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Thread: Jane's cousins

  1. #16
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    @Bitterfly:
    What you mention about Jane and beauty… I don’t think she actually longs for it, so to say. She is conscious of society and its rules and the fact that she is forced to conform to them, but she is not going to be forced to agree with them. She is conscious of her place in society ‘poor, obscure, plain and little’ as she is, she knows what is beautiful to her, but I don’t think that she herself strives for it, not in the material sense anyway. Why otherwise would she become attracted to Rochester? She says when she first meats Rochester:
    ‘I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.’ (chapter XII)
    She has a theoretical approach to beauty, but not one that has been tested on humans, or men which is more appropriate. She doesn’t grant herself any illusions as to the admiration a beautiful man could feel for her… While she, like any other person, might feel awe for beautiful things and people she is conscious of it that beauty can be antipathetic if it is the only asset one has. In that sense, we could firstly take the mirror-question you put. A very interesting one indeed!
    I have never been good at philosophy and didn’t get what you meant straight away, but I think eventually I got what you meant. Is it right that a mirror (in Nietzschian terms) evokes the idea that if one looks in a mirror, one sees oneself as others would see one when looking at one? Then, the idea elaborated, if one recognises oneself In the mirror, one acknowledges the opinion the others have of one and one might try to alter that image by doing certain things so the image becomes nicer, richer, whatever is desirable for one according to general opinion. Then, the same idea but in the opposite way: when one does not recognise one’s own image in the mirror, one is not aware of the others’ opinion of oneself and so won’t try to alter it. So, actually, just the idea that one cares about what others think of him, or not? I think that that could very well make sense… When Jane is in the red-room she doesn’t recognise herself, which could evoke the failure to conform to outside standards as such. Which is quite appropriate at that time in the book, as Jane is an orphan cared for by her aunt and is refusing to ‘respect’ them, if we take their point of view, or is not conscious of the reasons why she should be nice to them in general if they are nasty to her… In other words, Jane doesn’t understand the true extent of the place she has in society, thus she doesn’t recognise herself in the mirror and is not conscious of the standards she should conform to, not even why she triggers such a bad opinion of herself In her aunt. For a child, the position she is in is indeed confusing to say the least: she is part of a rich family where the children are naughtier than she, yet she is always the one that is blamed for being naughty… Jane, as any other child, has a fundamental approach to justice: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. In that, she doesn’t understand why she is punished if John throws at her a book and she lashes out to him as a result of that. Putting her in the Red Room for that was indeed unjust, but not less logical. Her aunt does not understand why her husband wanted to care for her, but she promised on his deathbed to do so, whereas she preferred to have her raised by someone else who was paid for it (like Adèle’s Mme Frédéric). As a consequence of that she certainly didn’t want any trouble with Jane. Jane was to be a nice girl, well raised and eventually (well) married. Jane doesn’t understand her inferior role as a child and so doesn’t understand the reasons for her aunt’s bad opinion about her, and so doesn’t comply with the standards that are important to her situation (orphan in a charity-position). Thus she doesn’t recognise herself in the mirror, but sees herself as a ‘tiny phantom, half fairy, half imp, Bessie’s evening stories represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing before the eyes of belated travellers.’ She sees the image in the mirror as the one that her aunt and the servants, even Rochester, have of her, but does not recognise it as herself. Thus she won’t do anything to alter that image, whether positive or negative.
    As Rochester is courting Ingram Jane writes: ‘to-morrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully, without softening one defect; omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, ‘Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.’ According to the Nietzschian mirror we could then say that, after getting closer and closer to Rochester, despite society convention, Jane suddenly realises as he is courting Ingram that it was folly to think that he might value her as a woman rather than a servant and that possibly more could follow. She then urges herself to display ‘all the faults of her class’ in her physiognomy as opposed to Ingram’s portrait which will have a ‘Grecian neck and bust’, let’s say idealised image. After she has done that the next day, she says that ‘thanks to it, [she] was able to meet subsequent occurrences with a decent calm, which, had they found [her] unprepared, [she] should probably have been unequal to maintain, even externally.’ (chapter XVI). Indeed, after recognising herself in the mirror and drawing her own portrait, she conforms herself to society standards as being only a governess: disconnected, poor and plain; someone Rochester surely doesn’t want. As a woman she might have felt jealous, might have felt used, might have started to cry on the stairs, but now Jane is conscious of her position, she can see Rochester courting Ingram with less obvious envy than she had had if she were equal to Ingram. The morning after the proposal Jane looks at herself in the mirror. She says that her face no longer looked plain, that it now had ‘hope in its aspect and life in its colour’. Rochester calls her pretty when he sees her, but also mistakes her eye colour for brown In stead of green. Very symbolically obviously because at that moment he has her in his arms. It seems quite impossible to mistake someone’s eye colour if the person is so close to you and if it is bright daylight. Can we then say that he doesn’t look properly into the ‘mirrors of Jane’s soul’? The day before only, when he was proposing, he called her ‘poor and obscure, and small and plain’… Has she suddenly transformed into this physical beauty of the likes of Ingram? No, apparently, because ‘[he] want[s] the rest of the world to acknowledge [her] a beauty too’ by sending for the family jewels and adorning her with satin and lace. Here indeed, he fails to see that Jane is still plain and Quakerish, and not a beauty. However, are we not supposed to see the appearance with the clothes, jewels, ‘acquirements and abilities’ as ‘[making] amends for any little fault of look’, as Mrs Fairfax says it so bluntly? Rochester is a favourite with the ladies, certainly not for his handsome face, but maybe rather for his appearance, which can’t really be called poor with fine clothes, and which implies a big purse… The fact then that he gives her another eye-colour is maybe down to indeed wanting to change her somewhat into the bride he desires rather than the bride she is… Pared up with the ‘Grecian neck and bust’ of Ingram, it seems as if any faults of look will be erased by creating an idealised image of her. Then the ‘hazel hair and the radiant hazel eyes’ make a more harmonious combination than if her eyes were acknowledged as green. Although Jane doesn’t make herself into a beauty, or idealises her own image, she does acknowledge ‘hope in its aspect and life in its colour’. She then looks different to herself, as you say, the morning after Rochester’s proposal: she looks deeper into her own mirror image than she looked before when she saw only ‘a governess: disconnected, poor and plain’. We might conclude out of the latter that she looks deeper than society looked, and she looked herself, seeing now rather her own feelings and personality than ‘the faults of her class’.
    When the day of the marriage finally arrives Sophie urges Jane to have a look at herself: ‘I saw a robed and veiled figure, so unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a stranger.’ (chapter XXVI). She knows it is her, but she doesn’t quite seem to understand… In Nietzschian terms it could be called doubt as to who the mirror-image is supposed to be. Indeed, here, Jane is about to change from unmarried woman into married woman. Not only that but she will also move classes. Having started her adult life as working/serving class, she will now move up into society, with other rules to conform to. Thus she knows that the ‘robed veiled figure’ in the mirror is her, but it seems ‘almost the image of a stranger’, because she doesn’t know what standards to conform to yet, being literally between two worlds at that moment, evoked in the book by the plain veil and the (no doubt) luxurious wedding gown. Additionally, we could say that her vision is obstructed by the veil itself, not allowing her to see plainly how society sees her and thus not being able to take up her role and fulfil it because she is not aware of it. This evokes literally the alleged role of wife she is going to take up in Rochester’s eyes, but which will turn out to be a mistress’ role in Jane’s eyes and eventually in society’s eyes as well a soon as they know that he is married already.
    To add to the Nietschian mirror-idea, we have to mention that Rochester’s boudoir bordering the dining-room is described in the beginning as having ‘between the windows large mirrors repeat[ing] the general blending of snow and fire’. Indeed, pared up with the Aphrodite-Charis/outer appearance-grace opposition, it is appropriate for Rochester to have lots of mirrors to be aware as much as possible of the standards that his role implies: standards for land-owners, standards for gentlemen, standards for bachelors/married men, standards for masters-of-the-house, etc. It is striking in relation to this that there is no mention of mirrors in Ferndean. They are not only unnecessary from the point of view that Rochester can’t see his image anyway, but also unnecessary from the point of view that he has now no standards imposed from outside to conform himself to, as he has cut himself off from society. Thus he doesn’t need to care about how people perceive him and consequently he doesn’t need to look in the mirror.
    When it is known that Rochester will bring a party to Thornfield, the mirrors are polished. It is obvious that the Nietzschian idea is very important then, not only to the guests but also to Rochester himself. Thus everyone needs to be able to look into a mirror and recognise himself in it. At the same time, when Moor House is refurbished by Jane, she purchases new mirrors. Indeed, with £2500 each, Diana and Mary can now marry and with a small fortune of themselves are differently perceived than before, when they had nothing but the wages of their jobs.
    There is only one remark to be made concerning the Nietzschian mirror: Charlotte cannot have known anything of Nietzsche’s philosophy because the philosopher had only just been born when Jane Eyre was published. That doesn’t mean, though, that the mirror image as ‘how society sees one’ or ‘how one thinks that society sees one’ as a catalyst for self-knowledge/improvement is not relevant. The mirror as a way of seeing how others perceive one and live up to that is not a so far-fetched metaphor. It would be worth it to look into classic Philosophy or Enlightment Philosophy for that as those are the main sources for later philosophy. Emily Brontë had Stoic tendencies, and got a prize-book from Miss Wooler of Epictetus’ philosophy. Even if Charlotte hadn’t read it, she came in contact with it through Emily, so it would be worth it to look into that. As mirrors were a common thing in antiquity, it wouldn’t totally impossible for philosophers to use the mirror-metaphor in society philosophy.
    If we now return to Jane’s perception of beauty:
    ‘I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.’ (chapter XII)
    When Jane looks in the mirror she inevitably recognises herself and her role and position in society. Thus she also accepts her own plainness. Just before she meets Mrs Fairfax the morning after she arrived, she says: ‘I ever wished to look as well as I could, and to please as much as my want of beauty would permit.’ After that she says that she sometimes wished to be beautiful, but she also admits that she had a logical reason for that, which she couldn’t yet lay her finger on. May we then suppose that this is due to doubt about herself and her person, which every young person and certainly every young woman struggles with? Partly maybe, but when she hears about the beautiful Ingram, I think she starts to realise what beauty means for a woman: an advantage to others. She couldn’t really lay her finger on the feeling in the beginning, but I think it suddenly starts to trickle in, that she like any other woman desires to be more beautiful than the rest because it secures a better position, not least a lot more choice when it comes to husbands. Dickens’ image in Little Dorrit, which is more or less around the same period as Jane Eyre, evokes the idea that men use their wife’s beauty to be noticed. While men didn’t/couldn’t dress extravagantly, they could dress their wives that way, they could buy her diamonds, jewellery, the most wonderful dresses, and so forth. The more beautiful a woman was, the more men would look at her. As the men were the ones that used the connections, a woman could be a useful tool of displaying your business-eligibility, but she could also provide you with connections, making contact with other women who then could tell their husbands about ‘the husband of their friend’. The power of women in that department, and the use they made of their beauty, was certainly recognised, not least by Dumas, however it is not sure whether Charlotte ever read his Three Musketeers. The question here is then what was first? The desire from a woman to be the most beautiful, that is used by the husband, or the desire of a husband to have a beautiful wife to impress others, which brought on the desire to be beautiful in a woman? Whatever it may be, Jane seems to have a fundamental desire to be beautiful, which is not brought on by anything… Or maybe she still has Bessie and Abott in her mind who commented on Georgiana’s beauty and Jane’s plainness as to compassion… In connection with that we can partly see why she (maybe unconsciously) wants to be beautiful, because of ‘the lessons that have been instilled into [her]’. However, it is more the case in Society than it was in the lower classes… It only becomes a real issue to Jane when she starts to notice that she likes Rochester more than she should. The fact that she clearly acknowledges that Rochester cannot possibly have any sympathy for her, more at least than for a servant, and the two portraits at the same moment in the story, is a ‘sobering’ experience, because as it stood then, class-standards were going to be violated. When she then looks in the mirror just before the wedding, she acknowledges that, as Jane Rochester, she will have to conform to the ‘beauty is important’-doctrine, that she will be shown off, in short that she will have to ‘befriend’ people because they have connections, political power, not at all because she likes them… In chapter XVIII Jane writes: ‘I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.’ and ‘I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr. Rochester’s project of marrying for interest and connections. It surprised me when I first discovered that such was his intention: I had thought him a man unlikely to be influenced by motives so commonplace in his choice of a wife; but the longer I considered the position, education, &c., of the parties, the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or Miss Ingram for acting in conformity to ideas and principles instilled into them, doubtless, from their childhood. All their class held these principles: I supposed, then, they had reasons for holding them such as I could not fathom. It seemed to me that, were I a gentleman like him, I would take to my bosom only such a wife as I could love; but the very obviousness of the advantages to the husband’s own happiness offered by this plan convinced me that there must be arguments against its general adoption of which I was quite ignorant: otherwise I felt sure all the world would act as I wished to act.’ It is clear that she finds it a way that doesn’t guarantee happiness, but she is also undoubtedly aware of the fact that the people of that class probably have their reasons for doing so. Her quakerish ways would speak out against a marriage not for love, but it needs to be noted that love, according to the Quakers, stemmed from ‘spiritual harmony’ between the partners and from similarities in religious feelings, outward temperament and class. As Ingram is of Rochester’s class and at least as sociable as he (religion we know nothing of), it is clear that love could come with time. Jane is not of his class, not as sociable in public as he is, not even of the same religious feelings if we count being simple, down-to-earth, etc. with that. The only thing Jane and Rochester have in favour of their ‘love’ so to say, which she is definitely aware of, is spiritual harmony. The rest is definitely against them, even according to Quaker-standards. I suppose Jane’s desire for beauty that is kept under control is also connected with Quakerism: Quakers were supposed to dress in a simple way (like Jane), in modest colours and without jewellery. As any woman, Jane knows the importance of beauty in society and maybe unconsciously desires to be beautiful, but she keeps that feeling under control, because it is insignificant. It is obvious that in the beginning she can’t afford to buy many dresses anyway, but the desire to be beautiful versus her self-imposed simple ways gets really tested when Rochester goes shopping with her and wants to adorn her in the family jewels. Even then, having at least beautiful dresses and jewellery (a major part of beauty itself) within her reach, she refuses on the grounds that she would be no more ‘[his] quakerish governess’.
    I think Jane has, like any woman, the wish to be beautiful, because it is so much in the general mind as being important, which is still the case now, but I think even more so then. Although she doesn’t want to be chosen for her beauty, but for herself, she still sees beauty as an advantage she doesn’t have (like money and connections; Jane even puts them on the same level). I don’t think she strives for beauty, but has a small sense of jealousy towards it, like she has towards Rochester’s class. That feeling of envy is there, like it would be in any person, but it is made bearable by the disadvantages it has and by the principles she has imposed on herself that have proven their worth. The fact that she as a girl/woman would be valued on beauty, fortune and connections (and maybe other things to go with that), is a little narrow if a man intends to spend his whole life with her… But, surprisingly, she accepts that it is that way and neither rebels against it, nor finds it shallow. She doesn’t feel the worse for it, but just blames Rochester for not taking a wife whom he loves. She supposes ‘his class’ have their reasons for doing things that way… Like nowadays, all women acknowledge beauty as something valued (in a lesser way than the times of Jane Eyre), but not all women get depressed by the fact that they are ‘plain’. In that way, Jane is a timeless character in approach to society and its views on beauty: she accepts her ‘plainness’ and her (inferior) place in society, but doesn’t get depressed and doesn’t urge to comply, in stead waits for one to notice her as a person.
    Moreover, Jane admits to the fact that she would shun ‘beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination … as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.’ (chapter XII)This is a clear indication that she can see those things, but doesn’t particularly find them important in a person. With her quakerish ways, she would indeed ignore those things as they are of no particular concern, yes they are even antipathetic, as they can have a harmful nature although not necessarily as one should make one’s own decision about them. In connection with the stoic idea of beauty, as something that is in itself worth nothing, but can be a means to a positive or negative end, we can argue that beauty itself shouldn’t be the base for a relationship/marriage. Rochester got married to Bertha on the basis of beauty, and look where it brought him…
    When we look at Rochester we see that he makes use of the notion that all women are jealous of a more beautiful one than them, certainly if that one gets more attention. That is why he can play his trick… It is through the first assertions of Mrs Fairfax about Ingram’s beauty that Jane starts to feel some jealousy (to her own amazement), although she immediately forces her feet on the ground by acknowledging her inferiority class-wise… After that, when he arrives, he only needs to give the slightest hint and Jane will believe that he is courting Ingram. Sticking the penknife deeper by announcing his impending engagement, he only elaborates on the theme Mrs Fairfax introduced to Jane. Although Jane admits to herself that she is inferior to Ingram, she is still a little jealous of her, certainly when Ingram proves ‘she cannot charm him’. Rochester making his plan realises that any woman has that weakness when it comes to beauty, that none is immune to it, even a very simple down-to-earth reasonable girl like Jane. She is so gone up into the impending marriage of Rochester with Ingram that even when he is happy to see her after a month’s absence and never ever rides over to the Igrams to see his ‘fiancée’ that she is genuinely surprised that he doesn’t want to marry her.
    I don’t think Jane strives for beauty as such, but rather that she has a natural female urge to be beautiful because she is aware of the importance of it in society, and also of the advantage as to competition, even if she doesn’t think much of it. She keeps that natural urge under control by her quakerish ways that have proven their worth, but can’t escape the natural impulse. Taking the Stoic view, which Jane Eyre definitely draws from, beauty should not be desired for itself, but should be a means to an end. Therefore, Jane might desire to be more beautiful than Ingram to be able to be noticed by Rochester, but Rochester shouldn’t prefer her only for her beauty. Clement wrote: ‘to the licentious, beauty is the procatarctic (that which first produces the starting point for something to happen) cause of erotic love. In them it produces amorous inclinations but it does not do so by necessity.’ The first marriage of Rochester was based on the beauty of Bertha alone and that was a definite mistake. He goes to look for a second wife but doesn’t find one and then makes the same mistake still three times with his mistresses. Jane doesn’t want to be married on that basis and refutes all adornment and certainly doesn’t want to strive for beauty on its own. That is clear when she says: ‘Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir,—or you are sneering. For God’s sake don’t be ironical!’ (chapter XXIV). Later she asks him not to flatter her ‘because [she] love[s] [him] too dearly’ to flatter him. If love is indeed based on spiritual harmony and other immaterial things as similar religious feelings, outward temperament and class, then if Jane loves Rochester she indeed loves him too much to give him such a compliment as the most important compliment of all. Rochester on the other hand is still ‘licentious’ and sees love as induced by beauty. He does define beauty differently, though, but still calls it beauty: ‘delicate and aërial’ (chapter XXIV). After Jane has left Rochester becomes a recluse and will gain religion. This makes a stronger case for a marriage as to Quaker-ideals. Also the class-problem has been tackled because Jane has more money and Rochester less… The initial spiritual harmony is now definitely backed up by other things and beauty/material appearance has become ‘not worth a fillip’.
    Diana and John find her pretty… But pretty is not a synonym for beautiful. It rather means attractive. Beautiful is a superlative word that expresses absolute gorgeousness. There is a difference, so to say, between the beautiful Miss Ingram and pretty Jane. Ingram might be beautiful in the strict sense of the word, but pretty? For the right person maybe… John says about Jane: ‘If she ben’t one o’ th’ handsomest, she’s noan faâl and varry good-natured; and i’ his een she’s fair beautiful, onybody may see that.’ (chapter XXXVII). (If she isn’t one of the most handsome, she is not a fool and very good-natured; and in his eyes she is quite beautiful, anybody can see that.’) John does put it in perspective, beauty being in the eyes of the gazer, a gazer who is stone-blind in Rochester’s case. Diana says that Jane is ‘much too pretty, as well as too good, to be grilled alive in Calcutta.’ (chapter XXXV) Jane could do a lot more and better work in England as she’ll prove later. And indeed, she is too pretty to marry a man who can’t see that… Indeed, the spiritual harmony Jane and Rochester have takes now the foreground, backed up by other ideals that form a solid base, a firmer one than Bertha and Rochester’s.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  2. #17
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

