I haven’t read Jane Eyre since high school, and I’m pretty certain it wasn’t for required reading. I actually liked reading old English, fuddy duddy writers my peers considered “high fallutin’. ” I still do.
I absolutely despised Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte’s sister, Emily. So much so that I can’t even really remember what happened in that god-forsaken book. There are moors, it’s dark, it’s dreary and everyone’s miserably unhappy. It took me a really long time to realize that Cathy wasn’t crazy–she was just pregnant! And I really have no desire to re-read it and remember.
But back to Jane Eyre. I have enjoyed re-reading this. I’m about two-thirds of the way done with it. I have to agree with my pop–despite enjoying the actual story, she does go on so! Oh my god. The dialogue goes on forever, sometimes, and she had this weird habit of inserting narrative within the dialogue–which is a little distracting. I have definitely been guilty of skimming the dialogue until I get to the good bits.
What a weird character Jane herself is, though. A withdrawn, shy girl and then woman. She has so much control over her emotions it’s a little bit . . . off-putting.
Mr. Rochester, on the other hand, has no problems expressing his feelings–to the point that I realized he acts like a woman. There I said it: Mr. Rochester acts like a woman.
Here’s where I am in the book.
Jane has just learned that Mr. Rochester is, in fact, already married to an insane woman stashed away in his attic. (This is the same insane lady who has tried to burn Mr. Rochester in his bed in many earlier chapters.) Shocking and very sad news, indeed, when one expected to be married to him, only to have her hopes dashed. She has finally emerged from her bedroom, and is now in the drawing/living room with Mr. Rochester, and he is the more passionate of the two. She has made up her mind that she has to leave and told him so. This of course has him upset.
Starting around page 367 of my lovely, linen bound Penguin classic edition (or, somewhere in chapter 27) . . . verbatim:
“Withdraw then–I consent; but remember, you leave here in anguish. Go up to your room; think over all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings–think of me.”
He turned away; he threw himself on his face on the sofa. “Oh, Jane! My hope–my love–my life!”, broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob.
I was at first embarrassed to read these particular few sentences. I rolled my eyes as the train lurched to a stop at 34th Street. Then I actually sniggered.
Rochester is a woman!
And Jane. Jane is very much like a man. She is removed, she is logical, she refuses to allow her feelings to get the better of her lest she end up in another unwanted, orphaned situation.
Am I the only one who thinks Rochester acts like a woman?