October 23, 2022

Novel Openings

What makes a great opening line of a book?

Many have pondered this question. I haven't, really, and I don't know the answer, but what I can do is a do a little blog post dedicated to opening lines--or openings in general--of books I have read. That's really it.

If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different.

~LM Montgomery, The Blue Castle

As much as I love Anne of Green Gables and its protagonist, it's The Blue Castle that is my most favourite LMM book. Unlike Anne at the beginning of her series, the heroine of this novel is an adult--29 years old. Valancy is unmarried and lives with an abusive family; a theme that is well known to LMM's readers and to top that off, she gets some devastating news. The Blue Castle gives me some serious feels, more than any other work by this Canadian author.

It was a dark and stormy night.

~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle In Time

I love this! Dark and stormy and night, can it get any better?

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

~George Orwell, 1984

You may have heard of this one even if you've not read the book. At first it seems quite insignificant, until you get to that last word. But even if the last word was not what it is, I still like the structure of the sentence, it's the type that always works for me.

His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.

~Isaac Asimov, Foundation

Another one that works for me. A name and a place, tell me more about this Gaal guy and what is this place called Trantor?

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

This one immediately made me feel hot. It's interesting that she mentions electrocution--Sylvia Plath suffered from depression all her life and was treated with electroconvulsive therapy.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

~JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

A variation of "once upon a time". Nothing more needs to be added.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

A classic! At first you're like, what the hell, then you're like, is she joking? Perfection!

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

~Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Simple and clear, takes us straight to the character, time and place. (Everything I said about this book in a previous post still stands. I never said there was anything wrong with its writing.)

Dear friend,

I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.

~Stephen Chbosky, Perks of Being a Wallflower

I have always liked diary entries and letters in fiction and this sounds like it was written by someone who might be socially awkward--instant like!

All this happened, more or less.

~Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

This is pure perfection. I wish I could form sentences like that.

There is one mirror in my house.

~Veronica Roth, Divergent

My favourite YA dystopian series. Out of two I have read. And it's an unpopular opinion too. What can you do. Characters looking into mirrors and describing their appearance is very cliche, but we soon find out why it is this way. Btw, the other--supposedly superior--YA dystopian series begins with the character waking up in the morning and that's overdone too.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

~Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the best known and most beloved books in the world. And with good reason. This book starts and ends with the same thing, Jem's broken arm, as the main character, Scout, reflects on the events. The opening line also mentions a brother and good siblings are one of my favourite things in fiction.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

~Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

My favourite opening line of all. My most favourite book of all. Gothic romance, but also a thriller.

And finally...

"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

~Agatha Christie, Appointment With Death

Of course I couldn't end this post without mentioning my all time favourite author. Most likely everyone knows what to expect from an Agatha Christie book and one can't say her opening lines are very remarkable. That is, until you pick Appointment With Death. The line of dialogue is overheard by Hercule Poirot while he's staying at a hotel in Jerusalem. He thinks he's going crazy--too many years working as a detective--but of course, turns out that he isn't and the "she" of the opening line does get killed. Not one of the most famous cases by the Queen of Crime, but definitely worth checking out if you haven't done so! (Just please, for the love of all things holy, ignore that awful adaptation with David Suchet...)

So that's it, those are some cool opening lines of books I like. What are yours? Tell me in the comments!


September 07, 2022

Edward Rochester is the Worst (and Other Jane Eyre Heresy)

Teaser

That time a Jane Eyre heretic sat down to write out her thoughts. 

It got way out of hand.

the scattered pages are Anne of Green Gables and purely for aesthetic effect

Trailer

A descend into the depths of the abyss that is my thoughts and feelings on the English classic Jane Eyre. In this essay I will focus on the despicable behaviour of its romantic hero, Edward Rochester. The abyss is located in strictly Team Madwoman territory. Visit us, we have cookies.

There will be controversy. There will be heresy. There will be blasphemy. There will be things you never thought of.

Along the ride I will also present a different look at, and attempt to redeem, the characters of Blanche Ingram, Grace Poole and Richard Mason. 

What to expect: a recap of the book with memes. 

What not to expect: academic talk. Not me, not ever.

You don't have to have read the book to engage with this post.

Warning

As you no doubt have been able to gather, this is not a Rochester-positive space, so if you're a fan of the guy, you might want to exit this page. You will not like what I've got to say.

With the book being as old as it is, there is just no way of getting around some words and expressions that are no longer okay. Apologies in advance for that.

Some swearing ahead.

Disclaimers

  1. This post is my own personal opinion. It is not a judgement on anyone who likes Rochester, his relationship with Jane, or who considers Jane Eyre their favourite book (just stop reading this now. You have been warned.) I am very much a let-people-enjoy-things person.
  2. I repeat, this post is my own personal opinion. The purpose is to vent out my thoughts and feelings, not to convince or convert anyone. 
  3. Yes, I am aware that Jane Eyre is a classic and that nothing I ever write will be as good or as important or as influential as Jane Eyre. My ramblings about it on a blogging platform cannot in any way harm it. 
  4. I acknowledge that there are characters present in the book who are the personification of the horrible, like Mrs Reed and Mr Brocklehurst. They are bad, they deserve to burn in hell. But I will not be focusing on them. Neither will I go into any deep analysis on St John Rivers. I don't care enough about him for that. 
  5. I am not trying to cancel Jane Eyre or tell anyone not to read it. In fact I'd recommend you do read it. 

Introduction

Jane Eyre is a gothic novel written by Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), originally released in 1847 under the masculine pen name Currer Bell. Charlotte's sisters Emily and Anne were writers too. 

Jane Eyre and Me

I first read Jane Eyre when I was fifteen, in the mid-1990s. We didn't do English literature at school, as we have our own (I'm not from an English-speaking country), but it was mentioned in passing, and I picked it up in the library as I liked the first person female narrative. Obviously, that was a translation; I read the original after I moved to UK.

Even back then, on my first read, at that tender impressionable age, I was not thrilled by Mr Rochester. The love story left me cold. I thought, wait, is this it, is he supposed to be her love interest? Why so old? Over the years, as I re-read the book, the age gap bothered me less, but I grew no fonder of the guy. Quite the opposite. 

I became a Rochester hater.

I want to stress that this is no woke revisionism. Neither it is a I-used-to-love-him-but-then-I-saw-the-light awakening. I never got the hype in the first place. However, in recent years, I have developed fascination with the madwoman in the attic, and thus have been taking deep dives into the book. That's why it's the only classic I'm this familiar with, despite not even counting it among my favourite reads.

It's an enjoyable read. The narrative is so intimate; it's not surprising that so many people love it. 

A Quick Summary of the Beginning

The titular protagonist of Jane Eyre is an orphan, who grows up with abusive relatives, the Reeds, after the deaths of her parents. As a ten-year-old, she is sent to Lowood boarding school, where she qualifies as a teacher. She exits the school at the age of eighteen to start a new job as a governess to a little French girl at an estate called Thornfield Hall. Thornfield Hall lies near the fictional town of Millcote--that's Leeds, West Yorkshire, in real life geography. 

Now let's dive deeper. 

Jane's Arrival at Thornfield Hall

The person who hires Jane is Mrs Fairfax, a widow. Initially Jane believes her to be her employer and is confused by Mrs Fairfax's friendly manner to her, until Mrs Fairfax explains she's the housekeeper, and the owner of the estate is a Mr Rochester. Mrs Fairfax's late husband was a relation of Mr Rochester, a second cousin of his mother. I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it Jane's inexperience that fails to identify a housekeeper, or did Mrs Fairfax not communicate clearly? Adele, Jane's new pupil, is Mr Rochester's ward. Jane is told that Mr Rochester spends majority of his time away, usually in London or on the Continent, and only comes home for about a fortnight a year.

Jane asks Mrs Fairfax if she likes Rochester, if Rochester is generally liked, and the housekeeper responds:

“Oh, yes; the family have always been respected here. Almost all the land in this neighbourhood, as far as you can see, has belonged to the Rochesters time out of mind.” 

That's one way to answer that question, I suppose.

A few months pass. Jane settles into her new role and gets on well with Mrs Fairfax and the servants at Thornfield Hall, but is weirded out by Grace Poole, a seamstress who stays up on the third floor, rarely venturing out. Jane ascribes her the strange laugh that she heard upstairs when Mrs Fairfax was giving her a tour of the house.

Meet Cute

Jane meets Rochester for the first time on his return to Thornfield. He falls off his horse as he passes her on the road, while she's on her way to the village on an errand. During their short first conversation, he learns she's the governess hired to look after his new ward, but he hides his identity from her. She helps him get back on his horse and they part. 

The encounter leaves a deep impression on Jane. She's been feeling bored. Her new life is empty of excitement and there is little opportunity for her to get out. She admits he's the first man she has ever talked to (excluding people like servants and clergy, I assume), and, by helping him get back on the horse, she found a way to be useful to someone, in a way she never experienced before. When she gets back from her errand, she learns the mysterious stranger is indeed the Mr Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall. 

Okay so. I don't consider this bad behaviour, not necessarily. Falling over in front of your new employee is probably not a situation an employer wants to find themselves in. I wonder how it is, though, that it never occurred to Jane it might be him? He could only be coming towards Thornfield, as there was no other place around, and if he was coming towards Thornfield, who else could it be if not the master?

Enter Mr Rochester

The next evening, he requests her to have tea with him. He gives her a third degree and establishes the following:

  1. Jane is an orphan and has no home
  2. She has no relatives (she doesn't mention the Reeds)
  3. She's eighteen, about 20 years younger than him
  4. Prior to getting a job as his governess, she was at Lowood School
  5. The director of the Lowood school, Brocklehurst, was a cruel man who starved his pupils and scared them with horrifying tales
  6. She has never lived in town
  7. She has seen nothing of society; the only people she ever had anything to do with were the teachers and pupils at Lowood and the live-in staff at Thornfield Hall
  8. She has not read many books and those she has read were not very, as she puts it, learned

And Rochester's predatory senses go DING! DING! DING!

They have tea again the following evening. He asks her to draw her chair nearer to him. This makes her uncomfortable, but she has little choice, he must be obeyed. This is when he famously asks her if she thinks him handsome and she replies "no, sir" which is, I hear, apparently a sick burn, despite the fact that she immediately apologises. So much for that. In this conversation--which is just him talking about himself--he refers to her as "school-girl" three times.

Now, when it comes to Rochester, one thing needs to be understood about him by the reader. 

He is ugly.

Charlotte Bronte relishes in describing his ugliness, she gets a real kick out of it. And not only that, she keeps reminding the reader of it constantly, to the point that it becomes jarring. From the moment he enters the scene to the very end, we must not forget how ugly he is.

Charlotte, hon. We get it. 

Edward Fairfax Rochester is one hideous fucker.

(At least the actors look good, I suppose, because on the screen you have to actually be looking at them.)

Jane Eyre is a heroine who looks past a homely exterior, with eyes that see the true nature of person, on the inside.

Which, you know. He's horrible on the inside, that's why I'm writing this. The problem with Rochester is not that he's ugly, it's the he's a certified douchebag. If he was good looking, at least he'd have something going for him. As it is, the only thing he has is his fortune and his social standing. And in the end he loses even that.

Jane and her employer get on well with each other. He admires her paintings and they regularly have tea together.

The First Nocturnal Incident

One night, Jane is woken up by strange sounds. She discovers Rochester's bed is on fire, with him sleeping in it. She puts the fire out, thereby saving his life. 

He makes her wait for him in the cold and the dark, while he goes to check something upstairs. When he returns, Jane asks what happened, but instead of answering, he questions her about the events again, ensuring himself that she's under the impression that the culprit was Grace Poole. Jane heard that strange laugh before she discovered the fire.

The following morning, Jane, naturally, expects to hear from her master. She is puzzled about Grace Poole, wondering why the woman was not charged with the crime of arson, or at least dismissed. She spends the whole day feeling tense, anticipating the hour Rochester would call her to join him for their customary tea, but there is no sign of him. Mrs Fairfax invites Jane to have tea with her instead, so Jane goes, hoping it'll bring her closer to Rochester. And then the housekeeper casually remarks that the master has left Thornfield. He's gone to Leas, the home of the Eshtons in Millcote, to join a merry company of high class people. 

Mrs Fairfax also informs Jane that Rochester is a hit with the ladies. Despite his ugly looks.

We must not forget his ugly looks.

See what I mean? Why would Mrs Fairfax feel the need to add that? Come ON!

The Party at Thornfield

The merry company, as I will call them, depart Leas and arrive at Thornfield. This is where it gets interesting. Rochester makes Jane sit in the drawing room with the guests. Now, refer to my list above, item number 7. She has not seen any of the society, the only people she ever had anything to do with were the teachers and pupils at Lowood and the live-in staff at Thornfield Hall

How can she be expected to know how to behave among these people? Also, and this is a crucial point: a governess is an awkward position--higher than the servants, but lower than the family. Rochester must have realised that. And if he didn't, somebody would have no doubt reminded him--Lady Lynn or Lady Ingram, most likely. In fact I wager they probably did, off-page. And were made the villains for it. (The book is written from Jane's POV, so we never see any other characters interacting, unless Jane overhears them.)

The first evening of the merry company's stay, Jane hears Rochester sing for the first time. He's a good singer, with a fine bass voice. This gets her into such an emotional state that she has to, as soon as a chance allows, flee the drawing room in haste, through a side door. She fails to escape him, however. He catches up with her in the hall. Acting like nothing happened, he pesters her with mundane questions, like what she's been doing while he was away.

My brothers in Christ, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK SHE'S BEEN DOING??? She's there to do a JOB, you know the same one you're paying her for, she's doesn't have time to fuck around like you, Edward!!! 

He does this despite being clearly aware of her distress. He even comments on it--she's paler than when he last saw her, her eyes look teary, he wonders if she's depressed. Yet, he orders her to sit in the drawing room every evening for the duration of the merry company's stay at Thornfield.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that is not a part of governess's job description. The duty of a governess is to teach and train the child or children she's in charge of. Sitting in the drawing room with people of a higher social standing is not only not a job, it's also--well, stupid. (Not to mention cruel, in Jane's case. An older governess with more experience in working for this class of people would have handled it much better.) The only way such an order would make sense was if there was something shady going on and you were working for an investigator by observing the scene and the suspects. Rochester gives no reason for his order and Jane doesn't ask. She just goes with it. So much for her sassing him out.

He parts with:

"Now go, and send Sophie for Adèle. Good-night, my—” He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me. 

My what? Why does he not finish the sentence? 

And why is he so afraid of a servant catching them? This is his own house. Even if a passing servant is a concern, there are a hundred ways to deal with it. "Meet me in the garden in five minutes, Jane." Or, better, he could wait till she's in her room, then follow her and knock on the door. "Hi. Me again. I didn't finish. I meant to say, good night my beloved." Add a kiss as a bonus. Also: "Bear with me while this company is here, I couldn't get out of it. I'm negotiating a mega deal with Sir George." Jesus. It's so simple. Talkless of the fact that, if he marries Jane, she will become a mistress of Thornfield and will have to be entertaining this type of people!

Jane, realising her own plainness, compares herself to the beautiful Blanche Ingram, member of the merry company, whom she suspects Rochester wants to marry. He does nothing to dispel this notion, quite the opposite. Deception is old Edward's forte. Take, for example, the time he dresses up as an old gypsy woman, who earns her living by telling fortunes.

The Gypsy Woman Episode

Some readers and fans find this funny. I don't know, YMMV, I guess, my issue is with the deception. It was not the case of him dressing up for a masquerade ball or a game, like when they played charades. He lies. He pretends to be someone else to get people's secrets out. Young unmarried women's secrets, in particular, because those were the only ones the fortune teller would speak to. Gods only know what he dragged out of them and what he told them. And to what purpose.

While Edward is preparing his gypsy cosplay, a new visitor comes to Thornfield. From overheard conversations, Jane learns he is a Mr Mason of Spanish Town, Jamaica. 

The fortune teller arrives to Thornfield Hall. In the absence of their host, who they think is away on some business, the merry company put her in the library, where she can meet her customers. All the young unmarried ladies go in--the two Misses Ingram and the two Misses Eshton--to have their fortunes told. Then the fortune teller asks for Jane, as she is, of course, part of that demographic. Jane is actually quite glad to escape the drawing room, as well as curious about the gypsy woman.

Using poetic language, the fortune teller attempts to get Jane to bare her soul. Jane admits she often feels tired, sleepy. Like she wouldn't, duh. She works all day and spends her evenings sitting in the drawing room with people she has nothing in common with, and who don't consider her an equal. She tells the fortune teller that the biggest dream that can come true for her is to save up enough money to open a school of her own. A worthy goal! The gypsy woman appears to know a lot about the goings on at Thornfield, she admits she's acquainted with Grace Poole. Then she gets really pushy, trying to extract info out of Jane regarding Rochester, but Jane, luckily, keeps her head. She comes across really well in this scene. 

But she also needs some answers herself.

Jane: "Is it known that Mr. Rochester is to be married?”

Rochester, as the fortune teller: “Yes; and to the beautiful Miss Ingram.” 

Then the fake fortune teller recites a word salad about Jane's eye and forehead, until the disguise is finally discarded and Rochester steps out of his costume. 

Jane is not surprised. She doubted the authenticity of the fortune teller from the start. She knew gypsies and fortune tellers did not express themselves as this old woman. (Why would a genuine fortune teller limit her customers to young unmarried women? Why lose business?)

Her saying that makes me think Jane possibly encountered gypsies before, perhaps while at Lowood. Imagine her coming across the ancestors of Peaky Blinders. A century too early, but if Jane ever met Aunt Polly (*cries* RIP Helen McCrory *sob-sob-sob*), she'd have warned her about a certain gloomy middle-aged employer of hers--but would Jane listen?

So Jane suspected it was a disguise, but, as with the fire in Rochester's bedroom, her mind was set on Grace Poole. She calls Rochester out, and quite rightfully--as I said, she is really good in this scene. She asks if she can retire but he won't let her. He wants her to tell him what the people in the drawing room have been doing and what they said about him. Jane tries to get out of it by pointing out that it's late, and mentions the new visitor. 

Upon hearing the name Mason of Spanish Town, Jamaica, Rochester goes all white. He clutches his chest and nearly collapses. Here, unfortunately, Jane sheds all her awesomeness and literally says:

“Can I help you, sir?—I’d give my life to serve you.”

Sigh. It was nice while it lasted. 

The Merry Company

Rochester sends her to fetch him some wine from the drawing room. He asks what the merry company were doing while she was fetching it, whether they looked grave and mysterious. Jane responds that no, they were talking and laughing, and yes, Mr Mason was laughing too. Here I am going to copy some of the dialogue that goes on between Jane and Rochester.

Rochester: “If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what would you do, Jane?”

Jane: “Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.”

Rochester, half smiling: “But if I were to go to them, and they only looked at me coldly, and whispered sneeringly amongst each other, and then dropped off and left me one by one, what then? Would you go with them?”

Jane: “I rather think not, sir: I should have more pleasure in staying with you.”

Rochester: “To comfort me?”

Jane: “Yes, sir, to comfort you, as well as I could.”

Rochester: “And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me?”

Jane: “I, probably, should know nothing about their ban; and if I did, I should care nothing about it.”

Rochester: “Then, you could dare censure for my sake?”

Jane: “I could dare it for the sake of any friend who deserved my adherence; as you, I am sure, do.”

He then asks her to get Mason to come to see him in the library. Jane does so and goes to bed.

And thus Jane declares her unconditional love to her employer and I am, dear readers, in despair. Sigh again. She is addressing him as "sir" throughout this whole exchange. If she just once called him Edward, even by a mere slip of the tongue, it would be at least a bit romantic. Well, as romantic as you can get with this egotistical eyesore.

