Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Volume 3: Jane Eyre

Attention to Detail! by Noriko Ambe 2008

Cut on catalogues of "Attention to Detail - Curated by Chuck Close" at Flag Art Foundation 12 1/4 (H) x 14 1/2 (W) x 11 1/2 (D) inches 31(H) x 36.8(W) x 29.2(D)cm

Flag Art Foundation collection

In full disclosure: I did not come up with these topics, but I do like them. I would cite or reference this, but I don’t know from where it came.

Choose one of the following three blog posts

Topic A

At the opening of Ch. 28, Jane leaves Thornfeild and returns to Nature. What is the significance of this? What do you note about the ways in which “Nature” is described here: are Jane’s attitudes towards Nature essentially pagan, or are they leavened with Christianity? How does this help us consider the treatment of “Nature” within the novel as a whole?

Topic B

After being taken in by the Rivers’ in Ch. 29, Jane meets St. John Rivers. How does Jane see him? Look particularly at the para. “Mr. St. John sitting as still as one. . . and again in Ch. 30 at her response to his sermon “It began calm. . .”. In what ways is St. John represented as being opposite to Rochester (consider Jane’s thoughts in Ch. 31 “Meantime, let me ask myself one question. . .”) What values or point of view do you feel are associated with him? What is significant about the way that Jane responds to him?

Topic C

Just as Jane has significant dialogues with Rochester, so she converses with St. John. What is significant about these conversations, especially in terms of the light they throw on the novel’s treatment of “values”? Look at chapter 31 “Very well; I hope you feel the content. . .” and at the end of Chapter 32 “Again the surprised expression crossed his face. . .”. Also look at Chapter 34 “I have no medium. . .” and the last five pages of this chapter “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s wife. . .”. How does the novel present Jane’s dilemma as to whether or not to accept Rivers’ proposal, and how is it resolved, especially in the last few pages of chapter 35?

Each post should be a minimum of 1000 words. I'm much more interested in the depth and specificity of your answers (analyzing how the text works) than generalities. Click here for passage explication handout. You should use some of these strategies. Also, you will be graded on the APE Rubric.

These are due by class on Monday, April 25th, 2011.

Finally, I would like you to do a passage explication on Volume 3. Choose any passage (half-page to a page), write your own Question 2 prompt, and a respond to it. Also due on Monday, April 25th, 2011.


R. Gallagher said...

for Alfonse:

To start off, Jane’s leaving of thornfield is incredibly important on so many different levels, and in so many different contexts. The mere fact that she was willing to take a stand for herself can be seen as such a ridiculously large step from the person she was at the beginning of the book.

Early on in the book during Volume 1 Chapter 1 there was a line by Jane that made me see her as such a pathetic soul, that was far beyond ever changing. The line read “It is well I drew the curtain,” thought I; and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding place; nor would John Reed have found it out himself…” By seeing Jane hiding from John, this made me think that Jane was, and would always be a person that would much rather pull the blankets over her head, and hide away from her fears, rather than a person that has the bravery and will to stand up for themselves and confront their fears. The reason I bring up this quote and this point it simply just to show how much of a difference of a person Jane Eyre has become, and how she has grown up so incredibly, in not that long of a time.

What I mean is that it is uncommon to see a girl hiding, whimpering, and being so afraid that all she can do is try to be invisible develop into a fully independent women, who has made the hardest choice of her life in rejecting Mr. Rochester’s offer to move to France with him, where she would most likely fall into a life of luxury and comfort. This situation is so special simply because Jane basically went from one extreme to another, something that is extremely rare.

R. Gallagher said...

for Alfonse (Part 2)

There is another quote in chapter 27 that really made me think of how Jane Eyre, this shy, timid creature of a human being made such a leap into a real, respectable human being. The quote was “In the eyes of the world, I was doubtless covered in grimy dishonor: But I resolved to be clean in my own sight – and to the last I repudiated the contamination of her crimes…” I see this quote as significant because once again Jane Eyre shows so much sophistication, because she is saying that although the world sees her deeds and the life she lives as poor an unrespectable, Jane Eyre refuses to allow herself to feel as though she did something wrong. The fact that Jane Eyre refuses to care about what other people think once again shows how she has matured so much, because she is not even close to the same person that felt smaller around all of Rochester’s friends previously in the book. All of this maturing and growing up that Jane has done is reflected in the small act of her leaving Thornfield. Although, in retrospect, Jane is just leaving one place, it is the deeper meaning of the act, which is that Jane is leaving her old life behind, a life where she was timid, and felt sorry for herself constantly, and replacing it with a life of meaning.

When Jane opted out of taking Rochester up on his offer to move to France with him, and decided instead to step out of Thornfield, and into a life on her own, she clearly made a new start for herself, and started fresh, because she saw that there was no point in going on the way she was. When Rochester was trying to convince Jane Eyre to go with him, he basically contradicted himself in with a question he asked in Ch. 27. The question was “What necessity is there to dwell on the past, when the present is so much surer – the future so much brighter?” In saying this Rochester was trying to convince Jane that a new, better future would be a possibility if she were to go with him. In reality, however, Jane realized that she would simply be repeating history if she were to go with him, as she would allow herself once again to be dependant of somebody else, stripping herself of the ability to make her own decisions and be independent. So Jane realized that if she wanted this future to be much brighter, she would have to take matters into her own hands, and refuse to let history repeat itself by allowing herself to be dependent on somebody, but instead changing her life, and controlling her own fate ultimately by walking off of the grounds of Thornfield, and entering ‘nature’.