    As promised, something about the Sleeping Beauty-motif:

    It is definitely present, and how!

    I don’t think we should look in the direction of Jane for Beauty… but rather in Rochester’s direction, strange as it may seem. Jane could be read as Beauty waking from her sleep and looking her prince in the eye, but in the light of an interpretation of the fairytale by Bettelheim Rochester could well be considered as the Sleeping Beauty. Bettelheim argued that the sleepiness or passiveness in teenagers results from a focus of energy on the inside rather than on the outside, after which the teenager ‘wakes up’ to adulthood and becomes more sociable again. Thus the sleep of Beauty represents her transformation from adolescent into adult mature woman, the moment when she wakes up to face her prince and future husband. I said before that Rochester changes. In this case, the change would not be one into prince (a change of heart), but rather one into mature person (a change of perception). There are a few reasons why I don’t believe that Jane should be considered as Sleeping Beauty. Firstly because Jane doesn’t have a castle of her own and Rochester cannot go and find her. Secondly because it is Jane who is the active person in the last part of the novel, thus doing more in order to ‘live happily ever after’ than Rochester himself; Rochester waits passively like Sleeping Beauty. Thirdly because, for me, there is no definite ‘waking moment’ for Jane, certainly not where Rochester is the influence. Fourthly because the ‘waking moment’ should be a positive and not a negative one according to the tale, so even if Jane does have a waking moment, it can hardly be called positive. Fifthly because the transformation of Rochester is considerable at the end, while Jane continues on her road. Sixthly because, and this is the most important reason, on Jane rests no curse, there is no inevitable fate for her that was already determined fifteen years before, yet in Rochester’s case the 15 does occur. If we consider Rochester as Sleeping Beauty there are far more convincing parallels…
    I believe Charlotte must have read the brothers Grimm’s version of the tale, because she ends the motif with the ‘waking’ of Rochester and not with the imminent execution of Jane by either his mother or wife (like the oldest (Italian) version tells). Nor is it Rochester who comes to save her from her lot and gives the order to execute his mother or wife. However, there are indications towards elements of other versions of the fairytale…

    But we should start at the beginning…

    Sleeping Beauty is described as having had 11 fairies grant her gifts such as beauty, wit, grace (charm and elegance), the voice of a nightingale and a taste for music. Rochester is not described as handsome, but it has been argued that it is the first fairy who wishes the baby beauty because it is not so important. However, when Jane returns from Gateshead, Jane thinks: ‘A loving eye is all the charm needed: to such you are handsome enough; or rather your sternness has a power beyond beauty.’ So indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and charm as well… Maybe that is where the ‘beauté mâle’ (masculine beauty) derived from Céline described In him, however after a while she was not so enchanted anymore by him… What Rochester can certainly do is sing and play… Admittedly his outside qualities do not really add up, but like with other fairytales the contents of Sleeping Beauty is more important than its first-sight-parallels.

    When the little princess is born she becomes cursed as one fairy is cross because she wasn’t invited to the christening. The fairy enchants the baby so that, when she is fifteen, she will prick herself on a spindle and die. Fortunately the 12th fairy still has to bestow her gift on the princess and softens the curse to a deep sleep of 100 years. The King, her father, tries to eradicate the danger by banning all spindles from the kingdom. Unfortunately when the princess turns fifteen, she wanders through the palace alone, as her mother and father have gone, and discovers in the tower a nice old woman who is spinning and who didn’t know anything of the ban or curse. She pricks herself on the spindle, wanting to learn to spin, and falls consequently in a deep sleep. A wood of brier grows around the palace and all courtiers fall asleep as well. Loads of princes try to get in to awake the sleeping princess but all get entangled in the brier and die. 100 years later, a prince is in the country and decides to go and take a look in the enchanted palace and is let through by the brier. Sleeping Beauty awakes because it is the end of the 100 year sleep and marries her prince.

    Some have argued that the nice old ignorant woman in the tower who is spinning, is in fact supposed to be the wicked fairy who wants to make sure that the curse comes true, however it is not agreed upon and others believe that she was the means for the curse to come true…

    We can best look at the motif with the Aphrodite-Charis-connection. When Rochester marries Bertha on the grounds of beauty and flattery alone, he marries her on the wrong basis. However, that will only become clear to him once Jane has left and when he cannot find her and thinks she is dead. Thus we might say that the change of heart he seems to have undergone when Jane returns, occurred in the 16th year after he got married to Bertha. According to the Grimms the princess, in some translations called Rosamond (!), will fall asleep ‘in her fifteenth year’, so when she is still fourteen. Ironically, Rosamond will hurt herself on the spindle the day she turns fifteen, in other words, the very day after which the curse would have been overcome as one only turns fifteen after one has completed that year of life. When Jane then reproduces the letter of Mason in the church: ‘I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October A.D. --- (a date of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield Hall, in the county of ---, and of Ferndean Manor, in ---shire, England, was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at --- church, Spanish Town, Jamaica.‘ she intimates that the year in which Rochester got married is fifteen years before the year in which he wanted to get married to her. It is clear that he does his proposal on Midsummer’s Day, which is the 21st of June, and wants to get married in a month from that date, which is the 21st of July. If he got married on the 20th of October fifteen years before that, he is indeed in the 15th year of his marriage, because almost three months still need to elapse before the fifteenth year is over. From this we can conclude that the curse he is burdened with occurred fifteen years before and that he tried to eradicate the danger by locking his wife up, but that his fate was inevitable, like Rosamond’s 100-year sleep was inevitable. Thus, the moment he falls asleep can be identified as the one where he turns himself away from the world. But what is his curse? What needs so much inward attention that the outside is of no consequence?

