Friday, March 18, 2011

Jane Eyre Read-Along, Chapters 31-38 & Final Thoughts

We finished! Can you believe it? Let's do the summary, and then we'll go into my final thoughts on the book (I want to hear yours, too!), and finish with a couple of questions.

In chapter 31 Jane sees her cousin, Mr. Rivers meet the lovely and vivacious Rosamond Oliver. The two of them are obviously in love but he, at least, refuses to acknowledge it.

Chapter 32 sees Jane beginning to like her position as schoolmistress and her pupils, but she still misses Mr. Rochester. She also finds out that Rosamond's father is not opposed to her match with Mr. Rivers, so Jane tries to talk him into it but to no avail. He is determined to become a missionary in India and doesn't think Rosamond would fit the bill for that kind of work.  At the end of the chapter. Mr. Rivers tears off a piece from a paper Jane is drawing on and then leaves. I bet I know what was on the page!

And my suspicions are then confirmed. Jane and scribbled her name on the page and Mr. Rivers recognized the name "Eyre" (remember Jane had been using an alias previously). After some investigation, he realizes this is the same Jane Eyre that his uncle left his fortune to, and therefore they are cousins. John Eyre, the uncle, left Jane 20,000 pounds. She decides to split it four ways, between herself and her three cousins.

Jane then quits her job as schoolmistress and brings Mary and Diana home to live with her and Mr. Rivers. She begins to learn Hindustani for Mr. Rivers, who is a very exacting teacher. Jane begins to feel repressed.  She writes to Mrs. Fairfax to see if she knows anything about Mr. Rochester, but receives no answer. Then Mr. Rivers tells her he wants Jane to marry him and go to India with him, not because he loves her, but because she's suitable for the work of a missionary's wife (oo, what a great compliment). She says she'll go but not as his wife and he replies with what has to be the meanest response ever: "Refuse to be my wife, and you limit yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity." Ouch. Needless to say, he's not too happy with her.

Later, Mr. Rivers tries again (because obviously "no" is not in his vocabulary) and Jane again declines and pisses him off.  He asked once more (third time's the charm?) and Jane almost relented, but then she hears what can only be (and yet not be) Mr. Rochester's voice calling her name. She runs to her room.

In chapter 36 Jane leaves her cousins and heads to Thornfield, to try to find out what happened to Mr. Rochester. The mansion has been burned down, and Jane learns that Bertha (the crazy wife, remember) set fire to it (starting in Jane's old room, yikes) and then leapt from the top of the roof, killing herself.  Mr. Rochester stayed in the building until everyone was out safely, and then tried to save his wife, but to no avail. While he was trying to escape he was severely wounded and is now blind and without a right hand.

Jane then finds Mr. Rochester and explains her life during her absence. He's jealous of Mr. Rivers until Jane admits she loves no other but him, and then he's ecstatic and says they'll marry in three days.  Mr. Rochester claims that God crippled him to punish him for the way he lived and how he tried to trick Jane, but when he prayed for forgiveness he cried out Jane's name. Now here's the interesting part: when he cried out, that's what Jane heard all the way back in Morton. And then when she answered, he heard her! But they were miles and miles apart! It was as if their hearts spoke to each other. Awwwww.

In the final chapter, we learn that Jane and Mr. Rochester were married, Diana and Mary both approve and have since married themselves. Adele was moved to a better school that is closer to Jane and Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester regained sight in one eye and the pair had at least one child (I'm assuming more, but it's never clearly stated). St. John never acknowledged Jane's marriage, but began keeping a regular correspondence with her from India. He never married. Did anyone else think it was weird the book ended with Mr. Rivers' words, and about his death no less?

The end!



Final Thoughts:

Overall (and please don't think less of me for this), I'm not the biggest fan of this book. There were times I had to really work to get through the chapters. And maybe it was because I already knew that Jane and Mr. Rochester were destined to get married (I may not have read the book before, but I've heard enough other people talk about it) that I was so impatient for it to just happen already. So while I may not have enjoyed the book as a whole, I did enjoy particular aspects.