R. Gallagher said...

for Alfonse (Part 3)

To be more specific about the actual nature, there is also great meaning behind the “universal mother.” The fact that she is subjecting herself to the unpredictable wilderness, rather than the cushy home of Thornfield, further shows how Jane is starting over, and this time she is controlling everything in her life. What I am saying is that if Jane can find a squirrel or some other form of food and kill it, then she can eat, but if not, she will simply die, but either way, her fate is decided by her own actions. Her description of what she sees in the woods is very representative of what this nature really means. The description is “the mellowing grain, the somber wood-land, the clear and sunny lea…” Her view of nature is that it is very mellow, somber, and really it is just simple, much more so than trying to live at Thornfield, or living under somebody else’s control.

Personally I see Jane’s views of nature more as Christian. Just based off of my back round knowledge, the entire Christian religion is widely focused on forgiveness, and giving one thing up for another. This directly relates to Jane Eyre, as she is giving up a most likely easy life with Rochester, and substituting if to a life where she is already struggling greatly, but she is struggling on her own, under her own will. One quote that really stood out to me was on p. 319 of volume 3 Ch. 28. The quote was Jane saying “I felt the might and strength of god.

Sure was I of his efficiency to save what he had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls is treasured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiving: the source of life was also the savior of spirits.” This passage made me believe that Jane saw this entrance into nature through Christian eyes, because she refers to her revelation that she had from god, which was that god had a plan for her, and it was not to be stuck inside a house being Mr. Rochester’s next victim, but rather to be an independent soul, free to do what she pleases. Now that Jane is turning her soul to thanksgiving, she can clearly see that she has this potential to be a somebody, and make a difference in her own life.

KKatz said...

Topic A: In Chapter 28, Jane leaves Thornfield and returns to "Nature." This is Jane severing all of her connections to the horrible life that she once knew. She is cutting off all ties of the cruelty and torture that she had to endure. She says "Not a tie holds me to human society at this moment" (318). It was absolutely necessary for Jane to leave all of her old life behind her. By leaving her old life behind, Jane is trying to get back to her roots, back to the nature of reality, back to the "universal mother, Nature" (318) from whom she "will seek her breast and ask repose" (318). Jane is seeking protection and guidance and a place to belong from Nature.

Also in this chapter, Jane sees this light that leads her to the house. She is desperate for food, money and work. She sees this light and it could be seen as this symbol of hop and God's presence in her life. "Going into the light" is formally known as going in the direction of God. As Jane walks toward this light, which is St. John Rivers' house, she is so close to being dead. St. John and his family take care of her and restore her back to health. This family is pretty much doing the work of God by taking care of a stranger in need.

Many of the biblical references in the chapters are definitely open to interpretation, but for light, it is often used in the Bible. There is this theme of light in the beginning, where the light ends all darkness and symbolizes the "good versus evil." You can also look at it in terms of the light of God which represents how God leads people to him and to the end of their darkness. We can see that at this point in the book, Jane is lost and heading toward her "darkness" because she is hungry, tired and all alone. It is almost a helpless situation. Of all the places Jane could have stopped, she stops at this house willing to help her and take her in.

KKatz said...

Topic A (continued): We can see from previous chapters throughout the book that Nature and God have been protecting Jane from harm, providing her with shelter, warding off enemies, and giving her enough to keep her alive. In the end, it is Jane's forceful and strong nature that drives her out of this slump that she is currently in. It is not toward nature or God, but toward the goodness of humanity that Jane has to turn to for help.

Nature is Jane's only means of survival and a solution at this point. It is neither kind nor unkind to her, it just is. It doesn't have any care in the world for Jane, it is just always there for her. She found this nature as a means for survival because she knew it would not turn her away like everything else in her life has. It was strong enough to help her without needing anything in return. Jane knows this is not enough for her to survive. She needs to look elsewhere, like into the hearts of others, because some people actually are kind, like St. John. By other people turning her away, Bronte is showing us that human nature is a lot weaker than actual nature. But human nature has one thing over nature and that is that its flexible. It varies case to case and depends on whom is involved in the situation.

Because St. John goes against all the norms of human nature, it bears the question, does he have human nature or is his nature God-like? Maybe it is a little bit of both. He is made up of this selfless, caring nature that God's nature has provided Jane with in the past. St. John goes a little further than God because unlike God, St. John can provide a lot and care for Jane genuinely, whereas God has so many individuals to care. Jane s such a small part of the society that it is not God's job to pay attention to such a small detail. St. John also has his human qualities. The way he treats Jane after she refuses to marry him is definitely a human trait and then denying ever treating her poorly, screams human! Even though St. John has many redeeming, God-like characteristics, he is still more human than God and in the end can not help Jane as much as she hoped he could.

KKatz said...

Topic A (continued): It is really interesting to see how Bronte creates these relationships between human actions and the actions of nature. It really relates to Jane’s character because her feelings always correspond to certain aspects of nature and how she wants to get away and start a new life. For Jane, nature is her form of escape. It gives her the ability to venture into her fantasy, day-dreaming world, until she has to return to reality for her basic sustenance.

