WARNING! This post has spoilers for those who have not read the entire book.
First of all, can we all just sit and enjoy Thug Notes’ summary and analysis of Jane Eyre? We’ll all be better and happier people because of it:
Ok. Back to my post. Well I’ll call this re-read of Jane Eyre a success. It held up for me, and I can still say it’s one of my favorite books. Maybe I should start re-reading it each September? 🙂
This last section of chapters where Jane is at Moor House really dragged for me on my first read. I remember really hating this section. This time, I didn’t dislike it nearly as much. Of course, I couldn’t wait for her to get back to Thornfield and Rochester, but I did get a lot more out of her time spent with St. John, Mary, and Diana this time around.
First, I want to look at good ‘ol St. John. He drove me nuts. He was so well-intentioined but that’s about as far as it went. He was judgmental and the master of the guilt trip! I think he and Rochester are kind of mirror images to each other. One is quite handsome, the other is a bit ummm…not handsome. One treats Jane with unbridled passion and wants to dress her up like a doll while the other treats Jane with cool indifference and wants to use her as a tool to further his career/calling. One wanted Jane to abandon her morals in order to prove her love and be with him and the other wanted her to abandon love in order to prove she is moral and upright and be with him.
The differences in their proposals is interesting too. I had a good time looking at the nature that surrounded Jane and her suitor for each proposal. I think Bronte used nature a lot in this book for imagery and symbolism (as mentioned in Thug Notes in the video I posted above) :). Rochester and Jane were in a garden for his proposal, and I (being a bit of a prude) got a bit squeamish in the descriptions of nature leading up to the proposal. It all seemed so sensual…at the very least very hide-and-seek/Secret Garden kind of thing. Jane smells the scent of Rochester’s cigar and wants to hide. The scent of that cigar wafts through the air through the garden with a “winding walk” that is “bordered with laurels.” These descriptions give a hypnotic, relaxed, secret feeling to the reader as Rochester’s very scent leads us through this garden. Then the flowers are described as “yielding their evening sacrifice of incense” but the scent they yield was not strong enough to overcome Rochester’s own strong cigar scent…the flowers yielded their scent to Rochester. Oh, my! Meanwhile, while Rochester’s strong scent is overpowering all the other scents, Jane says she sees “trees laden with ripening fruit.” This sentence juxtaposing a virginal Jane by ripening fruit….uh Charlotte???
Meanwhile, the nature surrounding St. John’s proposal gave more imagery of being trapped in. The nature encloses and stifles them. “The hills, meantime, shut us quite in”. This is a symbol for the sort of marriage that is being proposed: one that will hem Jane into a loveless union. There is farther imagery making the landscape seem barren and without beauty, much like their love would have been.
In the end, Jane and Rochester are reunited. Rochester’s wife died while burning down Thornfield and Rochester was maimed and blinded in the process. Jane became a wealthy, independent woman thanks to her dead uncle’s bequeathal. Their fortunes have somewhat flipped. Rochester is now the dependent one and Jane the one to be able to bless, aid, and give. But at the same time, Jane still wanted to know that Rochester loved her; she still wanted to be with him and be in his presence. They have finally become more equal. Their marriage wasn’t possible when she was wholly dependent and he was totally powerful. Now Jane has her own money and is the eyes of the relationship, and they are both the heart.