Sunday, September 29, 2013

When the Anvil Dropped on Poor Little Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre, Part 3 of Septemb-Eyre

Oh, poor poor Jane.  Even though she tried so very hard to not lose herself in her wedding preparations and the new life she was to begin with the man who is surely her soul mate, she just can't catch a break.

This is the section where it all falls apart for Mr. Rochester, too.  The people who were never too sure of him to begin with, suddenly are either vindicated or shocked into pity by his story.  Now, as for me, I always liked Rochester. I loved the sparks he brought out in Jane. She gets her first idea of her power as a woman.  Charlotte Bronte gives a rally cry for "Girl Power" throughout this whole story.  Jane  has clung tenaciously to her identity since the moment we met her. She was a small child standing up for herself, despite her fear, her friendlessness and her complete lack of power.  She's always been a survivor. She worked hard to get her education. She found a job and started a new life in a fine house as the governess for the ward of a wealthy man.

Jane has finally gotten true closure with the Reeds and returns to Thornfield to a very grateful Rochester. He proposes and while she accepts, she dreads the idea of Rochester or anyone else turning her into the silly women she knows who are looking to marry rich men, like the Ingram's and her cousin Georgiana.  She's never known ornament and to be covered in jewels now, really isn't our girl's style.  In fact, she wants to continue teaching Adele.

I don't know if this is a point of pride, or just Jane clinging to her comfort zone. I do know that in every other time in her life, when she had nothing to give, being at the mercy of other people's condescension never worked that well for her. She also expressing concern that Rochester will tire of her and she doesn't want to spend her life with a man who is just stuck with her.  She doesn't realize that Rochester knows about being stuck with a wife you don't love all too well.

Only after the disaster of a near miss wedding, which may have dashed Jane's hopes, but it certainly saved her from an error in judgment she would never have forgiven herself for, Rochester tells her all about mad Bertha and his struggles with doing the right thing, his inability to accept the crappy hand he's been dealt and his fight for his own happiness in life.  On the one hand, you feel kind of bad for him. He got railroaded into marrying a lunatic to increase his father's wealth.  When he finally gets to return to Thornfield, he's got to take his insane, maniacal bride with him.  She's his responsibility, and is surely a danger to herself and others. She can not be allowed to roam free. I believe that her confinement was necessary. The fact that he made sure no one knew who she was to him, was certainly underhanded.  

Jane, in an effort to remain true to herself, knowing she can't face Rochester and continually turn him down, and doesn't want to, she has to leave.  She fleas in the night and wanders for a few days until, finally she is taken in by the Rivers.  At first, she is too weakened to tell them much and later, she conceals her name from the kind family in an effort to start over, holding her past at bay for  the time being.

I know that Rochester is kind of a mess.  But, he's not that lost puppy, broken toy kind of mess. I get where he's coming from. He drew the short straw in his pampered life.  His despondency and the cruel trick played on him by his father with the loss of Thornfield and saddling him with the savage and insane Bertha were, I'm sure, great blows. It's not hard to see how a man could become bitter and want to distance himself from his lot in life.  I understand traveling to try and outrun your past, only to find that it is inescapable, your own shadow, always trailing in your wake. He promised himself that when he did find the woman he wanted to spend his life with, he would not lie and would explain to her what he'd been through and tell her the truth.  Then, years passed and, although he met women, he didn't meet 'the' woman.  Until Jane.  By that point, so much time had passed that he rationalized his situation. When he finally found what he was looking for, he couldn't bring himself to tell her and take the chance of losing her. It was wrong.  The person who deserved to know the truth was the person he could least find a way to tell.

Then, there's Jane.  She comes off as being awfully weak and melodramatic.  She leaves under cover of darkness with nothing but the clothes on her back and not enough money for the equivalent of bus fare. She sleeps in a field, can't bring herself to beg for food, but does manage to eat. Three days later she turns up, exhausted, drenched, cold and hungry at a door, where she is taken in and nursed back to health.   What she went through was really traumatic.  Not only was she seconds from becoming a bigamist. The man she loves is already married to a crazy woman who could kill her at any moment.  When it all falls apart, she feels horrible for the man she loves and his situation and, even though he's all she wants, she knows she needs to go, and she does.


The HoneyNerds said...

Reading your post brought back all the feels again! I love that you looked at both sides - what Jane and Rochester was feeling - this is a very fair account! Great post!

Anonymous said...

I love how you explained Mr. Rochester's did it so eloquently :) - Maggie @ An American in France