One of the oldest evolution principles is "survival of the fittest," from Darwin and this is exactly what happens to Jane when she is suddenly on her own. Her old self is not strong enough to support her, and must die. The new Jane that is created from this struggle and survival is a product of natural selection. Jane’s survival is the winning battle of evolution over creation by God, based on the fact that it was humans who saved her, and not God.

Renee S. said...

Topic A
At the opening of chapter 28, Jane leaves Thornfield, the home of Mr. Rochester. This is a very important action in the novel because it shows us a lot about Jane’s character development. Bronte uses Thornfield to help create a gothic image and tone throughout the novel. Its gloomy character expresses and amplifies the sense of depression that Mr. Rochester feels before he falls in love with Jane. According to Wikipedia, “the grounds surrounding Thornfield are sublime and healthful to the novels many troubled characters, and serves as a backdrop to many of the happier scenes.” For instance, in chapter 28 when Jane leaves Thornfield, she is cutting off all of her bad connections. She is making a move to rid of her tortured life and leave it behind in order to get back to reality.

Previously in chapter 27, Jane asserts her moral integrity. Rochester has been attempting to get Jane to stay with him and live in Thornfield though he is still legally married to Bertha Mason. But, as we know from reading chapter 28, Jane decides to leave Thornfield. “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 principals received by me when I was sane, and not mad-as I am now…” Jane states. This is when Jane returns to “nature.”

Jane resolves to leave Rochester and Thornfield. Leaving Rochester pains her deeply. But, Jane enters nature in two different ways. The first is the physical. She is forced to sleep outdoors without any food or protection. The second is the mental. Jane has been abused and tortured throughout her life that leaving Thornfield was her chance to have a normal life. Jane’s departure from Thornfield is the most important decision she has made by far in the novel. Rochester gave Jane love and a roof over her head, which is what she had always longed for. But, living with Rochester and Bertha Mason would put Jane into a position of inequality. Despite the sense of happiness and acceptance Rochester and Thornfield offer, Jane knows that staying would be yet another form of imprisonment, something she has struggled to escape her entire life.

Renee S. said...

Part A continued

I think before I get into the religion part of this blog, it is important to touch upon Bertha Mason. One view of Bertha is that she is a symbolic representation of a housewife or a trapped Victorian wife. She is never to travel or do any work other than that inside the house. Because she is so limited she becomes frustrated. I feel as though her frustration and anxiety was a warning for Jane. It is as if Bertha is warning Jane to leave Rochester and Thornfield because she is the example of what Jane would become if she surrendered to Rochester.

In chapter 28, St. John provides the audience with a Christian ambition and glory. St. John attempts to have Jane sacrifice her emotional deeds for the fulfillment of her moral duty. But so far, she has rejected both the beliefs of Helen and Mr. Brocklehurst. In chapter 28, Jane states “Distrust, the very feeling I dreaded, appeared in Hannah’s face… ‘I can but die,’ I said, ‘and I believe in God. Let me try to wait His will in silence.’ These words I not only thought but uttered; and thrusting back all my misery into my heart, I made an effort to compel it to remain there-dumb and still.” As Jane wanders she puts her survival in the hands of God. Jane strongly objects to Rochester’s immorality, and refuses to live with him while he is married in the eyes of God and the community. Jane just barely brings herself to leave Thornfield and she credits God with helping her to escape her immoral life.

Though St. John is actually Jane’s cousin, I think that within the novel, St. John and Mr. Rochester have a more interesting relationship. St. John is a “fair complexioned and slenderly made” man. St. John offers Jane the chance to make a more meaningful contribution to society when he asks her to accompany him to India. Of course, if Jane were to go with St. John, he would provide a lot or care for Jane. What is interesting to me is that Jane has so far neglected all of the religious characters in the novel. But, in volume three, she turns to God. A reason I feel that it is better for Jane to go with St. John is that St. John will be able to care for Jane and only Jane, and give her his undivided attention. God, on the other hand, has to care for so many people so I think she would feel as though she were low again in social class.
I also thought, would Jane live a life without love, which she was familiar with, if she goes with St. John? Rochester, or marriage to Rochester would be Jane sacrificing principle for passion. In some odd way, St. John is a foil for Rochester (or Rochester is a foil for St. John?).

brittanyf said...

When St. John takes Jane in, Hannah’s exclamation of how “wet and cold [St. John] must be” suggest that, that evening, it was raining. While rain is hardly a body of water, and Jane’s being stranded in it does not count as swimming, I believe this rain to be a baptism, of sorts. It is not upon leaving Thornfield Hall that things change for Jane, nor is it upon her finding the Rivers, but rather the moment when St. John finds her that Jane’s luck begins to turn, that the entire story seems to brighten. In fact, the story seems to flip, turn 180 degrees, inverse. Jane’s state of unconsciousness represents a dawn of a new age in the story. Jane, sick, sleeps for “about three days and nights” with very little idea of what went on during that time. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was dead in his tomb for three days before he was resurrected and rose again. Unarguably, her being accepted into the Rivers household is the site of a turning point in the text.

The Rivers’ home contrasts greatly with the eerie, sprawling, haunting Thornfield Hall. The right-away overly-skeptical and harsh housekeeper, Hannah, differs drastically from the welcoming Ms. Fairfax. Diana and Mary resemble Adele in that they are waiting for the apparent master of the home, in their case St. John, but unlike young Adele, they are older and more mature and are not nearly as dependent or seemingly lonesome. The greatest foil, however, is St. John to Rochester.

