March 30, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: One Wedding and a Funeral

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Okay, let me warn you, Big Spoilers Ahead! Danger, Danger!

Back to Gateshead

"Love me, then, or hate me, as you will," I said at last, "you have my full and free forgiveness: ask now for God's, and be at peace."

Jane gets word that her nasty Aunt Reed wants to see her. She's had a stroke after the suicide of her son (equally nasty), John. Karma, Karma, Karma-Chameleon! I know that's rotten but whatever. Jane does her duty even though as Mr R points out they cast her off so why bother. Jane feels she should. Reluctantly he lets her leave.

Jane has changed so much even in a few months. She takes charge and ignores her two useless cousins. Eventually those two start depending on level headed Jane. Aunt Reed is still a dragon though and won't budge an inch. I remember reading her death when I was a teen and thinking she must have been 85 years old. I've done the math and she's more likely in her early 40s! That seems so young to end up like this but I guess the shock is what did her in. Before she buys the farm, she tells Jane that she has a rich uncle! Hurrah! But she told him Jane was dead. Boo!

All that business finished, Jane heads back to Thornfield.

Surprise! I Love You!

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?

At first, she is unsure of how she'll feel when she sees Thornfield, "How people feel when they are returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know..." But then she sees the house and Mr R even Mrs Fairfax and Adele and knows this is what home feels like.

Right off, Mr R starts talking about getting married and Jane feels her heart drop. He offers to send her Ireland which might as well be Mars as far as Jane is concerned. Poor Jane, she's made a nice life for herself there. In the end, it's all for nothing because it's all been one big trick. Mr R asks her to marry him and Jane's not very happy at first. Is he just screwing with her? Nope. He means it. Cue violins. Why all the trickery? Because he wanted to see if she loved him, truly. Hmmph. Of course, that wouldn't fly nowadays (I hope) but Jane seems forgiving enough. I was more forgiving of Mr R myself when a teen but now I think, "tsk, tsk."

However it happened, Mr R and Jane are well suited to one another. Just as they are about skip away to the house, a thunder bolt severs a tree in half. Dun-dun-DUN. Foreshadowing anyone?

Mr R and Jane go a-courting. Mrs Fairfax doesn't know what to make of it: you are so young, and so little acquainted with men, I wished to put you on your guard.  It is an old saying that 'all is not gold that glitters. First the tree, now this. Adele thinks adults are weird with all their talk about fairies and travelling to the moon. Mr R sings to Jane and calls her his "little elf". Stuff I thought was so romantic at 16. It is a little much but there's a underlying sexual tension as Jane tries to keep him at arm's length and he can't keep his hands off her. She teases him, testing her power over him. Hot stuff for 1847.

Here Comes the Brides?

The night before the wedding, Jane tells Mr R about her dream of the woman in her room and the ripped veil. He explains it all away. However, the day of the wedding, he's in an awful hurry. He practically drags her to the church. Maybe he's just anxious for the wedding night (eyebrow waggle).

Just as the vows are about to be said... "STOP!" yells a lawyer. "He's already married." There must be some mistake. But no, Mr R has a living wife. He was all set to commit bigamy and drag innocent Jane into it all. Really, what was he thinking? How long did he think he could keep it from her? Is he delusional? Mr R wants what he wants but Fate has stepped in. Mr Mason reveals he is the brother of Bertha Rochester. The poor, mad woman kept by Grace Poole in the attic, hidden from the community. Stunned Jane goes to her room but not before the lawyer tells her he was sent by her dying uncle to stop the wedding.

How Now, Brown Cow?

Jane is devastated. What will she do now? Stay and be Mr R's mistress. She could. She has no one to object. She's on her own but she just can't do it: 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. If she gives in, she'd hate herself and she believes Mr R would come to hate her too.

Mr R is all "Baby, I can explain" and tells her about how he was tricked into marrying Bertha (yeah, we've all heard that one before). No really, everyone knew Bertha was mad but him and then he was stuck. What's a bro to do? He takes his wife to England and puts her in the attic. Okay, to be fair, it's not like the mental health system was all that good and he was legally responsible for her. He did the best he could under the circumstances. Then he begs for Jane to stay with him, but no she will not no matter how much he tempts her. He says he'll go back to his old bad ways. Jane realizes that he is not her responsibility and she must worry about herself. Tough times. Jane leaves Thornfield.

Things don't look so good right now but hold on. We're not at the end yet!

2 comments :

  1. I'm reading Wide Sargasso Sea now...an interesting revisionist look at Bertha. Have you ever read it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No I haven't, yet. It's been sitting on my shelf for years now but I'm a little afraid of it.

    ReplyDelete

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