Turn them out of the room, would she, if they came and spat at you, Edward? You went out of your way to make their stay as unpleasant as possible for her, forcing her to sit in the drawing room with them, while being well aware that she is not of their class, you openly flirted with, and pretty much confirmed IN THIS VERY CONVERSATION that you'll marry, Blanche Ingram. OF COURSE SHE IS NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY LOYALTY TO THEM, OF COURSE SHE IS GOING TO TAKE YOUR SIDE, YOU PAY HER FUCKING WAGES AND SHE HAS JUST MORE OR LESS CONFESSED SHE IS IN LOVE WITH YOU--WHICH YOU ALREADY FIGURED OUT THAT TIME YOU AMBUSHED HER IN THE HALL!!!

Let's take a look at the members of the merry company. We have Sir George Lynn, an MP (Member of Parliament) for Millcote, his wife and two sons, Henry and Frederick. Mr Eshton, the magistrate, with his wife and daughters (it's said they have three but only two feature in the narrative, Amy and Louisa). There's young Lord Ingram, his mother the lady dowager and her two daughters Blanche and Mary. And finally Colonel Dent and his wife. By all means a respectable society. If these people, all these people, banded together and spat at Rochester, or at once left his house with quickly made up excuses, they probably would have a good reason. And it wouldn't be being pranked by Edward in a gypsy woman's costume. I googled the phrase "lay under a ban" and if I understand it correctly, it means being shunned from society. It's funny you know, because it's not like Jane has anything to do with them, she's not even anywhere near their radar to be put under a "ban". I repeat again, she's a governess

And Rochester knows this! He's only asking her those questions to assure himself of her unconditional devotion to him.

Jane may think that she doesn't care about the opinion of the merry company now. However if she married Rochester and became the mistress of Thornfield, I wonder how long she would continue not caring about their position in the society? If their children had no friends because their daddy was a persona non grata?

Although the image of Jane turning the merry company out of the room is endlessly entertaining. Short, slight Jane against six men, one of whom is a military officer. 

The Second Nocturnal Incident

That night, a disturbance occurs. The whole house is aroused by screams. Guests run out of their rooms. Rochester calms everyone down with a story of a servant having a nightmare ("a nervous, excitable woman"), so that they all go back to bed. But Jane is restless. She gets out of bed and gets dressed. Shortly after, Rochester summons her. They go up to the third floor. Mr Richard Mason, the new visitor, has been injured and Jane is tasked with changing his bandages while Rochester goes out for a doctor. Before he leaves, he orders Jane and Richard not to talk to each other. 

I mean, it's hilarious. How does he imagine he can stop them? And how would he know if they did talk? 

Jane, however, is not bothered by this. Perhaps she's by now used to her master's strange orders. Her mind is occupied with this mystery. Mr Mason has been stabbed with a knife. Jane cannot think of any other attacker than Grace Poole. She wonders what Richard was doing up here when he was given a room downstairs.

An act of violence at a place where you live must be unsettling. If I was there and suspected Grace Poole of a violent attack--because there ostensibly was nobody else to suspect--I, too, would wonder why the heck does the master insist on keeping her. Is there a shortage of seamstresses in this time and place? Jane spoke to Grace Poole once, the morning after the barbecue in Rochester's bedroom, and the woman seemed quite normal, sewing the curtains. She warned Jane to keep her door locked but otherwise didn't behave in any sketchy way. Unlike our romantic hero. Grace is a very commonplace and uninteresting Quaker woman.

But if it wasn't Grace Poole, then who? Another servant? Or is there something different, more sinister, threatening Thornfield?

This story needs Miss Marple. She'd suss it out in no time. She'd also take Jane under her wing, bring her back with her to St Mary Mead, make her many cups of tea and biscuits and teach her how to garden. But, alas, Miss Marple will not be born until many decades later and so the poor helpless Jane is left to fend for herself, with no Fairy Godmother to give her guidance. 

Rochester returns with Dr Carter. While the doctor tends to Richard's wounds, Rochester sends Jane to his room to get stuff, including a phial with a dodgy substance, which he admits to the doctor he got from an Italian charlatan. He makes Richard take it. 

Curiously, it's never mentioned again. Wonder what else he keeps in the house?

Mr Richard Mason is dispatched, but before he leaves, he turns to Rochester and says:

“Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be..."

Who is that mysterious "her"? 

Rochester advised Mason he'd best think of "her" as dead. Richard said "she" bit him and wanted to suck blood. (For those who never read Jane Eyre, no, this is not a vampire novel, but it would be honestly more interesting if it was.) I call BS on this. Not that he's lying, I put it to Jane's revisionism when narrating the novel. But that's for later. Rochester answers that he does his best and always will, and Richard Mason is off in a chaise.

In the early morning hours, Rochester and Jane talk in the garden. He calls her his "pet lamb" and "little friend". Of the incident he explains nothing, so that's the second nocturnal adventure they witnessed where he keeps her in the dark. Jane asks if Grace Poole will go on living at Thornfield. 

“Oh yes! don’t trouble your head about her—put the thing out of your thoughts.”

He then gives an Oscar-winning performance of a broody, tortured hero.

It occurs to me, is he in the wrong job? He sings and acts well, he should have gone into performing arts. He'd get to act out his misogyny on stage and it might have made him a better person in real life. Who knows...

Interlude

The following afternoon, Jane receives a visitor. It's Robert Leaven, a servant of the Reeds, bringing her news from Gateshead Hall. John Reed, Jane's cousin, is dead and Aunt Reed's health is rapidly declining. John Reed, who used to bully Jane when they were little, grew up to be a trouble maker--drinking, drugs, gambling, the whole lot. He got into debt, went to jail, and when even his mother refused to bail him out anymore, he killed himself. After suffering a stroke, Mrs Reed has been repeating Jane's name over and over. Her daughters have sent Robert to get Jane and bring her to Gateshead Hall.

Jane approaches Rochester and asks for leave of absence, explaining about her aunt. Rochester is surprised. Refer to item number 2 on my list--didn't she tell him she had no relations? Now he hears that a magistrate at Gateshead was her uncle and Georgiana Reed, a beauty admired a season or two ago in London, is her cousin. He doesn't want to let her go. Jane reassures him that they cast her away and mean nothing to her. (To be clear, it was Mr Reed who was Jane's relation, her mother's brother, Mrs Reed is not a blood relative.)

Jane is very direct about having to look for a new position. She expects Adele will be sent to school once Rochester marries Blanche Ingram. Rochester agrees and tells her not to advertise, that he'll take care of it. She's off.

Jane ends up being away for a whole month. During her stay at Gateshead, she learns that her wealthy uncle in Madeira, John Eyre, is interested in adopting her. The dying Aunt Reed confesses to have concealed this from her out of pure spite. She is really evil. At last, she croaks.

From Mrs Fairfax's letters, Jane learns that the merry company has dispersed. 

Mind Games

Jane returns to Thornfield. She meets Rochester outside the house, where they hold a ridiculous conversation. 

Rochester: where have you been so long? 

Jane: with my aunt who is now dead. 

Rochester: a true Janian reply!

Universe grant me patience. What is so "Janian" about that reply? Pretty sure it's a normal person reply??? You asked her where she's been, she tells you where she's been. Which, by the way, you know because she told you when she asked for a leave of absence

Jesus Christ, this guy. 

Maybe he has memory problems. It would explain a lot. 

Okay, you can argue that as her employer, he has a right to be concerned, as she only asked for a week off and ended up being off for a month. But she has been in contact with Mrs Fairfax via letters. She would have explained her extended leave of absence in these letters. Jane is not the type of person who prolongs her holiday without explanation. Rochester, as usual, is full of shit. He tells her: 

“Absent from me a whole month, and forgetting me quite, I’ll be sworn!”

Because that's the way to talk to your employees.

I wish she would forget about you, Edward, what can I say.

This is Jane's reaction:

I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master again, even though broken by the fear that he was so soon to cease to be my master, and by the knowledge that I was nothing to him: but there was ever in Mr. Rochester (so at least I thought) such a wealth of the power of communicating happiness, that to taste but of the crumbs he scattered to stray and stranger birds like me, was to feast genially. His last words were balm: they seemed to imply that it imported something to him whether I forgot him or not. And he had spoken of Thornfield as my home—would that it were my home!

You guys. She literally admits she's accepting his crumbs.

This is when Rochester calls Jane "Janet" for the first time. I remember how it confused me when I first read the book in English (there is no name change in the Slovak translation) because I didn't realise he meant it as a nickname. He stopped calling her "Miss Eyre" and switched to "Jane" sometime around the gypsy woman episode. 

They talk about the new carriage Rochester procured and how well it will suit his future wife. Who Jane understands to be Blanche Ingram.

Interestingly, Mrs Fairfax wrote in a letter to Jane that this match seemed strange to her. I'd like to know her thought process in this. Does Mrs Fairfax realise in her heart that Blanche can do better than Rochester? She doesn't seem to have a problem with Blanche, unlike Jane, but then of course she is not in love with Rochester. She'd keep the housekeeper position after they married, but Jane would lose her job as a governess, as Adele would be sent to school. Mrs Fairfax is therefore the more neutral observer. Blanche and Rochester have known each other for at least seven years, as Mrs Fairfax previously mentioned a Christmas party that took place then and Blanche was there. They had plenty of time to get married if they wanted to.

Certainly the owner of Thornfield Hall would be expected to marry. As Jane Austen famously said, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However, nothing further is said of the potential nuptials and there are no visible wedding preparations. Mrs Fairfax tells Jane that upon questioning Rochester on this, he answered something in jest. Trust old Edward on that.

Of course a housekeeper would like to know if a new mistress of the house was coming! Changes to the running of the household would be inevitable. But to understand that Edward would have to care about people other than himself.

I've not mentioned anything about the timeline. Jane arrived to Thornfield in autumn. Rochester entered the scene January the following year. The merry company was there in April. Jane is away for a month, comes back, a few weeks pass and now it's midsummer eve.

Midsummer eve *licks lips feverishly* you don't say?

Jane puts Adele to bed and heads to the garden. Rochester is there and they start talking. 

With a proposal like this, who needs death threats?

He remarks she got well settled at Thornfield. She feels at home there and has come to like her charge Adele and the good widow Fairfax. Jane agrees that indeed it is so. Rochester says she'd be sorry to leave Thornfield. Jane asks if she must. He gravely confirms that yes, she must. She asks if he is to be married and he responds that he has decided to put his old bachelor's neck into the noose of the sacred matrimony and I, for one, wish he would hang himself. He informs Jane his wedding to Blanche would take place in a month's time; she can stay at Thornfield in the meantime but he's already got a new job lined up for her: position of a governess for the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O’Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland.

Is this like the "Bunbury" thing from The Importance of Being Earnest?

Poor Jane can't clock that it's a fake name and address because of the state she's in. She has to stop herself from sobbing, but can't do anything about the tears in her eyes. Rochester keeps going on about what good friends they've become (he's her boss) and how he will not see her again because he never goes to Ireland. He talks of "that boisterous Channel" that will lie between them. (It won't. It's the Irish Sea that will lie between them, not the Channel. Channel, or the English Channel, is the body of water that separates Britain from the mainland Europe. Geography fail, Edward.) He worries she'll forget him, to which she responds that she will never forget him. Jane doesn't hide from the reader how she feels in this scene. Take this:

I sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I endured no longer; I was obliged to yield, and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress.

And this:

The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway, and asserting a right to predominate, to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last: yes,—and to speak.

A question for you, dear readers: If you someone you care about--a good friend or a sister--felt like this in the presence of a man she was in love with, what would your advice to her be? 

Jane says she loves Thornfield because she had not been "trampled on" or "petrified" there, has not "been buried with inferior minds" and has not been "excluded from every glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high". 

She's witnessed arson, saw a man wounded in a horrific attack and was made to feel inferior around upper class people. But I guess it could have been worse.

What follows is for me the most confusing part of the book. Rochester suddenly turns around and asks Jane with a straight face what she means when she says she will be leaving. 

At this stage, I'd start doubting my own sanity too. 

He now insists she must stay. At which Jane bursts out and gives the speech so beloved by the readers:

“Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are!”

(Who talks like this, honestly?)

Look. I get that it sounds cool and powerful and all, it's just that... in practice it would have the same effect if she said it to that dog Pilot. Or the big chestnut tree they're under. Or the brick wall. Not words, Jane. Actions. That's what matters, actions. (Here's a link to an article on the importance of upholding your boundaries by actions, not words, from Baggage Reclaim.) She should have removed herself from that situation as soon as she started falling for Rochester. She could have returned to Lowood, I'm sure they'd allow her back. And look for a new job as a governess for a child or children who have both parents in the household, because bachelors are dangerous. Before she went on leave, Rochester told her not to advertise for a job. But what if she disobeyed him and did advertise? What if she found a new position while she was away? What if she left for this new position straight from Gateshead? And sent for her things at Thornfield, if she still had any there? She didn't need him. References she'd get from Mrs Fairfax--who also believed the master was going to marry Blanche, so she wouldn't be surprised at Jane getting a new job. Imagine Jane did all that. That would send a fucking message. Instead of mouthing off long sentences that he is not even listening to. They have zero effect on him. He knows she's not a machine without feelings, because he has seen her have feelings. Like, right now. FFS SHE'S CRYING RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM! If he thought she was incapable of feelings, he wouldn't be manipulating her. 

Jane likes to bring up her plainness as often as Rochester's ugliness, but, spoiler alert, Rochester treats all women horribly, pretty or not. Wealth, yeah, that's a different thing. But Jane doesn't need to remind him of that, because he is well aware he has wealth. He is well aware that it's the only thing he has. 

Rochester hugs and kisses her but she's not convinced--he is to be married to another. Let me go, she says. He tells her not to struggle as a bird. She responds with another popular quote: 

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”

I refer you to an earlier quote above, the one about accepting crumbs, where she calls herself a bird

Okay. Maybe she has ceased being one between then and now, and evolved into a free human being with independent will. 

It still takes some time until he finally asks her to marry him. She calls out his bluff. And he? He is surprised that she finds him untrustworthy!

“Am I a liar in your eyes?” he asked passionately.

Is the sky blue? Do bears do their business in the woods?

Yes. You are a liar, Edward. In the eyes of everyone who can see (metaphorically). You are a liar, the whole liar, and nothing but a liar.

He continues: 

"What love have I for Miss Ingram? None: and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my fortune was not a third of what was supposed, and after that I presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her and her mother. I would not—I could not—marry Miss Ingram."

In which he LITERALLY ADMITS TO LYING!!!

On more than one level.

Would I Lie To You? (Yes You Would)

Ever since the merry company entered the scene, he courted Blanche Ingram. At least Jane thought so, but Mrs Fairfax must have thought so at some point as well, because of what she put in her letter to Jane. But he says he was never serious about Blanche. So that's lying to Jane and to Mrs Fairfax.

Now, we don't know what actually passed between him and Blanche. We only have Jane's POV. If he indeed pretended to be into Blanche, that's another lie. He lied to Blanche and by extension to her family. Then he lied again in the matter of his fortune. What if Blanche turned out not to care about that and wanted to marry him anyway--what then?

Equally, it is possible that there never was anything between the two of them. As I said earlier, Blanche and Rochester knew each other for seven years. (Granted though, he was gone from Thornfield the vast majority of time, but it still would have been enough for them to know each other. The Ingrams also probably don't stay at their place all year long, as Lord Ingram met Georgiana Reed in London, so maybe they all meet in London, or even the Continent, too.) They could have been flirting for pure entertainment only. Maybe that's what they did at parties. Jane mentions flirting between the younger members of the merry company, for example Lord Ingram and Amy Eshton. (I ship those two, so as far as I'm concerned, they got married.) Rochester says Blanche didn't care a hoot about him (wise girl). Him presenting himself to her after the rumour of his dwindled fortune, that might not even have happened. When would he do so anyway? Jane specifically mentions he made no trips to Ingram Park after she returned from Gateshead. So that would be another lie to Jane. Whichever way you take that paragraph, he lied to someone.

It wasn't just an innocent fib. And no, it does not make it okay if the lying is done to someone you don't like.

As for Blanche Ingram wanting to marry rich--so what? It's not like she lived in a time where women had opportunities to make their own money. There's no such thing as "gold digger" when we're talking of an era of no rights for women. She had only a small legacy, as the entire fortune was passed to her brother Theodore, who inherited the title. There is nothing inherently wrong about wanting to marry a man of wealth. Obviously, there should not be any deception; I'm talking of a situation where you date within a certain circle of men and see who you like. 

It's just a fucking common sense to marry a guy who can work and earn money, even in our times. Especially if you want to have children. You don't owe anyone to date broke losers, ladies.

(Nobody does, in fact, whatever your sexuality and gender identity.)

For all we know, Blanche might not even have wanted a rich husband. It's only Rochester that tells us so. Jane's account of Blanche is heavily biased, but if we are to believe her narration, all Blanche said about men was that she likes them a bit wild and they don't need to be as good looking as women ("...as if a man had anything to do with beauty! As if loveliness were not the special prerogative of woman—her legitimate appanage and heritage!"). Not a word about money. Like I said, noting wrong with that, I'm just pointing out that the reader cannot know if it's true or not.

After some brief angst, Jane says yes and finally, FINALLY calls him Edward. Though for the rest of the book she keeps referring to him as Mr Rochester and "my master", and keeps calling him "sir". The next morning when they talk, and it's again one of their typical ridiculous conversations, she confronts him about his feigned attraction to Blanche Ingram. At first he tries to wiggle out of it, but she won't let him side track her and demands an answer. And Eddie, for once in his life, tells the truth. He confesses he did it to make Jane fall madly in love with him and jealousy was the best tactic to use.

So there you have it. Edward Fairfax Rochester admits to being a manipulative bastard. 

He KNEW she was in love with him already. Don't tell me he didn't. That time she ran out of the drawing room with tears in her eyes, after she listened to him sing? Or that time she more or less PROFESSED her love for him, when he freaked out over Mr Mason's arrival to Thornfield? Come the fuck on. "I'd give my life to serve you." She'd turn a group of FOURTEEN people, six of them men, out of the room if they came out and spat at him. She'd stay with him and comfort him as well as she could, not caring that it'd be them against the world. You don't feel like this towards your boss. Unless you're in love with your boss. And I'm only naming the instances where Jane shows her feelings, if unwittingly. I could speculate that he knew how she felt much sooner. Even as early as when they first met. Just because she answered "no, sir" when he asked if she thought him handsome doesn't mean he didn't believe she could fall for him. He knew his looks didn't matter to her, especially as she was no beauty herself. Fresh out of all-girls boarding school, in her first ever job, no family or friends. No other men as long as eye could see, due to Thornfield's remote location. There was not even a young curate for her to befriend. She was bound to fall for him, if only for the sheer lack of any men in her vicinity. 

Eddie is not stupid. Whatever else he is.

Jane, to her credit, does ask whether he thought of Blanche's feelings. He handwaves it with:

"Blanche Ingram has no feelings but pride and that needs humbling." 

I have questions.

What authority does he think he has to exercise such judgement? Did he appoint himself a vigilante, who teaches people a lesson? And if so, does this extend to men too? Does it extend to the remaining six deadly sins? Men committing lust or wrath, does he punish them too?

Jane presses on: 

"Do you think Miss Ingram will not suffer from your dishonest coquetry? Won’t she feel forsaken and deserted?"

Dishonest coquetry. 

Good choice of words, Jane, but let me ask you a question. Why are you getting involved with a man who is capable of such dishonest coquetry? 

To which he responds that it was Blanche that deserted him when she heard of his insolvency. 

Wait a minute and hold up. He didn't say anything about insolvency. He said the rumour was his fortune was a third of what it was. That's not the same, is it? If it was indeed rumours of insolvency that Blanche heard, she was wise to stay away from him. She's wise to stay away from him altogether, but you get my point.

Blanche Ingram

Little developed side characters offer endless possibilities.

Imogen Poots as Blanche Ingram in the 2011 film

Blanche's refusal of Rochester, if it indeed happened, could have been a Persuasion situation. It's not one I prefer personally, I like my Blanche not giving a fuck about Rochester. In fact, I headcanon her as lesbian. One of the scenarios I like to imagine is that she wanted to marry old Roch because she knew of his womanising ways and it didn't matter to her, for she'd be able to have a girlfriend too. (I'll get to the womanising.)

