  4. To be honest, I missed that one too! I remembered the reference in the New Testament but had forgotten that it goes back to Genesis! Makes a big difference (and now I have to re-read the book ;).

    This is bothering me enough that I really do need to re-read the novel with her Christian message in mind. I KNOW that St.John is vital, but I haven’t worked it all out. Hmn.

    I still think though..that because neither Jane (as an autobiographer) or Charlotte (in giving voice to Jane) devotes hardly more than half a page to what happens after her marriage, one can argue about how much her life was eventful (enough to be made into art in a book) after her marraige. She says she has been married 10 years but all that is squeezed within roughly 2 pages. What happened in the interim, between her marraige and St. John’s death? We know very little of it. Perhaps it was not enough to be converted into art?

    ah- you know, what. Charlotte is tricker than that. I should backstep a bit. It is true that she doesn’t say much at the end, but I HAVE picked up on at least one very sneaky insertion about the years after her marriage only it comes up… somewhere after Helen’s death! She says, oddly, that Helen was in an unmarked grave for many years- and she gives a precise number of years. When I read that I worked it out and figured it out. I cannot recall now but I figured that it was roughtly the age at which one might travel with a small child- her son. So, from that I infer that she returned with her son and Mr Rochester and bought Helen a marker. Maybe instead of retracing his life as he had planned to do after their marriage, Jane took him to all of the places she had been? Maybe both? Something else certainly IS going on- and maybe she DID tell the rest of her story, only she slipped it in like this?

    As an aside, Homer does this a lot 😉 My appreciation for her knows no bounds.

    It is hard to say if Jane would marry. :-/ Mr Rochester at least seems to read in her the determination to live alone if she has to. I do wonder if the thought that she had once been loved would have been enough to sustain her or if she would have bent under the presure of her lonliness. I don’t think so- given how strong her will is. And she does strongly equate marriage with love. And yet she did agree to go with St.John. I am still not sure what you mean by woman having something stolen in marriage. Do you have something specific in mind, or is it something you haven’t worked out yet?

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 2:19 am |Reply

  5. Just wanted to add that when I said ” In a more physical sense, I think one might say she is creative in birthing a child who brings an end to the possibility of her life being vain,” I did not mean that having her child was the only end to the prospect of futility! I was thinking of the child as a sign for her art. It might be pushing things a bit, now that I think about it.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 11:40 am |Reply

  6. hmm…even if she did have a child and this was a sign of her art, why aren’t we told much of it? We know about Jane’s suffering in the Reed household, and at Lowood..but we don’t know about how she felt giving birth to a child (I suppose one could’t expect a Victorian authoress to describe the gory details of birthing a child)but at least Jane could have mentioned how she felt on being handed the new born, how she raised the children (if she did take one to visit Helen’s grave, like you mentioned). That was an excellent point you made Brontena about Charlotte’s inserting bits and pieces of Jane’s life after marraige into the story!!!
    However, I wonder how significant they would amount to be. Most of the book (~90%) seems to be about her life before her marriage to Rochester.
    In my earlier post, I had said that Rochester stole something from Jane, meaning her power to create art (since we dont’ know much of how she lived after her marriage). All we are told was that they were exceedingly happy(?!). I suppose I should not blame Rochester himself for having done this to Jane, for the fact that I didn’t get more of Jane’s story after her marriage. I suppose the real culprit is happiness. If there had been suffering (and therefore “loss”), there would have been more scope for creation of art. Even when we look at the world around us, there are many more artworks based on suffering and loss than those based on happiness. Jane chose to be happy, she just chose a man. Even if she had been entirely content (which is unlikely given her nature) living as a spinster, we might still not have gotten much of a story (therefore art).

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 12:56 pm |Reply

  7. I was thinking of it in terms of a symbolic tranferal of creativity from writing to childbirth (since the two acts are rhetorically similar). I don’t think it really works, now though. 😉 I wouldn’t say that it was intentional, anyway.

    I see now what you meant. It makes me think, though, of how Jane glossed over 6 years (?) of her life at Lowood because it would not ‘possess interest’ for her readers. Looks like she has done something similar here- although we don’t seem to suffer from her leaping over those years because she has already told us what happened? We can fill it in for ourselves?

