POST!

We pick up with Jane with bad news on Jane’s end: she’s been having bad dreams involving children, especially babies, that she believes to be bad omens. It is soon revealed that Jane’s life has indeed taken a turn for the worse in a sense: her cousin has committed suicide and her aunt has suffered a stroke and is nearing death by the minute. Jane returns to Gateshead to visit her aunt in her last days. On her deathbed, Mrs. Reed and Jane talk and Jane attempts to reconcile the differences between the two of them, stating that she forgave Mrs. Reed for all the grievances that Mrs. Reed gave her. Mrs. Reed however, refuses Jane’s apology, stating that although she seeks redemption, she cannot apologize fully to Jane because she strongly dislikes her. This brings up the continuing theme of redemption and forgiveness of sin. One day, Mrs. Reed gives Jane a letter from Jane’s father’s brother, her uncle John. The letter, written several years previously, and its contents reveals that Jane’s uncle wished to adopt her as his own but Mrs. Reed never responded out of malice. Jane once more tries to repair the relationship with her aunt, but Mrs. Reed refuses and at midnight, she kicks the bucket. Finally.

Jane stays at Gateshead for a month after her aunts death to stay with her cousins. While there, Jane receives a letter from Mrs. Fairfax telling Jane that the guests at Thornfield have left and Mr. Rodchester has also left to buy a new carriage. This is a sure sign that he intends to marry Blanche.  On her way to the station to pick up Rodchester, she in fact runs into him. He asks her if she has heard the news about his purchase of a new carriage as she admits she has, trying to question Rodchester whether he plans on proposing to Blanche subtly. He reveals nothing. Weeks later, Rodchester invites Jane for a walk in the gardens. While walking, he confesses to Jane that he plans on marrying Blanche. He tells Jane of an open governess position he knows of in Ireland. Jane expresses distress and concern. Jane becomes distressed and in a flt of emotion, confesses her love for Rodchester. OH MY GAWD! Rodchester surprises Jane by asking her to be his wife. OH MY GAWD! Jane is ecstatic, and accepts the proposal immediately. Jane and Rodchester also kiss. Its scandalous. The next few months do not run smoothly for Jane. Mrs. Fairfax disapproves of the marriage. Because of this, Jane begins having negative premonitions about the future of the marriage. She begins being even more uncomfortable with the idea of the marriage after Rodchester states that he will be treating her like something out of a fairy-tale, stating that she will go from being plain to dripping with jewels and dressed in finery. Jane explains her discomfort with this, saying that she understood that she was plain and did not wish to be treated like someone of a higher status then she is. The theme of social class and its relation to appearance in the early 19th century. In those days, the way you dressed and the jewlery you owned was highly symbolic of your status in society. Jane’s reluctance to allow Rodchester to dress her in finery that the wealthy wear shows that she has been raised in a lower class family and is in the strict mindset that she should not deviate from the style of clothing that her class wears. In fact, the idea that one’s clothing is a indication of one’s wealth is a theme that is carried on to today, where designer labels are prevalent.  Jane, in turn, writes to her wealthy uncle, hoping that becoming a part of her uncle’s life will bring her wealth and bring her closer to the level of Rodchester’s wealth, making the marriage less uncomfortable for her.

In the next chapter, it is revealed that Rodchester has gone away and Jane is alone at Thornfield with Adele and the servants. One night, Jane’s wedding dress arrives and Jane excitedly opens it. Rodchester returns home and he and Jane stroll around the orchard. That night, Jane once again has an ominous dream. In the dream, Jane had a crying child in her arms and she was chasing after Rodchester along a winding path. While Rodchester dismisses this dream, Jane explains that she had another dream that night in which the child fell off of her knee. Jane explains that the dream frightened her so that it awoke her and she heard strange rustling in the room. A savage looking woman appeared and tore the veil that was Rodchester’s wedding gift to Jane in two. Jane voices her concerns to Rodchester and he says that he will explain to Jane about the incident after they have been married for one year and one day.