First, let us view the similarities between both St. John and Rochester. Both men are the superiors of their households and both men happen upon Jane. However, while it is the man (Rochester himself) that is suffering when Rochester and Jane meet, it is the woman (Jane) who is suffering while St. John and Jane meet. Despite her unfortunate conclusion with Rochester, this suggests that Jane might well end up with Rochester over St. John, at least if fate is taken into consideration, as their meeting, fit her independent personality. Meanwhile, her meeting St. John in a state of utmost vulnerability and despair made her to be dependent and even desperate. This conflict of character suggests that the two are not fated to unite as Rochester and Jane did (and perhaps will again).

brittanyf said...

On page 333, St. John observes Jane’s plainness, a quality of hers that she always criticized herself for. His face, in contrast, as if opposites again, was far from plain, but rather handsome. Jane describes the face as “Greek…very pure in outline” with a “straight, classic nose” and “quite an Athenian mouth and chin” (338). In short, she compares his appearance to that of a great warrior or god. As she goes on, dwelling on his “large and blue” eyes “with brown lashes; his high forehead, colourless as ivory” and his “careless locks of fair hair” it becomes evident that Jane is actually somewhat mesmerized by his appearance, making it evident just how beautiful the man really is. In comparison to Jane’s plainness, St. John is far superior, again conflicting with the theme of Jane’s overpowering her male counterpart, and thus suggesting, even further, that she has no future with this man. Rochester, on the other hand, in contrast with St. John, is not handsome. According to the text, he boasts harsh features, and I envision him as a scruffy, rough-faced man. His significantly less aesthetically-pleasing appearance better matches with Jane and her plainness, as it fails him the opportunity to overpower her in that sense.

As the text continues, Jane begins to examine St. John’s appearance more critically, shifting her focus to his eyes:

“St. John’s eyes, though clear enough in a literal sense, in a figurative one were difficult to fathom. He seemed to use them rather as instruments to search other people’s thoughts, than as agents to reveal his own: the which combination of keenness and reserve was considerably more calculated to embarrass than to encourage.” (339)

With this aura of mystery floating about him, St. John resembles Rochester, whose behaviors and mannerisms were rather curious (and who withheld a most great secret). However, this observation of his eyes reveals much more about either man’s character and the link between them than that there is much about either that we do not really know. Jane claims that St. John uses his eyes “rather as instruments to search other people’s thoughts, than as agents to reveal his own,” thus suggesting his having a very “reserve[d]” personality, and not being open to sharing much about his emotions, his past—anything personal. In short, St. John is made out to seem rather distant, at least socially and emotionally speaking. In contrast, Rochester is a most outward character, full of emotion and very socially comfortable, as illustrated by his many accounts of party-hosting. Jane herself, I would say, is fairly reserved. St. John, being incredibly so, is a threat to this, to Jane’s ability to maintain a distance. Again, because of this, their characters clash, once more directing Jane to a path along which a relationship with Rochester lies (or, even if she does not end up with Rochester again, a fate of loneliness waits, meaning that she was only ever meant to be with Rochester). In this sense, Bronte suggests the key of human relationships, the key to contentment, to be that sacred balance, just like that which exists in Jane and Rochester’s relationship. I believe St. John exists in the story, firstly, to illustrate this idea, and secondly, to further identify Jane’s character and its form. That is, I consider St. John to be, at least in some aspects, a glorified representation of Jane’s personality. I consider their meeting then, to be a new leaf turned in Jane’s life, with his presence holding the primary purpose of enforcing her newly-accepted, newly-realized character upon the minds of the readers, and then leaving the rest of their personalities up to the reader’s mind. St. John, you could say, is Bronte’s eye—an instrument to get inside the minds of her audience.

kisla said...

From the beginning of the novel all the way to the opening of chapter 28 when Jane leaves Thornfield, Jane is constantly fighting herself, everyone around her, and the situations she is forced to deal with. She never seems to be content with anything and she is always willing to keep moving forward without having to look back. "God must have led me on. As to my own will or conscience, impassioned grief had trampled one and stifled the other. I was weeping wildly as I walked along my solitary way: fast, fast I went like one delirious. A weakness, beginning inwardly, extending to the limbs, seized me, and I fell: I lay on the ground some minutes, pressing my face to the wet turf. I had some fear-or hope- that here I should die: but I was soon up; crawling forwards on my hands and knees, and then again raised to my feet- as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road." (page 316-317) Although it may not have been completely necessary to provide that entire passage in this blog, I felt that I had to include it because a.) it's one of my favorite passages in the book and b.) because it shows alot about Jane's character as a whole. The reason why it's my favorite passage is because it gives me hope and it makes me feel that even when I'm at my lowest, I should always push myself and keep going like Jane (corny I know). This passage shows just how faithful and strong Jane actually is because although she has no one now and her heart is broken, she still continues to move forward in search of her own personal "utopia" so to speak. I also found it interesting how Jane refers to nature as a "she" and God as a "he." I'm aware of the fact that many people refer to God as a he but when Jane does it, I feel as though she may be trying to consider them as parental figures. For example on page 318 she states "nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was; and I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness. Tonight, at least, I would be her guest- as I was her child: my mother would lodge me without money and without price." Because Jane has never really had a legitimate mother figure in her life, it's almost as if she seems to feel like nature could be her "adopted mother." there's a sense of desperate clinginess as Jane describes her love for nature and her willingness to embrace every aspect of it. The nature that Jane is embracing is intertwined with her religious beliefs on page 319 when she claims that "god is everywhere..." Although it may be a little far fetched, I believe that Jane is focusing more on nature and God in order to fill the frequent void of loneliness and unrest that she feels. The readers can't help but feel sympathy for her because she seems like such a hopeless character that you just want to take care of. Nothing is surrounding her, no one is taking care of her, and her heart is constantly being broken. By focusing more on nature and religion, Jane seems to continue moving forward and finding reasons to move on as opposed to just sulking about her situation. Jane's lifestyle also reminds me of my own lifestyle as well. I'm always asking for more, more, and more and I'm never truly satisfied with what I have. I always want to progress and feel free and I'm usually very aggravated when I fail at attaining these aspects but I continue on by focusing on things such as religion, nature, etc.. Maybe what Bronte is trying to convey to the readers is that nature may be a way of escape and a "breath of fresh air"(no pun intended :)

