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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jane Eyre XXXV -- chapter 34: KISS ME NOW, MISSIONARY'S WIFE

From Jane Eyre:

"She pushed me toward him. I thought Diana very provoking, and felt uncomfortably confused; and while I was thus thinking and feeling, St. John bent his head; his Greek face was brought to a level with mine, his eyes questioned my eyes piercingly—he kissed me. There are no such things as marble kisses, or ice kisses, or I should say my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged to one of these classes; but there may be experiment kisses, and his was an experiment kiss. When given, he viewed me to learn the result; it was not striking: I am sure I did not blush; perhaps I might have turned a little pale, for I felt as if this kiss were a seal affixed to my fetters. He never omitted the ceremony afterward, and the gravity and quiescence with which I underwent it seemed to invest it for him with a certain charm."

From The Princess Bride:

"There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C., when Saul and Delilah Korn's inadvertent discovery swept across Western Civilization. (Before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy, because although everyone agrees with the formula of affection times purity times intensity times duration, no one has ever been completely satisfied with how much weight each element should receive. But on any system, there are five that everyone agrees deserve full marks. Well, this one left them all behind."

1.     I've wondered about St. John's name.  It makes sense, in a trivial kind of way, that this obstinate and ambitious missionary be sainted by his author, but there's another potential connection.  He and Jane are indeed very similar persons, perhaps because of blood, and certainly by Bronte's design.  Take the long a of Saint and consonants of John and, well, you've got Jane.  Are these two meant to be one, one completing the other not just in body and spirit but in very name?
2.     Is St. John's desire for Jane to wed him strictly practical?  Similarly, is there any practicality that would prevent Jane from marrying him?
3.     "I will throw all on the altar—heart, vitals, the entire victim."  I am interested by the use of the word "victim" here: "late 15c., 'living creature killed and offered as a sacrifice to a deity or supernatural power,' from L. victima 'person or animal killed as a sacrifice.' Perhaps distantly connected to O.E. wig 'idol,' Goth. weihs 'holy,' Ger. weihen 'consecrate' (cf. Weihnachten "Christmas") on notion of 'a consecrated animal.' Sense of 'person who is hurt, tortured, or killed by another' is first recorded 1650s; meaning 'person oppressed by some power or situation' is from 1718. Weaker sense of 'person taken advantage of' is recorded from 1781" (thanks www.etymonline.com).  In Bronte's context, it is more than just this, however, augmented as it is by the subsequent quotation: "I am ready to go to India, if I may go free."
4.     While the similarities are limited, there is a taste here of W. Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil in this chapter.
5.     "...do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God."
6.     "Looked to river, looked to hill": clearly, Bronte was a big Scott fan.  HERE



  1. 1. Also, Jane is a feminine version of John. From Wikipedia: Jane is a feminine given name. It is the English form of the Old French name Jehanne, which was an old feminine form of the male name Johannes or Ioannes (also the source of the English name John), a Latin form of the Greek name Ἰωάννης (Iōannēs), which is derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan), a short form of the name יְהוֹחָנָן (Yehochanan), meaning "Yahweh is merciful".[1]
    2. Yes. I think it's more just that she doesn't love him.
    3. Interesting connection between victim and sacrifice.

  2. 1. Thanks for the derivation write up. I love that crap. I think I knew once (like when I was taking Hebrew) that these were related more directly than it shows in English.

    So the "Saint" of St. John: does this make him the pious version of Jane?

  3. Oh I love it, too. My favorite is my name because it's so different in different languages, and also because it's my name.... Santiago in Spanish, Jakob in German, and the Latinized adjective is Jacobean.

  4. I'm partial to my name more for the heritage my parents attached to it than its etymology (though don't get me wrong: Joseph's a pretty freaking worthy name). Joseph for Joseph of Egypt and Joseph Smith; Spencer for my great uncle and a former president of our church (and the one who was presiding when I was born) Spencer W. Kimball. Just for the name itself, though, you can't beat the Italian translation's nicknames: Giuseppe to Beppe ("Beppay"); or the diminutive Giuseppino (essentially Joey) to Pino, which means pine tree, for crying out loud.

  5. NICE.

    Joseph from Genesis ticks me off, though, at least at the beginning. I'm not saying that they should have sold him into slavery, but if my little brother started talking about narcissistic dreams like that, I'd probably have a thing or two to tell him, too.

  6. Eh, he turned out alright in the end.

  7. He did. I think that everyone eventually redeems himself in that story.

  8. The Jane Eyre books is my favorite from Charlotte Bronte. Villette and Shiley are must-read from her as well. :)

  9. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you come again.


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