Friday, May 7, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Jane Eyre Part 6
Jane rides a cab until the money runs out, sleeps outdoors, encounters the general populus' total lack of Christian charity, and finally finds herself moved quite by Providence to the door where an unhelpful servant awaits the return of her helpful master. Once again, the contrasts are striking. The lack and uncertainty of Jane's life as a self-imposed exile crescendos to the point where a simple home with the basic necessities of indoor living seem a great gift, even a luxury. I know for me it was one of those passages that made me feel inexpressibly grateful and somewhat guilty over the things I take for granted daily.
Once inside, Jane gives a piece of misdirection that serves to extend the narrative (the ersatz appellation of "Elliot") and then indulges in one of those Victorian fainting spells we've heard so much about.
St. John is a cold sort of a man, perhaps not what one would expect or hope for in a clergyman. Again, I think we'll have occasion to return to the subject of religion in Jane Eyre, but for now I would point out that there are two strictly religious men in the book, Mr. Brocklehurst and St. John, both of whom are emotionally distant at best.
They all settle into a life together and you would think that they were all happy or at least content. But you would be wrong. Both Jane and St. John's misgivings about where life has landed them in this world. Jane's a school teacher in a lowly way. St. John is a minister who would rather be marrying Miss Oliver. St. John gives Jane a book by Sir Walter Scott and then flees the room after ripping pieces off of her artwork with no explanation or helpful criticism.
St. John has found her out! She is Jane Eyre, which is not news to us, but she is also Jane: heir which is news to us. Again, we have contrasts and again we end this week's reading in a character arch that I could not have planned better if I'd tried. Much like at the beginning of this week's reading with food, shelter and warmth, after all this build up of want Jane finally has family and financial independence. Both of which she plans on extending to her newfound family although St. John reacts very strangely.
Well, we've finally come to our last week of reading. This coming week we shall read through the end of the book.