Nidale Z. said...

Topic C 1/3:

I think St. John exists purely as a foil to Mr. Rochester. At the beginning of volume 3, we as readers are angry at Rochester. He has, essentially, been lying to Jane since he was introduced to her, and now asks her to go against her moral and religious beliefs and become his mistress. So yeah, we’re angry, and justifiably so. The introduction of St. John makes him seem, well, saintly, especially in comparison to the sinful Rochester we’ve already been introduced to. St. John speaks frequently of God, describing to Jane that he knows “from experience [that] God has given [them], in a measure, the power to make [their] own fate; and when [their] will strains after a path [they] may not follow – [they] need neither starve from inanition, nor stand still in despair: we have but to seek another nourishment for the mind, as strong as the forbidden food it longed to taste – and perhaps purer” (354). Here, St. John essentially offers Jane the chance for redemption, a chance offered only by God and the ability He gives Jane to create her own path – so long as she complies with the Bible. We see the beginnings of St. John’s power over Jane; here, he goes on for several paragraphs about the story of his own life, threading a sort of scolding into it and revealing his own past in order to further force his own morality upon Jane. He never directly says that she is an awful person, as at this point he doesn’t even know about her affair with Rochester, but he certainly makes her feel awful in her shame, which makes her all the more likely to listen to his suggestions and orders, primarily because for her, he represents the religious (and, to some extent, moral) beliefs that she has strayed from since meeting Rochester.

Furthermore, though this conversation is definitely lengthy, St. John speaks and Jane only really listens, thus putting her in this submissive roll and giving St. John power over her that Rochester never really had. This is interesting purely for its divergence from the Jane of the rest of the book; she was able to refuse Rochester, able to refuse all the women who tried to control her (most obviously her aunt and her aunt’s household), able, even, to refuse the teachers at her new school. But St. John has this interesting power over her purely because of his representation of religion; at this point, Jane fails that she has failed morally due to Rochester’s courtship with her, which thus leads her to seek repentance, and for her, the most available form of this repentance is her missionary cousin.

Nidale Z. said...

Topic C 2/3:

But we’re not actually let to like St. John. His conversations with Jane are much less deep, insightful, introspective, than Rochester’s. He talks for most of them (most notably the one in chapter 31), and typically follows up with an order for Jane and anger if she does not comply. Unlike Rochester (who, despite his creepiness, at least allows Jane to have legitimate conversation with him), St. John babbles almost incessantly about his life, almost as if he is trying to make Jane draw some moral lesson from his words by the end of them. Of course, this is why he seems to be this religious figure in her life, and why his greatest purpose is to endear us to Rochester after having made us hate him last volume.

But the conversation I find most interesting is the following, between St. John and Jane regarding Rosamond and St. John’s love for her:

“Rosamond a sufferer, a labourer, a female apostle? Rosamond a missionary’s wife? No!”

“But you need not be a missionary. You might relinquish that scheme.”

“Relinquish! What! my vocation? My great work? My foundation laid on earth for a mansion in heaven? My hopes of being numbered in the band who have merged all ambitions in the glorious one of bettering their race – of carrying knowledge into the realms of ignorance – of substituting peace for war – freedom for bondage – religion for superstition – the hope of heaven for the fear of hell? Must I relinquish that? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. it is what I have to look forward to, and to live for.”

- p. 366

Nidale Z. said...

Topic C 3/3:

Here, Jane suggests for St. John a path to happiness; essentially, she suggests he put his happiness and that of Rosamond over any sense of morality that he feels forces him to become a missionary rather than everything else he would rather be. If we disregard the obvious racism here (a product of the times, but also a social statement? Maybe Brontë was making a point about missions in general through her introduction of them through a character we are led to dislike), there remains only a sense of wannabe heroic faux-altruism in St. John. We know he’s only becoming a missionary because of his issues with his father, and yet his reaction to Jane’s suggestion that he become anything else is long-winded and overdramatic. Furthermore, he undermines the sense of selflessness that goes along with being a spreader of religious faith by implying his only real reasons for doing so are to be able to live in a “mansion in heaven.” Sure, he means it metaphorically, but this idea that he only acts morally in order to guarantee himself a spot in heaven is an interesting one, morally – it essentially gives all “selfless” acts a selfish motivation. Though motivations are not necessarily important to those who benefit from St. John’s actions, they definitely provide insight into his character; we see here that he is not actually a kind, selfless man. If anything, he is more selfish than others – he chooses not to marry Rosamond not because he does not love her but because he wants to dedicate his life to bettering his afterlife, thus leaving both of them unhappy while alive. It’s also interesting to me that St. John describes his bond with God as less that of a missionary delivering a message and more as that of a slave whose sole purpose in life is to listen to God not because he cares about any religious message but because he wants to go to heaven after dying.

