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Friday, December 17, 2010

Jane Eyre IV -- chapter 4: WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?

Gustave Dore
  1. Mr. Brocklehurst is so described: "What a face he had, now that it was almost on a level with mine! what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent teeth!" and I expect that a comparison to the Wolf of Red Riding Hood might not be far from accurate.  I wonder who the woodcutter might turn out to be.  (If you haven't yet taken the time to study fairy tales, it's never too late: get started here with the various versions of Little Red Riding Hood.)
  2. Brilliant sarcasm: “What must you do to avoid [Hell]?”  //  I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”  Of course, this likely speaks of some internalized self-doubt of Jane. 
  3. Benefactress: literally a woman do-gooder.
  4. On the subject of the dangers of the adult world--so similar to Alice of Wonderland in this regard, though overall her predicament is a lot more like that of James of the Giant Peach fame, the Baudelaires, Harry Potter, or, most obviously, Cinderella, as well as so many other cautionary fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood--and learning to negotiate them: the little boy who loves Psalms, does he really love the verses, or is he seeking to please and survive?
  5. Of the scripture Jane prefers, what is it that interests her, and what's wrong with Psalms?
  6. Initially, Jane appears terrified at the prospect of leaving with Mr. Brocklehurst.  Why doesn't Jane, even this early, happily jump at the opportunity to leave?  Isn't the grass always greener over somewhere else, no matter where that elsewhere is?
  7. Why, after Jane's great catharsis, does Mrs. Reed suddenly become so mellow and genial?
  8. Jane's emotions are a roller coaster: "First, I smiled to myself and felt elate; but this fierce pleasure subsided in me as fast as did the accelerated throb of my pulses."
  9. How sweet is revenge?
  10. What is the best way to get rid of a bully, and how does that apply here?  (Any good anti-bullying stories out there?)
  11. “If you dread them, they'll dislike you.”


  1. 2. I LOVED this line. I disagree a little bit with saying it's self-doubt on Jane's part, though. I just think she is not a fire-and-brimstone Christian, or self-righteous, of which Brocklehurst is both.
    4. Yeah, the parallels are striking. You read a book like this and you can be pretty confident that she read "Cinderella" and that JK Rowling read "Jane Eyre." Not sure on the boy. It's probably the latter since he's been taught that if he is not perfect he is going to hell.
    5. All the others she mentions have elaborate stories, like the other adventures she reads. No plot in Psalms.
    6. Maybe her life has been so bad that she takes away the message that, "Things can always get worse."

  2. 2. I agree that she's not very likely a fire-and-brimstone Christian, but considering how dramatic she is as well as other statements drawing aspersions against herself and her worthiness, I'm not ready yet to let go of lingering, if not dominant, self-doubt.


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