In the grand scheme of things, Blanche doesn't matter at all--she has no bearing on the plot. Nothing would change if she wasn't there, or if her part was reduced. It can be argued that her purpose in the narrative is to provide romantic tension. But why? The story already has plenty of conflict. If the author's intention is to showcase the contrast between a plain governess and an upper class lady like Blanche, then Blanche merely needs to exist as a guest at Thornfield, without having to be a rival love interest for Rochester. That part in the book, the morning after the fire in Rochester's bedroom, when Jane is impatiently waiting to see him, to talk to him, and gets told he travelled to Leas, where people of his class have gathered for a party, and she hears he is popular with the ladies? That's actually brilliant. The realisation of her poor, insignificant governess-y self? The grasping of her foolishness for thinking she could matter to him? It's so... raw. No doubt many of us have experienced something similar. Then Mrs Fairfax tells her of Miss Blanche Ingram, beautiful and accomplished, how she reigned like a queen at a Christmas party at Thornfield seven years ago. You know you have no chance against that. It's powerful, it hits the reader in the feels. Even if the reader doesn't like Rochester. Jane does. This bit alone provides enough romantic suspense for the whole book. The merry company didn't even need to arrive at Thornfield, really, though I'm glad they did. There's so much fun to have with these characters. 

What I'm arguing is, Charlotte didn't have to go as far as having the Roch pretend he was going to marry Blanche, even if she needed Blanche to provide romantic tension. A purely friendly banter between Blanche and Edward, filled with references to their past encounters and inside jokes would have sufficed. "Remember that time we were staying at Gosford Park, and we thought the place was haunted by the ghosts, but it was only Countess of Trentham's snoring?" Followed by laughter. You catch my drift. Not only is Blanche beautiful and classy, she has a history with Edward.

Digression - A Better Man

It still wouldn't paint old Roch in a favourable light, mind you. He still left for Leas without a word, the morning after Jane saved his literal ass. He could have left her a note. Dear Jane, I am called to Leas for a gathering of old friends. I will be back in a fortnight. I will miss our evening conversations. Yours, E F Rochester. But that would not be Edward Rochester, because that would be an entirely different man, a better man, a man who would not house an arsonist under his roof, and that would mean any fire in his bedroom would be only accidental (more on that later). This man would not force a governess to sit in the drawing room with high society--or he would have introduced her as part of a family, demanding they treat her as an equal. This man would not unnerve her so much she'd run out of the drawing room, he would not make her cry, he would not leave her abruptly in the hallway with a sentence unfinished at "goodnight, my", he would not feign attraction to a different woman, a woman Jane cannot compare herself to and win. This man would not lie that he got her a new job across the Irish Sea, forcing her to expose her feelings for him. It would be an entirely different story.

Of course, he as the master of the estate owed her, his employee, no explanation for why he went to Leas. But in that case he should not have allowed them to become so close that she practically looks on him as a friend. And after such a distressing event as a fire in a bedroom--and her saving his life--a note of courtesy would be just good manners. Dear Miss Eyre, thank you for saving me from becoming a well done steak last night. I will be gone for two or three weeks. Keep up the good work with Adele. Sincerely, Rochester.

End Digression - Back to Blanche

I take Jane's descriptions of Blanche with a pinch of salt. When Jane went to Rochester to ask for a leave of absence, he was playing billiards with the younger members of the merry company. Jane describes that Blanche gave her a look demanding to know “what can the creeping creature want now?” But that is only Jane's imagination, Blanche never said anything like that. (Curious that Jane thinks someone finds her creepy. Maybe she stares at people.) All she said was:

“Does that person want you?”

"That person" is cold, but it's not like Blanche is obliged to remember the name of some governess. (Also Rochester didn't see Jane, so had Blanche not alerted him to her presence, Jane would have continued standing there like an idiot.) During the gypsy fortune teller episode, when Jane was fetching wine from the drawing room for Rochester in the library, she tells us Blanche looked at her suspiciously, no doubt thinking Jane was taking liberties. Again, it's just Jane's imagination. We don't know what Blanche was thinking. Even if Jane was right in her impression, well, Blanche could have thought that and so would many people. As far as Blanche was concerned, the person Jane was talking to in the library was the gypsy fortune teller. Of course it would seem weird to Blanche that Jane was getting her wine! If Blanche guessed the gypsy woman was Rochester in disguise--and I like to think she did, and so did the other girls, or at least one of the Eshtons--it was still strange that Jane fetched him wine. Why couldn't he get it himself? Was it so important to him to keep his gypsy play act? But he asked Jane to tell Mr Mason to come to the library to see him--so it means he already dropped the act for everyone else, not just Jane.

Another thing to consider is that Blanche may have wondered whether something was up at Thornfield. She may have wondered why the governess was always sitting with them in the drawing room, when she wasn't part of the company. (She probably wasn't the only one in that.) She may have wondered about Adele, too, was she Edward's child or not? She may have wondered about the newcomer, Mr Mason, how come she had never heard Edward mention him in the seven years she'd known him? 

And another point. That moment when Rochester ambushed Jane in the hall, when she was running away from the drawing room with tears in her eyes after hearing him sing, he was afraid a servant would see them. Was it an Ingrams' servant he worried about? (The merry company brought their own servants with them.) If he was performing an act of potential future husband for Blanche, of course he couldn't risk her discovering how close he got to a governess. I like to think of Blanche's lady's-maid as one who spies for her mistress.

Blanche is the detective of this mystery.

In any case, Blanche is the character with the biggest potential for development. Have her care about something and ta-dah--character development. As I said, I headcanon her as a lesbian ("women are beautiful"), so that already gives me a different angle to her altogether. Whatever Charlotte Bronte intended with her character, Blanche enables me to see Rochester's true awfulness. 

A Note on Fake Dating

Please note that this is not a criticism of the fake dating trope. Or in this case, Operation: Jealousy.  I just don't think it fits a couple with this much imbalance, not if Rochester is the one doing it. 

I'll give you a better example, using Lord Ingram and Amy Eshton. Imagine they're into each other, but he can bit a bit dumb when it comes to all things love-related, or takes her for granted, so she starts flirting with another gentleman, which forces the young lord to wake up and propose to her. (Even better if Blanche is the one who suggests this to Amy!) She accepts, they marry and live happily ever after. The other guy is not affected much because it was only a harmless flirting. See the difference? Similar social standing, similar age, neither one is the other's employer, Amy is not acting as if she plans to marry the other guy and none of her family believe she will do so. 

Ron and Hermione date other people to get each other riled up. JK Rowling sucks at writing romance (and at other stuff too), but I mention it just as an example, as most people are familiar with Harry Potter. It's contemporary (or, well, the 90s), they're peers, and even though Hermione is muggle-born, she's way smarter than Ron. Also, they're teenagers and teenagers are allowed to behave stupidly. Edward Rochester is nearly forty.

The Engagement

Jane wants Rochester to reassure her that there is no other woman. He does. She believes him.

Readers, I'm exhausted.

I just want to:

See Jane Run by Joy Fielding is, incidentally, a domestic thriller. A modern retelling of Jane Eyre would be well written as a domestic thriller. (I know of The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, but I haven't read it.)

Jane does not run--yet. She tells her new fiancé they were seen kissing by the good Mrs Fairfax, and would he explain the situation to her. So Edward goes to announce their engagement to Mrs Fairfax. Jane then goes to see the good lady herself. 

Mrs Fairfax's Warning

At last, someone with some braincells! Mrs Fairfax is bewildered. The first thing she says is that the Rochesters have always been proud and the father of the present Mr Rochester liked money and was always careful. 

Mrs Fairfax: "He means to marry you?"

Jane: "He tells me so."

Not "yes, he does" but "he tells me so." It's like she doesn't believe him either.

Mrs Fairfax points out the inequality in position and fortune and the age gap. Jane protests that Rochester is as young, and looks as young, as men of twenty-five. 

No, he doesn't.

Cue Lord Ingram, Henry and Frederick Lynn, cackling with laughter.

Mrs Fairfax asks if he truly means to marry her for love. 

Mrs Fairfax asking all the right questions.

Poor Jane gets teary eyed again (he does bring out the floodgates in her, huh?). Mrs Fairfax explains that she means that Jane is very young and very inexperienced with men (FACTS) and quotes the old proverb that not all is gold that glitters. Jane, hurt, asks if she is that unlovable. Mrs Fairfax says that no, Miss Eyre is very good and improved of late and:

"Mr. Rochester, I daresay, is fond of you. I have always noticed that you were a sort of pet of his."

He has a pet already, Pilot the dog.

I like this conversation, especially everything Mrs Fairfax has to say. She has been worried for a while about Rochester's visible preference for Jane and wanted to warn the girl, but didn't want to be impertinent, as Jane has always behaved properly and modestly. The night before she was looking for her all over the house, only to observe her enter with the master and them kissing. Even though they're engaged, Mrs Fairfax still warns Jane to keep him at the distance and distrust herself and him. 

I interpret this as her advising Jane not to have sex until the wedding night. 

Now here's a fucking good quote. 

Jane is unsettled by the housekeeper's words, her happiness dampened. Rochester plans to take her to Millcote in his new carriage, to buy her some new dresses. Adele runs to her and begs to be taken with them. Jane, thinking about Mrs Fairfax's warning, persuades the Roch to take Adele with them. He reluctantly agrees. After all, she is soon to be his. 

The High Street Hell

Shopping turns out to be a horrible experience for Jane. She hates every minute of it. She has no time for pretty dresses and jewels. She wants to stick to boring blacks and greys. The pretty colourful gowns are just not her.

This is where the class divide that Mrs Fairfax spoke of shows most. Lady of Thornfield Hall should wear pretty gowns, she should have pretty jewellery. Blanche Ingram would know this, any other lady of the merry company would know this. Rochester, who sneered at Blanche because, according to him, she only wanted him for his fortune, picks a plain little governess in drab clothes over the high class lady--yet he takes that drab little governess to shop for glorious gowns of the high class lady.

Jane feels uncomfortable about all that money and wishes she had a fortune of her own, albeit small.  And then she remembers the rich uncle in Madeira. She decides to write to him about herself and her upcoming marriage. I don't know why she didn't think of it sooner. Whether she's marrying Rochester or not, it's the right thing to do to contact him, and not just because of the money. Consider that the moment Aunt Reed told Jane this uncle wanted to adopt her, she believed her stint as a governess at Thornfield would soon come to an end. She didn't know where her next job would come from. It was the perfect time to look up a lost relative. Had she written to him straight away, she'd have gotten a response sometime between her return to Thornfield and Rochester's proposal. She'd have known she was an heiress, and would have shut the douchebag up. I am a woman of wealth, now, if not of beauty (because that always needs to be stressed, her lack of beauty), you will not mess around with me any more, sir! 

Sigh. What could have been.

Jane is determined to continue working as Adele's governess until the day of their wedding, and agrees to spend only evenings with Rochester, as was their custom. She refuses to dine with him. Rochester grumbles, but she sticks to her guns. Good for you, Jane. Still, she worries he is becoming too much to her, her whole world. Well, she's not wrong. At the same time, though, from the way she narrates, it sounds as if she's not that thrilled about marrying him. Once the month of courtship is over, she says:

"...there was no putting off the day of the wedding."

She doesn't even like to think of herself as Mrs Rochester. 

Then, something happens that causes her to spend the last day before her wedding wrapped in anxiety instead of excitement. 

The Third Nocturnal Incident

Rochester is away on a business at another one of his estates. He doesn't return until late at night. He tells her he's put everything in order and they would start for their honeymoon as soon as they got back from the church. Jane still addresses him as "sir". They sit together and talk, as she previously promised him she would stay up with him the night before his wedding (when he still pretended he would marry Blanche). Another one of his strange orders, another task that is not in the job description of a governess. The fact that neither of them would get any sleep doesn't bother them. 

This is the third instance of Rochester not letting Jane get a good night's sleep. Even if you make allowances for the other two (and he didn't have to keep her awake after she saved him from death by fire, the Mason incident is a different matter), she already complained to him of tiredness. You know, that time he LARP-ed as the gypsy fortune teller?

Jane admits something's on her mind--he can read it in her face at any rate--and recounts the happenings of the previous night.

Because Jane so much insisted on wearing very plain clothes and no jewellery, Rochester had ordered her a luxurious veil from London. She had made her own veil before, one more suitable for, as she puts it, "low-born head". But the groom had his mind set on his bride wearing at least a beautiful veil. The night was a bad one, windy and cold, despite it being July, and she had bad dreams. She woke up, thinking it was daylight, but it was not. There was a stranger in her room with a candle. A strange woman. She thought at first it was Sophie, Adele's French nurse, but when Jane called her name, the woman didn't answer. She stood by the open closet, where Jane's wedding dress and the new veil hung. Jane realised it was not Sophie, neither it was the housemaid Leah, nor Mrs Fairfax, nor even Grace Poole. 

And you know it gets serious when Jane is sure it's not Grace Poole. 

Rochester asks her to describe the figure. Jane does so: tall, long dark hair, dressed in white, the new veil on her head. She didn't see her face, the strange woman having her back to her, but she did glimpse it in the mirror. It was, by Jane's description, quite a ghastly face, all purple and swelled, with red eyes. Jane compares it to a foul German spectre, the Vampyre. (Not sure if this means the same as what we imagine vampires to be today. Vampire fiction is not my thing, but as far as I know, they're supposed to be pale, not purple. Google search of the word "vampyre" brings up mostly the story of this title by John William Polidori. Anyway, for the purposes of this piece, what matters is that Jane thought the woman to be a malicious supernatural being, or someone that looked like a malicious supernatural being.) Jane says the creature, for whom she uses the pronoun "it", then took the veil off her head, tore it in two, let it fall on the floor and trampled on it. 

Jane has not been trampled on at Thornfield, but the poor veil was.

Next the strange woman looked out the window, walked to Jane's bed, gave her an ugly look and distinguished the candle. Dawn was coming. Jane lost consciousness. When she came to, there was no one in the room and it was daylight. 

Jane asks Rochester who that woman was.

Rochester tells her it was just a dream, like the other bad dreams she had that night. In one of them she saw Thornfield in ruins; he points out Thornfield is not in ruins, thus the strange visitor was also only a product of Jane's over-stimulated brain.

Jane says: okay, but how do you explain the veil on the floor, torn into two halves?

Rochester:

Suddenly he's all concerned and thanks god nothing happened to Jane. He tells her it was part reality, part dream, that the woman was Grace Poole and she came to Jane's room and tore up her veil, but Jane, half asleep, ascribed her a ghoulish appearance. 

It seems like a reasonable explanation. Except for the part where he still keeps a seemingly unstable, even dangerous, person in the house. He promises Jane he will explain all about Grace Poole after they've been married a year and a day. Jane, on Rochester's advice, sleeps in Adele's nursery that night. 

The Wedding

Wedding day dawns. Jane is wearing the simple veil. She only takes a brief look at herself in the mirror. And even that is on Sophie's insistence (Sophie dressed her). She appears more like a woman going through a forced marriage than someone marrying the love of her life.

Rochester grabs her by the hand and together they rush to church, until she's out of breath. She couldn't even take in what the weather was like, but just as they're outside the church, she notices the ruddy morning sky behind the spire.

Okay, but... It was July, shortly before eight o'clock in the morning. The sky would not have been ruddy for a while. At that hour, the sun would be shining, the sky would be blue, maybe grey if it was overcast.

Jane spots two strangers, men, at the graveyard, entering the church by the side door. Rochester doesn't notice them.

The wedding ceremony starts. The clergyman gets to the part where he asks if anyone knows of any impediment to the marriage. He pauses and is about to continue, when a voice speaks. It is the voice of one of the strangers, and it is this voice that declares an impediment.

There's still plenty of the book left, so it was clear to the reader that it would not be smooth sailing. 

Rochester urges the clergyman to go on, but the clergyman is not allowing it--since someone has spoken, he can no longer hold his peace. The stranger says that the marriage cannot go on. The reason is that Mr Rochester has a wife now living.

"Who are you?" asks Rochester.

The stranger introduces himself as Briggs, a solicitor from London.

Rochester: “And you would thrust on me a wife?”

Briggs: “I would remind you of your lady’s existence, sir, which the law recognises, if you do not.”

Here's a very minor character with an absolutely epic burn, and yet people still quote that "I am no bird, no net ensnares me" line. 

Rochester demands proof of existence of the said wife. I don't know what he's expecting--the dude just said he was a solicitor. He wouldn't interrupt the wedding ceremony if he didn't have the receipts. Solicitors always have the receipts. 

Mr Briggs reads out a statement declaring that Edward Fairfax Rochester married the writer's sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason in Spanish Town, Jamaica, fifteen years ago. It is signed, Richard Mason.

The Roch is unmoved. He argues that the document, if genuine (why wouldn't it be?) only proves that he was once married, not that the said wife is still living. Briggs claims he knows she was alive three months ago and he has a witness to this fact. 

Rochester: “Produce him—or go to hell.”

Reminder that they're in church.

Briggs, true to his profession, produces the witness. Mr Richard Mason steps forward. 

Fury rises in Rochester. He lifts his arm, about to strike Mr Mason. Luckily Mason dodges. Rochester yells: 

“The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I again demand, what have you to say?”

The clergyman reminds him they're in a sacred place. 

Richard Mason confirms that he saw Rochester's wife at Thornfield Hall in April and that he's her brother. The clergyman exclaims it's impossible--he's been a local resident for many years and never heard of any Mrs Rochester. No, says Rochester, I made sure nobody ever would. 

And so, the game is finally up for our Edward. He admits to attempted bigamy, but that is as far as he goes in owning up to anything. This is what he has to say for himself:

"Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots and maniacs through three generations! Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard!—as I found out after I had wed the daughter: for they were silent on family secrets before. Bertha, like a dutiful child, copied her parent in both points."

Because that is what you totally choose for yourself. Edward's logic.

He invites the solicitor and the clergyman to come meet his wife. The secret of Thornfield Hall is out. He has been keeping her locked in a room on the third floor where she has been looked after by Grace Poole. 

They approach the house. Sophie, Leah the housemaid, and Mrs Fairfax come forward, but Rochester snaps at them, saying they're fifteen years too late with their congratulations. 

Like it's their fault. 

They ascend the stairs--Rochester is still dragging Jane with him, holding her hand--up to the third floor, to the hidden room. 

The Secret Wife

The mad wife entered the public consciousness as the "madwoman in the attic" but, if you want to get technical, it was not the attic she was locked up in, it was a room on the third floor. However, it doesn't matter a hoot. It was a confined space and she was kept under a lock. Thornfield could have been a castle and she could have been locked up in a tower, and it would have amounted to the same thing. Additionally, a noun followed by "in the attic" flows so well and makes for punchy title. E.g. The (in)famous series Flowers in the Attic, (technically the children were not in the attic either, they lived in a bedroom on the top floor and played in the attic). There's the film Aliens in the Attic. And book titled The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and The Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination, a literary criticism by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, which examines the works of female 19th century writers. Madwoman in the Attic is also a TV Trope. I personally use the expression for anything related to women and madness, or anger, in a patriarchal society. I have a tag for it on Tumblr. In my fanfics, I refer to the attic as well, for no other reason than that it sounds better.

Okay, so... this is the part of the book where I claim unreliable narrator. I did so before, but that was just to explore various options the narrative offers. Now, don't get me wrong, I do trust Jane. She's not someone who lies. She wouldn't be so virtuous if she lied. But it is also true that she is very young and very inexperienced. See item 8 on my list there at the beginning. She couldn't even learn much from reading books because she's not read many and those she did read were not learned. It's not her fault. When it came to the merry company, I think a lot of the stuff from her could have been just plain misunderstanding. She doesn't know anything about people of society. (For the record, she doesn't describe them all in a negative light, it's just Lady Ingram, Lady Lynn and Blanche she paints as bad, the rest were okay, she even mentions Mrs Eshton and Mrs Dent were nice to her.) Take it with a pinch of salt, or not, it's up to you.

