Friday, March 4, 2011

Jane Eyre Read-Along, Chapters 11-20

**This post is for my Jane Eyre read-along. Learn more about it here, and feel free to join any time!**

Well these chapters were a bit longer, but I hope you all got through them okay! I'm sorry this post is so long, but so much happened! (Skip to wrap-up.) I thought 11-14 were a bit boring, but things definitely start to pick up after that so let's dig right in, shall we?

In chapter 11 we find out that Mrs. Fairfax is not, as Jane had suspected, the proprietor of Thornfield, nor is she related to Jane's pupil, Adele.  Mr. Rochester owns the property, although he is rarely at home, and Adele is his ward, although we don't know yet why or in what capacity.  This is also the chapter that the possibility of a ghost on the third floor of the house is indicated. I do love a good bit of gothic in my classic novels. Hooray!

Chapter 12 was interesting to me for several reasons. First, it seems that Jane can't be satisfied wherever she is, because she's always looking for something better. She says, "It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."  Well, Jane, you better start making some action because I'm getting bored.

I did like her bit about women's rights, which I'm assuming was pretty progressive for the time:

"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."
Preach on, sister!

Anyway, I thought it was particularly interesting that Jane's first meeting with Mr. Rochester was on a deserted road and, even though he learned who she was, he decidedly did not let on that he was, in fact, her boss. I wonder why he didn't introduce himself then. Maybe he was just too crabby, seeing as how it was late, he was probably tired, and he hurt his ankle. But still.

So in the next chapter Jane finally learns it was Mr. Rochester she met on the road, but he's a bit of a jerk to her, even blaming her for his sprained ankle!  And even though Jane is happier because the house is livelier now with him home, I still think she could do better.  Also, I hate when classic literature has characters speak in another language (usually French) and then not provide a translation. My copy isn't fancy and doesn't provide one, so I'm just left guessing what these people are saying.

To be honest, my eyes kind of glazed over in chapter 14.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  All I got out of it was that Mr. Rochester wasn't too proud of who he'd become, and he thought Jane could use a little perking up.

Chapter 15, in my opinion, is where things start getting good.  We learned that Mr. Rochester was in love with a French opera singer who cheated on him (bitch!) and claimed Adele was his daughter. He doesn't believe her, but when she abandons Adele a few years later, he feels compelled to take her in.  Jane doesn't see a resemblance between the two, either, but Mr. Rochester doesn't really seem the type for charity. So is there a chance that he really is her father??  Either way, it's obvious that Jane and Mr. Rochester are on much better terms now than they were initially.

Later in this chapter we're treated to more action as Jane hears a demonic laugh and noises outside her door late at night. When she goes to open it, she notices smoke emanating from Mr. Rochester's bedroom. She races down the hall to discover that his bed is on fire, with him still in it.  Once Jane has put out the fire, she relates what she heard to Mr. Rochester, who follows Jane's suspicions of Grace Poole to the third floor.  He refuses to have her call anyone for assistance. He comes back alone and is very thankful and seems unwilling to let her leave his side. He even admitted that he was smitten from the first time they'd met (although you kinda had to read between the lines, and seriously, he could have shown it a little more, don't you think?).

In chapter 16 Jane tries to get Grace Poole to admit that she had something to do with the fire, but can't seem to get anywhere with her. Mr. Rochester had left early that morning for a party (which apparently could last for weeks back then) and Jane starts to get jealous of a certain Blanche Ingram, who Mrs. Fairfax describes as beautiful and most likely at the party.  Jane then shocked me by berating herself for ever liking Mr. Rochester and drawing a very detailed picture of herself and all her faults, and then paint Blanche's perfect face on ivory, to remind herself how unequal they are and how undeserving she is.

Can I just point out that maybe that shouldn't be the best way to go about this? I mean really, what a way to knock down your self-esteem.

Chapter 17 heralds the arrival of Mr. Rochester and a number of guests. While everyone is preparing Thornfield, Jane happens upon two servants discussing Grace Poole's position, but stop as soon as they realize Jane is listening. It seems that Mrs. Poole not only gets paid a buttload, but it's a big secret what it is she actually does for that paycheck. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, guess who is among the party Mr. Rochester has invited? Why, Blanche Ingram, of course! And all that berating and painting didn't do a damn thing, because now Jane realizes that she can no longer hide her feelings for herself. I particularly like the line, "He made me love him without looking at me."

Mr. Rochester's guests are a bit high and mighty for my tastes. They blatantly put Jane down, well aware that she can hear them.  On another subject, Blanche made a comment that men shouldn't be pretty. So it seems that she's in favor of Mr. Rochester.  He, however, seems displeased when Jane leaves the group of people (it's not like she was actually taking part, other than to be a source for their scorn) and, can it be, almost calls her his love?  Ooooooooooo.

What really stuck out to me in chapter 18 is that Blanche is unkind to Adele which, even though Mr. Rochester isn't always Adele's biggest fan, can't really be a quality he's looking for. Jane is sure that Mr. Rochester will marry Blanche, even though she knows he sees her faults. She tries to imagine that marrying for status is worth not marrying for love, but she doesn't seem convinced.