    About Jane slipping in details from her present life into scenes of her earlier life, I cannot say how much there is to find. I was taken completely by surprise with that mention of Helen’s grave. I would really have to read REALLY closely 😉 Sometimes these things, in other authors, can be very profound. In Homer, the story of the sack of Troy is told through image patterns of rape (young men being killed but described in terms of the violation of maidens), and a scene when Andromache drops her veil. The word for this veil is the same as the word for the defensive walls- and the city was associated with a maiden body- as my professor says ‘unpenetrated by the phallic spear’. The Iliad can end at the funeral of Hector because Homer has already told us that the Greeks are going to finally sack the city. Finding something along those lines in JE would be very trying but, if she took M.Heger’s advice to heart, every image she used has to ‘illuminate’ something else. Just thinking about it makes me feel tired 😉

    I do wonder- Jane uses her talks with Rochester to fill many pages of her story. And then, at the end, she tells us that she and Rochester “talk, I believe, all day long”. Could this also be a continuance of her creativity? It’s like we are to imagine those chapters of repartee repeated in enless variety? (I would like to think so- especially since I love the repartee 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 2:26 pm |Reply

  8. Yes..I suppose it is implied that we have to do the job of imaginining their repartee.

    I guess its too much to demand of a single author (either Charlotte Bronte or Jane Eyre) to describe everything about her life from beginning to end. However, wouldn’t you say that perhaps their repartee was NOT exciting enough to be written down in a biography? Perhaps their “talks” were just the same as what they used to be at Thornfield (though they might be interesting, wouldn’t their sameness tire Jane? Wasn’t she the one who yearned for excitement?)Maybe Jane and Rochester’s life together was very much like their time in Thornfield in the past that writing it down would have been like a repetition..and yet I wonder how Jane could put up with repetition? monotony?

    I don’t know…I guess I am wanting more than I can get. Yes..a book has to end, a life has to end. But does that mean it should end with marriage? (or 10 years after marriage without a literal death?)

    and yes..even following your elucidating example from Homer was trying to my brain :P, I can only imagine the difficulty of to re-reading JE and following this lead
    ..but charlotte was ruthless in her art wasn’t she? I am sure she would have taken the advice to “illuminate” to heart and applied it in all her works. Good for us means there’s even more research on JE to be done 😀 What more could we want, eh?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 3:02 pm |Reply

  9. Hmn. well, if it is true that Charlotte folded ‘the rest of the story’ into what she did write for us, it could be really ‘the rest’. The Iliad manages to fold 10 years of war into …about a week I think? Something like that. So it is possible. I think she did something like that with the various backstories- Rochester’s, Bertha’s, Adele’s, even Mrs Fairfax’s. It just astonishes me, everytime I think of it.

    I suppose the chats are a matter of taste. I have heard some people complain that Mr Rochester “talks too much” but for me the talks are BLISS. 😉 They are some of my favourite parts of the book! It is during these talks that Jane is first drawn out, and begins to free herself from the ‘Lowood restraint’ that ‘clings’ to her when she arrives. She does say that she ‘never wearies’ of his company even after 10 years.

    I have a friend that I met online about 9 or 10 years ago. I’ve never met them, and all we do is repartee. Everytime I see their name show up on the screen, I smile. It just doesn’t get old, because there’s always something else to talk about (a bit like this blog 😛

    …hopefully. 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 4:09 pm |Reply

  10. I’m no scholar 😛 – but I’ll toss in my 2 cents belatedly. I’ve always believed that CB is proposing, at the end of JE, that we can love God directly through loving people. We need not be martyrs like St. John (such an important comparison!!!). In fact, if JE chose St. J (and thus, denied her love for Rochester), she might be doing an injustice to herself and her faith. When she hears Rochester’s voice calling upon the moors, doesn’t this suggest that something “spiritual” is at work in uniting them?

    Love is a form of Art, I believe, in JE’s mind. In the proposal scene, Jane says: “I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I delight in, — with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind.” Her conversation with Rochester seems to fuel her thoughts and creativity.

    And for Rochester, Love is redemptive. Also, God is ever-present. “God pardon me!” Rochester cries out during his own proposal. By the events that follow, we are to believe, I think, that God does not pardon him – not yet. After he is married to Jane (blind and wounded), he learns to see again (for real, this time, clearly?). Thus, Love is redemptive, is it not? Oh, so much allegory here, me thinks 😀

    As for marriage! 😛 – Well, that’s another story, isn’t it? Another chapter, another book? Doesn’t she mean to end the book “happily” as many stories do – with Jane deeply connected to her domesticated (and redeemed) Rochester?