    When Rochester speaks of Bertha to Jane in chapter XXVI, he says: ‘She flattered me, and lavishly displayed for my pleasure her charms and accomplishments. ... I was dazzled, stimulated: my senses were excited; and being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I thought I loved her. There is no folly so besotted that the idiotic rivalries of society, the prurience, the rashness, the blindness of youth, will not hurry a man to its commission.’ He recognises that he didn’t see clearly and consented to a marriage with her partly because of ‘the blindness of youth’. He didn’t consider her character whatsoever and got married to her on the basis of what he literally saw; on the basis of desire, a parallel with Aphrodite, but also a superficial, one might say childish approach for such an important life-decision. After four years with her he decides to call it a day and ‘convey her to England’. He wants to look for a new wife, but doesn’t succeed, and then ‘trie[s] the companionship of mistresses’. He firstly takes Céline, then Giancinta and after that Clara; all three beautiful women, but like Bertha they turn out to be bad personalities. Céline lies and cheats on him, Giacinta turns out to be ‘unprincipled and violent’ and Clara is ‘mindless and unimpressible’ behind her nice façade. All three mistresses and Bertha with them were chosen on the outside alone, and the desire that came with their outside; which is a simple-minded base for a relationship, something that must go wrong. If he thought he loved Bertha because of her looks, it is the same with Céline (however I believe he is not through with her yet when Jane turns up). At the time he tells Jane that she never felt jealousy because she never felt love, he also tells her: ‘You will come some day to a craggy pass in the channel, where the whole of life’s stream will be broken up into whirl and tumult, foam and noise: either you will be dashed to atoms on crag points, or lifted up and borne on by some master-wave into a calmer current—as I am now.’ Yet, he fails to see that his reaction to the cheating of Céline was very straightforward: he turned her out of her accommodation and challenged his rival to a duel In the Bois de Boulogne. He says that the snake of Jealousy disappeared at once with his love for Céline, while Jane has the greatest trouble to leave him after he proves to be a bigamist (betrayed her confidence as much as Céline did his) and he has the greatest sorrow when she leaves. He tells her he is now calm, intimating that he has dealt with everything and actually identifying her with a sleeping person who doesn’t realise what is yet to come. Yet the sleeping Rosamond wakes up to her future husband and not to passion, like Rochester intimates. Passion is probably symbolised in the spindle in the fairytale. But is Rochester as calm as he makes out to be? Just after that, he looks at Thornfield Hall and over its battlements ‘cast[s]a glare such as [Jane] never saw before or since.’ ‘Pain, shame, ire, impatience, disgust, detestation, [seem] to hold a quivering conflict in the large pupil dilating under [Rochester’s] ebon eyebrow. Wild [is] the wrestle which should be paramount; but another feeling [rises] and [triumphs]: something hard and cynical: self-willed and resolute: it [settles] his passion and [petrifies] his countenance.’ Apparently he is not so calm as he wants to make Jane believe. Just after that he resumes the conversation and tells Jane he arranged a matter with his Destiny. She challenged him to like Thornfield. There is some inevitable destiny in that place, undoubtedly connected with Bertha, but what is it? It is obvious that it is not the destruction of his mansion. If his inevitable destiny were the destruction of his property, he would not have put Bertha in there if he wanted to eradicate the danger like Rosamond’s father. It cannot be the destruction of his reputation either, because he puts that on the line when he decides to be a bigamist… He talks about his inevitable destiny: ‘I will break obstacles to happiness, to goodness—yes, goodness. I wish to be a better man than I have been, than I am.’ That is his inevitable destiny as he defines it: he needs to transform into a good man, a balanced man, a mature man who can deal with his own mistakes. For me that is Rochester’s sleep: the transformation from beast into man, a transformation that is triggered by the spindle that is the moment where he realises that he has sought a wife/lover on the wrong grounds; that his perception of love was solely passionate; that self-reproach and grief should be addressed and not turned into anger at others.

    To become a truly mature person one needs to be able to see the truth in everything and in that, also be able to blame oneself. A bad situation is never due to only one person, but to all the people involved in it. Thus the situation Rochester blames his brother and father for is not only down to them, but also to Bertha’s father, and Rochester himself who consented ultimately. A good marriage can maybe start with desire, but it shouldn’t be the only thing it is based on. That is how Bettelheim interpreted the sleep of Rosamond. MeWeed once said on this forum that life’s lessons keep coming until they are learnt, but will increase when you don’t learn them. Rochester doesn’t give himself the chance to mature and thus gets his curse 15 years prior to the day he wanted to marry Jane; the day he married Bertha. Like Rosamond needs to prick herself on the spindle, at a certain time Rochester must realise what he did wrong and must know why he did it and look at himself for that; that is the moment he will hurt his finger on the spindle. The realisation of what real love means: not only passion, but truth, generosity and kindness (as in the chivalric meaning) like Jane displays it. The moment he realises the grounds for his mistaken marriage (desire), he starts his transformation and thus his sleep. It is a conflict that is embedded in the moon-motif in Jane Eyre.

    It is connected with Bertha as an image of the pagan goddess Frau Perchta/Bertha and her counterpart Frau Holle who are both goddesses of spinning (rewarding the industrious and punishing the idle), but also goddesses of Midwinter, a motif that is very powerful in Jane Eyre. Both goddesses have been linked to the mother Mary as the Queen of Heaven and the Greek goddess Diana, who is linked to Selene, goddess of the moon. On top of that Frau Perchta has been seen as the patroness of witches/elves/any supernatural creatures, as she was the goddess of spinning, an activity that was often associated with fate and destiny/the otherworld. In another fairytale of the Grimms Frau Holle was called for by a girl while she is spinning. In the end a prince will follow the spindle and marry her. Thus Frau Holle and Frau Perchta are also called fate-goddesses. Frau Perchta by herself, as the goddess of creatures of the otherworld, has one big foot or goose-foot, which according to Grimm was a sign left over of the time of her divinity, and she is able to change forms: from woman into animal and back; sometimes she appears as a beautiful young woman, other times she is an old ugly woman with scary features. She is also seen as ‘Mother Goose’ or ‘Goose-footed Bertha’ who spins stories that engross children, as used by Charles Perrault.

    With this in mind we can maybe put the speech of Rochester in chapter XXIV in context: ‘I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.’ It is a beautiful image, but it might also be part of the motif concerning the two destinies of Rochester and Jane. A destiny that is inevitable for both Rochester and Jane and that needs to be faced, but a destiny that has a much bigger effect on the man Rochester than on the woman Jane. In China there is even a legend that a man lives in the moon who spins threads between people and pulls them so that they come together and find true love. If we accept this way of looking at it, we might also see Bertha as more important than she seems; then she indeed has a much bigger role than only the scary raving mad woman who ‘eats’ people. Together with Diana, who criticises her brother for wanting to grill Jane alive in Calcutta, Bertha assumes the role of mother to Jane the elf/witch who is the means to get Rochester to face his spindle; the same as the nice old woman who was not aware of the curse rested on Rosamond and allowed her to try to spin; in short the innocent means of the goddess to ensure that the curse is carried out. This might seem far from Jane the Christ-figure, but maybe not so far as the Messiah was found in the shape of an innocent child… Thus it wouldn’t be too strange for Bertha to assume a mother-role to Jane as Frau Perchta, whose name she carries, was linked to mother Mary, Queen of Heaven, accidentally the mother of Jesus…

    If we look at what Rochester tells of his time in the West-Indies and the moment he took the decision to lock Bertha up in Thornfield and become a bigamist: ‘the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball’. We might accept that as a normal sight, but it is not normal because this is about the moon and not about the sun. When does the moon ever become red (unlike the sun can become red at dusk)? Others have argued that this is an allusion towards the menstruation cycle of women and the madness of Bertha linked to it. It is a good idea… Yet the moon does not become red, but in one circumstance: a lunar eclipse. This is also what happens the evening before the wedding: ‘the moon appeared momentarily in that part of the sky which filled their fissure; her disk was blood-red and half overcast; she seemed to throw on me one bewildered, dreary glance, and buried herself again instantly in the deep drift of cloud.’ Already the antics, and civilisations before them, knew that both solar and lunar eclipses could have a lot of influence on the lives of people. I was apprehensive to this notion, until I realised that both lunar eclipses take place at a crucial time in Rochester’s life, and the second one in Jane’s life, and that they will indeed bring a change. I believe that it indeed backs up the theory of the spindle in Sleeping Beauty and the emotional conflict in Rochester, and Jane to a certain extent. The notion of eclipses is also part of moon-superstition which has been widely recognised to be present in Jane Eyre, so I believe it is interesting to look at it…

    At the time the first lunar eclipse occurs in Rochester’s life he is desperate: he wants to get away from Bertha, the thought of whom eats him up, and the only way to do that is by committing suicide… He contemplates it for a moment, but then abandons the thought. During that lunar eclipse and certainly after it, there is a sense of renewal in him: ‘My heart, dried up and scorched for a long time, swelled to the tone, and filled with living blood—my being longed for renewal—my soul thirsted for a pure draught. I saw hope revive—and felt regeneration possible.’ As should happen with lunar eclipses, he feels a sense of finality together with a new chapter opening in his life. He feels the urge to go to Europe and start anew, yet he pairs this up with a denial of both Bertha herself and Bertha as the personification of his youthful views (desire). The acceptance of the wife Bertha is essential to the mature man Rochester because she is the manifestation of his youthful heart that was easily excited and naïve. As King Lear he needs to accept this, but refuses and thus the initial urge for renewal brought on by the eclipse is not used to the full. A lunar eclipse tackles one’s emotions/how one perceives them/how one deals with them , as the moon stands for the inner world, which implies for Rochester that he tackles his self-reproach, evoked in the shrieks of Bertha. Yet he uses the sense of renewal, not for the acceptance of his mistake, but for the denial of Bertha which implies a denial of his own responsibility in choosing her as a life-partner. In stead, he blames everyone but himself (like King Lear). Seeing it in a Stoic context, we can say that he refuses to acknowledge his suffering and so refuses to look for the mistake he made. All through his life he will keep on suffering and continue to run away from his emotional problem, which we see occurring every time at full moon, which coincides with Bertha’s appearances.

    The first full moon in his story occurs chronologically with Céline’s cheating. Céline’s name on its own can be linked with the goddess Selene, the moon goddess of the Greeks. The night that he faces her cheating is a moonlit night and here for a first time the emotional conflict within himself comes to the surface: Céline as the personification of his inner world who lied to him about his ‘beauté mâle’. As a metaphor it evokes the lies he tells himself: his inner world tells him that he is allowed to be loved, also for his looks. The demand of love is a parallel with the lunar eclipse of a few years before where he had refused to use the sense of renewal to recognise his own responsibility in choosing Bertha as a life-partner and consequently the acceptance needed for closure of that chapter. Instead he decided to use that possibility of renewal for forgetting and denying Bertha; for demanding love, a verb that is in itself loveless and consequently impossible to pair up with love. Love can only be earned and cannot be demanded, unless it is a materialistic kind, like King Lear’s. By banning Céline out of his life this time, he makes his struggle worse as he now figuratively silenced the moon/his inner world as well. However, he will be reminded at regular intervals…

    When Jane and Rochester meet for the first time on the road to Hay, there is a full moon as well. There is no doubt that this is an important moment for both of them, hence the full moon. Jane senses that he needs help, but Rochester refuses to accept it initially. He will receive a sprain as if Selene/Diana/Perchta/Holle decided to allow him some thinking time with some pain involved. When Rochester then accuses Jane of ‘spread[ing] that damned ice on the causeway’ and calls her a witch, it can indeed imply that she was sent by her goddess to make him face his own struggle, so to say. Moreover, he was wearing a cloak ‘fur-collared and steal-clasped’, while metal would be widely recognised as a way of repelling fairies. This indeed backs up the idea of trying to repel his lot, as coming from the Otherworld (the land of the fairies). Yet, there also seems to be a parallel with the tradition of the Wild Hunt: a (sometimes re-enacted) phenomenon (in Autumn) that implied a furious ride with no seeming aim, and often foreshadowed catastrophe, either death of the person who saw it or in general (war/plague). There were several alleged leaders to the Wild Hunt, among which Frau Holle and Frau Perchta. If Rochester on his black horse and with his hunting dog, evokes indeed a furious chase without seeming aim, which could be argued, then he inevitably will end up in the place Perchta/Bertha shows him. His lot is indeed inevitable and connected with the thread of destiny Bertha will spin and at the end of it the spindle itself. The pain which he then attracts with his sprained ankle foreshadows (as I implied before) the pain he will have to face in order to deal with his heart, the pain given to him by pricking himself on the spindle. While he is still roaming Europe he is called back on business and meets Jane on the causeway. One might say that Bertha/Perchta pulls her thread and brings Rochester closer to his inevitable spindle. With this full moon again, Rochester fails to use the energy, and the helper supplied by Perchta, to close that chapter in his life. He will go on chasing furiously and the hints Perchta gives will become more potent as she will now enter the story by herself.