But the secret mad wife is something else.

The door to the hidden room is opened and they step in. Jane gives a quick description of the room--it has no windows, there is a fender with a fire burning in it, a lamp hangs from the ceiling. Grace Poole is cooking something in a saucepan. And then comes her description of Edward Rochester's lawfully wedded wife.

In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face.

Rochester cheerfully greets Mrs Poole and asks how her charge is today. Grace answers that she's tolerable, and then warns him to take care.

The maniac bellowed: she parted her shaggy locks from her visage, and gazed wildly at her visitors. I recognised well that purple face,—those bloated features. 

Why Jane changes the pronouns from "it" to "she", I don't know. Why she uses the pronoun "it" in the first place, I don't know.

Rochester warns everyone to keep away. He says he supposes his wife has no knife now. Grace responds that:

“One never knows what she has, sir: she is so cunning: it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her craft.”

Richard Mason suggests they'd better leave her. Rochester snaps at him:

“Go to the devil!”

Why? Why should Richard go to the devil? He made a perfectly reasonable suggestion, for everyone's safety.

Bertha springs at Rochester and they fight. Jane in her description of the fight lets the reader know that Rochester could have struck her with one blow but didn't.

Speaking of Rochester striking people. Earlier, in the church, according to Jane, Rochester raised his arm to strike Richard. He didn't, because Richard shrank away. Then, a moment later, as he's trying to defend himself, Rochester says this:

"Cheer up, Dick!—never fear me!—I’d almost as soon strike a woman as you."

But he did attempt to strike him, at least that's what Jane's narration says. So either Jane is not telling the truth, or Rochester is denying an action he carried out only a minute or two ago. An action witnessed by a solicitor and a clergyman. Plus a third man, a clerk, who was also present. So yeah.

Grace hands Rochester a cord, with which he ties his wife's hands and then ties her to a chair. This he does among Bertha's yells and plunges. 

Would you believe it. She won't be tied quietly!

Rochester is in his element. He turns to his audience and declares:

“That is my wife,” said he. “Such is the sole conjugal embrace I am ever to know—such are the endearments which are to solace my leisure hours! And this is what I wished to have” (laying his hand on my shoulder): “this young girl, who stands so grave and quiet at the mouth of hell, looking collectedly at the gambols of a demon, I wanted her just as a change after that fierce ragout. Wood and Briggs, look at the difference! Compare these clear eyes with the red balls yonder—this face with that mask—this form with that bulk; then judge me, priest of the gospel and man of the law, and remember with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged! Off with you now. I must shut up my prize.” 

(Wo)Man of the law:

Priest of the gospel:

wrong denomination, but it's all I could find

And remember with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.

Fuck off, Edward.

May I remind you that this is the same guy who appointed himself an authority to judge a woman for wanting to marry a man with money. 

There are people who are full of shit. And then there's Edward Rochester.

The Connections of the Uncle in Madeira

They leave the room, Rochester staying behind to give further orders to Grace Poole. Mr Briggs tells Jane she is absolved of any blame and that her uncle will be glad--if he should still be alive when Mr Mason returns to Madeira. Jane is surprised that the lawyer knows her uncle. Briggs says it's Mr Mason that knows her uncle. He has been the Funchal correspondent of House Mason for some years.

As you recall, Jane wrote a letter to her uncle, in which she announced her upcoming nuptials To Mr Rochester of Thornfield Hall. Richard happened to be there when Mr Eyre received the letter. He was stopping in Madeira on his way back to Jamaica after he was sent away from Thornfield. So of course Richard informed Mr Eyre that no way, that can't happen as the dude is married already, to his sister. Mr Eyre is, sadly, very ill and will not last much longer. Unable to travel to England himself, he sends Richard in his place to stop the wedding, connecting him with Briggs.

Mr Briggs is Mr Eyre's solicitor. He advises Jane to await further news from or of her uncle. If Mr Eyre's health was in a better state, he'd tell her to travel to Madeira with Mr Mason.

I wish she travelled to Madeira anyway. Imagine she was united with an uncle she never knew about, even if only for his few final days. She might just have made it. Briggs is no medical doctor, and people can last longer than their prognosis. Imagine she and Richard became friends along the way and he'd tell her about his sister and how they grew up in Jamaica and she'd develop sympathy for Bertha, and hatred for Rochester and then, once Mr Eyre passed away, they'd go back to England, rescue Bertha, and burn down Thornfield with Rochester in it. 

Richard becoming an unexpected ally would be a good plot twist. In the book I mentioned above, See Jane Run, there is a character that is at first antagonistic, but ends up helping the protagonist. Thrillers are like that. 

Sigh once again... what could have been.

Let's go back to the night of Richard's stabbing. Remember how Rochester warned Richard not to talk to Jane, or else? This now gains new significance. Rochester's intention was to prevent Richard from telling Jane about Bertha. But now we learn that Jane and Richard have a common acquaintance. It would need a five minute conversation for them to figure it out. Heck, Richard only needs to know her name. "Miss Eyre? Spelled E-Y-R-E? You don't happen to be a niece of Mr John Eyre of Madeira? He's been looking for you for three years."

Jane first learned of this uncle from Bessie, a servant of the Reeds (and wife of Robert Leavin, the guy who came to take Jane to Gateshead), on her last day at Lowood school. Bessie came to see her before Jane left for her new job, to say goodbye, as Bessie had always been kind to her. Bessie tells her Mr Eyre came to Gateshead, looking for her, while she was at Lowood, and that bitch Aunt Reed sent him away. According to Bessie, he looked like a gentleman and was a wine merchant. Jane never attempted to look for him--as I said before, she only does so after her engagement to Rochester, because she feels uncomfortable about her future husband's wealth. Not once, in the time she first hears of the uncle, till the shopping trip to Millcote, does she ever contemplate looking him up. Sure, she has very little information, but there are ways. Madeira is not that big an island, and English wine merchant wouldn't be that hard to trace. The world was a lot smaller in the 19th century (if we are to accept that the brother-in-law of her boss/love interest happens to know her uncle, we can accept Jane finding a way to locate the uncle). She never knew any relations on her father's side, the Reeds were her mother's relatives. For someone who has been starved of love all her life, she displays remarkable lack of curiosity about a potentially kind relative.

It could, of course, be the fact that the guy lives in Madeira. You know, a place that is not England. Our little Jane is, unfortunately, a massive xenophobe. (Though the uncle is English, so I don't know...)

Which is also why she distrusts Richard Mason right from the start. But just imagine she did, imagine she managed to get past her prejudice and talked to him, while she changed his bandages (even if just to soothe him after his attack). Not only would she defy Rochester, and properly this time, not just by an empty "no sir", she'd get to discover the true extent of his villainy AND gain a new friend! 

Of course, Rochester could not have known about the Madeira connection (unlikely he knows his brother-in-law's friends or business associates), the no-talking ban was only for the sake of keeping his abhorrent secret. But it does make me despair how close Jane was from being spared from this ordeal.

The Solicitor and the Clergyman

I must say, I don't like how abruptly Briggs left Jane to her own devices. He tells her to wait for news of Mr Eyre, but doesn't even drop his business card. The news would most likely come from him anyway. I wish he wasn't so cold to her. He acts for her uncle, he knows his client has been trying to locate her, he knows she's his heir--a potential new client as well!--but he just leaves her there at Thornfield with a man who mere moments ago almost bigamously married her. A man who almost struck a witness, an old friend of his client. He doesn't enquire whether she has anywhere to go, whether she has any money to stay at an inn, he doesn't suggest she accompanies him to London. All in all a frosty conduct. "Job done, if we start for Millcote now, we can catch the 10:25 back to London." I'm forced to conclude that Charlotte wrote it that way because she wants to present the solicitor as the bad guy. He's as much a bad guy as a weather girl announcing rain for the weekend. Shoot the messenger, Charlotte, by all means, and throw his body on the moors to be devoured by the vultures, for a good measure.

Mr Briggs and Richard Mason did the right thing. The whole fucking reason the impediment line is included in the wedding vows is precisely for a situation like this. Anyone who knew of Rochester's marriage to Bertha was obliged to speak out. It's the law! Besides the fact that they did Jane a fucking favour by saving her from a bigamous marriage. If it wasn't for them, Jane would have ended up in an unlawful union, with possibly illegitimate children. It's Rochester who did bad, not them!

And what about the clergyman, Mr Wood? 

The solicitor could behave in a rather cold, dry way, but a man of clergy? Am I to believe that he would not want to ensure himself she was alright? We don't know if he was married, but it's reasonable to think he was. It's reasonable to think he got home and told his wife what went on at the wedding ceremony. It's reasonable to think that Mrs Wood would be concerned for this young woman. Like, I can see her letting Jane stay at the parsonage while she decides what to do next. And if Mr Wood didn't have a wife, he'd have a housekeeper, who could do the same. People are usually bastards but they can be also kind. I don't believe that nobody cared, somebody must have, even if only for the sake of conventionality.

But then, Edward would send them all to the devil. 

Rochester the Scoundrel

Mr. Rochester was not to me what he had been; for he was not what I had thought him. I would not ascribe vice to him; I would not say he had betrayed me; but the attribute of stainless truth was gone from his idea, and from his presence I must go: that I perceived well. 

She's not disappointed about his deception, she's disappointed that he's not the man she thought him to be. HE DID FUCKING BETRAY YOU!

At least she has the right idea, getting the fuck away from him, at the long last. She locks herself in her room, alone with her thoughts. It's an agonising time--I do have sympathy for her, for all that I call her a moron and whatnot, she doesn't deserve to be treated that way. She also feels friendless. Nobody has enquired how she was. Adele didn't come knocking on her door, neither did Mrs Fairfax. 

“Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes.”

The saddest quote of the book.

Soon we find out why. She opens the door and steps out of her room, gets dizzy and almost falls. Rochester catches her--he's been sitting in a chair outside her room. So even if Mrs Fairfax came to check up on her--which I am convinced she did--he would have sent her away. Adele as well. Or anyone else. Probably swear at them too.

And so, Jane and Rochester have a talk. 

Heavens spare my soul.

He asks if she can ever forgive him, and she does so. Apparently she can see the remorse in his face and his love for her in his eyes. Right. Girly turned out to be a lousy judge of character, but whatever. 

Rochester: “You know I am a scoundrel, Jane?” 

Jane: “Yes, sir.”

Still with that FUCKING "sir"!

Forgiveness is a personal choice, so if she wants to forgive him, that's her business. In all the versions of this story that float in my head, I have Bertha forgive Rochester, and his treatment of her was incomparably worse than his treatment of Jane. And he never asks for Bertha's forgiveness. For Blanche it takes a while, but that's because she can't stop being angry about how he treated Bertha. (Oh yeah, I ship the two of them, did I tell you? I call them Antoinette and Bianca. I'm not gonna write about characters named Bertha and Blanche, am I?)

Rochester takes Jane to the library. She had no breakfast in the morning, so that means she's not eaten that day and remember, too, that she had very little sleep. The Roch gives her wine and some food. He is OUTRAGED that Jane doesn't want to kiss him, or perform any act of physical intimacy. He thinks she will not kiss the husband of Bertha Mason. Jane says she has no claim to do so anymore. He asks why and whether it is because he has a wife already. Yes, answers Jane. 

If you think so, you must have a strange opinion of me; you must regard me as a plotting profligate—a base and low rake who has been simulating disinterested love in order to draw you into a snare deliberately laid, and strip you of honour and rob you of self-respect.

But... that... that is... exactly what you have been doing, Edward. 

You know, it's funny. He praises Jane over other women for her character and then acts all hurt when she won't kiss a married man. 

Jane suggests Adele should have a new governess (hinting she will leave), Rochester says he's already arranged for her to go to school. He wants to shut Thornfield Hall, that "accursed place". (What has Thornfield ever done, lol? It's been standing there for centuries without any problems, until you came along.) He says he was wrong to ever bring Jane there, knowing it was haunted. (Except he never did, she came on her own. And it's not haunted. Bertha's not a ghost, she's a real person.) He ordered everyone to conceal the existence of his mad wife from Jane, because he feared he'd never get a governess for Adele if it was known there was a lunatic in his house. (But he was able to get servants? Did they know?)

I possess an old house, Ferndean Manor, even more retired and hidden than this, where I could have lodged her safely enough, had not a scruple about the unhealthiness of the situation, in the heart of a wood, made my conscience recoil from the arrangement. Probably those damp walls would soon have eased me of her charge: but to each villain his own vice; and mine is not a tendency to indirect assassination, even of what I most hate.

So in all these years, he could not have had Ferndean Manor repaired? Is Bertha's current arrangement much healthier? THERE WAS NO WINDOW IN THE ROOM!

"I’ll shut up Thornfield Hall: I’ll nail up the front door and board the lower windows: I’ll give Mrs. Poole two hundred a year to live here with my wife, as you term that fearful hag: Grace will do much for money, and she shall have her son, the keeper at Grimsby Retreat, to bear her company and be at hand to give her aid in the paroxysms, when my wife is prompted by her familiar to burn people in their beds at night, to stab them, to bite their flesh from their bones, and so on—”

As far as we know, Bertha never harmed Grace. Neither did she harm Jane when she came to her room that night. She only tore up the veil. She never attacked anyone else in that house but Rochester. And her brother when he came to see her. 

I will come back to Grace doing much for money later. 

“Sir,” I interrupted him, “you are inexorable for that unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate—with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel—she cannot help being mad."

I like this. If it wasn't for the fact she previously described Bertha as a beast, using the pronoun "it", I would even like Jane.

This part infuriates me so much, I find it hard to get through it. So Rochester's answer is:

“Jane, my little darling (so I will call you, for so you are), you don’t know what you are talking about; you misjudge me again: it is not because she is mad I hate her. If you were mad, do you think I should hate you?”

Jane replies that yes, he would. To which he recites to her how she has no idea how much love he is capable of and every atom of her is dear to him and if she attacked him like Bertha did, he would still love and cherish her and... 

Refer to the section headed Mind Games above regarding Rochester's expressions of love to Jane. With friends like him who needs enemies, eh?

Anyway, do you see what I see? Here is Rochester himself admitting THAT IT'S NOT BERTHA'S MADNESS THAT THE PROBLEM. It's that he hates her. It is not because she is mad I hate her. If you were mad, do you think I should hate you?

"Fearful hag" is not a term you use when describing a certified insane person. It's a term scumbags like Rochester use to describe wives they hate.

He repeats he will shut Thornfield and go away. He wants Jane to come with him. Jane is not having it. 

“Jane! will you hear reason?” (he stooped and approached his lips to my ear); “because, if you won’t, I’ll try violence.”

There it is. You got it there, right out of his own mouth. 

Jane sits him down and agrees to listen to whatever he has to say. 

Who cares what he has to say?

Annnnnnnnd--she bursts into tears. It's like a fucking Pavlov reflex with her. Listen to your body, girl, it's trying to tell you something.

He proposes to her that they should still go away to the south of France, where he has a villa, to live as a husband and wife. She'd be referred to as Mrs Rochester--basically they'd fake being married. Jane won't even think of agreeing to that. 

Good to see some sense coming from her for once. 

He laments that she doesn't understand why he says he's not married (repeating that won't make it true, Edward), when he realises that Jane, of course, has no idea about the circumstances of his marriage. 

And thus concludes Part 1. It's time for the prequel.

Rochester's Origin Story

Sophia Petrillo would deal with this worthless assclown, the old Sicilian way.

Picture it, Yorkshire, England, fifteen years prior to the events of the main plot. Mr Rochester, the owner of Thornfield Hall, is in a pickle: he has two sons; Rowland, the older one and Edward, the younger one. His greed abhors the notion of dividing the estate between them; yet he loathes the idea of the younger son being a poor man. And so, a solution comes to him one moonless, sleepless night--he will find a rich bride for Edward.

Okay, I made that part about the solution and the moonless sleepless night up, but come on. It's not completely out-of-the-world that a good marriage would be sought for a younger son, i.e. not the heir. To be sure, the Rochester estate was not entailed, unlike, for example, the Ingram estate, where Blanche's brother Theodore inherited everything--he's a lord, too. Still, the fact remains that he was the younger son. I read somewhere, I think it may have been someone's blog, that the reason Richard calls Edward "Fairfax" is because he was the second son. When Richard met him, his older brother still lived, so yeah, it makes sense. The Rochester name would then be inherited with the estate. Mrs Fairfax tells Jane at the beginning that "the land has belonged to the family time out of mind". So they must have kept the property together, or they wouldn't have lasted. Or else they killed their younger sons... OH MY GODS!

It's amazing how doing a recap makes one's muses dance. I even had to change the meme. I was getting tired of the same old one.

Where was I, so yeah, a bride with some money would not be an unreasonable path for the second son. Why there is no word about Edward getting a job, I can only speculate. Whether it was not on Papa Rochester's mind, or not on Edward's mind, or whether Edward picks and chooses which facts to reveal to Jane while telling the story--because Jane, who does honest work for a living, would not be happy to hear the rest--is anyone's guess. 

I will say that I believe that Papa Rochester was a stingy bastard. For one, this fact can be corroborated by others and two, it explains so much about Edward. 

Papa Rochester had an old acquaintance, Mr Mason, a planter and merchant in the West Indies. He had a vast fortune and two children, a daughter and a son. It was to this daughter young Edward was promised. She came with thirty thousand pounds. And so Edward sailed to Jamaica, courted the lady, who was very beautiful ("in the style of Blanche Ingram" as he says, by which he just means tall and dark-haired--features that caused Charlotte to have an inferiority complex, perhaps?) and they got married and settled in Jamaica, in Spanish Town.

Anyone wonders if Papa Roch could not find him a match closer to home? No? Just me? Wonder with me, readers. Was there no suitable bride with money anywhere in England? Or Wales or Scotland or Ireland? Or heck, even Europe? Why Jamaica? Of all places. Why the other side of a fucking ocean? Did Papa Roch hate his younger son so much, he wanted him as far away from him as possible? Or could he not find a woman for him on the British Isles because no family wished to wed their daughter to Edward? Was the house of Rochester an unpopular one? 

Anyhow, Edward did become the heir to the Rochester estate after all. Rowland died childless, Papa Roch kicked the bucket as well, and, four years after his wedding to Bertha, Edward found himself the owner of a vast estate--with a very inconvenient wife. Now Edward is the one in the pickle. He's expected to return to England, to take over the running of Thornfield Hall, but what is he going to do about that Creole of a wife? 

And so, a solution comes to him on a moonlit tropical Caribbean night--he will take her to Thornfield and lock her in the attic. 

That's not his story, obviously. The account he gives to Jane is that of a suffering, tortured Byronic hero, chained to a wife who is mad. You know how it goes. Only after the honeymoon was over did he realise the truth. He found out Bertha's mother was a lunatic, shut up in an asylum. He found out there was a younger brother who was a complete dumb idiot. He found out Rowland and Papa Roch knew about all this, but concealed the fact from him, for they only thought about the thirty thousand pounds. The whole world conspired against Edward, the whole world deceived him. 

Not Insane in the Brain

Men calling women mad, what's new?

And Jane is sitting there, eating it all up like the fool she is, because she wants to believe him.

This part is so difficult to recap, it makes me rage.

One time last year I was talking to my mum on the phone and among other things I told her I was working on story written from the point of view of the mad wife of Jane Eyre fame, but that I didn't think she was mad and that Rochester was lying. And you know what my mum said? She said she thought the same when she first read the book! She thought something was off about Rochester's story and Jane believed him because she was in love with him. I had no idea my mum felt like this. We're not in the habit of discussing literature. She didn't pass it to me, we came to the same conclusion independently. 

Men trashing their exes (or soon-to-be exes or wives they want to be exes, as is the case here) is as old as language itself. Men calling women crazy is as old as humanity itself. What is so revolutionary about this book???