    Well … I confess I can’t respond to all the wonderfully juicy comments you both have made here! And I haven’t analyzed Joyce Carol Oates article in depth – Oh, but I do hate it when critics say books are “contrived!” All fiction is contrived! Otherwise, it should be fact. And fact (as we know, ahem) is often contrived as well.

    But perhaps, I am peeved because she insults my favorite scene! The gypsy! Contrived? And/Or genius, hilarious and poignant!

    Rochester (as Gypsy) describes Jane’s forehead: “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.'”

    btw, this describes the “spinsterhood” state of mind 😉 I was referring to earlier.

    Comment by frankengirl — January 3, 2006 @ 6:17 pm |Reply

  11. Hi Frankengirl! nice to see u again 😀
    I agree that Jane could not have been happy with St. John because she did not truly love him.

    However, I thought that Charlotte Bronte’s intention in JE was to show that we ought to keep God and love of people in doesn’t Jane say at one point that she had made an idol of Rochester? I thought this portended her seperation from him. It is by placing God first, then Rochester second, that she can reunite with Rochester. But placing God first does not mean marrying a zealous clergyman like St. John. She had to find a blance. Love was important because it is through feeling love for another that one can do right by God.
    I suppose then that placing God first meant that one had to stand up for one’s beliefs (that were ordained from God, for example avoiding an adulterous relationship with Rochester), as long as she placed God first, she was free to love however she chose. She just could not place Rochester first. (Do feel free to disagree with me. I have also debated against myself :P)

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 6:40 pm |Reply

  12. Oh boy. Where to start 😉

    I think both of you are right. One of those references to ‘bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh’ in the New Testament refers to the woman worshipping through her husband. I don’t have it on hand, though. I don’t think the scripture (and Bronte’s use of it) is supposed to mean that the husband is the one who worships God directly and the woman worships the man to worship God- which is where mysticgypsy’s point comes in. If she makes her husband an idol she is sinning, in fact. Their perfect union would be a suitable ‘offering’ to God- their love, that is. St.John wants her to give herself to HIM as a representative of God. This is probably even worse than what Rochester proposes. A marriage of domination, between two opposite people, with no love between them cannot be acceptable if we believe the Bible’s proscription for the ideal of marriage- which Charlotte is often pointing at. (I’m not sure just how many times the ‘bone of my bone’ ‘flesh of my flesh’ thing comes up in some way, but it happens a lot. From Jane’s observations that there is something ‘in my blood and brains’ that draws her to him, that they are ‘akin’ or ‘of a kind’, then Rochester’s declaration that he loves her ‘as his own flesh’- which happens to be a commandment to the husband). The ‘voice’ is most certainly a sign of the divine sanctioning of their union as it occurs at a point where both Jane and Rochester are simultaneously crying out to God.

    Ugh! The ‘contrived’ thing bugs me too. *sigh* And there’s a lot to be said about the gypsy scene, although the plot does not require it. It accomplishes little in that way- Mr Rochester is not successful in ‘drawing’ Jane out. It does get them in position for him to rely on and get a promise of Jane’s help (when he hears Mason is there). Otherwise it is far from heavy-handed plot machinery. *scoff!* And besides, it’s fun! (and one of the points were Rochester is most like Lord Rochester…)

    Maybe part of that should be in the B.O.Y.S. charter? 😀

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 7:19 pm |Reply

  13. Hey there, mysticgypsy! 😀

    Yes, I see your point – what I wrote could be interpreted as you say. But no! Not loving a man as an idol! (Yikes!) I was thinking more along the lines of Emily Dickinson’s words:

    “If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain”

    I meant love as compassion (not adoration). To comfort Rochester in his time of need was as Good (or better) a deed as becoming a missionary.

    Ah … I’m so glad you mentioned the “idol” line – very portentious, isn’t it? Still, I’m not sure I feel Jane ever puts God second, but I must think more on this because you’re striking very deep with your questions!!!

    So, tell me, would Jane have stayed with Edward at the end – had he still been married? 😛

    Comment by frankengirl — January 3, 2006 @ 7:32 pm |Reply

  14. Oh, I see Brontëana has just answered our calls upon the moors 😉 Phew!

    What! The Gypsy scene is completely necessary as it makes me roll over laughing! (Surely, that warrants it!)