R. Gallagher said...

for Phillip:

Topic A – Leaving Thornfield and returning to Nature
Jane leaving Thornfield signals a new beginning for her. Previously, she was entangled in a rather complicated situation. The fact is, she had the opportunity to live a stable life with Rochester. The fact is, he was an unfortunate and miserable person condemned by his family’s unnatural lust for money, which set him up to live with a woman that was better off dead than in an insane asylum. The fact is, he needed her, and she needed him just as much, having been treated like crap by everybody else but him all her life. And she blew it. She leaves. Why? Apparently, for pride. Sure, the book says it was for self respect. She says herself it was for respect. But despite her religious tendencies, she takes the path of pride and refuses to “subjugate” herself to a man’s will. Even though that man seemed very promising in terms of loving her and giving her a stable, happy life. Nope. Pride is more important. Isn’t pride a sin or something? Indeed, she became “the instrument of evil to what [she] truly love[d]” (317). It was quite thoughtless for her to additionally sneak out ofThornfield right under Rochester’s nose, without even so much as a proper goodbye. He mentioned in his shocking reveal earlier that he contemplated suicide in order to escape his deranged wife, and to escape the crushing loneliness he experienced. Well, Jane, guess what option you just forced back into immediate availability for poor old Rochester? I understand this book is supposed to be the penultimate promotion of the independence, strength, awesomeness, uberness, etc., etc., etc., blah blahblah of women, and the best way for Bronte to drive and ram that point through the thick skulls of men would be to do this, but – damn that was cold, man. Ice cold. Subzero, even. Anyway…she left regardless of my worthless modern opinion, and that’s that.
Jane’s attitude toward nature, initially at least, seem not to be a product of Christianity nor pagan-ness. It’s more like a mix of insanity and desperation. With no money, no directions, and no aid from strangers, she had “no relative but the universal mother, nature: [she] will seek her beast and ask repose” (318). Alright, never mind, that does sound like a product of Christianity after all. Typically, when one is reduced to nothing, reduced to absolute miserable desperation, they pray to their deity of choice for a Deus Ex Machina to occur. Nature in itself is no one entity, but the way in which Jane refers to it exclusively, and not say the tree or sky, makes it seem as though she is merely replacing the word God with nature. In the midst of enduring the harsh realities of the lives of the poor, Jane forgoes praying to God and instead seeks supernatural aid from something that is at least confirmed to exist – the nature around her. It is, however, unlikely that tree will suddenly take out food or money from its tree hole and present it her altruistically. Nevertheless, it sounds more plausible than a giant hand descending from the sky shrouded in blinding light giving her the same things. Slightly.

R. Gallagher said...


Instead of the situation I proposed, Jane does find herself saved by nature, but through sucking dew from a heath. From this, she concluded that “nature seemed to [her] benign and good; [she] thought she loved [her]” (318). Again, replace the word nature with God and you have an interchangeable sentence. Most likely, she refuses to use the word God for now because she doesn’t feel entitled to speak his name yet. After all, she did just recently finish screwing a man over entirely by condemning him to a cursed existence with a violent lunatic wife, and she must realize this. Her form of repentance would appear to not utter his name while in her moments of deepest suffering (read: hunger). As a result, this depiction of nature remains consistent with how it is represented throughout the book. Rarely is it used as a literal term. Commonly it used as a symbol for something else. The paintings that Jane drew in Lowood, for example, depicted nature. But nature was not the point. Nature stood for something else, be it freedom, suffering, and other abstract concepts. Nature is merely a bridge connecting the concrete and the abstract, a figurative mechanic for Bronte to constantly employ to invigorate her writing with creativity.

R. Gallagher said...

for João N.

First, it’s important to note some of the many implications “nature” has on Jane’s character. We all seem to be in agreement that Brontë constantly uses metaphors and symbols associated with nature to somehow describe some aspect of Jane’s character. Something else worth noting is that, this very connection Brontë creates between Jane and nature, almost illustrates a larger struggle present in the novel: Jana’s quest to fulfill her “natural role,” or in other words, her independence and freedom, two things Jane has always been deprived of during her life. She never had it while she was a child or adolescent (it was impossible due to her Aunt’s oppressive household, and the school she later attended), and now, in her relationship with Mr. Rochester, she knows that as a mistress, she will never be able to fulfill her “natural role” either, therefore, her decision to leave Thornfield is a turning point that ultimately will lead Jane to exercise the freedoms she has been deprived of since childhood. Some other larger struggle is also occurring in this scenario: Jane is fighting two major instincts, the societal one of being loved and cared for by a “stronger” male, and her “natural” one, which would lead her to continue carving her path to autonomy.