Are You Cray-Cray?

I mean, what Rochester describes is not even madness. What he gives us is an image of a woman who has a temper, is "intemperate and unchaste". That's... not madness. He says no servants would stay long in a house where she was the mistress.

You know who can never keep a maid for longer than a week? Emily Gilmore of Gilmore Girls. As Lorelai once put it: "these are women from countries that have dictatorships and civil wars and death squads and all of that they survived, but five minutes working for Emily Gilmore, and people are begging for Castro". Is Emily Gilmore mad too?

A difficult person to live with, maybe, but not someone with a mental illness. Not that there is anything wrong with a mental illness, of course. But then again, depends on your definition of mad, eh, Eddie?

This is obviously from much later, also I think the institution it relates to was in America, but it's still interesting. And it's not much different even today. Take Britney Spears. She got her freedom back after thirteen years, but what was the reason for that conservatorship in the first place? Shaving her head? What is it with Britney shaving her head? Shaving one's head is just... shaving one's head. It means the person is left with bare head, until new hair grows out. Nothing more, nothing less. It's literally just hair. Kanye West has been getting away with much worse behaviour for years and his fans worship him. We know now what it was--Papa Spears wanted to control his golden goose of a daughter's money. That's what it was about, money.

You know. The same reason Edward and Bertha got married.

Yo! She a mad bitch.

Is she though?

Elizabeth Packard was committed to an insane asylum by her husband because she dared to disagree with him on multiple issues.

Christine Collins was committed to a psychiatric ward for saying that the boy who was returned to her was not her missing son. She was played by Angelina Jolie in the film The Changeling.

Lilith of the myths. She was banished from the Garden of Eden for not complying with Adam's wishes.

The burning of witches in medieval times. They were no "witches". They were women.

And what of the sad example of Gabby Petito? When the police stopped them, she immediately started apologising for having OCD (which she might not even have had, probably just wanted to tidy up the van, you know, like a normal person), for being mean to her poor boyfriend Brian because she was in a bad mood. But the 911 caller clearly stated that it was the man beating the woman. Yet she is the one apologising. If you can't be bothered to click it, the link is to a video by a YouTube channel Live Abuse Free, which analyses the police bodycam footage of Gabby and Brian. By the end, Brian and the police are bros, they fist bump and the police officer shares with Brian that he knows what the guy is going through because he has a wife with anxiety. The next thing, Gabby gets murdered by Brian. 

A symptom of madness?

Her tastes were obnoxious to me.

Really? Did she like jerk chicken?

What have "tastes" got to do with someone's mental health???

Did she prefer reggae to his sad emo boy indie music?

It's not funny, you know. In fact it's a dangerous rhetoric. You think I'm exaggerating? You think there aren't people capable enough to claim madness is based on person's tastes? 

Think about how bothered some get about pineapple on pizza, when they just simply could, you know, not eat it. Think about men ridiculing women, especially young girls, who merely like stuff that is specifically aimed at them, be it boybands or Barbies. While it's perfectly okay for them to trash a room when their football team loses a game.

Think about that and weep.

The Inconsistencies

Seriously, am I the only one who sees the inconsistency in Bertha's character? The images Charlotte so vividly paints are not of the same woman. 

So, we have Eddie, who has a lot to say. Except it's not a mad person he is talking about, merely only someone he hates, or, as I suspect, someone who hurt his fragile ego. (She swore at me! She must be insane! Says the guy who swore in church.) 

Let's look at Jane's descriptions. Her first sight of the madwoman is that night when Bertha comes to her room. Jane wakes up to Bertha standing at the wardrobe, trying the wedding veil on, which she then tears into two and throws on the floor. Then Bertha looks out of the window, walks to Jane's bed and extinguishes the candle she's holding into Jane's face. Jane's second, and last, sight of Bertha is when they go up to the attic room with Richard, Briggs and Wood. Here, however, we get a picture of an inhuman creature. One that crawls on all fours and grovels; Jane even gives her the pronoun of "it". I think we can safely establish that she doesn't mean a non binary identity (if there is such one that uses the pronoun it). When Rochester says he supposes his wife has no knife now, Grace responds with this:

“One never knows what she has, sir: she is so cunning: it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her craft.”

Richard, after being attacked by her, says:

“She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart."

So we have: 

A beast that walks on all fours and grovels, bites people and even goes as far as drinking their blood--but at the same time is so cunning that a plain mortal cannot fathom her craft, despite being from a line of idiots, has no problem stealing knives from the kitchen without being caught, but she also speaks (to her brother, albeit not in a friendly way) and has enough mental capacity to work out: 1. that there is going to be a wedding at Thornfield, 2. that the bride is Jane Eyre, 3. the location of Jane Eyre's room, 4. the location of the wardrobe with the veil--and she manages to put it on her head. 

Sherlock calls bullshit.

As for Bertha's looks, Jane describes her as tall, with wild unkempt dark hair and, get this, purple face with red eyes.

LOL NOBODY LOOKS LIKE THAT!

I mean, okay, so, I suppose it could be that Bertha had blood shot eyes. But then the red is in the white of the eye, not the iris. Her eyes would still be whatever colour they were. Brown, probably. Regarding the purple face, Bertha's skin could have just been unhealthy due to her confinement to the attic room. Still it would be just a tinge, not the actual colour of skin.

I Googled both red eyes and purple skin and I found articles for both, from medical websites. 

Red eyes.

Purple skin.

Quick scroll down tells me these could have in all likelihood been the effects of Bertha's life in a closed room with no window.

As for her hair being wild and unkempt, of course it's like that when it's not being combed...

Here I finally come to my point of applying an unreliable narrator theory. It's either that, or it's an error in Charlotte's writing. Watson or Doyle, take your pick. 

I Choose Violence

But she's violent!

Friendly reminder that the only people Bertha attacked are her husband and her brother. We can be confident she has never attacked Grace, who she spends most time with. If she did, I trust the narrative would inform us of that. She never harmed Jane either--and she could have, that night she broke into her bedroom. But she only tore up the veil. My theory is, the torn veil was a warning from Bertha. "Don't marry him, sis." A sign. What better symbol of a bride than her veil? After all, this is a gothic novel. Bertha blowing the candle into Jane's face with a smirk is not an act of violence. A mean girl gesture, maybe, but not criminal. It's a very mild behaviour, considering Jane is The Other Woman to Bertha.

When they enter Bertha's room after the aborted wedding, Grace warns Rochester: "she has seen you!" Meaning the one who gets Bertha into a rage is her husband. And sure enough, Bertha lunges at him immediately. She's not going after anyone else--and she must have seen the others too, including Jane, The Other Woman. So yeah, she is violent, but only towards him. She can hardly be blamed for it. 

As for Richard, a plausible explanation could be her anger at him for not doing anything to get her out of that situation. And blaming him for the said situation, if he indeed encouraged her marriage to Rochester. One also needs to take into account the circumstances of the attack--at that time, the merry company was staying at Thornfield Hall. This was out of the ordinary and it must have had an effect on Bertha. The presence of so many strange people could have distressed her, or maybe she got into a state, because, of course, she should have been the hostess by right. She should have been the one entertaining the guests. Humouring the ladies Lynn and Ingram, chatting about music, art and fashion with the girls, exchanging jokes with the men. But Edward robbed her of it. Plus, the not so insignificant fact that he was openly flirting with Blanche Ingram and playing a game with Jane at the same time. Into this, her brother walks in.

Not his lucky day.

But Richard's not even mad at her for injuring him! As he's sent away from Thornfield, he says:

“Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be..."

My favourite line of Jane Eyre, in case you couldn't tell.

And see this--nowhere does Richard state that she's insane. And he's the one who has known her the longest. If she's really everything Rochester claims she is, how come Richard still cares about her? And if she is everything Rochester claims she is, and yet Richard still cares about her--does that not speak well of him? You can't have it both ways. He could wash his hands off her, zero obligation. Yet he travels to an out of the way place like Thornfield to see her. Who's the villain here again?

I argued that Rochester is telling porkies with regards to Blanche Ingram, and I argue that he's doing the same with Bertha. We only have his word that Bertha was mad, nobody else's. We don't hear from any independent medical professional. Dr Carter appears on the scene to only tend to Richard's wounds. He makes no comment about Bertha. Edward, while telling his story to Jane, could have called him to confirm the diagnosis to Jane. That Jane believes him is not the point here, the reader needs to believe him too and this reader (aka me) does not buy one bit of anything that comes out of his mouth.

Even if the doctor confirmed it, considering how women's health has been treated throughout history, it still wouldn't prove a thing. 

The scene when they all go up to have a look at Bertha, when Bertha attacks Edward and they tie her to a chair, seems staged. It's almost like the perfect representation of the mad wife and the pain and suffering she inflicted on her poor tortured Byronic hero of a husband. It plays right into his cards. She behaves exactly like Rochester wants her to behave. It's too neat.

What if Bertha was asleep? It was still early in the morning, she had nothing to get up for. 

She's in fact not doing anything bad. Crawling on all fours around the room doesn't hurt anyone. (Except maybe... spiders? Any insects?) She needs to move a bit in that confined room. Maybe she was bored of the same exercise so she's trying something new. Who does she bother with her crawling? Not Grace Poole, who is quite undisturbed by her and cooking on the fender. Both women seem to be quite content with their activities that morning, until the deputation shows up. 

Grace cries out "she has seen you!" Why? Obviously, Bertha has seen Rochester. But what about it? 

Because when Bertha sees her husband, she immediately goes for him. Grace doesn't warn Rochester: "She will attack you when she sees you." She just says: "she has seen you." Which means that Rochester knows seeing him will send Bertha into a rage and she will attack him. He knows that and that is why he takes everyone upstairs to her room, so they can see his mad wife for themselves. 

He didn't have to do that. All that was needed was him confessing that he is indeed married so his wedding to Jane is off. Neither Briggs nor the clergyman demanded to see the actual wife as a proof. Richard's word was enough. It was Edward who decided to bring them all back to Thornfield, to display her like an animal in the zoo.

He knew what it would do to her, seeing him. And Bertha was aware there was a wedding. There was her husband, bigamously marrying another woman, twenty years younger. She might have been angry on Jane's behalf too. She may have sympathised with Jane. Some Bertha supporters ship her and Jane. I've read some wonderful fanfics with this pairing. It's not a ship I like, but I support it. Definitely, they should have been allies. Alas, it's not what the author chose.

It should have been like the song Beautiful Liar by Shakira and Beyonce, except it's an ugly liar. (You know, because Edward Rochester is ugly.)

Once Edward sees he won't get away with the bigamy, he switches gears and decides to play the sympathy card. That's why he implores the two respectable professionals to compare St Jane to Satan Bertha and, being the manipulative douchebag that he is, tries to make them feel guilty for judging him for his despicable actions. Briggs at least doesn't fall for it. And we don't see any more of him, but I doubt Mr Wood does.

It could also be that he had prepared for this situation. It's like him to have a Plan B. He could even leave Grace the instructions. "Hey Grace, in case this blows up, make sure the wifey is at her craziest, will you."

Edward is a great schemer. He's the cunning one. He's the ultimate Slytherin. 

Mad and Bad and Dangerous?

She's dangerous!!!

Okay, but then--why bring a whole-ass group of important people to Thornfield? A group that includes an MP, a magistrate, a lord and a military officer? Who, according to Rochester himself would "spit at him" if they found out the truth? 

Why would they spit at him? If he did nothing wrong, why does he expect them to come out of the drawing room together and spit at him???

And more importantly, why bring a child into this environment? Especially a child who could possibly have been his, fathered while he was married to Bertha? Why not send her to a good school instead, and keep her away from Thornfield? Having Adele in the house means two more additional staff--a nursemaid and a governess. So that's two more people who could potentially cross the madwoman's path and be harmed by her. Why take such a risk?

She'll suck your blood!

Come on, that's stretching it, even if you believe in her madness. It's too much. I can take her biting Richard--if he disarmed her and she was that angry that she continued attacking him, she could have bitten him. But sucking blood? Nah, you're going too far, Charlotte. "She sucked the blood, she said she'd drain my heart," said Richard. He could have been mistaken, but then again he wouldn't say something that would make his sister look even worse, especially not in front of a stranger, so I don't know. She only said she'd drain his heart, doesn't mean she'd really do it. It's like shouting "I'll kill you!" at someone in the heat of the anger. Charlotte overdid it here, but let's say it's true, let's say she did suck Richard's blood. He still cares about her and wants her to be treated tenderly. Which she isn't, by the way. 

The knife that Bertha had, she had taken it to attack her husband. Not Richard, whose visit was unexpected. When both of them were in her presence, it was her husband she went after, not her brother. It was a matter of bad timing for the poor guy, but again, I can understand why Bertha was angry at him. Marry him, you said, he is a decent gentleman, you said, look at me now, look what he's done to me! 

She stabbed Richard in the arm and the shoulder. If she wanted to kill him, she wouldn't have aimed at his arm and shoulder.

Rochester says about Richard's wounds:

“Pooh! No—a mere scratch. Don’t be so overcome, man: bear up!"

So either it wasn't that serious (which means Bertha is not the vile monster he presents her as) or it was serious and Rochester dismisses it (which makes him a bastard). 

Also I have to wonder why the Masons were so desperate to marry Bertha off to Rochester. An ugly guy with nothing to his name, while Bertha was good looking and had money. Like, ffs, they could have had her committed and pay for the best possible care instead of marrying her off to some random English dude, WHY THE FUCK DOES NOTHING HERE EVEN MAKE SENSE.

Even the tale about Bertha's mother being a lunatic, and her younger brother being an idiot is just a tale. Edward's word only. For all we know, the younger brother might not even have existed. And if he did exist, it still doesn't prove a thing! The only one who could tell the real truth is Richard, but Jane doesn't talk to him and it's questionable whether she would believe him over her beloved master.

Some Ideas on Bertha's State

No one likes a mad woman, what a shame she went mad... you made her like that... ~Taylor Swift, Mad Woman

I maintain there was nothing wrong with Bertha, not in the beginning anyway, and whatever is wrong with her now is due to her imprisonment in the attic. In our post-pandemic world it's easier than ever to make this argument. People couldn't handle a few weeks or months of quarantines and lockdowns. And Rochester kept Bertha locked for A WHOLE DECADE. Years of gaslighting and abuse also take their toll on a person. Look at what a half-year of knowing him did to Jane--she's distraught, keeps bursting into tears. And there is the isolated location of Thornfield to consider. That's got to do stuff to a person's psyche. They didn't have TV or internet back then. Even Jane herself felt her life was bleak in her first weeks and months. No wonder she latched onto Rochester as soon as she saw him. Her attraction to him actually makes a lot of sense--she had an abusive childhood so it's quite natural she's drawn to what she knows. Cycles of abuse and all that. 

With Bertha, there's also the fact that she was transferred from Jamaica to Yorkshire, a vastly different environment. I'm not saying that's what made her mad, I'm saying that it would be a factor to contribute to her declining mental state, more so if her husband was cold and unsupportive. She came to a place where she didn't know a living soul.

Also, they immigrants over here.

On the other hand, it's also interesting to play with different ideas. After all, we don't get many good representations of mental illness. I can see Bertha suffering from depression or anxiety. She could be bi-polar, or have OCD. 

I call the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman "The Madwoman in the Attic Origin Story". It's not, literally--a different time and place, but it serves as a general idea of the origin of a madwoman. The narrator is prescribed a "rest cure" by her doctor husband and slowly goes insane from staying in a room with a yellow wallpaper. This Charlotte got it right! She wrote from her own experience, having suffered from post partum depression and being prescribed this same cure. Of course, Bertha having a post partum depression would mean she'd have to have a child, which opens up yet another avenue of possibilities. 

Rochester admits to Jane that he had "once been her [Bertha's] husband", so yeah, they did fuck. Bertha could have got pregnant. Maybe she miscarried, maybe the child was stillborn, maybe the child only lived a short time. Maybe she blamed Edward for the child's death, which is why she swore at him. You can pick and choose what he says about her and experiment. Intemperate--was it her unhappiness that turned her to drinking? Unchaste--was she not a virgin on their wedding night? Was there someone else she loved, whom she couldn't be with? Was that person not of white skin? Was that person a woman?

Age Is Mad

Bertha's final crime? According to Rochester, she was older than him by five years. Papa Roch and Rowland lied about her age too. 

Lol, why?

I don't know, like, what is the point in Charlotte including this detail? Why is it there??? What has it got to do with anything? It's like she has self esteem issued regarding her age, as well as her looks, so makes her rival, the "bad" woman, older.

Richard was older than Bertha, which would then make him at least six years older than Rochester. I don't know that that's the case though. Jane clearly describes him as being of approximately the same age as Rochester "between thirty and forty". He'd have to be forty-four at the youngest. 

Or else you have to accept he was younger looking than he was.

Richard Mason

Rochester says this about Richard:

"The elder one [brother], whom you have seen (and whom I cannot hate, whilst I abhor all his kindred, because he has some grains of affection in his feeble mind, shown in the continued interest he takes in his wretched sister, and also in a dog-like attachment he once bore me), will probably be in the same state one day."

Harry Lloyd as Richard Mason in the 2011 film

Nah. Nothing wrong with Richard. He's just a guy. He's not even feeble minded. He seems to be quite a successful merchant, he's friends with Jane's uncle who we know has made a fortune, and they have to be quite close, otherwise Mr Eyre would not trust him with the important task of stopping the illegal wedding. A person blowing up your dishonest plan does not make them bad or mad, Edward. 

Having said that, though. I appreciate the fact that Rochester appreciates the fact that Richard cares about his sister. So you see, I did find something positive about our Edward.

Richard might admittedly be a harder character to redeem than Blanche, but he's lived in my head as one of the good guys for about four years now, so my mind rejects any other idea. I've never disliked him, from the first reading, at worst I'd felt neutral about his character. Whilst I can argue that Rochester is lying about the circumstances of his marriage to Bertha--based on his previous lies--I can't do the same for Jane's narration. I have to trust her at least to some extent. She spends three paragraphs describing Richard's appearance that day he first arrives at Thornfield. She rates him as handsome, but thinks him vapid. I can happily dismiss this as Jane justifying herself for loving an ugly man by demonising a handsome one--we know she has tons of baggage regarding beauty. She's trying to listen to the conversation between Richard and the gentlemen--she's intrigued as Richard introduced himself and as old friend of the Roch--but she can't hear much because Mary Ingram and Louisa Eshton sit between her and the men and gush over how handsome Richard is. 

Burn them at the stake for it, eh, Jane? Because gods forbid someone else find someone who you don't like attractive... 

Where does she even get this from?

His manner was polite; his accent, in speaking, struck me as being somewhat unusual,—not precisely foreign, but still not altogether English: his age might be about Mr. Rochester’s,—between thirty and forty; his complexion was singularly sallow: otherwise he was a fine-looking man, at first sight especially. On closer examination, you detected something in his face that displeased, or rather that failed to please. His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life—at least so I thought.

Forgive me, Jane, but what you thought means shit to me. (The fuck is a "well cut eye"??? Just one?)

"You detected something in his face"--no, YOU detected whatever you imagined in his face, Jane. Not me. Don't drag the reader into this.

But I liked his physiognomy even less than before: it struck me as being at the same time unsettled and inanimate. His eye wandered, and had no meaning in its wandering: this gave him an odd look, such as I never remembered to have seen. For a handsome and not an unamiable-looking man, he repelled me exceedingly: there was no power in that smooth-skinned face of a full oval shape: no firmness in that aquiline nose and small cherry mouth; there was no thought on the low, even forehead; no command in that blank, brown eye.

This coming from someone who puts Edward Rochester on pedestal.

"Odd look, such as I never remembered to have seen." She's talking as if she's met thousands of people with thousands of different looks in their eyes, when we know the exact opposite is true. 

What does she want men to look like anyway???