Blanche=Salvation

In chapter 19, Jane proceeds to the library to have her fortune read by the mysterious gypsy woman. Although Jane is extremely skeptical at first, she becomes enthralled when the gypsy reveals that she knows much about Jane, and that she is very close to happiness. The gypsy also reveals to Jane that she told Blanche Ingram that Mr. Rodchester is not nearly as wealthy as he appears to be, which explains the dejected state that Blanche was in when she returned from getting her fortune told. While the gypsy woman is reading her fortune, however, Jane realizes that her voice is becoming deeper and it is revealed that the gypsy is in fact Mr. Rodchester, who has been feigning a womanly voice. Jane reproachfully scolds him, realizing that her suspicions that Grace Poole was the gypsy have been explained.  Jane also tells Rodchester that Mr. Mason has arrived, and Bronte foreshadows later events by describing how troubled Mr. Rodchester is to hear this news.

Late into that night, while all the guests are asleep, a cry erupts from one of the rooms. All of the guests hurry into the hallway, where Rodchester calms all of them by explaining that it was simply a servant having a nightmare. When everyone returns to bed, Rodchester privately goes to Jane’s quarters and asks if he can have her help. He also mentions that she should not assist him if she is afraid of blood. Curious, Jane follows him up to the third floor of the house where she finds Mr. Mason, who has been stabbed in the arm.  Rodchester charges Jane with the task of stopping the bleeding in Mason’s arm, and leaves, telling Mason and Jane not to speak to one another. While she waits, Jane looks at an image of Christ and the apostles at the crucifixion. This reiterates the continuing theme throughout the story of sin and forgiveness. By using a well-known and strong religious image, Bronte continues the thematic elements of sin and forgiveness that is brought up by Jane and Rodchester in previous chapters. When a surgeon arrives and Mr. Mason is off to be healed, Rodchester asks Jane to go for a stroll through the orchard with him. While they walk, Rodchester tells Jane the story of a man who commits a crime in a foreign country. In an effort to find salvation, the man attempts to live morally with a wife, however fate’s intervention prevents him from doing so. He asks if such a man should “overleap an obstacle of custom” to find happiness. Jane responds by saying that such a man should turn to God to salvation, not another person. Rodchester, who makes it clear that he has been speaking of himself this entire time, says that marrying Blanche would bring him salvation. The conversation relating to salvation and forgiveness continues the religious context throughout the story.

“Goodnight my…” MY WHAT?!?!

Chapter 17 picks up with surprising news: Mr. Rodchetser may be departing for Europe without saying goodbye and worst of all, he might be gone for a whole year! Jane is horrified when she learns this news from Mrs. Fairfax. However, contrary to what Jane believes, a week later a letter arrives stating that Rodchester will be returning to Thornfield in a few days time…with guests. During her time waiting for Rodchester to return, Jane decides to explore the mystery of Grace Poole in Thornfield hall. She discovers that Grace shares a normal relationship with the rest of the staff at Thornfield and overhears them discussing Grace’s high pay. After hearing this, Jane decides that she must not know the entirety of the role that Grace plays at Thornfield. Late that night, Rodchester arrives with a large number of wealthy and snooty guests. One of Rodchester’s guests happens to be the lovely Blanche Ingram. Jane tries to socialize with the guests, but Blanche and her mother, who is accompanying her, treat Jane with disgust. This causes Jane to attempt to flee, but she is stopped by Rodchester, who states that she may avoid the guests, but she still has to come to the drawing room every night. At that point, as they part ways, Mr. Rodchester lets slip: “Goodnight, my…”. MY WHAT?!?!? This is yet another subtle hint that Bronte inserts about the growing feelings that Jane and Rodchester are developing for each other.

The days at Thornfield pass slowly. The guests stay for quite a while, including Blanche. While Blanche and Rodchester seem to do everything together, Jane decides that they are to be married soon, although there is no sign of love between the two. She decides that Rodchester must be marrying Blanche for her status in society and Blanche is marrying Rodchester for his money. Like many marriages at the time, this exemplifies the idea of marriage during the early 19th century: marriages were a joining of social status, not that of two people in love. Late one night, a mysterious man named Mr. Mason appears at the doors of Thornfield. Jane is suspicious of Mr. Mason, but learns that he is an acquaintance of Mr. Rodchester’s from when the two lived in the West Indies. Then, yet another strange guest arrives: a gypsy woman come to tell the guests fortunes.

Fire fire fire!

