Welcome to our discussion of Chapters 29 – 33 of the Read – Along. This week’s questions and my answers are below.
St. John Rivers makes the following very blunt statement about Jane, in Chapter 29: "Ill or well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony of beauty are quite wanting in those features." What does this tell you about him, especially in light of subsequent chapters?
This tells us a lot about St. John Rivers as well as the relationship that he will subsequently form with Jane. He will eventually propose marriage to her. He will come to have enormous appreciation for Jane’s morality and character. However, from a romantic, point of view, he will show no passion for Jane.
St. John Rivers eschews physical and worldly pleasures. He is so dedicated to this dispassionate coldness; that he chooses not to marry the beautiful Rosamond Oliver, who he loves in a more traditional way. His decision not to enter into the obvious relationship, but instead to propose to the Jane, who he drawn to intellectually and morally, who he views as “wanting” grace and beauty, highlights his fanaticism.
Do you think the fact that St. John and his sisters turn out to be Jane's cousins, and that Jane is now an heiress, is much too coincidental?
I do think that that the cousin connection is an unrealistic coincidence. However this raises a larger issue. I believe that such a coincidence is appropriate in a novel like Jayne Eyre. Though many of the events in this book are realistic, there is a larger then life, melodramatic tendency to this work. In light of this, such coincidences seem to fit well into the narrative.
Having read a lot of nineteenth century English novels I want to ask, my tongue firmly in my cheek, does not every poor young women eventually find that she is an heiress?
This is course unrealistic and somewhat clichéd. It does serve an important purpose in the plot as it gives Jane material independence from the very strong men in her life.
Why does Bronte give Jane three more cousins, and precisely two females and one male, as with her Gateshead cousins?
It seems that the two trios of cousins are meant to contrast with one another. The families are almost a mirror image of each other. The Reeds are cruel, vain and materialistic. They are so very much the opposites the Moor House' cousins who are extremely virtuous and not materialistic. The Moor House clan also embody kindness, even in the case of St. John Rivers, whose kindness is real but very cold. Alongside all this, St. John and his sisters exhibit strong Christian virtues as oppose to the hypocrisy and the wonton immorality of the Reeds.
Why do you think Jane tries to convince St. John to marry Rosamond, and give up his dream of becoming a missionary?
There is something frightening and even potentially destructive (Jane believes that if she marries him that she will be led into hardships that will lead to an early death) about St. John Rivers and his zeal. Rosamond represents the one force that may pull him away from this his fervor and his coldness. Jane, an extremely perceptive person, seems to want what is right for him understands that such a course might not be the path to balanced normal life.
How would you contrast the landscape surrounding Moor House with that surrounding Thornfield Hall, and what is the purpose of this?
Thornfield Hall borders a garden that includes fruit trees. Despite the gloominess of Rochester and his mansion, he is a man full of life and emotion. This is reflected in the vibrant foliage that surrounds him. Perhaps the fact that these fertile gardens are surrounded by moors says something about it being an island of emotion in a very grim and dark world.
In contrast The Moors come right up to the appropriately names Moor House. The cold and harsh personality of St. John Rivers is reflected in the country surrounding Moor house.
Bronte dedicates many pages to describing St. John's personality. Why do you think she does this?
St John is an enormously strong, important, and well sketched character. His interactions with Jane are instrumental in plot, character and theme development of the novel. Understanding his virtue, combined with a determined and cold fanaticism are key to understanding the later parts of this work. He is a great literary creation that Bronte takes her time in painting. I am very glad that she spends such time upon him.
Next week we will be discussing Chapters 34 – 38. Our questions are below. As always feel free to answer as many or as few as you would like.
The marriage that St. John Rivers proposes to Jane would be unconventional from an emotional point of view. What do you think about this hypothetical match?
In what ways are St. John Rivers and Rochester alike?
Is it surprising that someone with the strength of character that Jane posses would be so influenced by St. John Rivers as to almost accede to his marriage proposal?
What do you think of the seemingly psychic connection that manifests itself between Jane and Rochester at a critical moment in the plot?
What do you think would have resulted if, upon her return to Rochetser, Jane had found Rochester’s first wife, Bertha, to be still alive?
By the end of the novel, how has Rochester changed?
How satisfied are you with the ending of this novel?
Since this is the last set of questions for the Jane Eyre Read-Along, we have included an extra, "wrap-up" question at the end. Feel free to answer it or not.
How satisfied are you with the ending of this novel?
Week 8: Nov. 10th
Reading: Chapters 34 - 38
Discussion Questions: Chapters 29 - 33
Discussion Questions for Next Week:
Week 9: Nov. 17th
Discussion Questions, Chapters 34 - 38
Week 9: Nov. 21st
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