    The next time Rochester faces the full moon, although it can only be identified by counting the weeks back from the time Mason gets stabbed, is the time Bertha lights Rochester’s bed. The same afternoon he talks to Jane about the end of his affair with Céline. He is just telling her of the contrast that struck him between Jane and Céline when Jane at their first meeting told him he wasn’t handsome. Sadly he cannot finish his sentence because he is called in by Adèle, but half the sentence is enough to conclude that, if Jane is an ‘avatar’ for Selene (like Peripatetics pointed out) and Céline the same, then his inner world, evoked in both women, is now having a serious struggle as to keep on loving himself and tackling his self-reproach. A little before in the same conversation, he lit a cigar at the same moment he lit a cigar on the balcony while waiting for Céline. Smoking on its own is an allusion towards individuality and it certainly doesn’t go a miss in his story. Unlike Céline, Jane doesn’t praise his ‘beauté mâle’, so Rochester has in the meantime moved from lying to himself to closing that door by getting rid of Céline, but slowly but surely that same door is pushed open again. However, by smoking he indicates that he will not yield (as he indicates just before the proposal by that same cigar). The same night, with the next full moon, Perchta/Bertha will set fire to his bed. Some things in that episode have always puzzled me: firstly, how could Bertha find, in the dark, the room of Rochester in a house she didn’t know and was locked up in straight away; secondly, why was the candle left in the gallery; thirdly, why did Jane wake just at the right moment and not of the smoke in her room… To me it is as if Bertha wanted to tell Jane that something was wrong, certainly by leaving the candle in the gallery to attract her attention. What is even more puzzling is how she could find Rochester’s room straight away in a house she doesn’t know. Both enigmas could easily be solved by acknowledging Bertha as a goddess of destiny who knows whom to get and where, but who also lights a fire for a mere hint, and not with any malicious intent whatsoever, allowing Jane to put it out when it is still quenchable. Here we see a first parallel with an old German folktale with a sleeping princess Brünhild who needs to be rescued by Siegfried through a blazing fire. When Rochester wakes up he again fails to see the true extent of what happened; he fails to see the hint Perchta supplied him with and consequently denies Bertha’s existence and thus the existence of his inevitable destiny. Like Rosamond’s father, he tries to eradicate the danger of the curse by making sure that the means (Bertha as a metaphor for his youthful rashness) is well out of sight, even by denying its existence, thus closing that door in his heart again. He flees from his inner struggle, now literally as he goes off to the Leas for more or less a fortnight without facing the fairy Jane.

    The fortnight that passes implies that the moon declines from a full one to a new moon. In lunar language this intimates the beginning of new projects that require one’s attention. After that fortnight, indeed, something happens that needs Rochester’s attention and that signals a new project in his mind: the letter he writes to Mrs Fairfax to notify her of a party he will bring to Thornfield. From this we can conclude that he failed to use the full moon to come to terms with his past and the responsibility he had in that. Instead, again, he denies the existence of it and starts a new project that requires his attention, but which will eventually not become successful because it is a project for which he is not ready (he hasn’t closed the last chapter, so he can’t start a new one): the plan to marry Jane. Jane also starts a new project by acknowledging her inferiority and the fact that she can never marry him and he can never love her. By the time he arrives with his guests, Jane has grown calm, because she accepted her lot, and, one might say, used the energy of the full moon to close the chapter ‘Rochester and love’ in her mind. When drawing Ingram in an ideal way she then starts a new chapter ‘Rochester and Ingram’ that will be successful in her mind. The two weeks that lead up to full moon are maybe emotional for Jane, but not less bearable. Although Rochester, on his side, continues in his stubbornness, and will be seriously punished for it.

    Indeed, with the next full moon (undoubtedly!) things become very scary! As Mason gets stabbed the closed door bursts open in Rochester’s heart, but he will regain his calm not least by fleeing Thornfield for a period of time. The same day he plays the prank with the gipsy. During that prank he not only associates himself with fortune tellers, who can warn one for certain things in the future, but more importantly, he is associated with Grace Poole, the guardian of Bertha. A very important indication that he indeed flees his lot and actively participates in avoiding his curse. During that night, Jane is summoned again for help by her Mother, when she is woken up by moonlight. She instinctively knows that help is wanted although no indication is given. She dresses herself and waits for Rochester to come, and indeed, he needs help. The cry that petrified Jane has an effect on her that is similar to the effect Rochester’s cry has on her at the end of the book. I will not go further into it because it would take a lot of pages, but what happened in the room above Jane’s (!), could be an extended metaphor of how Rochester should deal and is dealing with his emotional conflict, evoked in the full moon. As Richard cries for help after he went to see Bertha, because ‘[he] thought [he] could do some good’, one could argue that during that night Rochester is contemplating what he is doing to himself and thus tries to face his emotional conflict on that moonlit night, but withdraws when it proves too difficult. Rochester himself then comes to the rescue and fights Bertha/Perchta and locks her up again. Where Perchta who lit the fire in his bed went back to her ‘den’ voluntarily so that Rochester could close the door again, now she means business, almost killing Richard (or is it Rochester?) and making Rochester personally face and fight her. Indeed, as the thread becomes shorter and Perchta draws it towards herself it becomes ever more difficult for Rochester to avert his spindle. One can clearly make out a development for the worse as time goes on. As the night goes on, Jane has to attend to Richard. If looked at in the light of Jane as ‘avatar’ of Selene/ servant of Perchta, it is obvious that she needs to help Rochester like she wanted to help him at their first meeting. Yet, again, he will refuse any help and will rather order her to do certain things. He notably returns with the surgeon when the moon has gone and the sun comes up, thus having avoided to deal with his emotions. During the dressing of his wounds Richard then says something that makes a parallel with what Rochester later says to Jane about the lunar eclipse: ‘She said she’d drain my heart.’ It might refer to the Vampire-tendencies of Bertha, but it also means a consistent parallel with: ‘My heart, dried up and scorched for a long time, swelled to the tone, and filled with living blood.’ His heart having filled itself with new blood after the first lunar eclipse, was now about to be drained by his inevitable destiny. Indeed, the longer he waits to come to terms with himself, the worse his conflict and its consequences will become, but Rochester still goes on merrily with his new project, still attempting to lock his fate away. Yet, when he administers the crimson liquid to Richard in order to revive him and states its origins as from Rome, already he shows the inevitable destiny of downfall as ‘both Rome and Greece, despite their differences, were thought to demonstrate that empires were ultimately self-dissolving’ (Bell). Indeed, the blood Richard (or Rochester) lost in his struggle with Perchta is given back to him, but ignoring Perchta will in the end result in his downfall.

    The following afternoon Jane is challenged in her mindset as well, when she is summoned by Leaven to Gateshead where her aunt is dying. Like Rochester she would be able not to deal with that (like he suggests), yet she takes it seriously and goes, thus finishing the chapter of her early life when she gets the chance. While she is at Gateshead, she learns from Mrs Fairfax that the party has been broken up (obviously now they are not needed anymore for Rochester’s project) and that Rochester went to London to buy a new carriage. This, if looked at carefully, more or less at new moon. Rochester indeed merrily goes on with his project of marrying Jane, but fails to see, still, that it will come to nothing…

    When Jane returns it is liable to be a full moon, although it is not explicitly stated in the novel. What is known is that Mason gets stabbed when there is a full moon, that Jane leaves the next day, or one after next (which still carries the same influence), and that she stays for four weeks in stead of one. What’s more is that Mrs Fairfax intimates to Jane that Rochester left three weeks before that for London to buy a new carriage. The month at Gateshead has allowed Jane to really finalise the chapter Rochester, and to accept that she needs to leave Thornfield in order for him and his new bride to spend their honeymoon in peace. That episode also gives her the chance to see things through with her aunt. She is successful, and returns with a full moon, happy to return, but also conscious of not being able to stay there long.

    Then follows ‘a fortnight of dubious calm’, a fortnight ending in new moon (a time for new projects that require one’s energy). When Jane writes that no trips were undertaken to Ingram Park and no preparations seemed to take place and that Rochester summoned more and more, it really shows that he is putting his energy in the project Jane. Futile of course, but he is still hopeful.

    After another two weeks (possibly not really accounted for in the novel), follows the proposal of Rochester, unexpected for Jane who had already closed the book Rochester, but needs to open it again. This also happens at full moon, which implies three or four weeks of calm rather than two. But more notably on Midsummer’s night. Midsummer in the pagan world wears a lot of significance: it is a time of year very high in energy, but at the same time a point of no return; from then on darkness will only win territory over light. If seen in connection with his emotional conflict, it can only mean that Rochester is now at the height of ignoring his past (indeed, proposing to Jane), but at the same time has the greatest trouble to keep the door to Bertha shut; to keep avoiding his lot; to keep convincing himself of not dealing with his responsibility for the past and in relation to that the thread Perchta is drawing to herself is becoming ever shorter and the spindle is coming closer as a result. When he then smokes his cigar and observes Jane ‘avatar’ of Selene/his inner world, he actually attempts to convince himself that it is possible to demand happiness and deny his destiny. When he finally proposes to Jane he is at the point of no return, literally. Before he could still change his mind and face his spindle, but as he proposes he ties himself to Jane and makes a commitment he cannot make. In a sense Midsummer was his last chance to avoid a big disaster. In not taking it and going radically the other way he forces Perchta to consider taking measures and forcing him to face his spindle and prick himself. Indeed, the next day after the shopping spree, Jane feels the urge to write to her uncle John Eyre. It is that letter that has Mason know about Rochester’s bigamous marriage and allows him to hinder it. All through the month of courtship Jane feels uneasy as if something is not right. How right she will be!

    The night before the wedding is another notable occasion as another lunar eclipse occurs. But prior to that, Jane has Bertha come into her room. She shows herself in features that are suspiciously similar to Perchta and more to the point, she tears and tramples on Jane’s veil that had just arrived from London that day, together with a wedding dress bought by Rochester to adorn his bride. Frau Perchta was also known as Trempe/Stempe, or ‘the trampling one’, because she would tear open the bellies of people, take out the guts and trample on them, when they had eaten something else than fish at Christmas Eve (a tradition which is still widely complied with in Germany). Another story was told that Perchta came to punish people, destroying their work, when they spun on Christmas Eve/Midwinter, her feast day. Ironically, Rochester accuses himself by accusing Grace Poole of destroying the veil, if we take the confusion of Jane during the gipsy-scene literally. But it is Bertha/Perchta who ends up destroying the veil, and not Grace Poole. However, even then it has to do with Rochester. The cloth he bought for Jane because of his pride is destroyed by Perchta. Indeed, the destiny he chooses for himself (if we take the cloth/veil as a result of weaving and spinning) is now also the destiny of Jane, a destiny imposed on her. As it can be argued that Jane was sent by Perchta to help Rochester face his spindle then Jane can certainly not get engaged in any plans brought on by the avoidance of that spindle. Neither is it possible for him to refuse the veil of fairy Jane (his original destiny) in favour of one bought by him because it looks nicer (his chosen destiny). But the appearance of Bertha at that time is one of two when Rochester is absent. May we then suppose that, like the laugh in the beginning, Rochester, two days before his bigamous wedding is struggling again with his past? It is at least to be called coincidental that this happens again at a full moon and it is even more striking that Rochester arrives amidst a storm the next day; imagery that can be taken very literal when we suppose his heart in turmoil. Sitting on his black horse we can even see that he is (involuntarily) drawn to Perchta/Frau Holle and his spindle; that the thread is getting shorter and the spindle unavoidable; that he is again on a Wild Hunt.

    Yet, at the time Jane tells him of her ‘dream’, Rochester intimates that he will tell her why Grace Poole will stay at Thornfield when they are married for ‘a year and a day’. This might seem very insignificant, but In (neo-)pagan belief it marks a period of learning, observance and experience. Having Nature getting to know you and the other way round, after which one can put the things learnt in that year-and-a-day in practice. The year-and-a-day marks a full cycle; from Yule (Midwinter) to Yule, over the spring equinox, Midsummer, autumn equinox and Midwinter; It marks a period where the whole of the year and all aspects of it are experienced. Once we know this, the year-and-a-day of Jane marks the hope of Rochester that she will be accepted by Nature as his wife, as such by Perchta; that his chosen lot will be approved. I believe it is the desire of Rochester to influence his lot. Of course it will all prove futile, but even after the lunar eclipse he fails to acknowledge his need to face his spindle.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  3. #18
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    Sleeping Beauty in the Wood (2)

    After the lunar eclipse Jane saw earlier that night when gathering apples in the orchard, the storm has fallen and everything is serene… That the lunar eclipse falls just on the night before the wedding is to me a great indication that something is meant by it, certainly in combination with the first lunar eclipse. However this point we will address later.
    The next day the wedding will take place, also under the influence of the full moon. Here we see Richard Mason again who turns up with Briggs, after dying John Eyre learnt from Richard that this man Rochester was a fraud. The moment when Briggs steps forward is normal, yet surprising. When indeed, is it expected that someone will actually declare the existence of an impediment? Yet it is a very tense moment at a wedding. It is at the same time expected and not expected for someone to come forward. Expected because it is a moment designed for it in the service, but unexpected because no-one surely will marry bigamously and no-one wants to do it to himself to be humiliated in front of a whole congregation. On top of that, if one of the future spouses has doubts he/she has then time to think about it, whether coerced into a marriage, or not totally sure or something else, although one is expected to be sure when in front of the altar. Where Richard went to see Bertha the first time because ‘[he] thought [he] could do some good’ he now turns up in the church, yet he is not eager to speak. If we see Richard as the manifestation of Rochester’s soft heart, it is clear that during that moment of silence, he is having doubts about himself. During that brief moment he realises that he could have said no to a marriage with Bertha, that he blew it during that brief moment that also occurred 15 years before, that he should have reasoned with himself and not have married her because she was beautiful. Yet Richard is too afraid to speak, but eventually the truth comes out, not least urged by reason/the lawyer itself/himself. The examination of the graves in the churchyard by Richard and the lawyer can then be seen as the slow awareness that the phase Bertha is not past yet. Eventually, literally, the chapter Jane cannot be started without the closure of the chapter Bertha. However, even when it should be obvious, Rochester still refuses to accept his past, but he will be forced to do so.

