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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jane Eyre III -- chapter 3: MORE REAL THAN REAL

Reading Questions
  1. Bessie gains dimension!  How shallow can she be if she sympathizes with Jane now that Jane's so pathetic, and yet amidst the sympathy she defends the honor of the family by lying to Mr. Lloyd as he questions Jane later in the chapter.  What might this say of Bessie's true nature?  Consider also Bessie's song, whose words are so pointedly directed at Jane, the orphan.
  2. "Vain favor! coming, like most other favors long deferred and often wished for, too late!"
  3. Jane says herself, in this same paragraph that also includes elves and Lilliputians (whose book, Gulliver's Travels, she considers "a narrative of facts"), that her imagination is just as alive and real for as is reality for the less fanciful, which tends toward a sore of hyper-reality, more real than real, and emphasizes the phantasmagoria of chapter II, for which she's still suffering; yet here, at the end of this very paragraph, the fantastical escape she seeks from Swift has lost its charm.  Why?  Has it also lost its perceived reality?  A partial answer might be found in a connection between Gulliver and tart, but there's more here than what this connection is limited to.
  4. Further question along these same lines: How is it that fantasy can indeed be more real than reality, and why do we so crave it?  Please use examples.
  5. Is the apothecary, Mr. Lloyd, playing devil's advocate through the questioning (example: "“Ghost! What, you are a baby, after all! You are afraid of ghosts?"), and if so, what are his motives?
  6. Whom does poverty strike harder, children or adults (a deliberately obtuse question)?  I see Jane's preference of caste over liberty as surprisingly mature.  It is idealism that tends most frequently to claim the contrary.  Defend or refute.
  7. Guy Fawkes
  8. Abbott: "if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really can not care for such a little toad as that."  (I love the "verbed" form of compassion, whose spelling is exactly the same as the adjectival!)  In extra minutes of the science classes I'm currently teaching, we've been watching bits and pieces of the Discovery series Planet Earth.  It's fun to listen to and watch the students who cheer and gasp at the surprises, triumphs, and brutalities of nature.  There are as many grunts of disgust as anything else.  And it makes sense.  A lot of nature is gross--at least if you take our modern culture's little pettinesses and preciousnesses and fastidiousnesses (*so many Ss!*) and drape them over the animals and pretend they should fit.  Anthropomorphism at its worst and most ignorant!  Abbott here reminds me of my 7th and 8th graders, basing and justifying her entire opinion of Jane on appearance, hearsay, and opinion and looking nothing at the inner clockworks.  Where's the informed objectivity?  Further it reminds me of the mirror in the Pondicherry Zoo from Life of Pi, whose sign invites patrons to examine a picture of the zoo's most dangerous animal.  The saddest thing is the truth of her statement, speaking generally of humanity.  Why do we prefer pretty?  Interesting, though: isn't her deliberately blind assumption that her ignorance is truth kind of the evil twin of Jane's preference for fantasy over reality?


  1. 4. Fantasy captures the emotions that we feel. Realism rules a lot of these out because we are confined by whether something could happen in real life. An example might actually be "Gulliver's Travels." Swift draws up impossible situations, but they point to a truth about British life at the time that he can't just come out and say. So instead he has to use fantastic situations to make his point. I guess that's another benefit. You can get away with saying things in the context of fantasy that you could not say in real life.
    6. I am going to defute--at least as real a word as dementionally. I think maturity depends upon from which end one is starting. If a person is naturally idealistic, like I think you and I are, it takes maturity to realize that sometimes a practical decision can be better. However, if someone starts out as a Will Hamilton, maturity might be allowing one's mind to consider more than money or bare necessity.
    8. "Why do we prefer pretty?" I actually read a depressing study a while ago that pretty people also tend to be more intelligent, so they argued it was some form of genetics. You can take it or leave it. :) Anyway, I can be fairly misanthropic at times, or so Nicole tells me, so I'll leave most of the last paragraph alone, although I will say that I agree with a lot of what you say.

  2. 4. Fantasy is a great haunt for satirists for the very reason you say--even Voltaire, I think.
    6. I think I'm losing some of my idealism, no matter how I want to cling to it.
    8. I've wondered--venomously--why it is that so many of the very best actors, so very pretty indeed, also manage to be so articulate, empathetic, and multi-talented. Of course this doesn't apply to all, kind of like the pretty/ditsy girls in secondary schools (why be smart, when pretty can get--earn? --good grades too?), and it could be said that actors are as snively spoiled as bullies, but doesn't that usually come after the riches, which could not have been won without the pretty and brains?


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