Remember Jane and Rochester's first encounter, when he fell off his horse? Jane could have continued on her way but decided to help him. And the reason she did so was because she could see he was ugly. No kidding, it's right there:

He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him, and but little shyness. Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked. I had hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.

Someone get her a therapist.

I'm confident that Jane's descriptions of Richard can be discarded. As for the rest, well what is it that he does that is so wrong? True, he does come across as weak, but nobody is perfect. We don't know what happened in the past, what Rochester did to him to make him fear him. (Edward If-you-won't-listen-to-reason-I'll-try-violence Rochester.) I mean, Briggs has to act like his cheerleader that time in church to get him to speak out. Jane never wonders what makes Richard so afraid of Rochester. To be fair to her, she has other problems at that moment. But, spoiler alert, she doesn't wonder it afterwards, or even think: "well, that makes sense now." Previously, she had seen him in a very vulnerable position--wounded. We're told Bertha is dangerous and violent, so he must have been really seriously wounded, right? Once again, you can't have it both ways. Either the injuries were severe in which case it's understandable he's so shaken, or he's weak and the injuries weren't so severe--but then Bertha is not as dangerous and violent as you try to present her. Personally I think it was more the shock than the injuries.

Like, Jesus. If Bertha is so violent, why the heck does he enter her room unprepared and unarmed? 

Actually...

Did Richard even know her husband kept her locked in the attic? 

Rochester nearly fainted when he heard of Richard's arrival to Thornfield. By his own admission, he was not afraid that Richard would do him any harm, not intentionally. He tells Jane a chance remark by Richard to one of the guests could destroy him. Basically, Richard could casually slip out that he and Edward are brothers-in-law and that, of course, would mean game over for Eddie-Boy. But... why would Richard say anything? Surely he'd rather keep quiet about having an insane sister? Surely it wouldn't be good for his business if it was known there is madness in his family? So why is Rochester worried? 

What are you afraid of, Eddie? 

After the gypsy episode, the two men shut themselves in the library. Did Edward concoct a story about Bertha, justifying why he had to keep her under a lock upstairs? Did Richard not buy the story, and, wanting to satisfy himself, go upstairs to check if it's true? Well, he found out, you can say, but that doesn't negate anything that I've been saying in this piece. And he still cares about her. I know I keep saying it, but it needs to be repeated. Even after she attacked him. Even after she, we are told, sucked his blood. That's canon. Not something I made up. Word of God type of canon.

Charlotte kinda shot herself in the foot for writing him that way, making it so easy for me to disprove her own story--but hey, I ain't complaining. Even the wandering look in his face that Jane describes earlier could be explained by Richard's confusion over the absence of his sister in the drawing room. Or just confusion over there being a party at Thornfield in the first place. If Bertha was mad and he knew she was mad and he knew she was locked upstairs, why were all these important people there, and did they know about their host's marriage? 

It really is rich of Jane to so confidently assert that there was "no thought in his forehead" and "no meaning in his wandering eye". How the fuck can she know that? SHE'S NOT IN HIS HEAD!!! Why has nobody ever questioned this? Why has no clever academic or scholar, in the 175 years (as of 2022) the book has been out ever cast doubt over Jane's claim about what goes inside another person's head, a complete stranger's head at that, someone who has literally just walked in, and who she established might not be a native of England? Why does it take someone with no education past high school and complete ignorance of English literature, whose first language is not English, to notice this???

I like to think that after Bertha's attack, Richard finally realises he needs to get his shit together and get her out of there. He contacts someone of the merry company and asks them for help. Sir George Lynn would be the most useful, obviously, but I also like the idea of him becoming friends with the Ingrams.

I like siblings. I enjoy a good sibling relationship more than a romance. Especially if it is a brother and a sister. And here I have two pairs to play with (Bertha and Richard, and Blanche and Theodore.)

Isn't writing character developments great?

Wide Sargasso Sea

I bet you've been waiting for this one.

I want to say that Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is just one interpretation, however it was this very book that made me interested in Bertha. Not even the book, the mere existence of it. I first learned of it when a user mentioned it in a discussion forum, I think, but my memory is hazy. I was never a big fan of Jane Eyre, so I wasn't bothered about it being "ruined", and though I'd never previously dedicated a thought to the mad wife, the premise itself intrigued me. A true story of a maligned woman, now my favourite concept. Years ago, back in my home country, I had a book that was written as the story of Mary Magdalene (sorry I can't remember the author or the title, it's possible the original was not English). I grew up without religion so I didn't even know who Mary Magdalene was, but the way it was written "they told you I was a whore, that's not true" captivated me. That's how it started. 

Jean Rhys was born Ella Gwendolyn Rees Williams in Roseau, on the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1890. Her father was a Welsh doctor, her mother a Creole, whose family owned a plantation on the island. At the age of sixteen she was sent to England to attend a school, where she was mocked for her accent. She started writing in the 1920s on the encouragement of Ford Maddox Ford, who recognised her unique viewpoint. But she didn't write Wide Sargasso Sea until quite late in life; it was released in 1966.

Some Rochester fangirls think that Bertha supporters have a delusional idea of her being "a girlboss" (the fuck does it even mean), "independent woman who don't need no man" or that it's some type of woke feminism. None of this is true for me. I became a Bertha supporter sometime in 2012 or 2013, long before I knew what those words meant and back then I would never even entertain the thought of being a feminist. I just like the idea of vilified women telling their own story. And looking at Jean Rhys's life, it's not a surprise she wanted to write the madwoman's tale. If representation and good depiction of groups is so important, then why should Jean Rhys, a native of Caribbean, not write her version of the supposed Caribbean villainess?

I don't subscribe to everything in Wide Sargasso Sea, but gods am I grateful it was ever written. Bertha's real name here is Antoinette Cosway and Richard is only her stepbrother. The book takes place much later than Jane Eyre probably takes place, after the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. (More on that later.) It also has beautiful prose. 

I very much like the name Antoinette, so I combine this version with the original book, and write my heroine's name down as Bertha Antoinette Mason. Everyone calls her by her middle name. Except Rochester, obviously. I also headcanon her as bisexual. And Richard as asexual. I like them being full blood siblings, not step-siblings as in Wide Sargasso Sea.

There has been some debate about Bertha's race. I don't want to get into this too much. I think every view is valid. Bertha's mother, the supposed original madwoman, was a Creole, her father was white English. There are multiple meanings of the word Creole. Richard's skin is described as sallow, Bertha's as purple, so that doesn't help us much. All we know for sure is that Bertha had long dark hair, same as Blanche, which says more about Charlotte Bronte's insecurities than about the characters. So I don't know. I think of Richard as resembling their father and Bertha Antoinette their mother.

What Edward Did Next

Edging on the deep hole of his emo phase, he contemplated shooting himself, going as far as opening the trunk which held his pistols. But he quickly changed his mind.

He realised that despite being mad, and despite being five years older than him (lol I can't get over it) Bertha was healthy enough to live as long as he did.

Feeling the winds from Europe on his ugly face, Edward decides to move back to England. 

I mean, so he should. He's now the owner of Thornfield estate. He's just got to be dramatic about it. Edward is nothing if not Extra.

As nobody knew about his marriage to Bertha, he was able to hide her up in the attic. It seems a bit unlikely, but he explains that he begged his father and brother not to tell anyone, in a letter he wrote to them after he found out about his wife's condition. Apparently they were happy to conceal it from the world too. 

They didn't tell anyone before he asked them to keep quiet?

Okay, I guess... it must be so, since nobody genuinely knows. Or else those who knew are now six feet under. Or else it could have been that Papa Rochester and Rowland actually knew nothing and Edward married Bertha secretly. You know, the other way round to what he tells us. It actually makes more sense this way. 

Once at Thornfield, the only two people that knew of his secret were Dr Carter and Grace Poole. Grace though has her vices--she drinks (another one?). And because of this, Bertha was able to escape her confinement when Grace had too much gin. However, he only mentions three occasions: when she stole the knife, with which she attacked Richard, when she set his bed on fire, and when she came to Jane's room to tear up her veil. 

All those have got to do with Edward, by the way. I've already gone through Bertha's visit to Jane's room. The knife was most certainly meant for Edward, not Richard. And these escapes only happened in the past year, when Jane was already living at Thornfield. He doesn't--and neither does any other character--mention any other instances of Bertha sneaking out of the attic.

So, the door is locked on the inconvenient wife. What's next for our Eddie?

Celine Varens

Here, let me rewind to the early days of Jane and Rochester's acquaintance and talk about a person I've not yet given time in this recap--Celine Varens, the mother of little Adele.

She was a French opera dancer to whom he once cherished a grande passion. Celine returned this passion. Narrates Jane:

He thought himself her idol, ugly as he was: he believed, as he said, that she preferred his “taille d’athlète” to the elegance of the Apollo Belvidere.

Did you know Edward was ugly?

Edward was besotted with Celine. He installed her in a hotel, gave her jewels and servants. Only to catch her cheating with another man--a vicomte Edward knew from society, in his words "a brainless and vicious youth". And just like that, Edward's love for Celine evaporated into thin air--if she could prefer such a man over him, she only deserved scorn. Edward overheard the two of them laughing about him, Celine making jokes about his ugliness when previously, to his face, she used to say admirable things about his looks. Unlike Jane, who point blank told him he was not handsome. (She didn't, though? He asked her if she thought him handsome and she answered by blurting out "no, sir" without thinking, for which she straight away apologised.)

Oh yeah. Did you know Edward was ugly?

Contrast the frivolous French floozy with the good, honest English girl.

The Roch broke up with the fair Celine at once, evicted her from the hotel and the next morning, met up with the vicomte and shot him in the arm. 

So who's violent now?

Celine had a daughter, Adele, who she claimed was Edward's. He doesn't believe it--not because he doesn't want to take responsibility, but because he sees no resemblance in her. Probably because she's not ugly. Because Edward is ugly, you know. Some years later, Celine abandoned her child and ran away to Italy with a musician. Seeing as little Adele had no one else, he took her in. 

I admit it was really good of him. Although with Edward, you never know if he had any ulterior motive.

"I e’en took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English country garden."

So Paris is slime and mud.

He didn't mind the slime and mud when he was fucking Celine.

So am I going to argue the veracity of Edward's story about Celine? 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Honestly, at this point, who the fuck knows. I don't know why I always had it in my head that Celine died. Even after re-reads. I don't always remember every detail from a book, also it's possible I just skimmed that part on my last reading. (I don't read Jane Eyre often, actually, I've only read it twice in English. When I need to look up something, I open it in Gutenberg, like now I have it open in a tab while working on this piece.) She could be dead. There is no way of knowing. 

Rochester's monologue is hilarious, though, if you like that sort of thing. So much drama and flowery prose. Stage indeed lost an actor. I wonder if he and Celine met when he auditioned for a role. Maybe his time away from Thornfield was spent in the performing arts? Actually, now that I think about it, what if the conflict with his father was due to Edward's ambitions of becoming an actor? Papa Roch wouldn't hear of it so he sent him to Jamaica. Now there's a better sad emo boy origin story.

I hope Adele is NOT Rochester's daughter, for her own sake. Kid deserves better. But I have to say, yet again, what in the world is the fucking point of this tale? Charlotte needed a kid at Thornfield so that she could place a governess there, I get that. But why all that rigmarole with a French dancer? Why not have Adele be an orphaned daughter of an old friend or relative of Roch? He could have had friends, or distant relatives in France, if it was so important that the child Jane would look after was French. There is no need for an elaborate opera dancer floozy drama. All it accomplishes is 1. it shows Charlotte xenophobia and 2. it shows Edward's misogyny. Same thing I said about the Blanche story--it didn't need to be there at all and nothing in the book would change. Just like Blanche could only have been an old acquaintance instead of a rival love interest, Adele's mother could only have been a plain simple mother. An orphaned child, taken in by the master of Thornfield, who now needs a governess. Why in the world does it matter who Adele's parents were anyway??? 

Because Charlotte couldn't help making herself feel better by not being a French slut who likes jewels. 

An opera dancer turning out to be an ordinary whore, HOW FUCKING REVOLUTIONARY.

Digression - What in the Sherlock?

Forty-four years after the publication of Jane Eyre, Arthur Conan Doyle redeemed the woman of stage in the character of Irene Adler in the short story A Scandal in Bohemia. Read that instead. The adaptations often turn her into Sherlock's love interest and don't do her justice (except the one with Jeremy Brett). In the original story, Sherlock was outsmarted by her and LEARNED from it. He realised she was in the right! 

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes. Copper Beeches features a case where a governess comes to consult the detective about whether to take a certain post--too much weird stuff around the job. Sherlock, after listening to the details, tells her to watch out. Turns out ***SPOILER*** she was hired to impersonate her employer's eldest daughter, whom he locked in a room, because he wanted her to sign over her inheritance from her mother to him. The daughter became ill with brain fever from this ordeal. And the stranger coming to the house--or in this case, watching it from the distance, is the daughter's boyfriend. ***END SPOILER*** 

In The Sussex Vampire, a man suspects his wife, a Peruvian, sucks their baby son's blood. Without giving too much away, this story not only vindicates the "foreign" wife, it also redeems the figure of the stepmother, so maligned in fairy and folk tales. Like, fuck it, Arthur Conan Doyle was more feminist than Jane Eyre.

End Digression - Back to Celine

One could question Edward about why he chose to have this relationship with an opera dancer in the first place. He complains she only wanted his money, but he chose to spend it on her. He complains she had another lover, but he was never serious about her himself. She was just a fling. Douchebag was MARRIED for gods' sake. Probably it was the fact that they laughed at him what bothered him most. His ego got a beating.

It could easily have been his wife's money he was throwing at Celine. And you blame her for being mad. 

Anyway, if Edward really did shoot the vicomte in the arm, then it proves he is dangerous, and Richard had a reason to fear him. 

Womaniser, Womaniser

After locking the door on Bertha, Edward took himself to the Continent, in search of a woman he could love, as opposed to that fury he left at home. 

Jane reminds him he could not marry. 

“I had determined and was convinced that I could and ought. It was not my original intention to deceive, as I have deceived you. I meant to tell my tale plainly, and make my proposals openly: and it appeared to me so absolutely rational that I should be considered free to love and be loved, I never doubted some woman might be found willing and able to understand my case and accept me, in spite of the curse with which I was burdened.”

But he came up empty, despite his money and status. (I suspect that none of the good ladies he pursued were interested.) Instead, he got himself some mistresses. First one was the above mentioned Celine Varens. Followed by an Italian called Giacinta, who was "unprincipled and violent", followed Clara, who was German. Honest and quiet woman, but "heavy, mindless, and unimpressible". He justifies himself by saying he felt miserable anyway.

Sure, hon.

Remember when he said Bertha was "unchaste"? You'd think she was the one fucking around all over Europe.

"Hiring a mistress is the next worse thing to buying a slave: both are often by nature, and always by position, inferior: and to live familiarly with inferiors is degrading."

I don't think this needs any further comment from me.

This forces Jane to confront the fact that she would end up the same as those women. She gains new strength to resist such fate. 

Good to hear. Reader is happy.

Indecent Proposal

Rochester gets to the part in his sad boy emo tale where he meets Jane. As we can expect from him by now, he is very poetic about it, but also admits to watching her without her knowledge. First when she was playing with Adele, then later, when she was walking the corridors of Thornfield, deep in her thoughts. Okay, so--if this is bad when his vampire namesake of Twilight does that to Bella, then surely it's bad here, no? Observing her while she's with Adele is understandable, he wants to satisfy himself she is capable at the job he is paying her for. But the other... hmm, questionable.

I liked my name pronounced by your lips in a grateful happy accent

What name, lol? She addressed him as "sir" or "Mr Rochester". She only called him "Edward" upon his insistence on it, during that emotional abuse of a proposal. And that was later.

He goes on to spill further verbal diarrhoea. My gods, that guy can talk, it's paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs of words, interjected by a single line from Jane, which always contains a "sir". At long last, he gets to the point--he wants Jane to say she will he his. He insists there is nothing wrong with the two of them being together. Jane refuses to yield. Roch points out that she has no one, no relatives of friends, who would be offended by their relationship. 

What a shitty thing to say. Throwing it to her face that she is alone in the world, also, do I detect a touch of threat? You have nobody, therefore nobody will care what happens to you.

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”

I can get behind this. Much better than those two popular, overhyped quotes (the "no bird no net ensnares me" one and the "do you think I'm an automaton machine" one). This time around Eddie is actually listening. And she's not crying.

The Roch is furious. He seizes her arm and grabs her waist. He grits his teeth and spouts more dramatic tripe, but he does release her. 

Rochester: “Then you will not yield?”

Jane: “No.”

Rochester: “Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?”

New insult just dropped. "Live wretched and die accursed!"

This too:

"You make me a liar by such language: you sully my honour."

The guy who's been lying ever since he entered the scene and would not know honour if it slapped him in his ugly face. 

She turns to go. 

Then he throws himself on the sofa and exclaims: 

“Oh, Jane! my hope—my love—my life!”

And he sobs.

It's almost comical.

If this was an Oscar Wilde society play, it would be funny. Rochester would fit well in that setting, what with his declamations and amazing bunburying skills. In this novel, however, it only comes across as manipulative. 

Not to mention hypocritical. He elevates Jane over all the other women he had relationships with, yet he demands she acts the same as them. He's essentially asking her to be his mistress, like Celine and Giacinta and Clara. They would agree to this offer, because they wanted to be mistresses (presumably), but Jane is not like that and HE SHOULD KNOW she's not like that BECAUSE HE KEEPS SAYING HOW SHE'S SO MUCH BETTER THAN ALL THE WOMEN IN THE WORLD. Gah. Same as with those jewels and nice clothes. He pushes these things on her, even though he praises her for not wanting them. Make it make sense, Ed.

Blanche Ingram would send him somewhere if he suggested this to her. Except she'd grab the jewels. And the clothes. And that nice new carriage. As a bonus, she'd give him a finger from the window of the carriage, as it was exiting the Thornfield driveway. And she'd make it an entertaining story to tell at parties. He wouldn't dare show his ugly face at any of their gatherings any time soon.

the stylish Blanche

See why I say Blanche was not needed in the story to provide romantic tension. Edward has been married all along, which itself provides more than enough conflict!

Rochester would never ever dare pull the bigamy stunt with Blanche. Or any other high class lady for that matter. But he knew he could get away with it with poor plain obscure Jane, two decades younger than him, Jane of no family or friends.

Except she turned out to have some family, who happened to be rich and put a stop to his plans. 

The Escape

Jane tells him goodbye and leaves the room. This night, she gets some sleep.

It was yet night, but July nights are short: soon after midnight, dawn comes.

Okay, so yesterday the sky was still ruddy at eight, but today it dawns shortly after midnight? 

Neither one of those statements is true. Sun rises at around four o'clock in July. 

She gets up, packs a few belongings into a parcel, but leaves the pearl necklace Rochester gave her. He "forced her to accept it", as she puts it. She doesn't feel it's hers, because it was supposed to be for a bride that never was.

So what? Just fucking take it!!!

FOR GODSSAKE YOU'RE NOT A WHORE FOR ACCEPTING A NECKLACE FROM A MAN! I promise you, Jane, you're not. You're not an English Celine Varens.

She comes out of her room, passing on the way the rooms of Mrs Fairfax and Adele, bidding them silent farewells. She stops outside Rochester's chamber. She can tell he's up, pacing the room. She resists the temptation to go in and continues on her way. Using the side door from the kitchen, and oiling the lock and the key as to not make noise, she walks out of Thornfield. Finding a wicket gate that's only latched, not locked, she's out of the grounds.

Blimey. Her departure is almost like an act of a person running from an abusive relationship. At the crack of dawn, putting every effort into being quiet and unobserved by anyone. Damn, you'd be forgiven for thinking Rochester was a monster.

I wonder what Lundy Bancroft would make of this. 

Anyway. She out. She's leaving Thornfield. She's walking out of there. She finally runs!

