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Monday, January 3, 2011

Jane Eyre XIII -- chapter 13: FAIRIES and THE MEN IN GREEN (not black)

Reading Questions
  1. Interesting the rhetoric that goes into the building of a hero.  What does Bronte do to paint Mr. Rochester as a desirable, admirable man?  (Consider the difference between the author's unique slants in usage, and those that might be written off as Jane's own impressions and prejudices.)
  2. "I should be obliged to take time, sir, before I could give you an answer worthy of your acceptance: a present has many faces to it, has it not? and one should consider all before pronouncing an opinion as to its nature."  What faces?
  3. Why is Mr. Rochester such a grump--or, at least, "humph"-ing?
  4. The dashes, by the way, in lieu of place and person names, and typical of literature from the period, are only to indicate nonfiction; most names and places, with periodic exceptions, are fictional.
  5. "Eight years! you must be tenacious of life. I thought half the time in such a place would have done up any constitution! No wonder you have rather the look of another world. I marveled where you had got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet. Who are your parents?"  Of what kind of face does Mr. Rochester speak?  Fill in the blanks: describe, perhaps more visually, what he sees there.
  6. How does this previous quotation and assumption (particularly augmented by the spoken sarcasm, though with at least a hint of sincerity, "Nor ever had," referring to Jane's lack of parents?) indicate our continued look at the fantastic and/or haunted?  (Or should I just shut up about the whole horror aspect of the book?)
  7. Supposedly (and according to various sites where I've look for variance of interpretation for "men in green" (leprechauns or hobgoblins, by the way)) the exchange at the fire over tea is supposed to be "playful" and "light;" does it feel like that to you?  I see Mr. Rochester as mostly annoyed--or embarrassed--by his fall on the ice, and that mood, in my mind, plays throughout the dialog here.  Most optimistically I see him early on his guard with Jane and later relaxing as the discussion evolves.  Thoughts?  If playfulness is involved, at what point does it gain traction?
  8. There must be some significance to the paintings, else why make such a big deal over them?  I get a clear impression of the source and meaning of the first, the next two are more nebulous.
  9. Mrs. Fairfax believes--or so she says--that Mr. Rochester is not a complicated man.  Jane see more than that.  What might justify the difference?
Gee Whiz:

I've found the word "deuce" used over and over again in British lit, mostly from this time period, as well as in movies whose subjects take place then and there as well.  Mr. Rochester uses it as the object of the mild oath: "What the deuce," which is supposedly in reference to one of the many nicknames for the devil.  However, "deuce" is also a degenerate form of the French for two (deux), and shows up all over military slang to refer to something that would otherwise reference 2.  Better yet, just like the grade-school euphamism, it is also slang for the latter of two primary activities in which one engages in the bathroom ("bathroom" itself being also euphamistic) --yes, deuce can also mean "#2."


  1. 1. I think what's most admirable about him is that he is a meritocrat. Yes, he's naturally skeptical of everyone's abilities/character, but he's willing to discover people for whom they really are, instead of based upon others' prejudices, or, as in the beginning of the story, based upon class.
    2. The chalice could contain fine wine, or it could be poisoned. There's no reason that a gift must be for good. Still, an amazing insight really. Probably one of the best moments of the book.
    3. I think that he wants to be left alone, and everyone else is insistent upon making conversation about petty things.
    4. Ok, so --shire means that it's a real place (like, but obviously not in this case, New Hampshire?), but if they gave a full name it would be fake? Thanks a lot. I've been really confused by this.
    5. She looks to him as if she has a witch's face, which is all the more ironic because she first takes his dog and horse for some type of demon.
    6. Didn't catch that at the time. I'm not SURE whether it's intentional, but it's an interesting angle. And don't give that up. I think there's a major storyline here, but I'm not sure if it's going anywhere other than to say that Jane is a very scared young woman.
    7. Well, I thought of it as playful, but it is extremely DRY humor. The British are the best at this style of humor, and this is a British book, so what would you expect? I would also add that part of the reason that there aren't more clues that this is banter might be that Bronte wants to feed this confusion that Mrs. Fairfax has about whether he is serious or not.
    8. Yeah, my brain hurts too much to think about them. Might be useful to keep them in mind for later.
    9. I think that each one's opinion of Mr. Rochester reflects more which type of person she is than what Mr. Rochester is like. Mrs. Fairfax is not a complicated person, so she cannot see complexity in others. Jane's on a different level.

  2. 1. She accomplishes this rhetorically and without saying anything specific or direct about him. I mean, there are points where she does say things specifically about him, but by that time we already know, or have assumed, it. This is a real skill. What are some examples of sentences or phrases where she practices this? (That's what I meant, anyway, by the question.)
    2. Hmm. Reminds me of the very best scene--objectively, the BEST scene--from The Princess Bride. Iocane....
    3. Lowood, Thornfield, Gateshead are all fiction. The exception I find with the nonfiction is something like England or London. This trend seems to disappear (and I'm no expert) somewhere toward the end of the nineteenth century.
    6. I think the fact that Jane is a very scared girl is hugely significant. I didn't think of it in those terms--fear accounts for nearly all of her neuroses.
    7. Going back I can see it. I didn't catch it initially, maybe for its dryness. More likely I wasn't in a humorous mood and simply ascribed my own emotions on their situation.
    9. Well-put.

  3. 6. I absolutely don't think you should shut up about the "horror" elements of the book. It is a HUGE part of the book. All of the strange and superstitious romanticism is one of the parts that I enjoy about Jane Eyre. I definitely think Mr. Rochester stated those words on purpose--he is referring to Jane as one of those strange, moor-land fantastical creatures that she fears herself. The thing that Jane and Mr. R. have in common is their entertainment of superstitious thoughts/imagery. Just look at Jane's paintings--they totally add to the fantastical/horror element of the book. In each of her paintings there is a human in nature form, or should I say nature in human form? Mother Nature, then , has a great part in Jane's fantasies and ideas, even though she is very religious in an Anglican way. That is an interesting thought, too--obviously these superstitious/Nature things haunt Jane's mind and she gives them much sway in her thoughts--but then she is very religious in a there-is-only-God-Christian type way. The two would seem almost contradictory to me. It is interesting how people take all kinds of elements from stories and culture and religion to become part of their beliefs. Jane is melded in this way as well. Haha, I guess I kind of strayed from the original question here. But I definitely see Mr. R confirming strangeness and superstitious beliefs in her from his comment.


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