    Comment by frankengirl — January 3, 2006 @ 7:38 pm |Reply

  15. to frankengirl:

    I don’t know the lines off-hand but Jane does say that she cannot leave for india until she knows she cannot do better good where she is. And she decides that, from appearances, there is no better good for her in England since she assumes Mr Rochester is either gone from England or worse.

    There shall be a gypsy scene when I direct Jane Eyre. And there will also be the carriage scene to Millcote which I might love MORE than the gypsy scene- but only if I can find the right actors 😉 I want to see Mr Rochester’s face when Adele calls him ‘un vrais menteur!’ 😀 I’m thinking a sort of mock indignation is called for there. Also at “mademoiselle is a fairy.”

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 7:57 pm |Reply

  16. mysticgypsy, I just want to add that I read your response again and think you’re right on-target in bringing up Jane’s struggle in balancing man and God (convention and spirituality); her ongoing struggle to decide what God wants for her (to do) and how best to follow her faith. 🙂

    Comment by frankengirl — January 3, 2006 @ 8:00 pm |Reply

  17. Oh, I can’t wait for your production, Brontëana ! Can I be in the carriage, too? PLEASE! I’ll even learn French for the occasion! :>

    Okay, to avoid more simultaneous posting, I’m signing off for the evening!


    Comment by frankengirl — January 3, 2006 @ 8:06 pm |Reply

  18. Wow Frankengirl!!! What would your own answer be to that question? If Rochester was still married, would she have chosen St.John or would she have stayed put in England? I believe the latter. Wait..she turned down St.J before she heard Rocehster’s call to her, right?

    Even so..would she have been goveerned by religious notions and NOT united with Rochester? Or (if we assume that she left Rochester in the first place NOT because of any religious command but because she wanted to procure her freedom first) would she have lived with him regardless? Would the concept of “sin” still have occured to her?

    OMG Brontena!!!!! It’ll be wonderful if you directed JE!!!! We’ll all be there to support you!! Can’t wait to see it!! Any idea on the leads? 😛

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 8:21 pm |Reply

  19. One more simultaneous post from me 😛

    But I wanted to add that though both of you seemed (?) to suggest that Jane and Rochester’s communication with each other seemed like it was spiritual and God’s way of aiding them in a “divine union”.

    However, how do we know it is from a Christian God? Though spiritual, the hearing of voices could also be thought of as a pagan ritual rather than one that is “Christian”. Maybe Jane and Rochester are becoming more pagan (?) towards the end, by following the “voices”. If so, perhaps their way of becoming pagan is re-inventing Christianity and making it their own?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 8:30 pm |Reply

  20. I’d have to say there’s no way Jane would sleep with Rochester before marriage. If she can withstand the pain of leaving in the first place, alone. But then she actually does accept St.John- under the condition that it is God’s will (which is where the ‘voice’ comes in). So, her belief in following God’s plan for her life is so strong that she would go with St.John even though it will kill her physically and destroy her identity, make her something she is not.

    I do think she would stay in england. And I think she would stay nearby him to comfort him. She had enough of being anxious about knowing where he was. I think finding out that, all of this time, it turned out that he was in great need of her would reinforce this. She would want to protect him, I think (as much as he likes to say he’s her ‘shepherd’ he’s the one constantly going to her for comfort and help!). Leaving again would not be an option, I think. Once she sees how he cannot even get around unassisted, she would stay.

    She wants him, that’s certain but when she talks about those dreams she has in Morton they also include things like touching his hand and cheek. If she could just be near to him, she would be content, I think- if that was what she had to settle for to maintain her self-respect. I don’t think she would sacrifice that for anything.

    lol too bad I’ll never get a chance too. *sigh* One promise, Kiera Knightley will never play Jane Eyre 😛

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 9:54 pm |Reply

  21. to frankengirl:

    btw ‘un vrai menteur!’ means ‘a real liar!’ 😉 That’s also the title Gulliver is given on the plates of him in the books published at the time. And Rochy’s just told a tall tale. Hmmm… 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 9:56 pm |Reply

