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Monday, December 27, 2010

Jane Eyre IX -- chapter 9: SPRING AND DEATH AT LOWOOD

Reading Questions
  1. It's not particularly interesting that as Jane arrived at Lowood and its initial torments, having left the long dark of Gateshead, in November when it was cold and nasty, so her life was terrible, and now that the weather is improving, so is her situation.  I say "not particularly interesting," because this sort of parallel is almost cliche nowadays, at least in the obvious nature that it's used here.  It's about as bad as the rain that falls so obsequious to mood in HP7's tent scene (book, not movie) when Ron takes off in a huff.  So the questions: 1, is it indeed cliche; 2, is there a better way to emphasize the emotions; 3, is winter really so bad; and 4, does this mean we have to wait until Fall for her life to drop back to torment again, or should we expect Spring thunderstorms and hurricanes?
  2. There's a shock to the system of cheerfulness, just a few paragraphs down from the chapter's top, with the rising of the fog: dank and deadly! as if the thaw of Spring has done little more than permit the zombies and their pestilence (flea- and louse-carriers of typhus, which very word means "foggy") to escape their icy, winter prisons.  Is the beauty of spring really no more than a bate?  Yet, ironic it is, leastway for those who've escaped the disease: life becomes even more pleasant for their increased freedom, as the teachers are all locked up with the infirm!  Blessed be those of strong constitution, and O, pity the poorly frail!  At least the dying have the comfort of a beautiful view.
  3. Is there no remorse or second thought for those not free to roam the woods?  At least Mr. Brocklehurst stays away, right?  Is Jane really so cruel?  Shouldn't she abscond to see her most valued friend earlier than she finally does?  Why does she take so much time with the callow Mary Ann?
  4. Interesting, contrary to the weather-plus-mood, that as Jane finally begins to think about the death and disease around her and its contingency of heaven and hell, she gets news of Helen's imminent death.  So what of Helen?  What might this say about Jane?
  5. Are those who die young to be envied?
  6. The melodrama of Jane Eyre reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, only, of course, darker.  (I've been trying to figure out this connection out since chapter 3--Jane is a goth Anne Shirley!)
  7. Helen has a father.  Was her little speech about him not missing her, distracted by his recent marriage, just euphemism?  After all, she's not even taken home for burial, and it's 15 years before a grave marker is placed.  And who will have placed the marker, and what's up with the idiot father?
Springtime at Lowood


  1. 1. A. Yeah, it's cliche.
    B. But I don't really mind it because the author is trying to set a mood. I'm sure there are other ways to do it, but weather is definitely one of them. Sometimes cliches are used to give clues to the reader. Just like black and white are bad and good, readers have become accustomed to looking for bad things in bad weather and vice versa.
    C. No. It is made to separate the men from the boys. Cold weather is great. Get out there and enjoy it. Summer is horrible, other than in some Northern city like Michigan, in which case it may be tolerable.
    D. I don't know. This chapter confused me because it's like, "No, it's great, really!" even though everyone's getting sick and her best friend died. Reminds me of "Love in the Time of Cholera" almost.
    2. Thanks for the etymology there. I love stuff like that.
    3. I think that Bronte is trying to tell us that Jane really doesn't understand death until the time when she finally had the epiphany.
    4. Is this just a coincidence, or is it possible that Helen's death has long been foreseen, but she finally connects the dots at this point? I'd lean toward the first, but I'm not sure.
    5. No. You want to pitch me on this? The only example I could think of is someone growing up in some horrible place like the Sudan.
    6. Unfortunately, I've never read that one.
    7. Yeah, euphemism. There's more here, but Bronte's not telling us what it is, quite possibly because Jane isn't yet putting 2 and 2 together on it. She's pretty young still.

  2. 4. I'm still having a bit on whether Helen's death was foreshadowed. The only hint I can guess at is her angelic mien being God-given in graceful preparation for the next life.
    5. Not to get personal, but there have been times in my still relatively short life that I've thought, "Sheesh, it'd be easier if things were just over." I think that "easier" is part of the deal, though, which also points on that the question regards "envy" not "better" (excuse the grammatical conflict between words) --not which is easier, or better, but enviable. A flawed question, really, because envy deals with the limited perspective of the one looking at the dead, rather than the eternal perspective, which is also the only perspective that can determine "better." For Jane, I suppose Helen's position could have been enviable back in November/December, but certainly not now.
    6. Watch the movies. Really.
    7. This is, so far, the best part of the book for me. The anticipation of that line about "fifteen years later" is huge.

  3. 5. I mean, yes, I've had those thoughts, too, mostly a few years ago, not so much now, but the question is on the whole whether it is better to live a full life or die as a child. If you asked anyone in their most dire moment of despair, it might be a tougher decision, but I think upon a more moderate reflection, there are so many more great things about living--again, in most cases, and I certainly don't mean to sound self-righteous because I know that part of this is that I've lived a great and mostly easy life.

  4. Despair vs hope. I've met people in some of the most dire circumstances, yet they were happy and full of hope for better things to come. Do you let yourself be broken, or do you hold out for improvement?


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