She chooses the road not travelled, the one that leads in the opposite way from Millcote. On she walks, tormented by the thoughts of Rochester, hating herself for abandoning him. She's done the right thing, of course, but the aftermath of Rochester's gaslighting makes her think she's the bad guy. She's already heartbroken and in pain, as anyone who had to leave the person they loved because they couldn't be together would be. She doesn't need the guilt on top of it.

I had injured—wounded—left my master. I was hateful in my own eyes. 

Initially I typed something along the lines of "gods, this woman, for once she does something sensible and can't even be content with it" but then I realised that she thinks that way because Rochester made her think that way. But for the love of gods, stop with the fucking "master" shit. What is he, Obi-Wan Kenobi??? 

It won't surprise you that she's crying as she's going. She must be Sahara dry by now.

She sees a coach approaching and hails it. She asks the driver where's he's headed. He names a place far away, where she knows Rochester has no connections. The fare is thirty shillings. She only has twenty. The driver says he would make do and lets her inside. The coach rolls on its way.

Why... why does she spend all her money on a coach fare? I get that she didn't have any time to plan her escape, but come on... Isn't money the first thing you consider when going on the run?

Was There a Better Way?

It's a bizarre situation because she didn't have to be in such circumstances. Charlotte wrote in a solution to her problem, but for whatever reason didn't use it. "UNCLE! MADEIRA!! SOLICITOR!!!" screams the reader. But noooo, we had to have the solicitor behave in a way that defies all logic and common sense, in order for Jane to--do what, wander a strange county until she passes out from hunger?

It's true she had nowhere to go. Lowood was out of the question as that would be the first place Rochester would think of. Jane never mentions if she was still in touch with any of her old school friends, or the teacher Miss Temple (who got married and left). No doubt they would have taken her in, temporarily, before she found a new job. Jane could get her references from Mrs Fairfax and Rochester wouldn't have to know about it. That is, if Mrs Fairfax could be trusted to hold her tongue. I think she could be trusted. Although Mrs Fairfax was not to be the Fairy Godmother--she's employed by Rochester and maybe unable to live independently after the death of her husband, who was a clergyman--I don't see her as someone who would like to see Jane run away to a strange land with no money and no prospects. She likes Jane, and she's a good, kind woman. Her warning to Jane on the morning after their engagement speaks for itself. Also, when Rochester first made Jane sit in the drawing room with the merry company, she objected to this, reminding him how unused Jane is to society. She advised Jane to get in the drawing room inconspicuously, through a side door, before the ladies came in from dinner.

Judi Dench as Alice Fairfax in the 2011 film

Mrs Fairfax didn't know what was going on in the attic. Rochester said she could have only suspected, she was never told the whole truth. Though how she had not pieced it together... this is what she told Jane in her early Thornfield days:

...soon after he was of age, some steps were taken that were not quite fair, and made a great deal of mischief. Old Mr. Rochester and Mr. Rowland combined to bring Mr. Edward into what he considered a painful position, for the sake of making his fortune: what the precise nature of that position was I never clearly knew, but his spirit could not brook what he had to suffer in it.

It's like the truth is right in front of you but you can't see it. Either she's clueless, or her kind nature won't let her think so ill of someone.

Now, Miss Marple is something different. She's ready to believe the worst of everyone--and she's usually right. Still, she keeps a kind heart. That's what makes her so great. She'd only need to meet up with Alice Fairfax for tea once and she'd have it all figured out before the teapot was emptied.  

Mrs Fairfax texting an old friend in St Mary Mead:

Jane Marple, get your ass here, I have a situation

But even if Mrs Fairfax and Miss Marple lived in the same era and the same universe, it's a moot point, because Jane never asked the housekeeper for any help. Neither did she ask the clergyman. I know, she clearly felt she needed to get as far away from Thornfield as possible and the housekeeper and the clergyman were too close to it, but they could have directed her somewhere. Clergy have contacts with other clergy. Mrs Fairfax was also a widow of a clergyman, she must have made many connections during her marriage. Either of them could have advised Jane a safe place where there would be people able to help her. Perhaps she felt she couldn't trust anybody. So she ran.

But I don't know. I still think there must have been a better way. 

For starters, she should have gone to a city. It's easier to hide in a city and there are more job opportunities. Not to Millcote, aka Leeds, though, as that one is the nearest, therefore the most obvious. That's where Rochester would look first. But there's Manchester. A great place, you should try it. (I live here, duh.) Did you know it was in Manchester where Charlotte Bronte started writing Jane Eyre? She accompanied her father, Rev Patrick Bronte, who travelled here for an eye operation. The inn she was staying at has a blue plaque. 

There's also Sheffield, southwards. Either of them would have been a better choice than a pillar at a crossroads somewhere on the Derbyshire moors. And oh yeah, this. She leaves the parcel she packed on the coach.

So even if she took the pearls, with intention of selling them, she'd have lost them. 

Look, I'm not gonna shit on her. She was in such a high stress mode, she wouldn't have noticed if she had lost her shoes. But for heaven's sake, apply some sense when you're running away!

And then she prays for Rochester.

She's homeless, friendless, has no money and is starving. And she prays for Rochester.

Readers, I despair.

The Shelter

She's going around a village looking for a job, without success. This is why you should have gone to a city, Jane. (Funnily enough, this time she does appeal for help from a clergyman, but she's told he's gone away.) She approaches a house that is a bit of a distance from the village, creeps into the windows, sees two young ladies whom she likes at first sight (luckily they're not too pretty), collapses at the doorstep and is rescued by a young man entering the house, the brother of the two young ladies. They take Jane in. She introduces herself as Jane Elliott. 

So even as far away as she is from Rochester and Thornfield, in a county where she knows he has no connections, she still uses an alias. You'd be forgiven for thinking Rochester was some kind of a monster. (Have I said that already?)

The house is called Moor House (also known as Marsh End) and the three siblings are the Riverses--Diana, Mary and St John. St John is the clergyman she asked for at the village. Moor House is his father's place.  He helps Jane get a job as a schoolmistress in the village once she recovers. The name of the village is Morton. 

New Fortune, New Family

One snowy morning, St John visits Jane in her new little cottage. He starts telling a tale. The tale is familiar to us, it is a tale of an orphan child, mistreated by her aunt, later schooled at Lowood, etc etc. He gets to the point where the heroine of the tale, now a governess, escapes from Thornfield. It is of most importance that she is found. 

Where does St John get all this from? He has had a letter from Briggs the solicitor, giving him the details about Jane Eyre.

So St John knows the truth. She is found out. He knows her real name is Eyre, not Elliott.

And what is the first thing Jane has to say to this?

The first thing out of her mouth is: what has become of Mr Rochester.

I can't with this stupid girl anymore.

WHO CARES???? WHO LITERALLY GIVES A SINGLE FUCK? I HOPE HE FELL INTO A HOLE AND DIED!!!!

Ugh. She's just been told the solicitor was looking for her and instead of asking why, what does he want with me, as would be natural, you know, when someone wants to find you, she asks about Rochester. 

Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall.

St John tells her that he knows nothing of Rochester, apart from his attempt at a fraudulent wedding, and no, nobody has seen him and the person whom Briggs communicated with was Mrs Fairfax. 

I felt cold and dismayed: my worst fears then were probably true: he had in all probability left England and rushed in reckless desperation to some former haunt on the Continent. And what opiate for his severe sufferings—what object for his strong passions—had he sought there? I dared not answer the question. Oh, my poor master—once almost my husband—whom I had often called “my dear Edward!”

When did you call him "my dear Edward"??? All you ever called him was "Mr Rochester" or "sir". Mr Rochester, Mr Rochester, Mr Rochester, waah-waah-waah! 

I like many fictional couples, or ships as they're called in fandoms. I enjoy all sorts of dynamics. I'm rarely disappointed about how things end (I liked the ending of Game of Thrones, for goddsake). But the type of couples that tend to get on my nerves are those that are, as I put it, too "waah" about each other. This is why I gave up on Outlander after one season (also because I apparently misunderstood it as a historical series and didn't realise it was actually a romance centred around a couple I give not a single fuck about). And, by gods, Katniss from Hunger GamesPeeta, Peeta, Peeta, waah! waah! waah! You pick up the third book, expecting a fucking revolution but instead get Peeta Peeta Peeta waah-waah-waah. Jane is like that with Rochester. Not as bad, okay. But almost.

She nearly fucking died. If it wasn't for the kindness of the Riverses, she would have. Yet her biggest concern is what that fucking douchnozzle of an an ex boyfriend is doing. 

The "I felt cold and dismayed" line comes straight after St John mentions Mrs Fairfax. Does Jane at all stop to think, I wonder how that good lady is? No. Does she wonder how little Adele fares? No. Does it occur to Jane that her precious master might have taken it out on his suffering wife or the poor servants? No. Does she show any sympathy for the women she believes Rochester is bamboozling on the Continent? No. Nobody matters to Jane, nobody but Rochester. 

“He must have been a bad man,” observed Mr. Rivers.

“You don’t know him—don’t pronounce an opinion upon him,” I said, with warmth.

St John knows enough about him to pronounce an opinion. Not like you know Rochester either, girl. (YoU dON't knOW HiM waaaaah, Don'T PRouNOounCE An opINIon uPOn hIM WAAAAAAAH!)

By the way, St John found out Jane's real name after she, subconsciously, signed her name on one of her drawings. 

Jane continues waah-waah-waahing over the Roch. She asks if Mr Briggs knows where Rochester is. St John answers:

Briggs is in London. I should doubt his knowing anything at all about Mr. Rochester; it is not in Mr. Rochester he is interested.

Wise man. It would do you good to be more like Briggs, Jane. 

St Joan of Arc. He was John Eyre's solicitor, who put a stop to Rochester's dishonest scheme. Why would he give a sliver of a single fuck about the dude??? That's like the prosecutor caring about the defendant after winning the trial. 

St John is a good messenger. He informs Jane that her uncle in Madeira is dead, but that he has made her his heiress and now she's rich.

My uncle I had heard was dead—my only relative; ever since being made aware of his existence, I had cherished the hope of one day seeing him: now, I never should.

Except you cherished no such hope. You only thought of him after you got engaged to the Roch. And that was because the reality of your uneven match had hit you. 

Seriously, when did she imagine she would meet him? Last she was told he was on his deathbed. 

The fortune is twenty thousands pounds. Which was a lot then. Our plain Jane is now rich. I like the fact that she is worth less than Bertha, ha!

Jane is not actually low born. Her father was a poor curate and her mother was from a rich family, who disowned her when she married him (Reeds are indeed of the society, remember that Lord Ingram saw Georgiana during the season in London). She clearly knows she's above the servants. She was being self-deprecating when she referred to the plain veil as one more suited to her low born head. Or else she felt that way next to Rochester. Which is telling.

St John has all this information because it turns out he's related to Jane. He, Diana and Mary Rivers are Jane's cousins. Their mother (deceased many years ago) was a sister of the Madeira guy and Jane's father. What are the chances, eh?

Maybe it was the divine hand that led her to them. So not going to a city was the better decision in the end. I must say though, this amazing coincidence bothers me less than Rochester's appalling behaviour. Besides I think it was a common trope in Victorian literature.

The friendless, poor orphan is now in possession of a fortune and new family. It's working out great for our heroine. And she decides to split the twenty thousand between the four of them. The reason John Eyre disinherited the Rivers siblings was because of a quarrel he had with their father. Jane feels they deserve their share. Diana and Mary are working as governesses to get by, so now they won't have to. It was a really good, generous thing of Jane to do. She's a much pleasanter person when she's away from Rochester and not constantly thinking about him.

Only she says things like "I will never marry and nobody will have me for love". She's what, nineteen now? What a bleak outlook on life.

When she closes the school before Christmas, she's thinking of her pupils--simple country girls--and this is how her thoughts go:

...the British peasantry are the best taught, best mannered, most self-respecting of any in Europe: since those days I have seen paysannes and Bäuerinnen; and the best of them seemed to me ignorant, coarse, and besotted, compared with my Morton girls.

Hello xenophobia, my old friend.

She wasn't very flattering about the Morton girls the first time she started teaching them. 

The Saint John

St John has ambitions of going to India to be a missionary. He wants Jane to come with him--as his wife. He is honest about it not being a marriage of love, purely of convenience, he thinks Jane would make a good missionary's wife and they could do a lot of good together. (Why he bothers about that now that he has some money is not something I can explain, but okay.) He says she was made for labour, not for love. 

Which is a shitty thing to say, but... she admitted something of the kind herself. This is a warning to you all--don't be self-deprecating.

I don't want to do a deep dive into St John. There has been a lot said about him by others, so I don't think I need to add to it. You know, I don't like comparisons. Old media or new media, mainstream or obscure, movies or books, what if I like both? What if both is good? And as both can be good, equally both can be bad. Just because St John sucks, doesn't mean Rochester doesn't. Both are bad. Jane doesn't have to be with either of them. She can find someone better. They're not the two last remaining men on Earth. And even if they were, she should still be with neither. She can stay single. Not for those self-deprecating reasons above, but because she deserves better.

There's too much focus on St John. I'd rather hear more about Diana and Mary. Gods know Jane needs female friends.  

I wish St John was a better character. I'd prefer him to be a normal guy, who'd become a brother to Jane. Heck, even better if he was the nice friendly curate that I mentioned before, in the Thornfield church, or whatever the church is called, the one where the wedding didn't happen. He'd end up being her true love.

Imagine Jane meeting him when she moves to Thornfield, the first Sunday she goes to church. They become friends, talk about faith and philosophy and whatever, they get on. But soon he leaves for his own parish. Jane feels lonely. Rochester arrives at the scene. All the shit goes down, yadda yadda. Jane flees Thornfield. She seeks shelter with the only friend she's got, at his new parish. (Imagine it's somewhere not too far, where Jane can afford a fare, it can still be same Morton place.) He takes her in, and she slowly falls for him as she recovers from the ordeal and from her unhealthy obsession with Rochester. They see an advert in a paper that is looking for a Miss Jane Eyre. She writes to Briggs, gets her fortune, and somewhere on the way meets her cousins Diana and Mary and she shares the money with them. (St John is not her cousin in this AU, to avoid that coincidence.) Add in bit of a romantic conflict with St John thinking she might not want him after she gets rich, or that she's still in love with her former employer. They marry and live happily ever after. 

Most importantly, in this AU, his name is not St John.

I should have just made a post listing fanfic ideas.

Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr. Rochester, reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune.

No, I don't think you have forgotten Mr Rochester, but you have no idea how much I wish you did.

She writes to Briggs, inquiring where Rochester is. Briggs writes back that he doesn't know. (Briggs to his associates: "the fuck is wrong with this woman? Are we sure that the money is safe with her?") She writes to Mrs Fairfax, twice, but gets no answer. 

This could have been the best part of the book, if Charlotte wrote it better. Jane getting the money, finding new friends/family, getting over Rochester, doing new things and going to new places. She should travel, go shopping with the girls. It would be a much better experience than the harrowing shopping trip with Rochester. Diana gives her some fashion tips, Jane finally discards the boring blacks and greys, shreds the idea of plainness. I think hers was more a case of "you're not ugly, just poor". She was not pretty, but neither was she that ugly. And not just that. She could do some charity work, help those in need, poor orphans like she used to be. And where's that dream of opening her own school? 

Holliday Granger and Jamie Bell as Diana and St John Rivers in the 2011 film


Tamzin Merchant as Mary Rivers in the 2011 film

What Charlotte gives us instead is tedious talks with St John. It's obvious he only exists to make Rochester look better in comparison. Doesn't work on me, like I said, both are the worst, each in his own shitty way.

Jane entertains the notion of going to India, but not as St John's wife. He won't hear of it, as the two of them going to India as single people is not advisable. One day she's finally broken enough to agree to be his wife. As she's about to say yes, she hears Rochester's voice calling to her. It calls "Jane" three times. She goes to bed (it's night), wakes up early the next morning, packs a bag and gets on a coach to Thornfield.

Keep in mind, neither Diana nor Mary know anything of her unhappy love affair. This is why I say she needs female friends. St John knows only because he heard of it from Briggs. I wish she told them. I like to think that by hearing herself tell her story, she'd realise how awful Rochester is and forgets him. And if it's so necessary for her to travel to Thornfield, for closure or whatever, she should take Diana and Mary with her.

The Return to Thornfield

She gets off the coach two miles from Thornfield itself. She gives her box to the ostler to safekeep, at least she's not forgetting her luggage anymore. She comes across an inn called The Rochester Arms. 

My heart leapt up: I was already on my master’s very lands.

She's still at it! And there's more!

“Your master himself may be beyond the British Channel, for aught you know:"

That's Jane talking to herself.

...where I can single out my master’s very window...

STOP IT, JANE!

FOR THE LOVE OF GAIA, STOP IT!!!

Maybe it should have been my master, my master, my master, waah-waah-waah, instead of Mr Rochester, Mr Rochester, Mr Rochester, waah-waah-waah.  

Waah-waah-waaah, Jane, waah-waah-waaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The crows sailing overhead perhaps watched me while I took this survey. I wonder what they thought. 

I'll tell you what they thought, Jane. They thought you were stupid.

Crows are smart.

You think I'm rambling in this post, but that's nothing compared to how long Jane takes to get to a point. Finally she tells the reader that what she sees is not Thornfield, it is a blackened ruin. Thornfield is no more.

Ding dong the witch is dead. Just like in that dream she had. That night Bertha entered her bedroom and tore the veil. Great foreshadowing by Charlotte. Prophetic dreams are such a good trope.

Jane goes to the The Rochester Arms inn and talks to the innkeeper, who briefs her on what happened. 

The Innkeeper's Testimony

The innkeeper tells Jane that Thornfield was consumed by a fire last harvest time.

Jane asks if it is known how the fire originated. The innkeeper's answer is:

“They guessed, ma’am: they guessed. Indeed, I should say it was ascertained beyond a doubt."

So did "they" guess or was it ascertained beyond a doubt?

He says that there were rumours in the land for years about a lunatic shut up at the Hall and that some speculated it was Edward's mistress. 

It does appear like Jane was the only one not to know.

The innkeeper goes on a tangent about the love affair between Rochester and his governess (he doesn't realise he's talking to her now), but Jane keeps pressing him about the fire. She asks if the mad wife had any hand in starting it.

“You’ve hit it, ma’am: it’s quite certain that it was her, and nobody but her, that set it going."

Hmmm, okay.

The innkeeper goes on to say that the madwoman had a carer, a woman named Grace Poole, who, although capable in her profession, had a vice common to nurses--she drank gin and sometimes she drank too much of it. 

It is excusable, for she had a hard life of it: but still it was dangerous; for when Mrs. Poole was fast asleep after the gin and water, the mad lady, who was as cunning as a witch, would take the keys out of her pocket, let herself out of her chamber, and go roaming about the house, doing any wild mischief that came into her head.

Hearsay. 

Why are they all acting like it's a deed of devilry for an imprisoned person to try to get out? And what is so "cunning" about taking a bunch of keys out of a sleeping person's pocket? You'd be stupid if you DIDN'T do that, when you're being kept unlawfully locked. Christ Almighty and Isaac Newton. It's Grace who made it easy for Bertha by falling asleep. 

Bertha was in the attic for TEN YEARS, she had NOTHING ELSE to do. Let the girl get some exercise, dammit! She didn't even try to break out of the house, just her room. She must have realised she wouldn't be able to escape from Thornfield--it's surrounded by the moors in all directions and even if there were signposts, it'd still be difficult for her. She didn't know the land, she didn't know anybody. There was a village nearby, Hay, (the one Jane went to on an errand that time she first met Rochester) but I doubt it would be of much help to her; the villagers would be more likely to side with her husband and return her to Thornfield. Especially with her unkempt hair and blood-shot eyes and purple-tinged skin. 

Continues the innkeeper:

They say she had nearly burnt her husband in his bed once: but I don’t know about that.

Funny how he expresses doubt when it comes to an incident that did happen. Also, how does he know? Jane told no one, Rochester told no one, Grace Poole wouldn't exactly advertise this fact. 