  22. I think that the fact that they are both addressing the Christian God at the time indicates that it isn’t a pagan ritual of some kind. Jane is asking for a sign to show her where to go, and Rochester is demanding that he go to Jane or that Jane come to him (he first asks to die, if Jane is dead, and then just cries out for her). I’ve always thought that the Brontes’ Christianty was very much like that of the Irish church. It brought out the old tradition that since God created a good natural world that nature was a way of communicating with God, or for God to communicate with humans. Jane says that the voice is ‘the work of nature’. In Celtic Christianity you see things like God allowing his priests to appear like deer and other animals to protect them from harm. In the Bible it also talks of how, if people don’t praise God, the stones would sing or something (I’m really rusty at quoting scripture :-

    That’s what the ‘voice’ reminds me of. It has always seemed a very Irish thing to me. My family has a few superstitions held over from the 1840s and one of them is how you can sometimes hear people speaking to you from great distances when they are in trouble 😉

    Someone said how unbelievable the voice was (or something like that) and Charlotte said: “But it is a true thing. It really happened.”

    So, what do we make of that? 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 3, 2006 @ 10:07 pm |Reply

  23. Rochy? OMG so cuuuute!!!!!! awww 😀
    Thank you thank you for the promise about the lead Bronteana. *bows*
    Saves me from a near heart-attack lol! Keira’s alright…I’d be fine if she didn’t play JE tho.

    hmm.. I am not sure if she would not entirely sleep with him. I mean suppose she did visit him/mingle with him, she could keep her encounter with him a secret. Yes..she does make references to God and the commands of religion, however, it could be just to serve her needs: as in support her need for freedom. Once she has her freedom (able to stand on her own, know that she can leave Rochester if she should wish to, financially independent etc), I don’t know how much it would matter if she did sleep with him afterall. No one would know what happened in the bedroom anyway
    :-/. I don’t have textual evidence to support this yet tho…

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 10:20 pm |Reply

  24. Your points regarding the connection to the Irish Church is indeed interesting. I didn’t know of this 🙂

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 3, 2006 @ 10:24 pm |Reply

  25. lol! You’ve never heard Mr Rochester called ‘Rochy’ before? My friends do it all the time! 😀 We’ll not have ‘Heathy’ though, thanks. 😛

    There is a lot of evidence against the idea that Jane would sleep with Mr Rochester if she were not his wife, if you consider some of Jane’s objections to staying. It is made very clear that it isn’t what people will think that is the issue. Mr Rochester brings that up, if you recall. He says that there is no one she needs to fear offending by living with him. She mentally agrees and says in her mind: “Who besides cares for you?” and she answers herself by saying “I care for myself.” Later she considers how the bitterness of knowing she sacrificed her principles- which is a part of who she is, would make her “no longer Jane Eyre.” She also believes that in time he would no longer love her if she had gone to live with him in his ‘pleasure villa’ (it’s in the Morton section btw. something about how she would have been “delirious with his love half the time, for he would love me- oh yes, he would love me well for a while- choking on the bitterest tears of remorse the next,” I don’t know the quote well, but it is like that). Her commitment to her religious faith is also stated when she declares that she will “keep the law of God, sanctioned by Man.” That’s why she cannot sleep with him unless they are married. (What is really at stake, I think, is that she would be an adulteress).

    I think there is also a difference between the church and God, really, because adultery is supposed to be the only grounds for divorce- and Bertha was unfaithful to Rochester, so in the eyes of God theirs is no marriage. However, the church at the time did not acknowledge this. This might be part of why Jane “too readily” forgives him (according to Joyce Carol Oates- who wrote the article I was commenting on in this post). He knows it is no longer a marriage but while he partly believes he can disregard the human church (partly, because he is always very anixious on this point despite trying to sound determined) Jane will not. It is a complicated issue, I think, and comes down to what Charlotte’s interpretation of the scripture may have been.

    I’ve done a lot of research on the Celtic Church 🙂 A lot of what I hear termed ‘pagan’ in the Bronte novels sounds far more like Irish Christianity. For instance, the love of nature was so strong that they had a kind of ‘martyrdom’ called ‘green martyrdom’ which involved leaving your homeland forever. It was on par with ‘red martyrdom’ which is being killed for the faith! There is absolutely nothing anti-Christian about it. There came a time in the church’s history when it was anxious to distance itself from paganism and so there came a paranoia about being too enthusiastic about God in nature. I think it’s silly, but if you see how naturally people think of it as being a pagan trait, it’s understandible.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 12:10 am |Reply

  26. hahaah that’s so cool of ur friends to make a chum of Rochy (btw, how do u pronounce that? stress on the “ch”?..if that makes any sense?). Even when I say anything remotely close to how I am enamoured by Rochester or how I want Heathcliff’s devotion, I get strange looks from people. Clearly I am not in very Bronte-friendly circles :-/

    I do follow your point and you do give evidence that support the claim that adherence to religion is the reason Jane cannot sleep with Rochester while he is still married.
    That said, how do we know that she is NOT using religion as a mask to get what she wants? How do we know that she herself she was looking out for, regardless of religion? How do we know that Jane would not have used Christian beliefs as an excuse suppose she had not even been Christian (hmm maybe too far fetched a question?)

