Friday, April 16, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Jane Eyre part 3
Well, we sure ended on a cliffhanger this week without my planning.
We start this week with a little more character development. There's the scene where Jane wakes up to demonic laughter and a conflagration in Mr. Rochester's room. She dowses the sleeping man in water and in effect saves his life. He, being the Byronic hero we've come to know and love, repays the favor by lying to her and then splitting town for a few weeks.
And what about that fire? What's going on in this strange house of mystery? There are many possible speculations. Maybe it was Grace Poole who seems to very strangely not exhibit in person the aspects of character that people attribute to her from other rooms. On the fantastic side, the story established the possibility of the supernatural in the beginning when child Jane saw the ghost in the Reed house, so maybe it's something infernal or undead. This is a cut and dry Romantic Era novel after all. Or, on the polar opposite practical side, maybe Pilot knocked a candle over and the demonic laughter Jane keeps hearing is actually really the house settling at night or something.
Ah, but now here's one of the downsides of classics. Be careful little mouths what you say because I, in reality, do not honestly have the luxury of delighting in these speculations because the only thing I came into Jane Eyre knowing about the book, the only plot point I'd ever heard before is the one that explains what's going on. I'm still enjoying the book, but it's like old cliche of excitedly waiting in line in 1980 to see Empire Strikes Back and having some jerk walk out of the previous showing and hearing them say to their friend "Wow! I can't believe Darth Vader was Luke's father!" In full hearing of the line.
Apparently anti-histamines remove my pop-culture reference filter.
So, Rochester leaves and we round out our week's reading with a few major themes. One is love, particularly falling in love with someone you maybe shouldn't, someone who others might not think is beautiful or lovely or right for you, but who you love regardless and helplessly.
Then Rochester comes back with a party in tow and I spent the rest of this week reading with my Trotsky cap on. We are in the thick of classism and social hierarchy. It gets a little ugly with the Ingram girl who Rochester seems primed to marry at present. Not only are Jane and the other servants non-entities or, at best, idle amusements to this crowd, even Adele is sort of treated as such. We're ready for the weird gypsy to drop a train on them, to suck the air out of the room, which she seems to accomplish with Blanche Ingram. I think the strangeness of the fire scene primed us for the fortune-teller. We are, of course, at this point wondering what this fortune teller is all about, but the tone has been established enough that it's not taxing our credulity. Next week we'll see right at the beginning what the fortune teller is on about. Then maybe we'll get some answers.
Next week we will read through Chapter 23 which is up to page 300 in my edition.