Monday, October 27, 2014

Jane Eyre Read Along Chapters 20 - 23

Welcome to our discussion on chapters 20 -23. This week’s questions and my answers are below.

The events of Chapter 20 are very strange, yet Jane does everything Rochester asks her to do, and continues to trust him, for the most part. She does ask him some questions, but makes no demands for an explanation of what's really going on at Thornfield, nor does she seek another position, in spite of her fears and inner doubts. How can her behavior be explained?

Jane is not in a strong position. She is an employee. Perhaps more importantly Jane has been in places that are much worse then Thornfield. In fact, even with the odd occurrences, one can argue that Thornfield may be the best place that Jane has ever been. Furthermore, as I have noted earlier, Rochester is a strong personality. There must certainly be some temptation for Jane to go along.

This does raise an interesting question about Jane’s character. She seems to vary between a relatively passive person who does just go along, and a strong person who vigorously stand by her convictions. Here she is playing the passive role. When her inner beliefs are challenged, that is when she seems to show a lot of will.

Rochester pressures the doctor to rush Mason out of the house and away, even though the latter is seriously injured. What do you think of this action, and why he took it?

These actions seem to go along with Rochester’s actions to deceive as well as to be secretive. As we progress through the book we will no doubt find out why he is so mysterious here.

The effect on the narrative at least for me, is to really draw the reader in with a terrific sense if mystery.

What do you think of Eliza and Georgina as adults? 

It seems that the maliciousness of the sisters’ childhood has reaped a bitter adulthood. The two now hate one another. Eliza seems to have allowed religion to make her self - righteous. Georgina has become bitter. I think that Bronte may be trying to show the results of a having malicious behavior encouraged in childhood.

Do you think Jane was right to forgive Mrs. Reed in light of the important information the later withheld from Jane for three years?

I think that Jane would have forgiven Mrs. Reed anyway. This seems consistent with her personality. Though at times she is inconsistent about it, in many ways Jane does exhibit a Christian worldview and behaves as such. In addition to concealing the fact of Jane’s inheritance, Mrs. Reed has treated Jane terribly, yet Jane forgives her anyway.

Personally, I almost never fault anyone for forgiving others who have transgressed against them.

What does Jane's impassioned speech to Mr. Rochester, while they're in the orchard, tell the reader about her?

Jane is a person of strong emotions. Furthermore, though in some ways introverted, she seems to always eventually speak her mind. Here she finally articulates her feelings for Rochester, as well as the life that she has found at Thornfield. Jane also is clearly in love with Rochester.

A terrible storm suddenly springs up, as Chapter 23 draws to a close. During the night, lightning strikes the horse-chestnut tree, at the base of which Jane and Rochester had sat earlier. The tree is split in two. Do you think this is a bad omen? If so, what do you think it means? 

This has bad omen written all over it. Obviously something sinister is going to come between Jane and Rochester. I am of two minds about the symbolism here. It is deliciously powerful. On the other hand I do think that one could argue that it is a little over the top, melodramatic and heavy handed.

Next week we will be reading chapters 24 – 28. Below are our discussion questions. As always please feel free to answer as many, or as few as you would like.

At several points both Rochester and Jane refer to each other in terms of mythical creatures and magic. Why do you think that they do this?

In Chapter 24 when Rochester jokingly compares Jane to a Turkish slave girl Jane becomes indignant and replies sharply to him. Does this say anything about Jane’s personality and the relationship between the two?

At one point, after gazing at the damaged horse-chestnut tree, Jane gathers apples in the garden and remarks “ I employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe” Do you think that there is any significance to this?

In chapter 25 Jane relates to Rochester several of her dreams. What do you make of them?

Rochester is revealed to have perpetrated a major deception upon Jane in regards to his first marriage. What does this say about Rochester?

What do you think of Jane’s decision to flee from Rochester?

Please link all posts using the widget below so that we can all read them.

Week 6: Oct. 27th

Reading: Chapters 24 - 28
Discussion Questions: Chapters 20 - 23
Discussion Questions for Next Week:
Babbling Books

Week 7: Nov. 3rd

Reading: Chapters 29 - 33
Discussion Questions: Chapters 24 - 28
Discussion Question for Next Week:
A Night's Dream of Books

Week 8: Nov. 10th

Reading: Chapters 34 - 38
Discussion Questions: Chapters 29 - 33
Discussion Questions for Next Week:
Babbling Books

Week 9: Nov. 17th

Discussion Questions, Chapters 34 - 38

Week 9: Nov. 21st

Book Reviews Posted


JacquiWine said...

Your responses to these questions remind me of some of the things I liked about Jane when reading this novel as a young girl...she's gracious and gentle and yet there's an inner steeliness to her character.

James said...

Your responses highlight Rochester's character and his willingness to deceive that he has demonstrated more than once. I wonder why Jane is so willing to overlook these obvious flaws.
I agree with your comments about the growing mystery culminating in the omen of the splitting tree.

Suko said...

Another wonderful post about such interesting and "human" characters! As for the split tree, it's surely a dramatic and unforgettable symbol!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Jacqui - jane displays enormous strength. I will have more to say on this.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi James - Rochester does do some dad things. But he has an inner depth that is combined with what I think is his own personnel brand of virtue. I think that is what Jane sees in him.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Suko - I seem to be the only one who thinks that the tree may have been a little over the top. It was indeed a powerful symbol.

Maria Behar said...

Very insightful answers, Brian! I especially like your answer to question #1. I had not thought of framing the situation the way you did, but, having read your analysis of Jane's puzzling behavior, I totally concur. And you're so right about Jane's sometimes passive attitude. I had been thinking about this myself, but had not put it into words, so I'm glad you pointed it out!

In your answer to question #5, you again highlight the contradictions in Jane's personality. These are precisely what make her such a fascinating character!

I also agree that the incident of the lightning-struck tree is a little over the top. I think I saw that particular incident in the Orson Welles film. Of course, as James pointed out when he commented on my own post, this novel has a Romantic and even a fantasy influence. So it's entirely logical that it would have some melodramatic characteristics.

Thanks for your great answers! And so we continue to enjoy this masterpiece of English literature!! : )

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Maria - The more that I think about it the more I am coming to appreciate the slightly over the top nature of some of the dark events of this work. Perhaps the tree thing is not so bad. I am thinking a little about the Phantasmagoric imagery used by Charles Dickens.

Jane is indeed such a marvelous literary creation!

Thanks for the good word.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Another great post. I'm really enjoying getting to know the book and in particular the characters through your eyes.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Tracy - That is a neat way to read vicariously :)

JaneGS said...

The scene in the orchard is one of the best in English literature--powerful stuff. I had forgotten about the lightning destroying the tree--good pickup on the foreshadowing that CB is doing here :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Jane - I have actually backed off my ruminations about the tree destruction being too over the top. We had some discussions on it in the comments section of James's blog. It is a great scene and it fits the book perfectly.

The Bookworm said...

Hi Brian. It's funny how I've never read this one but have heard about Jane and Rochester. Classics like Jane Eyre are timeless.
The tree being split in two does seem melodramatic, but I do think many of these gothic classics were. It reminds me of Wuthering Heights.
I've missed your blog! Hope you are well. Take care.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Naida - I have really missed your blogging too.

Things are well with me, I hope that it is so for you.

Jane and Rochester are such a powerful pair of characters and they seem to exist outside of the text!

I am beginning to see that the melodramatic elements actually enhance this novel.