    In the light of an emotional conflict and Richard as the heart of Rochester, maybe Adèle’s assertion when Mason arrives: ‘c’est monsieur Rochester qui revient’ (‘it is Mr Rochester who is coming back’), is not so far from the truth. In that sense it is very important to note that Richard, on both occasions, recalls Bertha/Perchta to existence.

    When Jane disappears the day after, Rochester tries to find her, but doesn’t succeed and consequently thinks she has died. It is at that moment that he closes himself off from the gentry, never comes out of the house but at night, sends the servants away but two, sends Adèle away and seems to realise what he has lost as he calls Jane’s name in the grounds every night and grows dangerous. I believe it is at that point that the curse becomes true and that he starts his transformation. However, the transformation of Rochester progresses in several stages:

    The first stage is, to me, his sense of self-reproach. A feeling he never had, I would think. He definitely didn’t feel it with Céline. In relation to Céline, we can presume he didn’t feel anything when he left Giacinta and Clara. If one takes a mistress who one has to support financially and who is a singer (notorious in those days), it is bound to go wrong in the long term. He certainly didn’t feel any self-reproach when Bertha proved inadequate as a wife and so proved to be a bad choice. Yet, when Jane has left, Rochester takes her pearl necklace and wears it as a memento… In the cases of Bertha and Céline he really replaced his grief with anger and projected that on them and failed to look at himself for an explanation. With Jane there was nothing left for him apart from reproaching himself, because Jane was ultimately innocent; both in her approach and conduct towards him. In the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, Rosamond strays through the palace looking in unknown rooms, ending with the room with the old woman. I think this is the first phase of Rochester: he literally strays through Europe, looking everywhere, and in the end faces the innocent young woman and the spindle.

    The second stage occurs when Bertha/Perchta burns down Thornfield at full moon. After rescuing his servants he locates Bertha/Perchta on the roof and, contrary to common sense, he gets onto the roof to rescue her from the flames. Just at the moment he stretches out his hand, she jumps from the roof and commits suicide. Indeed, he has faced her, accepted her to be worth rescuing, but will now have to face the pain: he will hurt (as if deliberately put into story) his hand so badly that it has to be amputated and will also loose his eyesight. He has now indeed hurt his hand, has fallen and figuratively fallen asleep like Rosamond. Contrary to Rosamond however, his hand is not merely hurt, but also spoilt. Like MeWeed said, the lessons become worse when not paid attention to. In that, Rochester is hurt worse than if he had submitted earlier.

    The third stage: when he then has fallen asleep he can start thinking about his life, which he does. Looking for the mistakes he made, he finally acknowledges that he was the one who was wrong and not Perchta who brought disaster on his road. He accepts his fate so to say and acknowledges his role in his suffering. When he has finally done that, Rosamond is ready to face her prince and Perchta calls Jane back.
    That night, when he prayed to God and called Jane, it forms the closing phase of his sleep. His transformation is now complete (for a religious person). He not only accepts his faults in the past, but also his humble nature as a human being, subjected to fate and part of the Universe in a stoic sense. It is then that Perchta pulls the cord of Jane and makes her return to Rochester, even when she doesn’t know if he lives, where he is and how his (marital) status is. She just feels a sense of need on his side and is summoned again by her Mother to attend to him, which she does without questioning. Here we see again, that Jane takes the moon and the urges that it brings on, very seriously, in contrast to Rochester before. This fourth phase takes place, notably also at full moon.

    When Jane returns, she describes Ferndean thus: ‘Even when within a very short distance of the manor-house, you could see nothing of it, so thick and dark grew the timber of the gloomy wood about it. Iron gates between granite pillars showed me where to enter, and passing through them, I found myself at once in the twilight of close-ranked trees. There was a grass-grown track descending the forest aisle between hoar and knotty shafts and under branched arches. I followed it, expecting soon to reach the dwelling; but it stretched on and on, it would far and farther: no sign of habitation or grounds was visible. I thought I had taken a wrong direction and lost my way. The darkness of natural as well as of sylvan dusk gathered over me. I looked round in search of another road. There was none: all was interwoven stem, columnar trunk, dense summer foliage—no opening anywhere. I proceeded: at last my way opened, the trees thinned a little; presently I beheld a railing, then the house—scarce, by this dim light, distinguishable from the trees; so dank and green were its decaying walls. Entering a portal, fastened only by a latch, I stood amidst a space of enclosed ground, from which the wood swept away in a semicircle. There were no flowers, no garden-beds; only a broad gravel-walk girdling a grass-plat, and this set in the heavy frame of the forest. The house presented two pointed gables in its front; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was narrow too, one step led up to it. The whole looked, as the host of the Rochester Arms had said, “quite a desolate spot.” It was as still as a church on a week-day: the pattering rain on the forest leaves was the only sound audible in its vicinage.’ Here Brontë seems to use not the Grimms’ version however, but rather the Perrault-version as he wrote: ‘Scarce had [the prince] advanced toward the wood when all the great trees, the bushes, and brambles gave way of themselves to let him pass through; he walked up to the castle which he saw at the end of a large avenue which he went into; and what a little surprised him was that he saw none of his people could follow him, because the trees closed again as soon as he had passed through them. However, he did not cease from continuing his way; a young and amorous prince is always valiant. … He came into a spacious outward court ... There reigned all over a most frightful silence; the image of death everywhere showed itself, and there was nothing to be seen but stretched-out bodies of men and animals, all seeming to be dead. He, however, very well knew, by the ruby faces and pimpled noses of the beefeaters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, wherein still remained some drops of wine, showed plainly that they fell asleep in their cups.’ Although, after that, Charlotte jumps back to the Grimms’ version when she mentions Pilot, and the fire. The Grimms write: ‘The hunting dogs jumped and wagged their tails,’ Charlotte writes about Pilot: ‘His old dog, Pilot, lay on one side, removed out of the way, and coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden upon. Pilot pricked up his ears when I came in: then he jumped up with a yelp and a whine, and bounded towards me: he almost knocked the tray from my hands,’ and ‘Pilot followed me, still excited.’ About the fire she says: ‘a neglected handful of fire burnt low in the grate’ and Jane pokes it up after she has returned. That phase in Jane Eyre has definitely got parallels with the two most well-known versions of Sleeping Beauty if we indeed consider Rochester as Rosamond rather than Jane.

    However there seems to be an echo from an older (Medieval) Italian version of the tale, Sun, Moon and Talia, Talia being one of the graces, which would put Jane back into her Charis-role. The echo I believe is present, consists of the following. In the tale Talia, a princess, is also cursed, and falls asleep because of a splinter on the spindle. She will only wake up when the splinter is taken from under her fingernail. While she is sleeping, there is a knight who accidentally turns up at the place where Talia is sleeping. Yet, instead of like in the other versions, waking her up with a kiss (which wouldn’t work anyway because of the curse), he rapes her. She stays asleep, and two children crawl out of her belly after 9 months. They suck their mothers breast for food, but one day one of the children by mistake sucks, instead of the nipple, Talia’s finger, thus removing the splinter from under her nail. Talia wakes up because of it. She calls the children Sun and Moon and loves them infinitely. On a certain day the knight returns and seeing that he has two children with Talia, takes her to his castle, but this is not to the liking of his wife. The wife orders Moon to be cooked and serves him to her husband for dinner, who naively eats his own child. The next day the same happens to Sun. Then, of course, Talia’s turn has come to be executed. Talia is passive under it as she wants to be with her children, and starts to undress herself, but just at that moment the knight walks in and asks for the meaning of the spectacle. The wife of course has to disclose what happened with the children and the knight orders her to be executed the way she planned to execute Talia. He also plans to execute his cook and his secretary who knew about it, but just at that moment the cook intimates that he substituted the meat of the children for other meat that was as tender, because he liked the children too much, and his wife walks in with the children. After that the knight marries Talia and they all live happily ever after. There seem to be parallels with this ancient, and slightly more violent and Medieval, version of Sleeping Beauty in Jane Eyre, but only in so far as Rochester happens to have to wives like the knight. Yet, in the Italian version, there is no judgment on the knight who rapes Talia. In Medieval times it was not so bad for a man to rape a woman, to strike her until she bled, to lock her up when he wanted if she was disobedient. There are numerous stories with things happening to women, we now see as barbaric, but which were then, no doubt, quite normal. However, we might find a parallel in the conduct of Talia and the conduct of Jane to their lot. Both of them take life as it comes and make the best of it. The splinter is again a symbol for the first teenage feeling of desire, but now the princess wakes up after having had two babies, which is natural as the marrying age was then much lower than even in the 19th century. Chances were indeed high that a girl already had children before she was really mature, not only bodily, but also mentally. Thus we can argue that Jane, in a sense, still had to mature when she met Rochester. Indeed, the image Rochester used before with the ‘muffled ears’ could be more appropriate than seemed there. Rochester there talks about a wave that carried him over that craggy place in the river. We could see that as indeed the transformation from pure desire to a calmer approach to it, a mature approach. Yet in both Jane and Rochester this wave hasn’t occurred. Rochester has maybe reached the craggy bit of the river but has certainly not been carried over it yet by that wave. Jane on the other hand has not really reached the craggy bit yet (although she can already see or hear it at that point), but she will definitely be carried by that wave in chapter XXV. Although ,she does cite Psalm 69, when ‘the floods [overflow] [her]’. At that moment, naturally, desperation is what she feels, and she will be broken up into atoms if she doesn’t deal with it. After her wave she is definitely calmer and stronger to deal with the situation than she was when she was in danger of sinking. Yet, Rochester is still stuck in the craggy bit of the river and will be slashed to atoms. Fortunately, he will finally see sense… If we were to see Jane as Talia, which her Charis-connection would suggest, then we would also consider Jane as asleep. It would not be too difficult then, to understand why she calls Rochester courting her ‘a dream’ that can never be true. If she is indeed sleeping she can only be dreaming. Yet, ironically, Rochester fails to see that he himself is also destined to fall asleep. In that he, again, denies his lot and even tries to defy it. When he says then, after the shopping trip to Millcote: ‘Do you suppose I eat like an ogre or a ghoul, that you dread being the companion of my repast,’ he involuntarily identifies himself with the rumors that were told about sleeping beauty in her castle in Perrault’s version: ‘The common opinion was that an ogre lived there, and that he carried thither all the little children he could catch, that he might eat them up at his leisure, without anybody being able to follow him, as having himself only the power to pass through the wood.’ If Rochester indeed does that, it is clear that his lot is inevitable… This is all natural as all mature people have to go through that transformation at some or other time, but I find it is more potent in Rochester than it is in Jane, as Jane has a more reasoning approach to life than Rochester. He is bound to come crashing down, which he will do literally, one day, whereas she can face anything because her reason will lead her through.

    It is not sure whether Charlotte read the Italian Medieval version of the tale so we can’t be sure she used it, yet there seem to be grounds for assuming that she did read it.

    There is a definite motif concerning Sleeping Beauty in Jane Eyre, but I do not think Jane should be considered as Rosamond. Also in a feminist context, to which is sometimes referred, it is not consistent as Rosamond is ‘a passive female’, like Bitterfly pointed out. The motif in my opinion should be sought in a context of transformation, in connection with the moon-motif and the deities connected with that. If we see Bertha as one important deity in the background, then we can also put the spindle in its place. The lunar eclipses foretell, as stated above, huge inward change, depending on the house they fall in. We do not know the house, but if we take the inward change seriously we can see parallels amongst the loss of Rochester’s mansion and the ‘all that is not worth a fillip’-assertion and his material=love-approach (evoked in Adèle, and in the shopping spree with Jane after the engagement) and the offering of his watch ‘[he has] no use for’. The changes in his life are dramatic to say the least and it is clear that Rochester goes through a much more radical change than Jane. Not physically, but mentally, like Rosamond. She stayed the same: beautiful and young during those hundred years of sleep, Rochester stays the same, only the expression on his face has changed: a result of his mental transformation. When he is conscious of his past and his role in it there is nothing for him anymore but grief, anger at himself for having thrown everything away. He finally accepts the faults he made, including Bertha, and his own unbalanced perception as the ground for it. The suicide of Bertha on the roof, then, is literally the conclusion of the chapter Bertha in his life and the feelings connected with it. Once he has accepted her as the manifestation of his past views and conduct, she is not needed anymore in his life and thus disappears physically. When Jane then returns to the magic castle she ends the curse and they grow happy ever after. As a true knight devotes himself to his lady, she devotes herself to him. Thus, it is the princess who rescues the prince, which has been argued before. In this sense, it is important to see the structural influence of Bertha, her relation with the moon and Jane’s connection with both the moon and its goddess. The fairy Jane is there to help Rochester, although he does not see the need for it. Thus, when he in his first appearance calls her ‘a fairy’, he puts himself (like Manfred) on the same level (‘[equal] as we are’), where he, at the end, is dependent on her; his soul depends on her. He also calls her a changeling twice: a fairy-born creature that was swapped with a human baby in order to become a servant to the fairies. The first time he calls her that is during their first weeks of courtship. It is rather a reproach than a compliment and certainly not a recognition of wanting or needing help. It is rather embedded in the folkloric belief of ‘difference’ and parasitical changelings. The second time Rochester calls Jane a changeling is when she has returned; when ‘[she] make[s] [him] feel as [he] ha[sn’t] felt those twelve months’. There he does see her as doing him good.