In chapter 15, Rodchetser fulfills his promise to Jane and finally tells her about Adele’s mother. He goes on to reveal to Jane that Adele’s mother, a french singer and dancer, and himself had an affair several years previously. When he discovered that she was having relations with another man besides himself, he broke off the relationship he had with her. Several years later, when she abandoned her daughter Adele, claiming that it was his child, he took Adele in and raised her as his own. This new insight shocks Jane, and that night she lays awake considering all the information she has gained about Rodchester. As she lies in bed, she hears an eerie laugh coming from the hallway and the sound of fingers being dragged along the wall. After going out into the hall to investigate, she sees smoke coming from under Rodchester’s door. She races into his bedroom to find his curtains on fire. She douses the fire, ultimately saving Rodchester’s life. This is yet another example of how the relationship between Rodchester and Jane is more than that of a servant and a master, but that of two people who care about each other. Rodchester, oddly enough, is not upset about the encounter, rather states that he must take a trip to the third floor to take care of some business. When he returns, Jane asks if the mysterious Grace Poole is responsible for the fire and Rodchester confirms her suspicions.

When Jane awakes the next morning, she is shocked to learn that the near-disaster of last night comes to no surprise to the servants. They simply think that Mr. Rodchester had fallen asleep with a candle lit next to his curtains. Jane is infuriated, wondering why a woman who almost murdered the master of the house is allowed to continue to work in Thornfield. It is at this moment that Jane realizes that she has feelings for Rodchester. Unfortunately, he will be away for several days, for he is going to attend a party. Jane is even more upset to hear that he will be in the presence of the lovely Blanche Ingram. Jane then draws a portrait of Blanche, portraying her as a beautiful woman and comparing herself to Blanche’s loveliness, stating that she is much too plain to capture Rodchester’s eye. This is a continuation of the mindset that Jane was raised in: that she is inferior in every way to those of a higher class. It is clear that, although she has spent years away from the negative presence of her aunt, that the values and lessons that her aunt taught still reign over Jane in a negative way.

Introducing…MR RODCHESTER!!!

We pick up where we left off, with Jane informally meeting Mr. Rodchester for the first time. The day after their first meeting, Mr. Rodchester invites Jane and her charge Adele for tea. Throughout the tea, Jane describes Mr. Rodchester as cold and distant, uninterested in any conversation with her. However, when Jane mentions her drawings, Rodchester seems charmed and asks to see them with genuine interest. After the tea, Jane speaks with Mrs. Fairfax, telling her about Mr. Rodchester’s peculiar behavior. Mrs. Fairfax explains that Mr. Rodchester is  somewhat peculiar due to his being the family outcast as a child. This is the first connection that Bronte makes between Jane and Rodchester. By introducing the idea of Rodchester as an outcast, she makes a reference to Jane’s ostracization as a child. Although raised in the presence of his parents unlike Jane, who is an orphan, Bronte makes it clear that there are similarities between the characters of Rodchester and Jane that could carry on throughout the story.It is also revealed by Mrs. Fairfax that Rodchester inherited Thornfield from his brother, the original owner who died 9 years previously.

Jane sees little of Rodchester over the next few days at Thornfield. The two finally come face to face again when Rodchester sends for Jane after dinner one day. While the two sit in the study, Rodchester gives Adele her gift and has an unusually long chat with Jane. When he abruptly asks Jane whether she finds him handsome or not, she immediately replies with a flustered “no”. Rodchester reacts poorly, and Jane deduces that he is slightly drunk (how can you be ‘slightly’ drunk? It’s a yes or no thing). Rodchester then makes the conversation even more uncomfortable by telling Jane that he sees their relationship as more than just that between servant and master. This is the first sign that Rodchester may be developing feelings for Jane.The conversation then, thankfully, turns to a discussion about morals and the concepts of sin, forgiveness and redemption. Adele begins to bring up her mother, however, Rodchester shoots her down and later tells Jane that he will tell her more about Adele’s mother another day.