Other than that, we see the arrival of two new characters: Mr. Mason and a fortune teller, who does little more than stir up conversation and piss off Blanche (hooray!).

In chapter 19, Jane meets the mysterious gipsy to have her fortune told. She learns that Blanche was told Mr. Rochester is not as rich as she perhaps thought, which explains her moodiness after the reading. So apparently men don't have to be pretty, but they better have bank.

And then, lo and behold, the gipsy isn't a gipsy at all, but Mr. Rochester! Sneaky sneaky. I wonder why he went to all the trouble. Did he just want to see if Blanche would still love him if he didn't have as much money? Or did he want to get some alone time with Jane?

Finally, when Jane tells Mr. Rochester that a Mr. Mason is there to see him, he becomes afraid. Which makes me wonder what Mr. Rochester does in his free time.

In chapter 20, Jane hears a scream and cries for help coming from the third floor. Turns out, Mr. Mason was attacked by someone and Jane helps him while Mr. Rochester gets the surgeon. However, Mr. Rochester commands Jane and Mr. Mason not to speak to each other while he is away. Odd. Later, Mr. Rochester speaks to Jane a bit about his life, although we don't really learn any details. He then tells her he is planning to marry Blanche, but I have to say it seems more like he was trying to gauge Jane's reaction and see what she thought. He then leaves her, and the chapter ends.

Whew. I am definitely intrigued now. I want to know what's hidden on the third floor, what it has to do with Grace Poole, and who Mr. Rochester really likes. And I want him to just speak his damn mind in a coherent fashion, thankyouverymuch.  There were a lot of good passages in these chapters, and a lot of action. Are you guys as caught up in it as I am? What do you think is haunting the third floor?  Does Mr. Rochester really like Blanche (more like Blech) or is he just toying with Jane?  Is he truly having a hard time deciding between the two?

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments, and please post a link if you wrote your own review/reaction!

Next week we'll be reading chapters 21-30.

**Link to post for chapters 1-10**


  1. I have almost finished chapter 18, but because I know I will not finish the other two chapters today, I am posting a comment now. My lack of finishing the 10 chapters is in no way a reflection on the book. I love it, and have been wishing every spare minute of my time could be spent reading it. Alas, a mom of three girls has only so much spare minutes, and several other books on the nightstand. I promise to catch up next week, and am very intrigued by what you say happens next (I think I skipped those chapters in high school!)

  2. I totally understand how life can get in the way! I think it'll be worth it, though, when you do get a chance to read it!

  3. I love Jane and her feminist slant. But she's still a girl who can get caught up with notions of love. I really like her and Mr. Rochester's banter, but yeah, I got lost near the end of Chapter 14. Although it made me feel better that Jane seemed to have gotten a bit lost there, too.

    While I enjoyed all 10 chapters, things definitely picked up when Mr. Rochester's party arrived at Thornfield. My feelings on the Mr. Rochester/Blanche/Jane thing have changed a bit since my first reading and I'll hold my comments back for a little while - don't want to spoil anything ;)

    I'm looking forward to the next bit!

  4. I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one confused at the end of that chapter! I'm interested to know how your feelings on the love triangle have changed, Alita!

  5. Well, I couldn't help it; I finished the book! And my version not only has biographical information, it also has translations!

    I see Jane as a very intelligent and inquisitive young woman. The day to day sameness of teaching an average pupil and then spending her evenigns with an elderly woman, in a fairly small household could easily make her want to stretch her horizons. But with the "lord of the manor" at home things were much more exciting!

    It seems like Rochester was playing with Jane. I couldn't tell if he was trying to get to know her or what. She did seem to be able to answer him well, which I thought was pretty good for a sheltered young lady of 18. She had the vision to see through the "airs" of some of the partygoers right away, especially, Miss Blanche Ingram and her mother. She appears to be a good judge of character. In that time, and probably in ours, people were extremely class conscious, and Jane was no exception. She realized that as a governess and an employee she did not have the status of Rochester's guests, and she believed that Rochester would be interested in marrying a woman of the same status as his own, especially one with such good looks. I wonder if she would have thought better of Blanche if Blanche had acted nicer toward Jane as some of the other ladies did. As it was, and also being "in love" with Rochester,she picked up on all of slights that Blanche delivered, and noticed Blanche's reactions to Rochester, and his reactions to her.

    More comments in a bit.

  6. I am so far behind...just finally finished chapter 20 today. I got stuck in chapter 14 and didn't pick it back up for awhile. But, I'm glad I did.
    Amy - I really like your summaries. It helps me to catch things I may have missed or misunderstood. I'm glad to be reading it, but it's taking a little effort. I don't know that I'll catch up, so I'll wait to read your posts until I do (my comments will likely continue to be late.)

  7. Jimi, that's okay! To be completely honest with you, it's taking a lot of effort for me to get through this one. Knowing you guys are reading along with me is keeping me accountable!