The departure from Thornfield to nature is a departure from the old Jane to a much stronger one, because by leaving Thornfield, she effectively leaves a lot of what weakened her behind. She begins by leaving, once and for all, her dependence on other entities to support herself. She knows that she will no longer have a house to live under, she will no longer have food provided for her, and all of this, as terrible as her childhood was, was provided for her. From this, we also see Jane leaving a lot of her upper class bigotry behind. She chooses to fight the realities of her status rather than clinging to Mr. Rochester’s. She also leaves behind (and this, I find most important), her wish to fulfill her parent’s place. She no longer seems to care about a male figure to fill her father’s place, instead, she accepts her position, and decides to take her chances in the real world. Of course, Jane is not necessarily conscious of any of this, for she almost gives up when she arrives at the St. John’s household. It can also be argued that, when she is helped by that family, she is once again giving in to forces that are stronger than her to support herself, and I agree. What is interesting is that the family that helps her seems to hold values that are morally superior than the ones of Jane’s past protectors, thus symbolizing Brontë’s point of view that this enlightened, but still dependent life, is the better one for Jane. Even more interesting is how Brontë brilliantly crafts the position of women of her time, how they can attempt to be independent, but only up to a certain point, where then they will have to somehow still have some kind of male assistance. Very Jean-Jacques Rousseau-y of Brontë: “man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”

R. Gallagher said...


Jane’s departure to nature is the ultimate testament of her character’s strength. She sacrifices her dependencies, her wishes, all in the name of her self-respect and of her Rousseaunian free state. Above all, she sacrifices her love for Mr. Rochester, who at that point in time, she felt was the only person who could return her love. Jane deviates from the feminine stereotype here, for she deliberately picks her independence over submission, she finally is able to let go of the idea of status and societal pressure (like having to get married) to be free. Brontë cleverly connects all of this to nature, as shown by Jane’s description of her surroundings once she leaves Thornfield: “What a golden desert this spreading moor! Everywhere sunshine. I wished I could live in it and on it. I saw a lizard run over the crag; I saw a bee busy among the sweet bilberries” (319). Here, Jane admires the freedom of the animals, which leads the reader to notice the self-actualization she seems to be achieving after leaving Mr. Rochester’s household.

As for the question regarding Jane’s views toward nature being solely Pagan or leavened with Christianity, it’s very difficult to answer. Jane experiences some kind of religious turmoil throughout the entire novel, she rejects some facets of Christianity (breakthrough for the epoch) and constantly makes reference to the moon (an obvious divine Pagan symbol for the feminine), the sun, the elements, all of which exemplify the Pagan influence over her Christian value system. At the very least, one can say that the elements (fire, water, air, earth) all have a deep connection with Jane: the wind whispers in her ear, the river’s currents guide her path, the moon is always watching her, the sun illuminates her way… Perhaps, the mixture of paganism and Christianity that the reader can see influencing Jane’s behavior is a commentary by Brontë on the futility of single religious dogmas, and the prevalence of Christianity a commentary on the strength of the religion over society and even individual lives.

R. Gallagher said...

for Rachael:

Response for Topic B:

To begin, I would say that the relationship between Jane and St. John Rivers is a reflection of the societal views of the Victorian time period. Jane could not travel comfortably with St. John to India without being his wife. This is because it was taboo for a woman to travel (especially internationally) with a man who was not a family member nor a spouse. One of St. John's values is a traditional lifestyle. He believes that Jane Eyre can only travel with him if they are married. He also dislikes her “untiring assiduity and unshaken temper,” which makes her an unsuitable wife in this point in time. The truth is that Jane would not be happily married to St. John because of the continuation of the impending passion for Mr. Rochester. She would love to travel as Mr. Rochester had in his younger days. The fire inside her emulates the inner desire to be an independently-minded outsider learning about the world surrounding her. St. John's ice imagery includes comparing his appearance and mannerisms to being “like a…glacier” are the opposite of Jane Eyre's passion. In other words, St. John's ice stifles her flames.

I dislike St. John personally because I think his character lacks substance. I feel as if Bronte attempted to create a more dynamic character out of St. John Rivers but ultimately did not achieve her goal. Maybe others think there is more of a dynamic and complex character to him but I disagree. I also think the complexity of the character that Jane Eyre is only further enhances this broad outlook that the audience can have on St. John Rivers. Also, why is it pronounced “Sin Jin?” To further prove my statement, Jane even says that St. John Rivers had “controlled his passion perfectly” in relation to his humble religious nature. This, again, is the opposite of Jane Eyre, who is often unable to control her rage, emotions, and opinions regardless of the social normities of the time period. While Jane Eyre struggles with fitting in to her feminine role, St. John Rivers “held passion by the throat.” He is able to freeze his emotions rather than letting them out in a healthy manner. I looked up some of the names in the novel on the internet. Going off from our discussion in class, about the debate of the surname “Eyre” and how it could possibly mean to intentionally sound similar to the word “air”, it turns out that Jane Eyre's last name is derived from the French word, “to travel.” I feel that this not only resolves our class discussion but also emphasizes Jane's unlimited free spirit. St. John does not let Jane Eyre's soul burn to its fiery nature. So, to reiterate, he is the epitome of ice-- the opposite of Jane Eyre. Going off of the topic slightly, I feel that it was kind of strange how suddenly in the middle of Volume Two of the novel people start commenting on how “pale” and “cold” Jane suddenly looks. Why would Bronte go out of her way to have the dialogue between her characters point out how frigid Jane appears when she spent almost the entire Volume One describing how “fiery” and “lively” she is, especially when she was residing in the Reed’s House. I just thought this whole part of the novel was pretty strange.

