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Tuesday, January 4, 2011


  1. One of the greatest enjoyments I get from reading is the discovery of universal truths well-articulated and which maybe had not occurred to me before reading: "His changes of mood did not offend me, because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alternation."
  2. "Do you think me handsome?"  "No."  Perfect!  Each of these draws me closer to Jane.  How we envy the one who may comment as we wish we could or who has even the courage to utter it!  But is this refutation the truth?
  3. The enigma of Mr. Rochester's character, demonstrated via his conversation, gives rise to pointed questions: A, is he fighting within himself with an attraction to Jane; B, is he simply fond of jest and sarcasm; C, is he so uncouth and/or malicious; D, is he sincere, play-acting (for his or her entertainment), or affronting; E, does he expect Jane to understand the source of his tone and comments, and therefore understand too his intent; F, or is he even aware of what he does?
  4. Hmm: "...and though you are not pretty any more than I am handsome...."  But does he not consider himself handsome, or was it simply feigned vanity that wrought the defense of his appearance early in the chapter?
  5. Readers (particularly female, as the question regards Mr. Rochester): is confidence enough to supersede a lack of physical beauty?  How?
  6. There's a bald honesty in both Jane and Mr. Rochester, especially where such words might offend or indict, and I don't believe (and I have evidence) that this honesty is entirely natural to their characters; I believe it is a mechanism of the author in order to overcome what can be overcome either through more words (think Steinbeck) or through preternatural technical skill (and in the face of brevity: like Cormac McArthy, or, as I'm reading right now and with much surprise at its brilliance, AEW Mason, of The Four Feathers) --that is permitting the reader into a character's mind while still avoiding the in-intimacy of omniscient narration.  Example: I have just recently listened (audiobook) to the scene of The Fellowship of the Ring where Boromir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo.  While I can't quote it, there are several examples of similar bald honesty as here between Rochester and Jane.  It's purpose?  Expose the mind of a character, and in the case of Boromir, of an entire people.  I'm going to ask a sacrilegious question: is this evidence of a lack of skill of authorship?  (For the sake of the question, assume you agree with me that such honesty is not innate to character, even if you disagree (though in my defense, I've seen it too often and with too wide a range of character to believe it's not at least often used, even unwittingly by author, as device).)
  7. (Aside: consider the entry regarding racism in literature at James Smith's www.unmoderatedcaucus.blogspot,com (entry HERE) against the use of the word "dumb" here: "You are dumb, Miss Eyre."  The word dumb, like so many others, not least of which is "gay," for example, has shifted its usage. What if the word's modern usage were so "vulgar" (another example of shifted usage) in modern context as to merit censorship?
  8. While the early repartee (before the enigmatic discussion of sin and repentance and so on) between Jane and Rochester is pertinent and how it exposes their characters and the development of their relationship, are these topics not ancillary (which may also call into question the ultimate point of having described Jane's paintings so carefully, last chapter)?  In other words, could they not be talking about absolutely anything, so long as it brought about revealing discussion?
  9. I expect there are resonant truths in the last several pages of dialog, but they are lost in abstraction, like a pronoun without a referent.  Of course, that opens wide the gate of personal application....
  10. Why did Mr. Rochester take in his ward?


  1. 1. Yeah I love that, too. One of the things that makes "East of Eden" so great. But only one person in a million could possibly live up to this maxim.
    3. I think it's a couple. I think that he is "interested" in Jane, although he doesn't know too much, but he's also a sarcastic guy.
    6. Hmm. I think that it depends (COP OUT!). I think that in some instances with some characters it makes sense, and I don't think that it necessarily feels out of place here. One reason is that he's not entirely frank. He's clearly holding back a few things.
    7. I think that I already weighed in on this. As with you, I can see the merits in a class-room setting, but probably not for readership at large.
    8. Yes. In fact, they are talking about just about anything. It's a very odd scene, but I think ultimately well done with forced awkwardness.
    10. I think that this will be revealed later. It might be for the same reason that Jane was taken in.

    Also, did you notice all the references to hell/the devil in the chapter? I thought I was reading "The Black Cat" again. I'm about to play a game on the xbox with my brother, but I can look them up later tonight if you want me to. I get the feeling that Bronte's leading us up to the edge on something, but at the same time, I don't know.

  2. I did notice some of the references, and I'd be very interested to see your take on them.

  3. 10. I think there's a hint of explanation in the last couple paragraphs of the chapter.


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