    It is important to note that the moon-motif occurs very sparingly in the Lowood-section, but not at all in the St John-section, apart from at the end when Rochester is praying. That feeds the theory that the moon is more important towards the emotional states of mind than towards the mere occurrence of diseases (or madness) in general.

    Although it is only known that Charlotte read Charles Perrault’s version, I believe she also read the Grimms’ and possibly Basile’s Medieval version.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

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  4. #19
    ksotikoula ksotikoula's Avatar
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    eliza's and georgianna's vocation meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by mona amon View Post
    Umm...I too was a bit surprised at Eliza Reed's vocation. The adult Georgiana was entirely predictable.
    I believe Charlotte Bronte gave that turn out of these two girls only to present the two options women in general seemed to have in her era. Namely to become a nun or a chasing-husband-for-money kind of woman. Both of them scared her terribly: the first was unsatisfactory and the second demeaning to her heroine. A reviewer claimed that it is after this that Jane comes to appreciate Rochester better because she didn't had to become either of them to suit him whom "naturally and inevitably loves".
    For me Eliza's more believable turn out would be to make a fine business-woman out of her, but trade would be demeaning for her class. Traders were the upstarts of society. Eliza becomes a nun to fill her sexless life. She doesn't have any consideration about Georgiana nor I believe she is afraid of getting hurt as kiki says. She is not a whit a sentimental kind of girl.

    Charlotte hadn't read pride and prejudice. It was Lewes who suggested it and they started writing to each other after a favorable review of his about Jane Eyre. I have seen her later to him and they were dated after JE. So the names are pure coincidence although Jane and Eliza especially were very common anyway.
    Last edited by ksotikoula; 02-15-2009 at 06:49 AM.

  5. #20
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I wasn't sure about Austen myself.

    Can you tell me when abouts WS Williams and Brontë started writing?
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  6. #21
    ksotikoula ksotikoula's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    Can you tell me when abouts WS Williams and Brontë started writing?
    I know that he was the one who read "the professor"and encouraged her to write something more interesting in three volumes. Their letters must have been business-like in the beginning when Charlotte didn't want her publishers to know she was a woman. They must have talked over the reviews about Jane Eyre and later when her identity became known to them (as she had to appear to them with Anne to prove that they were 2 different writers and Charlotte didn't break her contract to give Newby her new book as he had presented Anne's work) they started a friendly correspondence and he gave her books and she met also his family and gave him advise about his daughters future. So they started writing to each other really on 1846.

  7. #22
    liber vermicula Bitterfly's Avatar
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    Kiki, I'm as usual very impressed by everything you say, and cannot even really comment upon it, as there are TOO MANY ideas in it! I think I will have to read it yet again, but your identification between Rochester and Sleeping Beauty is pretty convincing, and it fits with the role-reversal idea that is found in most of the crisis scenes. What I also likes is that it "explains" Rochester's long disapperance from the novel...

    You speak a lot about transformations, and I would be interested in knowing what you think about the numerous bodily transformations that are evoked: when B. tells Jane that her heart of stone has to be turned back into a real heart; when Rochester compares himself to an india-rubber ball, or even when St John is made into a statue - in a weird anti-Galatea sort of way. This is something I've only picked out and not had much time to think about, but I'd love to discuss it.


    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post

    It is important to note that the moon-motif occurs very sparingly in the Lowood-section, but not at all in the St John-section, apart from at the end when Rochester is praying. That feeds the theory that the moon is more important towards the emotional states of mind than towards the mere occurrence of diseases (or madness) in general.
    Actually the moon does appear in the last section, when Jane makes her before-last stand against St John - he's in the garden, watching the rising moon, when she approaches him to attempt reconciliation. What I think it highlights is St John's mistaken apprehension of himself: he thinks and says he is a creature of reason (vs Jane, full of passion). But he is in fact potentially as passionate as Jane: you see this in the passages with Rosamund, where he is like her associated with fire (as well as in the last page, where he becomes the setting sun), and you also see it when he speaks of his first vocation, which was to become an artist, a writer or a orator. His religious zeal is not born of reason, as he would like to believe, but of an irrationality which is far greater than Jane's. If he is almost constantly related to cold, ice and light, it is because he quenches his emotions as much as he can, and carries this endeavour to an extreme. So even if he ends up turning his back on the moon, I would say it is too late for him: he is definitely irrational. Unlike Jane, who manages to find a juste milieu.

    I also have a last query (for now) about names... I have yet to find a convincing explanation for the extraordinary number of Johns (from John Reed to Jane to Jane Reed to St John to John the servant, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some) and Marys (Maria Temple, Mary Rivers, Mary the servant..). I have a few interpretations for some of the repetitions (lots of doubles, including St John/Jane, John/St John etc; structural repetitions, ie the families with two daughters and a son). But I'm really blocking on why Mrs Reed is also called Jane (and for that matter, why Rochester has to tell jane she's a reed). I'm puzzled!!!

  8. #23
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Yes... Sleeping Beauty proved more of a challenge than at first sight... The thread kept on going...

    What you say about St John: You have a point.
    I just found it striking that the moon only occured towards the end (when Rochester in Ferndean) is praying, no doubt...
    It could also have to do with Jane herself: when St John asks her for a marriage (of convenience), she comes to the conclusion that there is no man apart from Rochester, who will truly love her and she considers a marriage of convenience but eventually has to face the fact that Rochester is not at all 'in the far distance' for her (not as she wished, I think). Maybe a little as Rochester is not over Céline. He sends Adèle to school when he has lost Jane and I think realised that he did not love Céline truly. Before, I believe, he kept Adèle because she looked like Céline and reminded him of her.
    Jane, at the point of the full moon with St John, I believe Jane is struggling with the thought of passion and love for a man who is married, to whom she cannot return, and on the other side St John who would be a reasonable alternative (she would not even have to disappoint him in his love as he does not love her anyway, they would be 'united' in their goal rather than in their love). She might be insecure about her way of thinking. In a sense, questioning herself: 'Am I reasonable to ask for and prefer a marriage out of love, rather than a marriage based on a common goal and reason?' 'Am I not selfish?' Something like that. She later gets reassured by Diana who finds it folly anyway to go to India and who does not approve of a marriage to St John if it does not keep him in England and finds it 'insupportable' to enter into a marriage with someone who only 'regards one as a useful tool'.
    In a way the moon during the proposal of St John could be considered as Jane's Mother who is watching and making sure she does not consent, because if she does everything is lost...
    Coming back to St John as 'irrational' character who pursues his road to priesthood and missionaryhood: maybe he needs to choose as such between his passion for his profession (which proves greater than his passion for love and Rosamond) and 'worldly' passion or passion 'of the flesh'. With the Catholics it is clear that a priest cannot have both, in a stoic sense: he is above all passions (in the meaning of negative feelings), but even in the respect of 'a relationship' he cannot be preoccupied with 'lust' so to say. Although that is debatable of course. St John, though, was a protestant, but a Calvinist or puritanical minister. So he should only have intercourse when he wants to have children and thus Jane would indeed become 'a useful tool'. But other than that, also as a Calvinist, and like the Buddhists and Hindoos the nirvana can only be reached through being above earthly passions. In that, the only 'passion' he can have is passion for God and missionary work (and indeed he wants to 'mate' it, as Jane says), his 'passion' for Rosamond is beneath himself, because it is not an ideal. That is probably why he is happy in India, in spite of all diseases, hardships and loneliness. And it is also a way of explaining why he does not address the marriage of Jane: if it is an inferior feeling to him who Loves God, then it is unimportant, not worth mentioning.
    The fact then that he turns from the moon is maybe an indication that he indeed has difficulty coping with it, but if he uses the energy it provides properly, he'll get over it as is suggested at the end of Jane Eyre. On the other hand he is just a man, so I suppose that at the moment he is proposing to Jane he is still having trouble with Rosamond and maybe even with the notion of being in love. That in itself could be a shock to him which he does not want to accept.

    I don't know what you think about it?

    ll look into the rest...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  9. #24
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    The Four Elements and the Fifth, names and their meaning in [I]Jane Eyre[/I]

    I had been looking into names before and noticed there was something going on about elements, but it was impossible to put one’s finger on the actual logic behind it. Why are there such a lot of Marys and Johns in the novel? In search of the answer, Elizabeth Imlay’s study about Freemasonry, the Platonic philosophy and its influence on Jane Eyre made a lot of sense. It revealed the novel as a quest for harmony. I decided to go further with it and use Imlay’s identification of the four sections prior to Ferndean as the base for the explanation of the names in the novel.

    Plato did not only identify the world as a coming together of four elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire; and not only did Aristotle see a fifth: Ether/Quintessence or the ideal incorruptible balance of the former four of which the heavens were made; both saw the whole world as we see it as existing out of four levels: God, Ideas, World Soul and Matter. The level known as God is the unchangeable, the constant, the vast etc. The level known as Ideas, are the thoughts in God’s mind, detached from and unconcerned with the reference of space and time; they are as constant as the being who thinks them. Platonic Truth is ideal Truth, the Idea Truth in God’s mind, which is bigger than the truth in a person’s mind that is defined in space and time. Truth is constant, as the being that thinks it (God). The World Soul is the Ideas or thoughts of God, but identified in space and time. Human souls are part of that World Soul and consequently our thinking is primarily based on the reference of space and time, although a higher level can be reached as illustrated later. Matter is the physical world as we see it. Connected with those four levels of the Universe, Greek philosophy identified four levels of the same kind in man. Naturally, as man is part of that Universe. The equivalent of God in man was the divine spirit, which was of course not God, because that would be impossible, but a part of it, or a level that would give access to God in the Universe. Ideas become the mind where the thoughts of the divine spirit are held, but not identified in our space and time yet. The equivalent of the World Soul is our soul proper. The Matter is then our body as we see it. Philosophers not only believed in the four levels in both the Universe and man, but also that all levels were connected through a mediator.

    They saw three types of beings: the gods, the demons and the humans. The gods were immortal and not affected by emotion. Demons were not bad beings as we see them now but were beings that were immortal like the gods, but also affected by emotion. They could be good or bad depending on their emotions. In a more western context they could be seen as fairies or bad spirits alike, or trolls, depending on the country where the concept is looked at. Humans were mortal and affected by emotion. Demons were the mediator between the gods and the humans, they could be used as messengers by both classes of beings: by the gods to tell man something, or by man to ask the gods for something. The same principle of mediation was believed to be present in the four general levels of the world. One can naturally only know God, if one knows the thoughts in His mind or the Ideas, the ideal forms of the things present in the World Soul (Ideas defined in time and space). Out of this follows inevitably that the soul of man can only know its divine spirit if he understands the mind first. Thus I believe that Imlay was not only right in stating that the four Greek elements had great value in Jane Eyre, that each part has a main theme, but I would even add that, in connection with the Bildungsroman-nature of the novel, there is a certain ‘collecting’ going on in the sense that the main themes which Imlay addresses in the several parts of Jane Eyre address the four levels of Jane’s person: divine spirit, mind, soul proper and body together with predomination of one element. Which is not to say that other elements are totally absent.

    Imlay identified Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield and Morton each with one element. Gateshead she associated with Earth, Lowood with Air, Thornfield with Fire and Morton with Water. Greek philosophy identified also four levels in man: as all was created by the Divine, all must be both part of it and affected by it (Rousseau would continue this model, but on a dual basis). So necessarily the parts Imlay identified as Earth, Air, Fire and Water, are also relative to the four parts of man: body, divine spirit, soul proper and mind. Imlay addressed all elements in each section, but noted a predominance. My interest does not go to the four in each section, but more to the nature of Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman, and the existence of each element in each section, so to the predominance noted by Imlay.

    In chapters I to IV Gateshead is addressed. Imlay identified Gateshead with Earth. The equivalent of that in man would be the body. Of any spiritual needs there can be no real talk, as also Rousseau was of the opinion that religion and it concepts were not to be taught to children before the age of about 15 because they could not understand abstract concepts like heaven and hell. This is also clear when Jane tells Mr Brocklehurst that she must keep breathing in order not to go to hell. It is a shocking answer for the reverend, but a clever and logical one for Jane. It is obvious that she, in this section of Jane Eyre, grows bodily, not really spiritually or that, by the time the reader gets to know her on that frosty afternoon Jane has grown bodily since she was adopted by her uncle. Does this element reoccur then when Jane is at Thornfield and has to return to Gateshead for the death of her aunt? A struggle between passion and morals, the body and the soul, has often been quoted and there it would seem that Jane tries to find some rest for her body while her soul is still wondering, but we will address the point when we come to it.