    Do you mean Bertha was unfaithful because she concealed her madness from him before marriage?

    As for the pagan connection, I’ve also heard that in the early stages of Christianity, religious leaders mixed in pagan rituals with Christian dogma so that it would be easier for people to convert to the new faith? (don’t know how far this is true..)

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 4, 2006 @ 12:50 am |Reply

  27. Let me answer that by asking how you could prove that the religion was a mask? If she wanted independence, she could have easily taken her inheritance and moved in with Rochester in France. There was nothing stopping her from doing that at any time- even after she left. She could have turned right around, even stayed with him pretending to be there to comfort him despite his already being married. I do think the idea that she wasn’t Christian is too far-fetched. the reviewers at the time tried to say she was anti-Christian but really their reactions showed how deeply their prejudices ran.

    No, by ‘unfaithful’ I mean Bertha had at least one affair. Rochester says he had ‘a wife unchaste’. This could mean she was not a virgin when they got married, or that she cheated on him. I think it was the former. Mr Rochester calls her his ‘Indian Messalina’. Messalina was empress of Rome and, after her husband became emperor, she… well, what didn’t she do? In short, she had lots of lovers (30 in one night on a special occasion), had hundreds of people killed through ‘judicial murder’ for treason and things, finally she tried to kill her husband. But she was infamous for her affairs especially. Also, Bertha did not hide her madness- she became mad later on.

    I took a course on Early Christianity, but there was so much to cover… It seemed to me that a lot of people naturally explained and practiced Christianity according to their culture and also that sometimes people used Greek philosophy to explain things but I don’t know a lot about that.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 1:24 am |Reply

  28. And, yes, stress is on the CH 😉 Just like the first syllable in Rochester.

    (We also call him ‘Neddy’ sometimes)

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 1:27 am |Reply

  29. Dear Friends of Rochy:

    Thank you for delivering him from Keira Knightley! (Actually, I’m much too hard on that lass. It can’t be *all* her fault that I prefer Andrew Davies’ interpretation of P&P.)

    Now, to answer my own question – would Jane stay with Rochester if he was still married … Oh, yes. 😀 I cannot believe she returned to “Rochy” only to desert him again. She would become a friend to him, a help-mate, a companion, which is what she actually suggests (even when she knows he’s free!), as if compassionate companionship would be enough for her now, and I believe it would. (Because, as my beloved Gypsy Rochy states, Jane has a treasure inside her that will sustain her.) So a profound (and platonic) friendship would allow her to be true to her faith as well as her love (Rochester). She need not give up either. (I sense I’m echoing Bronteana here – 😉

    Our discussion only confirms how vital the St. John section is! Without him, we can’t witness Jane’s struggle to determine God’s will for her (in the aftermath of Rochy). Without ample time away from Rochy, we can’t be certain her choice is that of a free, self-sufficient woman who can, indeed, create a life without him. And without the cry upon the moor, we can’t witness “God’s blessing” for the ultimate reunion.

    bronteana – in *your* production, I would like to be cast as Adele’s imaginary French friend. (Surely, a girl without playmates would create an imaginary pal from her own country?)

    mysticgypsy – I completely understand why you predict Rochy and Janet would ultimately sleep together. If this were not fiction, well 😉 … but in the framework of this story, I think not. You’re thinking is very modern, but back then, sex had a lot more ramifications for a woman (i.e. babies, difficult childbirths, a ruined status in society). I think CB wants to show that Jane is a good Christian and a true lady (despite the passion that’s always attributed to her).

    Oh, but what do I know? 😛 (imagine what you will! :>)

    Comment by frankengirl — January 4, 2006 @ 11:24 am |Reply

  30. haahaha awwww Neddy is too cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute 😀 😀 😀

    Thank you ladies!!!! I have LOVED all this discussion!!!!! Truly!!

    hmm…I do see what both of you mean by saying that Jane was a Christian and would have stuck to her beliefs (meaning she also would not have slept with Rochester). Well..I was just trying to see if that might not be the case…if she wanted something else regardless of what religion commands her to do. I am going to have to re-read JE…I might still not find anything to support my claim tho.