Trifles

In Susan Glaspell’s turn-of-the-century short fiction turned play, two seemingly innocent and air headed housewives turn murder mystery case crackers, all behind the backs of their law-enforcement husbands. The case? The murder of a man by his wife. The detectives’  wives, in all their knowledge of the inner workings of a woman’s mind as well as the workings of her home, appear as juxtaposition with their husbands lack of attention to significant detail (i.e the dead canary, the murderess’s love for knot tying) in search of more materialistic, simplistic evidence. As stated in Suzy Clarkson Holstein’s article “Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell’s ‘Trifles'”: the play offers an “[exploration of] the fundamental difference between the women’s actions and the mens, a difference grounded in  varying understandings of the home space”. Throughout the play, the women discover clues about the motive of the murderess by analyzing clues left behind that leave hints of her emotional state. The snapped neck of her favorite bird-an act committed by her distant husband- is the motive for the murder, the women decide. The strangling of the bird, as stated in Karen Alkalay-Gut’s criticism ‘A Jury of Her Peers: The Importance of Trifles’: “The fact that Minnie strangled her husband because he strangled the bird indicates to Mrs. Hale that Minnie understood her husband’s action as a symbolic strangling of herself, his wife. It is not just because he killed the bird, but because Minnie herself was a caged bird…and he strangled her by preventing her from communicating with others”.

The significance of the women’s acceptance and concealment of Mrs. Foster’s guilt is capitalized on at the end of the storty. Because the women hide Mrs. Foster’s guilt, it makes it clear that they accept the actiosn that she committed as reasonable, and their hiding the evidence from their husbands goes against the stereotypical “devoted housewife” of the time. Although the men look for materialistic clues (fingerprints on the rope, a sign of a struggle) the women go inside the killers mind, as do many of the great detectives of today. The women demonstrate that they are ahead of their time in their thinking, reversing the roles by putting themselves in the place of power by knowing more than their husbands. But in the end of it all, who really wins? The husbands by continuing their mindset of being the most powerful and intellegent or the wives by discovering the truth and keeping it to themselves?

Redrum

*****THIS IS MY SECOND TIME WRITING THIS. COUNT IT. SECOND. SCREW WORDPRESS*****

Jane Eyre starts out, as any reasonable novel would start out, by introducing us to our characters and our setting. Gateshead, the setting, is a dreary mansion owned by the widow Mrs. Reed. Because the day is so gloomy at Gateshead, the inhabitants are stuck inside to occupy themselves. One specific occupant, our main character-Jane Eyre-is spending her time hiding behind the curtains of the library  drowning her sorrows in the pages of a book. Can’t really blame her. This is where her evil family comes in. Her cousin, John, comes in and yells at her for reading the book in the first place. Because Jane is an orphan and at the house out of the charity of Mrs. Reed (John’s mother), he believes that Jane has no right to read the books that he owns. I don’t like John very much. He’s ugly and a bully. Anyway, John then gets violent and chucks the book at Jane’s head. Naturally, Jane fights back and, just as Jane is about to whoop John, two servants come to the rescue. Well, kinda…they drag Jane and John away to *dun dun dunnnnnn* Mrs. Reed. So Mrs. Reed is basically the evil stepmother of the Jane Eyre story. Something crawled up her butt and died a long time ago. She blames Jane for the tussle and has the servants drag Jane away and lock her in the red room as punishment. Let’s talk about the red room, shall we? Basically, the red room (which sounds like redrum if you say it really fast. The shining reference anyone?) is the room in which Mrs. Reed’s husband, Jane’s uncle, passed away. Locked away in there, Jane spends her time thinking and feeling sorry for herself. In her distress, she thinks she sees a ghostly figure in the mirror and she is then reminded of the fact that, while on his deathbed (the same bed she’s sitting on….#awksandkindacreepy) her uncle made his last command to his wife: for her to treat Jane as one of her own. Which she clearly is not doing. Jane then starts to freak out and panic, believing the spirit of her uncle to be returning to avenge her. I don’t know why she’s freaking out, its not like he’s going to hurt her. But anyway, Jane freaks out and passes out cold. When she wakes up, she ‘s in bed and the doctor is there. She and the doctor have a nice long chat and he presents Jane with the idea of attending school to get away from the treatment of her aunt. Jane considers this. Very. very. hesitantly.  (at this point I was shaking the book and shouting “TAKE THE OFFER!! YOU’LL GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND AWAY FROM YOUR AUNT YOU STUPID BIMBO!!!!”). In the end, Jane takes my advice and agrees to go to the school. You’re welcome.  Jane and her aunt go to visit the school Jane is supposed to attend, which is called Lowood. There they meet the principal/headmaster/dean/owner of Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst. Another character for me to hate. He’s a real jerk, to be blunt. He almost immediately goes off at Jane about religion. Mr. Brocklehurst is basically really really religious, and not the good kind. Jane’s aunt all to readily leaves and Jane is all alone at Lowood. Oops.