    When Jane enters Lowood, she enters a new section which Imlay identified with Air. What is Air? Air, in the Tarot, Is identified with intellectual ability: to think, to logically weigh; it is identified with thought/intellectual power. It expresses something altogether more spiritual than Earth which is physical, something we can see, something we can pick up and feel. Air is not so easy to see, one cannot pick it up, one cannot feel it, but one will certainly notice when it is not there. Breathing would become impossible. In that it is vital. Just before the death of Helen Burns, in chapter IX near the end of the Lowood section, Jane says: ‘How sad to be lying now on a sick bed, and to be in danger of dying! This world is pleasant—it would be dreary to be called from it, and to have to go who knows where?”And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and for the first time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed gulf: it felt the one point where it stood—the present; all the rest was formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of tottering, and plunging amid that chaos.’ ‘And then [Jane’s] mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell…’ It is her very first experience with something deeper than her body, her first experience with Air. Indeed, in the chapters before that Jane has grown into a more accessible type of mind, she has had the company of Helen Burns (who has more to do with Water than Fire, in contradiction to what is often stated) as wise counsel and for the first time Jane feels that there is something more to reality than she can see, feel and pick up. This when she strays through the garden, something she will also do at Thornfield and something they often did at Gateshead. And there is another hint towards the impending presence of the Divine in Jane’s life: she writes about conversing with a girl called Mary Ann Wilson. The name Mary not only sounds familiar as the name of the mother of Jesus, but the name Ann, which the girl also carries, refers to either of two things. Either Ann was the name of the mother of Mary (so Jesus’ grandmother) or she is referred to as the prophetess who recognised in Jesus the Messiah. Either of the two are certainly connected with Air and Helen who is widely seen as a Christ-figure, not least for her dying scene in itself. But even her name Helen Burns has a connotation. It is sometimes referred to as going together with fire (the verb ‘burn’), but I would not agree with that. The name Helen does mean ‘torch’, but also means ‘corposant’, a term for a ‘corona’ as there is one round the sun. Now that does not imply fire as such, nor so the element Fire. The corona is ionisation in the atmosphere and produces a glow much like the glow around statues of saints. The corona around the sun Is the reflection of light on the gasses around it, as the glow around saint-statues is the reflection of their connection with the Divine. I believe that Helen has not so much to do with the element Fire as she has to do with the element Air. It is also believed that the name Helen would have to do with a derivation of Selene, the goddess of the moon. The moon, in mythology, is totally the opposite of the sun and thus Helen’s name itself does not comply with the sun, but rather with the element Water, which the moon as the inner world of emotion is symbolised by. But what with ‘Burns’? It could be that Brontë named her character after the very poet she had Rochester quote in chapter XXIV: ‘Yes, bonny wee thing, I’ll wear you in my bosom, lest my jewel I should tyne.’ It alludes to a song of the Scottish poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, one of the greatest Scottish poets of all time. The Brontës knew his work very well (Oxford Companion), but would they have known that he was from Ayrshire, a county in the Southern Uplands of Scotland? The name Ayr, which pronounces the same incidentally as Eyre, refers to both a city and a river. Via that detour, Helen Burns is maybe more connected in her surname with the element Water than with the element Fire. An additional comment in this sense can be made by the meaning of the name ‘Burns’, which would refer to a brook/wet ground in Old English. From all sides there is no reference to Fire, only to the reflection of light, which can be interpreted in different ways, one of which according to Greek philosophy is the light of virtue by which one can see (platonic) Beauty, which is an Idea (thought of God’s mind). So essentially we would be able to argue that the name Helen Burns refers to the light of virtue that gives Jane the possibility to get to know the Idea Beauty and to rise above her own soul proper for the first time, as implied by her stray in the garden. Another interpretation could be considered by bearing in mind the meaning of Helen as ‘torch’. Thus Helen Burns could be seen as an amalgamation of Fire and Water which results in Air. The fact that she dies could mean that Jane at that point is not yet ready to access her soul or mind, which is in accordance with the rest of the novel. That in itself means that Jane indeed makes an effort to understand heaven and hell, but that she does not succeed yet.

    Maria Temple, the headmistress of Lowood, also carries a reference. Not only as another version of the mother Mary (a mother role she fulfils nicely in her concern about Jane’s reputation and Helen’s health), but also within her surname she refers to the great chivalrous order of the Temple, an order of knights that took an oath of chastity and poverty, and laid down their lives to save Jerusalem/the Holy Land from the infidels. Of course a lot of misuses went on in that order and knights were not so chaste as they should have been, nor so poor as they should have been. But the main thing about the order was their (divine) work. Even if Maria’s name is interpreted in a different way, the literal Temple, it would refer to the holy place of the Jews which would fit Helen with her Christ-nature very well. Either way Miss Temple’s name, again, refers to the Divine or the element Air. In addition to her, also Madame Pierrot seems to carry a reference. Although Imlay saw a play on words with Perrault, the writer of Contes du Temps Passé which Brontë certainly referred to when she alluded to Bluebeard, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, it is also worth to notice that a ‘pierrot’ (beside a character of comedy) is also a nickname for the very common house sparrow or as it is called in French ‘le moineau domestique’ (domesticated monk, due to his little tonsure on his head). With a reference to a bird we can see a link with Air again.

    It can furthermore not be coincidental that just when there is a great disaster going on in the school, Jane spends a lot of time in the wood. We have already explored the chivalrous theme, although not totally. One of the main themes in knights’ tales is the wood of the quest. The wood of the quest is usually a scary one, a labyrinth where the knight can’t find the way and needs to trust God to lead him to help or show him the way out. He will leave the wood behind as a better knight. In that sense it is not strange that after Jane has spent such a long time in the wood, she will finally sense something in the garden of her school that is more than Earth. Although the wood near Fearndean feels in its description more like the magic wood, the forest at Lowood does have the same function and results in also a reasonably positive outcome. The link with the concept ‘wood’ is also emphasised by the name Brocklehurst. Already in the Earth-section Mr Borcklehurst appears, announcing the ‘wood’ by the last piece of his name ‘hurst’. The first piece of his name ‘brock’ could be a reference towards ‘multicoloured’, ‘malodorous’ or even towards his looks (‘badger’) and following out of that his nature as a low kind of man. The name Brock also seems to be related to a brook, which is a wet place (again). Either way, his name evokes the quest of Jane to Ideas, through which she can get to know her divine spirit or the element Air. It is the same image as the picture of Jane and Mary Ann on the stone in the river evokes: Jane can only get on top of the stone by wading through the water. And that is exactly what she needs to do to get to Air: get through Water first to rise above Earth. Fire in this case is a little problematic, but not if we consider that the weather is hot enough for the girls to be outside and that it is the month of June, a month traditionally identified as part of the three Summer-months. Summer is identified in paganism with the element Fire.

    Then the transition to Thornfield takes place, the transition to the section Imlay identified with Fire. Fire stands for energy, creativity and entrepreneurship in the Tarot. In general it is identified with passion. There is certainly a lot of passion going on in that section, but the element Fire is not equal to sensual passion in Greek philosophy. Like in the Tarot, it stands for assertiveness, boldness and energy. In that, the fires and the crimson living room can maybe be associated with sensual love, but could also be linked to Rochester’s sheer energy and to the omnipresent element Air/Divine which is an amalgamation of Fire and Water. This is certainly true for the blood-coloured crimson: blood in medieval medicine, which came straight out of the Ancient Greek traditions, was considered wet and hot (hence the link with Water and Fire), and also a coming together of the male (heat/Fire) and female (moisture/Water). Yet this of course is not noticed by Rochester and Jane even writes that Rochester eclipses anything else; that she made him an idol. The sheer energy of the place prevents anything else in existence of gaining importance. Even Jane herself, who is referred to by Adèle as literally ‘Air’ is not considered. With all the consequences we know. Here we might find a first clue as to all the Marys and Johns in the novel: John is in the background. He is very important in bringing Jane to Thornfield, then must be still around, but is no longer mentioned. As should be his wife Mary, who is reported to be, together with her husband John, the only one who was allowed to care for Rochester when he turned blind. John has worked there for at least about 30 years as is intimated in the last chapter of Jane Eyre, but is only of importance in the first section to bring Jane to the castle of the Beast as it would seem. Would it be a coincidence that his name, as does Jane’s name, means ‘God is gracious’? As the sun is eclipsed by the moon sometimes, Brontë draws a parallel by having Jane state that ‘[Rochester] stood between [her] and every thought of religion’, but would then indeed the servant not be eclipsed by his master? Would then the meaning of John not be fought off by the meaning of Edward? It would seem so. We will come to that later, though. It is remarkable that John says more and is of much more importance in the last chapters, as is his wife. Indeed, then he is the only help Rochester has in his state of utter helplessness. During the transition to Thornfield (or the coach-ride from the Rochester Arms) the same John roams around in the dark and says absolutely nothing or very little. There is a striking difference with his name-mate in the section of Gateshead, or the Earth-section. There John is an inflated problem-child. As negative is the mother, Jane Reed, whose name also means ‘God is gracious’, but which neither of the two seem to notice. Would that have anything to do with the material worship of God, without higher intention or real belief? Like Elizabeth displays no real religious desire to go to the convent later, old Jane Reed and John Jr do not seem to live up to the notion of their name. Only old John Reed, who has sadly died, seemed to be compassionate and Christian in his approach to family, something that his wife clearly did not get the meaning of. Sadly, indeed, he has died. Would that be an indication for the whole family? It would seem the case considering that the book starts with a frosty afternoon; frost, cold and snow being both present in Jane Eyre and Dante’s hell. Also Georgiana’s canary bird in its cage doesn’t provide a favourable image, in opposition to the lark among nature which Rochester compares Jane to on the morning after her arrival and the various birds heard in Thornfield’s Eden grounds.

    Not only the names John and Mary provide clues as to what is the matter in Thornfield. Particularly Bertha is important. Here again the theme of light comes back. This time not in Helen, because she died (but did it not say on her gravestone ‘Resurgam’, ‘I will arise again’?) but in Bertha. Her name, in old Germanic, means also ‘shining one’, similar to Helen’s name, and she continuously carries a candle. That cannot be coincidence. Here the light, again, has to show Rochester Beauty with a capital B and not beauty with a small b, but it seems that virtue has not found its way and consequently Beauty cannot be found. However, for Jane there is hope. As she says: ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer’. As such it depends on the virtue of the gazer whether he can see true Beauty. The light Bertha repeatedly tries to bring within Rochester’s reach is thrown away by him. Also the ‘blending of snow and fire’ in the his boudoir does not mean the making of Air: snow needs to melt in order to become Water and can then only be converted to Air when Fire proceeds. When Richard gets bitten we could see a last attempt at trying to make him face Air/Divine by all the blood, but it does not signify: he manages to run away and leave Jane to do the honours. More and more Jane also becomes dazzled by Rochester and her feelings for him, hence the comparison with the eclipse. There is a difference between passion and Love with a capital L and Jane and Rochester can only find passion. Passion is something that results from the soul proper that works on the body. As such Jane cannot access her divine spirit and so is cut off from the element Air. Fire, in this case consumes Air and there is no Water (Platonic Ideas/the mind) to quench it.
    During the chapters in Thornfield predominated by Fire, Jane returns to Gateshead associated with Earth. It is notably Robert Leaven, the coachman, who comes to get her. His surname predicts a rise. Jane will indeed gain Eyre/Air when the letter of her uncle is given to her. But unfortunately, like Georgiana’s bird In its cage, she will not make use of it to the full. In a sense, Jane is freer in Gateshead than she is in Thornfield. The Fiery influence of Thornfield and Rochester is not there and she can breathe again, although she still is attracted to it, like Icarus to the sun. Inevitably she will fall and her wings will fall off; an image that Rochester himself uses during his proposal: ‘Jane, be still; don’t struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.’ (ch XXIII). Indeed, she will fly to the sun, but the sun her idol, not the real sun. That sun, moreover, consumes all Air in order to be able to burn. But that of course will stop when the end has come.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  10. #25
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    The Four Elements and the Fifth, names and their meaning in Jane Eyre (2)

    When the transition to the Morton-section follows, Jane on the moors trusts again and only in Earth and Air. But here she will find something higher than she found in Thornfield. As the name of the three siblings indicates, she will not find Fire, but something to quench it: Water. If Fire in Thornfield was associated with the soul proper in Jane and the World Soul in general, then Water makes up the last of the four elements: Ideas or the mind, where all constant Ideal forms dwell. In Greek philosophy it is the place where the thoughts of the Divine are, the thoughts of the constant being. that can only be constant themselves. When they are defined in time and space they descend to the level of the World Soul or soul proper and are no longer written with a capital, but with a small letter. So in other words, Jane in the Morton-section will find those Ideas, or will gain access to her mind and will finally see everything, not in a particular time and space, but in its constant version. Jane discovers that she feels more for Rochester than love with a small letter. If it was only ‘love’, then it was defined in time and space: Rochester is there, Jane is there, and ‘love’ occurs, so love would be able to occur for St John. But it is Love she is looking for: the constant version, the thought of the constant being that only has one form. There is only one Husband who is worthy of the name and she realises that when St John proposes.

