Monday, February 21, 2011

JANE EYRE Read-a-Long: Check-in #2

Caution: Contains Spoilers!

I think I'm a few days late with this, but better late than never. See Laura's Review Bookshelf for more Jane Eyre updates.

I've just finished Chapter 22; Jane is in love with Mr. Rochester, and expects him to marry Blanche Ingram any day. She's just returned from the deathbed of her Aunt Reed and has seen her cousins Eliza and Georgiana off on their ways to the convent and the altar respectively. And she has come back to Thornfield.

One of my favorite parts of this very romantic book is the section where Blanche and cohort are enjoying themselves at Thornfield, and Rochester, having insisted that Jane be present in the drawing room each evening, seems to be holding the two women side by side for comparison. One of the most romantic scenes in the book takes place at the end of one of these evenings, when Jane, exhausted and sick with love for Rochester, decides to leave:
"Return to the drawing room: you are deserting too early." [Rochester says]
"I am tired, sir."
He looked at me for a moment.
"And a little depressed," he said. "What about? Tell me."
"Nothing- nothing, sir. I am not depressed."
"But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes- indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means..."
I've always found in this exchange a palpable moment of tension, a moment when each wants to connect with the other but convention and their own emotional immaturity defeats them. There will be at least two more times in the book when Jane leaves him despite his protestations- when she leaves for her Aunt Reed's, and when she leaves him. The next time they're this close together is coming soon and is, for me, one of the most romantic scenes in English literature. But we're not there yet, and neither are Jane and Rochester. Now, back from her aunt's and anticipating Rochester's marriage to Blanche, Jane is just living day to day.