Jane is an amazing heroine. She's strong, principled, and not afraid to stand up for herself. The supernatural aspects, while not making this book completely fall into the gothic genre, had enough of it to keep some interest and intrigue. I liked that Jane finally found some family, even if she never did get to meet her uncle. It was because of him she discovered her cousins (for who they were; obviously she had found them already, but she didn't know they were related to her).

I'd love to hear your comments on the book!  What are your final thoughts?

Finally: Thank you all for participating and reading along with me!  What did you guys think of the read-along?  How would you change it? Would you be willing to do it again if I hosted another one?

7 comments:

  1. I loved the read along. Being able to talk about the book as you were reading it together brings a new perspective that a book club doesn't always offer. Thank you for all the summaries. It was nice to have them to look at and double check all the happenings in the book, because there were a lot of happenings...

    I really enjoyed reading Jane Eyre, she is a very unique heroine and I am intrigued to know more about the history of the book, why Bronte wrote it and what were the main themes she wanted to convey to her readers.

    What I took from the book was that one life is very significant. That although Jane may not have thought much about her life as it began, she became aware, through many circumstances, that her small life could count for more. That the choices she made were important. That the way she chose to relate to people mattered. That the desires of her heart could be realized through an unselfish life.

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  2. Jade, I'm glad you liked it! I wasn't sure if the summaries were going to be popular or not, but I felt like I needed a recap just to be sure I remembered everything.

    I'm also curious to know more about why Bronte wrote it and what she wanted to convey. I wish I had chosen a better version (mass market paperbacks have nothing but the story itself), but now I know for next time!

    Also, I love your analysis. I never thought of it that way, but you're right. Jane changed so much throughout the book, and her self-worth and principles are very inspiring.

    Thanks for reading along!

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  3. Thanks for hosting this readalong, Amy! Although I loved Jane Eyre my first time around, I felt a bit anxious at times because it felt like it was taking forever to read. I really liked that it was broken up in chunks this time. Knowing I only had to read 10 chapters a week took a bit of pressure off and I felt I could enjoy the experience a bit more. I may have to read all long books like this from now on.

    Seriously, isn't Jane a wonderful character? One of the reasons I love this book is because she is a great narrator and addresses the reader so frankly. It's like being told a story by a good (19th century) friend.

    Even though Jane and Mr. Rochester both went through rough times, I love how the book ends. I love that Mr. Rochester has been brought down a notch and finally comes close to deserving Jane. I love that Jane feels like she's a useful, contributing partner in their relationship, rather than just Mr. Rochester's pet.

    And yes, I agree that ending the book with St John's dying words is a bit odd. There must be some meaning behind that. I will thinking about it and let you know if I come up with anything :)

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  4. Well, I finished and on Friday even (after being terribly behind...I was stuck in chapter 14 for a long time).

    I had never read Jane Eyre and didn't know the story, so I had no idea that she was going to end up with Mr. Rochester. And, quite honestly, I wasn't sure I really wanted her to for most of the book. In the end I'm glad she did though. I most liked that Mr. Rochester loved her for who she was and all of her "vivacity".

    I'm glad I read it, though it was slow going at times. I know there was more meaning packed in some of Bronte's sentences than I had the patience to decipher. I looked forward to the pages of dialogue. And I got quite a bit of use out of the dictionary feature on my Kindle.

    I really enjoyed the read-a-long. I probably wouldn't have read the book without it. Amy, I also really liked your summaries. They helped me to remember what happened and occasionally I discovered things I had missed. Thanks for hosting. I hope you'll do another sometime.

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  5. I'm a little late in finishing the book, but I'm so glad that I took the time to read it. Thanks, Amy for hosting the read along - it really encouraged me to keep up with the reading. I've posted just a couple thoughts on my blog.

    I'd happily participate in another read along - especially if you choose another classic!

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  6. Alita - I liked the narration style as well. I definitely agree that she and Mr. Rochester are much better suited for each other once he has been brought down a peg or two.

    Jimi - I agree that it was slow-going at times, but I'm glad I read it as well. And I'm glad you liked the summaries!

    Mandy - I'm glad you got to finish! I'll head on over to your blog to check out your thoughts.

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  7. this helped a lot! thank you!
    i had to read this book for school and i didn't get to finish it in time. so this helped a lot.
    thanks again!

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