    While Rochester is wondering, Jane is wondering. Bitterfly addressed the peculiarity that there are two sets of three cousins: John, Elizabeth and Georgiana and St John, Diana and Mary. It is indeed peculiar. John, I already have addressed, means ‘God/Yahweh is gracious’. As does St John, although he also refers to the St Johns in the bible: the apostle, the Baptist and the writers of the gospel and Revelation (who might be the same, but might not). Elizabeth would mean something like ‘my God is an oath’ or even ‘my God is abundance’, but she is also notable as the mother of John the Baptist. It is ironic that Elizabeth, later, will live up to her ‘oath’ and become a nun, although it is doubtful as to why. Georgiana is a female version of the name George and refers to a farmer/earth worker. Something indeed to do with the element of Gateshead. Their surname can have two meanings, both of which are appropriate. The first theory is that the name would result from a version of ‘red’, a word which was pronounced differently in former days. So the Red Room and the blood cannot be coincidence. The presence of the Red Room and Jane’s blood together with their surname suggest indeed the omnipresence of Air/the Divine, which they totally neglect, symbolised in the neglect of the Red Room, which is only used for guests, and the neglect of Jane’s bleeding. Sad really because John Reed the elder did live up to it as said before, hence the red decoration of his bedroom. The second meaning of the name Reed refers to a clearing in a wood which relates it to Earth.
    The second set of cousins consists out of St John, Diana and Mary. St John I have already addressed. Diana refers straight to the Divine or the heavenly through the Greek root ‘dyeus’. Mary is a name which occurs again and which is notable here as well as it has now a more important role of sister, and no longer servant. It is also worth noting that the servant Hannah stands in connexion with the old servant Samuel of Thornield. Hannah was the mother of the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament. Hannah’s name means ‘God has blessed me (with a son)’. As she was barren she prayed to God, who gave her a son, Samuel. In Morton she also takes up a little mother-role to Jane, though not very long. It cannot be coincidence that it is the old servant Sam(uel) who lets Jane into the library to go to the gypsy in Thornfield. His name means ‘name of God’ or ‘God has heard’, which would also link that passage to the omnipresence of Air, although the light of virtue is no longer available (the candle that stands extinguished on the table) and Fire lights up the features of the gypsy. More important though is the cousins’ family name of Rivers, which puts the whole of the Morton-section together with the Water-theme, a theme also present in ‘Morton’ itself. But it is even more peculiar when St John admits to his initial E, which stands for Eyre. The name Eyre In itself is connected with Air, not only through its pronunciation, but also through its meaning of ‘medieval judge of a travelling court’, which uses thought/Air for its source of decision-taking. In essence, St John, more or less at the end when Jane gets her inheritance of her uncle John Eyre (who has more or less the same name as St John), unites Water and Air. With the last element gained, Jane can get free access to the Constant/Divine or her divine spirit through her mind/Ideas and can place the manifestations of those Ideas in context. She can see and understand the passion she felt for Rochester in the context of Love with a capital. But she can also see that a Marriage with a capital m is not one with St John, as it is no unison of souls. This also applies to St John, who through Rosamond Oliver rejects abundance, happiness and peace. Her last name Oliver actually means ‘elf army’, but through a faulty association with ‘olive’ the spelling of it was altered. I think it is rather the faulty association with ‘olive’ which Brontë took to heart as we can certainly see that St John in fact rejects a life of happiness, abundance and peace with himself, in favour of a an existence of total servitude in India. Becoming a missionary meant certain death, misery, disease and loneliness. There was very little financial gain involved and coming back would not have been his own choice. Such an existence provided one with celebrity and respect, but many did not return. Such an existence is what Jane could have chosen as well, but she does not. In that sense, in rejecting Rosamond, St John rejects the olive branch embedded in her name, but Jane takes it not understanding what is the matter with St John. In that, she foreshadows the end: the return to Rochester and a life of abundance, happiness and peace with herself.

    About 100 miles away Rochester is praying, and has been searching also for the Constant/Divine. He could not see it before either, like Jane, because his soul proper, through the lack of light (virtue), could not access the mind/Ideas which are the mediator between the soul proper/World Soul and the Constant/Divine/divine spirit. His body/Matter could undergo the effects of his soul (proper) in true Rousseau-style, but he could go no further, he could not see further than the here-and-now, no further than the manifestations of the constant Ideas in his mind. Like Jane says the sun was eclipsed for her, but for Rochester as well. As the moon-motif suggests: he closed off his true inner world, the world of the divine and the constant in favour of the contextual version of it: his soul proper and his body. There was a barrier between Matter/World Soul and Ideas/God.

    But, when Bertha in Thornfield attempts to create a massive bundle of light in order for Rochester to see Beauty, he gains virtue, though not out of free will. Ironically he will be compelled to gain it, because there is no other way. Being blind, he cannot socialise, he needs to be chaste, he needs to be helped and it is notably Mary and old servant John, who were so much in the background before, who now take the foreground in caring for their master. Maybe for a proud master, but nonetheless, they are the only ones that are his lifeline, a silken thread he needs to hang on to. At the moment Rochester is trying to get out of his body and to get on a higher level than his soul proper, he goes beyond the here-and-now because in the here-and-now Jane is dead (or so he believes it to be the case). Despite that situation he still longs for her ‘in soul and flesh’. That suggests he feels no longer only passion, because sensuality limits itself to pleasures of the body. He longs with his soul for Jane, which suggests deeper needs. He turns to Air, that is the source of all else, to return to Jane. When that happens, the World Soul, the source of all souls proper brings the two together, or is it the World Soul who triggers both souls proper and both bodies to be affected? Either way, Jane feels an urge, the thought of the Divine defined in space and time, and sets out to Thornfield the next day.

    Thornfield, of course is no longer and was destroyed by Fire, the very element it had mainly within itself, also the main element Rochester lived according to. It is no more than Matter, or Earth, as Rochester’s situation now suggests. Rochester is not only a town and diocese, but it also bears the part ‘chester’, which refers to a ‘fortress’ and the root ‘roch’, which refers to the fortress standing on a rock. Thornfield with its thorn trees refers to the bible (as the Tree of Life), and also to Freemasonry. A link which Imlay also identified as Brontë’s brother Branwell was a freemason. It evokes the endurance of the soul and eternal life, or rebirth. Rochester, or the fortress firmly built on the rock, will indeed not perish in the fire, but will be replanted into a valley of ferns, or Ferndean. A fern being a plant that carried a mystery in itself. Not until 1849 the manner of reproduction would be identified. Before that, and necessarily in Brontë’s time, it carried propensities for invisibility and could carry the person invisible to a hidden treasure where Will o’ the wisps mark the place. With Rochester defining himself as a Will o’ the wisp (after he left Bertha) in an earlier stage, might we suppose that the place of hidden treasure is the place he reached by himself on the moonlit night when he met Jane somewhere in the Air? Rochester not only calls himself a Will o’ the wisp, he also compares himself to an India rubber ball, ‘pervious, though, through a chink or two still, and with one sentient point in the middle of the lump’ (ch XIV). It is an interesting image in connection with Water and his mind, as one of the first usages for rubber was water-resistance (the Mackintosh). It cannot be coincidence that Brontë used this metaphor as she later implied Rochester to eclipse anything else apart from himself for Jane in Thornfield. There is indeed a barrier between his soul proper and his mind, a barrier which is waterproof, which does not allow him to realise the vast and constant Ideas that lie behind the here-and-now, symbolised in Water. However, there is still hope for him. Because there are ‘two chinks’ and ‘a sentient point in the middle’ that make the rubber vulnerable. Certainly in the light of the emotional conflict in connection with the moon-motif it is interesting to note that the meaning of the name Richard is ‘brave rule’ and Edward ‘guard of wealth’. It is a guarding, though, that defends and in that Rochester plays his role very well. Rochester states at a certain point that he is afraid of Richard. If Richard is indeed the ‘sentient point in the middle’ of his rubber ball, and it is fighting back, then Rochester has to defend his fortress as it then is. A battle he will loose, a wall that will collapse, stones that are being chiselled away by Mason. The role of the latter in this is quite obvious. Indeed Rochester will be penetrated, not least when he is planted in a valley of ferns, necessarily a wet spot. But before that, he goes to any lengths to defend his prosperity and indeed makes himself ‘as tough as an India-rubber ball’, although he will have to admit that he is only a man of flesh: prone to emotions and death according to Greek philosophy and not immortal and emotionless like the gods which the India rubber ball touches upon by its water-proof and elastic nature.

    Ferndean is of a totally different nature and reaches an Ideal balance in all. The battle between spirit and body, passion and morals, which is often cited relative to the novel, has been fought and both have reached an equilibrium. This balance of all elements Aristotle called ‘ether’, a fifth element made up out of all four in ideal proportions and of which the heavens were considered to be made of. It is striking that Rochester rings for candles and water. Not wine, like he used to drink before, candles despite the fact he is blind and does not benefit from the light, but only sees ‘a luminous cloud’. But the bringing in of Fire and Water means more than the mere mundane sight. As for Jane, both together mean that the Water can quench the Fire, that the mind can see the passion in context, that Ideas could tone down the manifestation of them in Nature, that the two together can make Air, or give access to the Divine. Jane can now balance the two, and shows Rochester how to do so. In a certain sense the ‘apple of his eye’ might indeed refer to Knowledge with a capital k. By worshipping Jane, Rochester fell (ate from the apple) and gained Knowledge, but a Knowledge which is infinite, puts one’s own (small) existence into perspective and gives access to eternity. A Knowledge as in Byron’s Cain.

    There are still lots of references to names or homonyms of them in the novel. This paper attempts to put possible interpretations of them forward. The fact that Jane is linked in both her first name and surname with Air only contributes more to the omnipresence of that element through different manifestations. If Rochester then calls her a reed, it not only refers to the delicacy of the plant, but also to the name of her mother and uncle Reed which is related to the element Air as stated above or even to the desire of Rochester to make her more Earthy like him through the link with Earth, a toning down of her name as the name of a river.

    The presence of the four Greek elements contributes to the Bildungsroman in Jane Eyre, and offers a background for the psychological construction of the main characters. The consistent repeating of certain names in different contexts does not only have its origins in the popularity of those names, but also in the purposeful structuring of the novel and adding philosophical meaning to it. It is extraordinary that there is a pattern visible in such a consistent manner. Of course the elemental structure needs to be seen in a context of Aristotelian truth (the artist’s subjective truth as the product of his will and imagination). Thus the result, the novel, is not totally Platonic. But how could it be as it is a product of the human spirit: mortal and prone to emotion? Such a being can only search, but never find. In that, the equilibrium reached at the end in Ferndean is more a ‘true’ equilibrium than it is a ‘real’ equilibrium; an equilibrium that can be considered as heaven, but which it can never be because the writer does not know heaven; an equilibrium, though, totally in the romantic style.

    Bibliography:

    Elizabeth Imlay, Brontë and the mysteries of love, 1989

    Website: Moineau de Paris, http://moineaudeparis.com/oiseaux/pa...que/index.html

    Penelope Reed Doob, The Idea of the Labyrinth: from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages, 1990

    Collins English Dictionary

    www.thinkbabynames.com

    www.behindthename.com

    Online Etymology Dictionary

    Website Bouncing Balls, timeline from 1819 to 1875
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bitterfly View Post
    I'm trying to understand the character of Eliza Reed, and there's something I can't quite grasp: is there a connection between her miserliness (and thirst for profit - she's quite the little capitalist), her monastic vision of time, and her becoming a Catholic nun? I understand her vision of time as being in accordance with her fate, but where do profit and usury come in? Were Catholics supposed to be good at managing money more efficiently? I would have thought her economy more typically Protestant. Or is this idea linked to the anglican vision of the Catholic Church as corrupt and money-grasping (as in Gothic fiction)?

    And does someone have an explanation for the sisters' names? Eliza(beth) and Georgiana are both regal names, so I thought maybe this indicated the shift from earthly/temporal authority to spiritual authority (the names of the other two cousins, Diana and Mary, are those of divinities). Plain John (another king) becomes St. John as well.

    Thank you very much if you answer.
    The keypoint is management and order. She's a really orderly person to the point that she orders every single hour of her time every day beforehand. It's not really about the profit. It's the calculation part. She calculates everything.

    She becomes a nun because in her view it's the ideal place for her kind where everything is orderly. And there's also the part where she logically surmises that she's more attracted to Catholicism.

    The stereotype for Catholic Church is mostly about corrupt priests giving unreasonably harsh laws like in the intro to Tale of Two Cities. And they also have more customs and tenets and rituals that you must obey. They're more mechanical and stringent than their Protestant brothers.

    Obviously, Jane is in the middle between her and Georgiana. The best blend of both worlds.

    And speaking of Dickens. I like to bring up the hilarious part about Bronte criticizing Dickens for Esther even though she herself wrote Helen Burns. That super-Christian character is too much even for Dickens.

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