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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jane Eyre XV -- chapter 15: FIRE and LOVE (one and the same?)

  1. Wow!  A juxtaposition I would have never presupposed: Jane Eyre-ish England and Havana!
  2. Whether love is involved or not, what benefit is Mr. Rochester already gaining from the presence and listening ear of Jane Eyre--what is the therapy, more than "refresh"ment--and the saving of his life?
  3. "Strange that I should choose you for the confidante of all this, young lady; passing strange that you should listen to me quietly, as if it were the most usual thing in the world for a man like me to tell stories of his opera-mistresses to a quaint, inexperienced girl like you! But the last singularity explains the first, as I intimated once before: you, with your gravity, considerateness, and caution were made to be the recipient of secrets."  Perhaps in contrast to the previous question, this sounds a little like Jane is becoming a receptacle--a box--much like Pandora's.
  4. The conversation of the lovers with Mr. Rochester "was rather calculated to weary than enrage a listener."  Hmm.  Perhaps this is the subconscious motive behind all excuses, justifications, and lengthy apologies.  I will have to pay more attention to my students words at test times and due dates.
  5. What a complicated thing the custody of poor Adele has become!  Part of me wonders if Mr. Rochester brushes aside the girl--or scorns her--because he is simply callow and brusk.  But if this is the case, why bring her in at all?  More likely or more hopefully, for my part--and this certainly because I'm the ever and hopeful idealist--there is some much more complex issue at heart here.  Thoughts?  More importantly--and for better of worse, this rings quietly at the door of contrivance--not to mention more obviously, why would this spur the inner mamma-bear in Jane Eyre?  Whatever the case turns out to be, I can't help but cherish a hope that Mr. Rochester does not, as Jane believes, think so poorly of Adele.
  6. Is Jane falling in love with Mr. Rochester?
  7. The haunting later that night seems much more palpable and significant than anything earlier, but was it benevolent, malignant, or arbitrary?  If the first, what might this indicate about Jane's spirituality (a very speculative, and likely insignificant, question)?
  8. Expound a moment on the use of the word "baptize" at the finish of the fire.
  9. I love this: "You have saved my life: I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I can not say more. Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an obligation: but you: it is different—I feel your benefits no burden, Jane."  Why is his debt to Jane not a burden?


  1. 9. love is never a burden--true love. jane loves mr. rochester. she may not know fully the extent of her love for him or she may not have reached the point of being in love with him but there is definitely strong loving feelings rumbling in her heart and soul for him.

    6. yes, i do believe jane is falling in love with mr. rochester. slowly. and against her subconscious will.

    5. i think your cherished hope that mr. rochester cares for adele in some way will be vindicated. i'm sure of it. she's his ward and to me that says responsibility. isn't it sometimes the hardest to love someone/thing you're responsible for? or, isn't it easier to take them for granted? additionally, i think adele reminds him of a past he'd rather forget. or maybe he loves her so much because of where she came from that he's shunning it. in any case, i share that cherished hope that he truly does care for her.

    2. would you agree there is a certain connection between men and women different, and often more rewarding, than that between 2 members of the same sex? i can speak from personal experience that confiding in a man is often more rewarding than that with a good girlfriend. it's difficult to clearly define what that reward is but it exists. and unless you've tasted it firsthand, it will be hard to grasp.

  2. 9,6 -- I too believe that she's falling in love, but I expect the feelings are confusing for her. If she'd previously experienced love, she would likely be resisting more forcefully. But flip it around. Do you think Mr.R is falling for Miss.E? As far as love never being a burden, I don't know if I can totally and honestly agree. While love is no burden now, I remember times before marriage when it certainly was, most importantly when I was not the one in love, but the object of it. Finally, what qualifies as love? Isn't it really just a degree of that particular emotion in comparison to your previous experience with it? For example, grownups like to say that teenagers don't REALLY know what love is. I disagree. It is merely a different type and degree of love, yet within that person's experience, it may be total and therefore consuming. Hmm. Thoughts?

    5 -- Yes, it is often hardest (I'm tweaking the wording just a little bit) to love those whom you love the most. But I think that, in a familial sense, Mr.R's love for Adele is a lot like Jane's love for R--it's there and developing, but he's not fully aware of it or what to do with it.

    2 -- YES!

  3. 2. Totally agree here.
    5. I think there's probably some love here, too, but let me play devil's advocate for a second. Isn't this just Mr. Rochester at his finest? He's a meritocrat. For Jane's case, this is a positive, but Bronte shows that it also means that he thinks lowly of people whom he "should" love based upon his natural relationship with them. I think the point that Bronte is making is fairly complex, if we assume that she sympathizes with Jane's view on this. I would describe it as something like: 1. We need meriotcracy in society. But 2. Meritocracy by itself is not good enough. We need to balance it with Christian charity for the less able. It's really a radical reformation of society at this point just to get to Mr. Rochester at this point, but Bronte/Jane seem to want something even beyond that.
    8. It's an interesting word. A few things come to mind. First of all, the term, "baptism by fire." I'm not sure that this is what she's really getting at, but the phrase popped into my mind when I read it. Second, if she's baptizing him, what is she purging? My pastor always told me that the only exorcism in the Lutheran Church is baptism. The idea is that you're getting rid of the sin/evil/devil within the person. Is that what she's doing with Mr. Rochester? He certainly seems to change afterward, but it's only one conversation, so it's hard to tell for certain yet.
    9. I think the reason that it's not a burden is because now he feels as though they are finally social equals, which is what he WANTS! Or at least I think so. His original elevation is based upon class/fine taste, but now she has saved his life, so they are even.


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