R. Gallagher said...


I also believe that there is a power struggle between Jane Eyre and St. John Rivers. I believe because- as I previously stated- they are opposites: Jane is passionate, emotional fire while Rivers is a frosty soul. As Jane Eyre states, “I am hot, and fire dissolves ice.” Since she is “dissolving” the ice that is St. John Rivers, she therefore believes she is more powerful than he will ever be. This is the inverse of the gender role expectations of the Victorian era. This is a struggle because St. John approves of the traditional lifestyle where a husband rules over the wife. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, has a different opinion on the various ways women can be treated. This applies to both the household and society. Jane wants to be a person who takes care of and protects their spouse, which she finally gets to do in the end of the novel with Mr. Rochester. Towards the end of the novel, however, Jane Eyre is allowed to take care of Mr. Rochester as he finally accepts her as his caretaker. This is especially significant because Mr. Rochester essentially gives up on his independence as both a person and a male in society. In relation to the beginning of the novel Mr. Rochester has abandoned his independence due to his injuries while Jane abandons her potential independence when she refuses to travel to India with St. John Rivers. He goes onto India and continues to stifle her values to fulfill his own. His journey to India continuously the fulfillment in life Jane receives from becoming Mr. Rochester’s caretaker and the independence St. John gains from his travels.

St. John has many other values, including religion. For one thing, his NAME. It is St. John. Hence the word “saint” with it having an extremely religious connotation. To add, they cannot be anointed into sainthood unless they are dead. This goes along with St. John's iciness, since he is as cold as death in some ways. Jane even refers to him as being deathly frigid in his interactions with others. Yet again, Jane's passion seems to be the opposite of St. John's cold values. Though he is religious like Jane, they seem to have opposing religious values. Whereas Jane prays only for positive events to occur, it seems as though St. John Rivers prays for his benefit only. Jane's response to St. John's tyrannical nature is significant because it portrays how women can overcome the stigma society places on their life roles. When she first meets St. John Rivers and his sisters, she lies to them about her identity, claiming that her last name was not Eyre. Instead, it was Elliot. Jane eventually tells them the truth however which I felt was kind of like a baptismal moment in the novel, but probably not.

Gabby said...

Topic A/ B

Part 1:

In Chapter 28 when Jane leaves Thornfield she finds it best to reconnect herself with
nature. I think she does this because she feels as if nature is her only escape from the
dreadful, chaotic reality that she lives in. Throughout the novel, Jane discusses concepts
of nature. Bronte evidently likes incorporating nature into the novel for the fact that it is
the only thing Jane can relate to.

Another reason why I think that Bronte decided to allow Jane’s character to connect
with nature is because it gives her a chance to connect with God as well. The concept
of Christianity in Chapter 28 becomes more relevant. After Jane begins feeling that
Rochester was trying to turn her into an “item” and a “mistress” rather than a wife, she
felt used. Therefore, by going out into the world, she tries to find purity again by being
with the one and only motherly nature. “…with the heat of the summer-day. I looked
at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge.” (318) This
passage helps elucidate the idea that nature is fairly symbolic to Christianity throughout
this chapter because Jane refers to it as “pure” which in Christianity, individuals believe
in purity of oneself and always doing the right things.

It seems that when Bronte allows Jane to return to nature that is the only time that she is
essentially able to find treatment of her mind after the life she has lived. We have seen
before in previous chapters, the way in which Jane describes the setting of nature. She
always seems to be realistic. In Chapter 28, Jane goes out into the world to discover
her self and her soul. As we can depict from the reading, based on the description
of the night and Jane being alone in the woods, she is having problems with her life
and feels alone. Jane is trying to reach out to God by finding herself through nature.
Jane connects with humanity and eventually finds her identity spiritually after being
surrounded by God and nature which are both everywhere she is. “We know that God is
everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest
scale spread before u: and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel
their silent course…” (319) Jane relies strongly on these two aspects because they are
the “motherly” figures to her. After Jane’s brutal night in the woods and her rebirth of
self identity, she then finds St. John Rivers and it seems that the new day has something
brighter for her in terms of life and purity.

Gabby said...

Topic A/ B continued

Part 2:

Saint John Rivers then becomes a symbolic figure to an angel (in my opinion). St John
Rivers’ introduction into the novel, shows the kind of person he is by taking Jane in,
granting her a place to stay, meeting his family, and accepting Jane after all of the chaos
she had been through. St. John shows a lot of compassion towards Jane, similar to how
an angel would guide an individual’s soul. “Mr. St. John came but once: he looked at me,
and said my state of lethargy was the result of reaction from excessive and protracted
fatigues. He pronounced it needless to send for a doctor: nature, he was overstrained in
some way… He imagined my recovery would be rapid enough once commenced.” (333)
This passage helps indicate that St. John is an angelic figure because he took Jane in and
attempted to help her back to stability. Saint John obtains grace and harmony, which Jane
never experienced anyone having in her life.

In Chapter 30, Jane describes St. John in a way that is very different from
Rochester. “Mr. St. John—sitting as still as one of the dusky pictures on the walls…
He had been a statue instead of a man; he could not have been easier. He was young—
perhaps from twenty-eight to thirty...” (338) The descriptions of St. John opposed from
the descriptions of Rochester have shown that at first, Jane finds it easy that she has some
power over St. John being that he is willing to do everything for her. He is young and
kind. Aside from St. John, Rochester is very powering and feels the need to show he has
power over women. However, after being around St. John, Jane realizes her true feelings
and identifies the idea that from being influenced by nature and God she was able to find
her true spirit depicting a stage of growth and rebirth.

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