    Well, knowing how Jane does manage to run away from Rochester knowing she could have stayed with him if she chose, she could muster the self-will to just have a platonic relationship with him instead of letting it get more tangled up by sleeping with him (if Bertha was still alive that is). Jane is very passionate…so I wonder tho if she would indeed sleep with Rochester once and then run away again 😛
    I guess there are more chances of this not happening…;-)

    And Frankengirl, was that why you were planning to learn French 😛 I’d sure you’d make a lively playmate tho 😀 plus..such proximity to Rochy!!!

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 4, 2006 @ 11:58 am |Reply

  31. Oh, yes, proximity is the plan 😉 And perhaps, I’ll get imaginary presents, too. One can hope.

    Well, (secretly) I think JE might break down (should Bertha live a very, very, very long time) and clasp Edward to her heart (physically), but perhaps, I’m only projecting myself onto Jane… Very wicked of me!

    Comment by frankengirl — January 4, 2006 @ 2:14 pm |Reply

  32. to Frankengirl

    Our discussion only confirms how vital the St. John section is! Without him, we can’t witness Jane’s struggle to determine God’s will for her (in the aftermath of Rochy). Without ample time away from Rochy, we can’t be certain her choice is that of a free, self-sufficient woman who can, indeed, create a life without him. And without the cry upon the moor, we can’t witness “God’s blessing” for the ultimate reunion.

    Ah! Good point! Yet another reason to believe that part of the book wasn’t simply for symmetry sake, or to make a nice, chunky third volume! 🙂

    Why not? We have films with ‘Dr.Rivers’, ‘Sam Poole’, and who knows what else… 😉 This reminds me of the Davies’ P&P and Anne of Green Gables. Anne talks to her reflection and calls it her “window friend”. P&P has its own ‘Window Darcy!’ 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 2:24 pm |Reply

  33. haahaha not wicked at all Frankengirl, you’ve voiced the thoughts of 98% of ardent JE (or should I say Rochy) fans 😛

    Brontena, Katie Morris was Anne’s Bookshelf companion right? oh was it Violet the looking glass? or both…I need to jog my memory hehe

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 4, 2006 @ 2:44 pm |Reply

  34. hi guys
    This is so sad 😦 😦
    I just got this reply to an email I had written (asking if they were planning on producing a JE or Villette version) to the BBC Drama Team:

    There’s currently no news of the BBC making adaptations of either of
    these novels.
    Best wishes,
    The Drama Webteam

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 4, 2006 @ 2:53 pm |Reply

  35. to mysticgypsy:

    So that’s why you were so intent on your theory! 😛 Truth is out now. But really, you should be questioning everything. Just that there’s so much evidence against it.

    I think Katie was her window friend… I read the novel only once, and a long time ago so your memory is probably much better than mine.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 2:59 pm |Reply

  36. That’s odd news from the BBC. But I don’t think it is impossible that they have made a mistake. Earlier this year my friends tried to find out if and when the BBC 1973 version of Jane Eyre would be released. They kept getting negative answers from them until someone said that the BBC was not releasing it but that another company was. So they wrote to the other company. The company said “no, the BBC”. And it went back and forth like that. Then suddenly the story straightened out- it was a totally different company who was waiting for the BBC to release the rights so they could release the mini-series. oy 😉

    As much as I would like to see another version of Jane Eyre, I’m also afraid of what it would be like. 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 3:03 pm |Reply

  37. aaaahhh that sounds complicated!!!
    oh if only they had a movie version of that adaptation of Villette they did for BBC radio.

    hmm…you know I do wonder if things are much better off left alone in people’s heads (and therefore Imaginations) instead of being confined to about 2 hours in the mediums of film or theatre.

    No one can steal one’s Imagination away in all its richness..even if they can steal every thing else.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 4, 2006 @ 3:15 pm |Reply

  38. Actually, I don’t want to ever see the carriage scene. It is so vivid in my imagination. The 1973 version was so good that I started to hear Michael Jayston’s voice whenever I read Jane Eyre 😉

    which is nice and all- because he is a splendid actor and especially good with his voice but it is distracting 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 3:24 pm |Reply

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