Gettin real sick of this, Jane

Jane goes to take a job at Thornfield hall as a governess and tutor to 8 year old Adele, a french girl.  She is greeted upon her arrival by Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield. According to Mrs. Fairfax, the owner-Mr Rochester- travels quite often and leaves the management of the house to Mrs. Fairfax. We also learn that the mysterious Mr Rochester is eccentric and his family has a strange history of violent and angry behavior. Just about then, a totally freaky laugh echos through the house. Mrs. Fairfax summons someone named Grace, who she commands to make less noise and follow instructions. She then reveals that Grace is a seamstress who works in the house. Grace, according to Mrs. Fairfax, is rather unpredictable and unbalanced. Jane falls into life at Thornfield quite enjoyably. She likes teaching Adele, and is happy with her place in the house. One night, while sitting on the porch alone, Jane observes a man on a horse and a dog coming down the road. As the horse is about to pass her, it slips on a patch of ice and its rider is thrown. Jane hurries to help the man up, and observes a not-quite middle aged man who looks brooding and mysterious (old literature code for super hot and Edward Cullen sexy). She goes inside and asks about the man to the servants. It is revealed that the man is in fact Mr. Rochester, and he had just returned home with a sprained ankle after a fall from his horse. Jane doesn’t realize what she’s getting into.

DANG IT, HELEN!

So Jane is all better from being ignored and called a liar in front of everyone. The girl recovers quickly. She makes a new friend in Miss Temple, who declares her innocence and honesty in front of the entire school, which makes Jane pretty darn happy. I would be too. Jane also comes to tell Miss Temple about her mistreatment at Gateshead. She gets really into studying and gets really freakishly good at drawing and French all of the sudden. K Jane…So spring rolls around, which is all well and good because its nicer out and the girls can go outside. But its still damp where they are, and the conditions they live in are perfect to breed typhus. A whole ton of girls come down with it, including Helen. Oh no! Jane’s pretty upset, so she goes to visit Helen who, in a turn of events, turns out not to be dying of typhus-but of consumption. Basically, she gon’ die. Helen assures Jane that she’s totally cool with dying (like, what?) and Jane falls asleep with Helen in her arms. Sometime during the night, Helen dies. It’s very upsetting. Skip forward nine years later, and its Jane’s last day at Lowood! Woohoo! Miss Temple got married and left the school, so Jane decides to peace out. Bessie comes along for a visit, and tells Jane some startling news. There is a relative of Jane’s out there that may not actually hate her! Her father’s brother, John Eyre, came looking for Jane 7 years ago! So maybe Jane has a chance after all!

E’erybody makes mistakes.

So we return to Jane Eyre. Huzzah. Jane gets shipped off to Lowood. At first I was like ‘Awesome! Bye bye evil aunt!’ Yeah, not so awesome. Basically, Jane just got sent from one crappy place to a crappier place. Lowood, yeah, not so great. All the teachers are evil and Jane is almost immediately mistreated. The only two rays of hope in the entire freaking place are this chick Helen Burns and her superintendent  Miss Temple. Basically, those are the two good things that happen in this chapter. Mr. Brocklehurst is still evil though. We come to learn that Lowood is a school for orphaned girls that’s a charity school, so the Reed’s pretty much just dumped her there without having to pay or anything. Awks..So as this section progresses, Lowood seems to become increasingly worse and I start to feel increasingly bad for encouraging Jane in my head to go there. But hey, e’erybody makes mistakes. Anyway, the girls at Lowood are basically underfed and overworked. They sit there all day and do crazy amounts of work or listen to endless fire and brimstone sermons from our good friend Mr Brocklehurst. The best part of this entire chapter is the progression of Jane’s friendship with Helen. Helen’s pretty cool, she’s religious, but the good kind. And she’s crazy optimistic even though she’s essentially stuck in hell on earth. Oh and she’s really smart, which impresses Jane. I like Helen, I think. Anywho, for the first month or so that Jane is at Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst is gone! But not for long. He returns and all hell breaks loose. After Jane breaks a slate (wtf is a slate?) in his class, he makes her confess to being a liar in front of the entire student body. Scandelous! And how humiliating!