However, on this night, she set fire first to the hangings of the room next her own, and then she got down to a lower storey, and made her way to the chamber that had been the governess’s—(she was like as if she knew somehow how matters had gone on, and had a spite at her)—and she kindled the bed there;

Fucking bullshit. There is no way he can claim any of that happened. Nobody can, in fact. It was night. Everyone was asleep. How would anyone know which fire was set first and that it was the bed Bertha set on fire in Jane's former room? If anyone was up and saw what was happening, surely they'd try to stop Bertha, or run to wake Rochester up to stop Bertha, they wouldn't be standing there watching her set fires??? And that bit about Bertha knowing what went on and had a spite at Jane? Of course she fucking did!!! We know Bertha KNEW what went on at Thornfield, because she broke into Jane's bedroom two nights before the fraudulent wedding and tore up her veil. Excuse her for having a spite at The Other Woman. Who was NOT THERE, by the way; this was two months after Jane's escape. Bertha would have known Jane ran away. I can see Edward coming up to her room and yelling at her because he blamed her for it, but okay, that's just me in my abyss, but she still would have known, she knew what was going on in that house, ffs. If she figured out there was a wedding, she'd have figured out the bride-not-to-be was gone. In any case, when she broke into Jane's room, she'd have seen the bed was EMPTY. I repeat again Bertha had an opportunity to harm Jane, but never did so

Thor help me. 

The innkeeper started out with "they guessed", continued with "it was quite certain she did it" and ended with "she totally did it, and she did it in this order". Interesting escalation of confidence. 

I wish Sandor "The Hound" Clegane was there.

Jane asks if Rochester was at home when the fire started. 

Yes, indeed was he; and he went up to the attics when all was burning above and below, and got the servants out of their beds and helped them down himself, and went back to get his mad wife out of her cell.

Right, but... how could Bertha be in her "cell" (curious choice of words, innkeeper) when she was setting fire to Jane's bed, one floor down??? Did Rochester think she went back upstairs? But, if the innkeeper's testimony is correct, the room next to hers (the one where Jane stayed with Richard when she looked after his wounds) would have been on fire already. And there was no other access to her "cell" but through this room.

"And then they called out to him that she was on the roof, where she was standing, waving her arms, above the battlements, and shouting out till they could hear her a mile off: I saw her and heard her with my own eyes. She was a big woman, and had long black hair: we could see it streaming against the flames as she stood. I witnessed, and several more witnessed, Mr. Rochester ascend through the sky-light on to the roof; we heard him call ‘Bertha!’ We saw him approach her; and then, ma’am, she yelled and gave a spring, and the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement.”

Eyewitness testimony has often been unreliable and is the cause of many a wrongful conviction. 

I don't know. Night time, the building is on fire--would you really see anything on that roof? The fire would have blinded you, wouldn't it?

"Several more witnessed", like who and who? I demand their names and addresses.

Jane: “Dead?”

Innkeeper: “Dead! Ay, dead as the stones on which her brains and blood were scattered.”

*Scratches chin* 

How far did she fall? How close did the innkeeper get to the house? Come to think of it...

How did the innkeeper even know about the fire? The inn is some distance from Thornfield. Jane still had a way to go when she got off the coach near its location. You can't see anything of the Hall from there. It was night. He would have been asleep. If someone got to the inn, banged on the door, arousing him (what most likely happened), this had to have been much later. 

Did the dude even go near Thornfield that night? 

He could have, purely out of human curiosity. When a tragedy like this happens, everyone wants to see it for themselves. In our times, people would be taking pics of it and filming with their smartphones. But isn't it more likely that he got out of bed and opened up the inn for the survivors? Because where else would they have gone? They could have sought shelter at the parsonage, which was closer, I suppose. Later, of course, he would have served the fire fighters from Millcote.

I wonder about that village, Hay. It's two miles from Thornfield. Seeing as Jane doesn't go there to inquire what happened, but to The Rochester Arms, makes me think the inn must be closer. She got off the coach two miles from Thornfield, but didn't come across the inn straight away, so okay, maybe it's a mile and a half from Thornfield? Jane doesn't mention Hay at all this time, so it probably lies on the other side. 

I wish there was a map, like with fantasy books.

It's not impossible the innkeeper went to Thornfield that fateful night and witnessed it burning, he could have had someone else look after the inn (his wife, or other employees if he had any) while he did so, but again, this would have been much later. He got a chance to make a lot of money that night. What I mean is, he heard accounts of the fire from the survivors and the firefighters and from these he patched a tale to tell Jane. She was so eager to know about the fire, he saw in her face how much it mattered to her, so he kept going on. For all we know, he might give a different story to each guest that asks. The guy runs an inn, the ultimate gossip hub. The more elaborate story he tells, the more the guests spend on food and drink, the better for his business. It's not that he's being deceptive. It's that he might just believe telling tales like these is innocent fun. They're thrilling, they're entertaining, the patrons like them. No harm done. Unless you're Bertha. But considering he believes her to be dead, even if he didn't really see her smashed brains on the stone floor, he trusts no harm is being done by perpetuating the tale. She was mad, she set the house on fire, she died, end of story. Nobody's reputation is sullied--heck, he's even favourable to Grace Poole!

The innkeeper used to work as a butler to Papa Rochester at Thornfield. Understandably, he's loyal to the family. The inn he runs is literally called after them. It's probably owned by them too, at least it's on their lands. 

But he also adds that Rochester, after not hearing anything of his precious governess for two months grew savage (literally the word he uses).

...quite savage on his disappointment: he never was a wild man, but he got dangerous after he lost her.

Someone loyal to him says that. Also this:

"He would not cross the door-stones of the house, except at night, when he walked just like a ghost about the grounds and in the orchard as if he had lost his senses—which it is my opinion he had; for a more spirited, bolder, keener gentleman than he was before that midge of a governess crossed him, you never saw, ma’am. He was not a man given to wine, or cards, or racing, as some are, and he was not so very handsome; but he had a courage and a will of his own, if ever man had. I knew him from a boy, you see: and for my part, I have often wished that Miss Eyre had been sunk in the sea before she came to Thornfield Hall.”

Why? The innkeeper knows the situation, he knows Rochester was married, he knows the marriage to the governess would be illegal. Why does he condemn her for running away? What did he expect her to do after the secret of the wife was revealed, live as his mistress? And how did she "cross" him???

He says Rochester became dangerous but at the same time defends him. 

Savage, dangerous, walked the grounds at night--yet it is Bertha that's insane?

He has more to say:

"He would be alone, too. He sent Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, away to her friends at a distance; but he did it handsomely, for he settled an annuity on her for life: and she deserved it—she was a very good woman. Miss Adèle, a ward he had, was put to school. He broke off acquaintance with all the gentry, and shut himself up like a hermit at the Hall."

I wonder about that Mrs Fairfax bit. Did he send her away, or did she want to leave? I can't imagine a decent woman like her wanting to stay in that house any longer after the scandal broke out. She'd also be made to look like a fool, as she has been kept in the dark about an identity of an inhabitant of a house she was a housekeeper at. 

I'm glad she got a nice pension and that she is with friends now. I like to think of her living out her golden years at a nice seaside spot, surrounded by other good old ladies, knitting, going for walks and drinking lots of tea. Oh and she has a cat. Or better, two cats.

As for Edward breaking acquaintance with the gentry, I bet it was the gentry that broke it first. As if anyone would want to have anything to do with him again... Edward himself admitted they'd spit at him had they known the truth. Lady Ingram and Lady Lynn would barely get out of it alive.

Lady Ingram: I won't lie to you, Margaret, it was the biggest shock of my life. It just gave me the worst heart palpitations!

Lady Lynn: You're telling me, Maria. I spent two days in a dark room, two whole days, and George kept bringing me wet towels for my forehead. He's so considerate.

Edward making sure all the servants got out of the burning Thornfield was a praiseworthy thing to do. I am capable of acknowledging good things about him. Then again, how many servants remained? After Adele was sent to school, Sophie would not be needed, so she'd have been let go. (I imagine her returning to France.) Mrs Fairfax was gone. There was Leah, the married couple John and Mary, and Grace Poole. 

And Leah... I wonder if Leah, after Mrs Fairfax's departure, would have wanted to stay at Thornfield. Miss Marple would say, if that girl had a mother, the mother would not let her continue working for such a man. This is just one of my wild theories, there's no basis for it in the text, but since we're in this dark abyss, I might as well go there. Leah leaving Thornfield before the fire makes a lot of sense to me. She could have got a job anywhere, she was a good housemaid, with good references. I imagine her getting a position in a better household, somewhere where she could make friends with other maids and maybe even meet a nice gardener or footman or coach driver or blacksmith or carpenter or, yes, an innkeeper to fall in love with and marry and live happily with for the rest of her life.

No other lives were lost in the fire, but the innkeeper says it would have been better if there had been. He means that it would have been better had Rochester died. 

You tell me...

The guy has had way too many escapes. Grim Reaper refuses to go near him.

I wish Rochester had died too, but I have to disagree with the innkeeper on the reason. He says death would have been better than Rochester's current condition: he lost his sight and one arm. I don't think it's better to be dead than to live with a disability. Although it's true that back then it would have sucked more, at least now we have better facilities to accommodate people with various conditions. 

Rochester now lives, broken and alone and sad, at Ferndean Manor. The place where he didn't want to put Bertha in, that was in need of repairs, which he never carried out, whoring his money away in Europe instead. That is his home now. He only has John and Mary with him, because he wouldn't have anyone else (as if anyone else would want him.) Also there literally was no one else. Grace Poole was not needed anymore. Neither was Leah, in fact. John and Mary could take care of all his needs. Ferndean is not as grand as Thornfield; he would only need a couple of rooms.

Jane asks the innkeeper whether he has any transport available to hire. He does, a chaise. 

“Let it be got ready instantly; and if your post-boy can drive me to Ferndean before dark this day, I’ll pay both you and him twice the hire you usually demand.”

Why? Why pay twice the normal fare??? To both of them???

It's not like one of those scenes at the end of a romcom, where person A is leaving and person B needs to get to the airport in time to catch them. Rochester is not going anywhere. Jane is needlessly throwing money away.

Briggs to his associate: "This fortune will be wasted in no time, won't it?"

She didn't reveal her identity to him, but seeing that, as as soon as she heard of Rochester living at Ferndean Manor, the first thing she did was to request a transport there and offered to pay double the usual fare, I think it's safe to say that the innkeeper figured out who she was anyway. Maybe that's why she offered to pay double--he wouldn't have agreed to it otherwise, because he hated her. 

Grace Poole

I left her till the end, but looking at the canon, it doesn't actually villainise her, at least not the extent it does Blanche and Richard. I think it's more the fandom that does it. 

Pam Ferris as Grace Poole in the 2006 miniseries

Yes, she has a drinking problem, but this is explained by the nature of the job she is in. She's a seamstress, but her main duty is to look after Bertha. The innkeeper, who is loyal to Rochester, but has no skin in the game as far as Grace is concerned, is sympathetic towards her. He says the vice is common for nurses and matrons and he understands that she had a hard time being Bertha's carer. 

If drinking comes with a job, then it's the job that's the problem--not the people doing it. It must not be easy being a nurse or a carer, I couldn't do it myself. I have a lot respect for people in these professions. 

The effect Grace's drinking had on her was that it made her fall asleep, thus enabling Bertha to take the keys from her pocket. It's easy to shout "Grace Poole, you had one job!" but seeing as it happened multiple times, I question why nobody did anything. It should not occur more than once. The master of the house, Rochester, must be aware of his employee's drinking problem, yet he happily keeps her on. Grace is able to get as much gin as she wants and he takes no steps to prevent her from getting it. And according to him, his insane wife is an alcoholic too. Something's not checking out here. 

Mrs Fairfax, too, seems unconcerned. The only time we see her caution Grace is when she's showing Jane around Thornfield and they hear the strange laugh when they're on the third floor. And that's not to do with her drinking.

“Too much noise, Grace,” said Mrs. Fairfax. “Remember directions!”

Jane is surprised at Grace's appearance. She can't get her head around someone with such a maniacal laugh looking so plain and ordinary. (Because it wasn't her laughing, it was Bertha. I don't mention it in Bertha's section because I find it too ridiculous.) Grace doesn't talk much and when Jane asks her something, she answers monosyllabically. 

After the fire in Rochester's bedroom, Jane starts observing her closer. Remember that Jane suspects Grace to be behind the arson attack in Rochester's bedroom. And Rochester lets her think that because it suits him. He doesn't accuse Grace himself--not this time--it's Jane that brings her up first. Rochester doesn't answer Jane's question about what happened, how come there was a fire, but instead asks her about that demonic laugh and Jane says: 

“Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole,—she laughs in that way. She is a singular person.”

Lol, I'm pretty sure Rochester knows there is a woman in HIS house who sews and that her name is Grace Poole. Master this, master that, waah-waah-waah, but here she's talking to him as if he was a house guest, not the the master of the house.

“Just so. Grace Poole—you have guessed it. She is, as you say, singular—very. Well, I shall reflect on the subject. Meantime, I am glad that you are the only person, besides myself, acquainted with the precise details of to-night’s incident. You are no talking fool: say nothing about it. I will account for this state of affairs.”

(So how did the innkeeper hear of it?)

Jane notes that Grace spends only one hour out of twenty-four with the other servants in the kitchen. She smokes a pipe, takes a pot of porter and retires to her room. However, nobody else in the household cares about Grace much.

When the house is being prepared for the merry company's stay, Jane overhears part of a conversation between Leah and one of the hired charwomen. The subject of the conversation is Grace Poole. The charwoman remarks that Grace gets good wages, to which Leah responds:

"Yes,” said Leah; “I wish I had as good; not that mine are to complain of,—there’s no stinginess at Thornfield; but they’re not one fifth of the sum Mrs. Poole receives. And she is laying by: she goes every quarter to the bank at Millcote. I should not wonder but she has saved enough to keep her independent if she liked to leave; but I suppose she’s got used to the place; and then she’s not forty yet, and strong and able for anything. It is too soon for her to give up business.”

Leah also comments that Grace understands what she has to do and it's not anyone that can fill her shoes for all the money in the world. Leah then spots Jane, nudges the charwoman, who asks: "Doesn't she know?" Leah shakes her head and they change the subject.

All I had gathered from it amounted to this,—that there was a mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery I was purposely excluded.

And who excluded you from this mystery, Jane? 

I'll give you a hint. His first name starts with E, his surname with R and he's your boss.

Here is an outsider to Thornfield--a charwoman--who knows of a lunatic hidden in the attic, while Jane, who lives there, has no clue. An agency worker being privy to the secrets of a company where you are employed as a permanent member of staff. And it's a live-in job at that.

Now, as promised, about Grace doing much for money. If you've read this far, you know what I'm gonna say. 

Yup, the same again. We only have Rochester's word for it. And this time we have a word of someone else, someone who knows her well: Leah. She pronounces no judgement on Grace in this direction. She merely states that Mrs Poole earns good money and she's saving it. In fact Leah is being quite respectful about her colleague in that convo, considering that she could be a bitch since they're gossiping.

You know what putting your wages every quarter into a bank is called? A smart investment. Grace might actually be the character with the most braincells. 

Come to think of it, even Rochester's "Grace will do much for money" might not necessarily be taken negatively. He's trying to get Jane to agree to his indecent proposal, so is using any argument to convince her that it will be okay, that he can shut Thornfield down, dismiss everyone and only keep Grace there to look after Bertha. He even suggest Grace can have her son with her. The "she will do much for money" does not have to point to Grace's greed. What he could mean is: "Grace is a capable woman and I trust her to manage Thornfield--the home of my family for generations--on her own, I trust her to look after my lunatic of a wife 24/7. Her son can come too, to keep her company." In that case, the two hundred a year would be a deserved salary. You get what I mean. If I will pay her well, she'll take care of it. 

Grace saving her wages towards her retirement does not make her a bad person. It makes her a smart person. She has a son; the funds could be meant for him or for his future children. Or the Quakers. Even Charlotte Bronte wouldn't go as far as accuse Grace Poole of blowing her money on fancy trinkets! 

If Bertha = bad and mad and dangerous, then Grace deserves every penny of her wages. And if Bertha is not mad, as I've been saying, then Grace still deserves the wages. She spends twenty-three hours of the day with her patient! 

The money was probably coming from Bertha's funds anyway. 

If it is true that Grace likes money that much, then it just makes her a flawed character. I'd also like to know whether Rochester was aware of her love for money when he hired her. Whether that was the reason he hired her, never mind her fondness for gin, because he knew if he paid her enough, she'd do her job.

Grace does appear hostile towards Bertha. "She is so cunning: it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her craft." Humph, that was a compliment. Okay, okay, it wasn't, but it's only what we see (or what Jane sees). Behind closed doors it might be different. Are you telling me that Grace has been looking after Bertha for ten years and in all that time never developed any sympathy for her? I know this is me in my dark abyss of speculation, but Grace could have said that to appease Rochester. After all, he pays her. Maybe, over the years, she learned that the best way was to act as if Bertha was the devil in front of Rochester. But, once the door of the attic room is closed and they are alone, she shows her some kindness. After all, what we see of the two of them as the door opens is a picture of a domestic (albeit unusual) calm. Grace is cooking, Bertha is playing/exercising.

Grace is shockingly unperturbed by the arrival of a whole deputation at her office, when the rule number one is she doesn't talk about the office. Rochester, who is supposed to be GETTING MARRIED at that moment, suddenly turns up at her workplace, which is supposed to be HIDDEN, accompanied by PEOPLE. One of these people is a complete stranger, by the looks a professional. One is a clergyman. (Quakers don't go to church but she might know him from sight, anyway she's able to figure out he was to officiate the marriage.) One is the brother of her patient who was not expected to visit Thornfield ever again. And the last one is the bride. Not quite the regular Tuesday. And yet Grace displays no hint of surprise and nonchalantly responds "I'm well thanks" to her boss's cheerful question of how she's doing. No "oh, I didn't realise today was open day, I would have prepared snacks." It might just be the funniest scene in the book. It certainly is, from Grace's perspective. It's the most exciting day at work in a decade. 

Yes, I know English servants are supposed to not show any emotion, but come on, there's a difference between a butler answering "very well, sir" to his master's most bizarre orders and Grace's situation. Especially as the main point of her employment was to keep her true duties secret. Yet, she is unperturbed when one sunny summer morning they're no longer so secret. It's as if she expected it. This is why I said, in the Not Insane in the Brain - I Choose Violence section, that it was the Plan B.

I find Grace an interesting character to explore, I think she has a lot of potential. The place she came from, Grimsby Retreat, is based on real life York Retreat. Retreats were more humane lunatic asylums, ran by the Quakers. 

Check out this article if you're interested in learning more. 

At least, if Grace does love money that much, it's easy to get her to switch sides. Just do a Tyrion Lannister and offer her double of what she gets now. And if you prefer a less money-loving Grace, then this is just a job. The prospect of her returning to the Retreat to be with her son/family should be tempting enough. 

Her only crime is knowing of Rochester's marriage and not doing anything to stop the illegal wedding. But it's questionable whether she'd be able to do anything in that regard. 

I like to think that on the night of the fire, Grace grabbed Bertha and together they escaped from Thornfield to safety. 

The innkeeper didn't see shit.

Grace was covering Rochester's worthless ass for ten years, was suspected of being an arsonist and got straight up accused by her employer of breaking into Jane's room in the dark of the night and tearing up her veil (the most ridiculous accusation of them all, because Grace is the last person to ever give a fuck about some stupid governess's wedding veil). The money she made working at Thornfield was more than deserved. I hope she's having a nice retirement, among her fellow Quakers.

The Firestarter

You're probably wondering whether I'm purposefully avoiding this topic. I'm not.

Trust me to declare with confidence that Bertha set off no fires. 

RIP Keith Flint

But it is important to note that the text supports it: Jane, our eyes to the story, does not see her do so. She's not present for the second fire. I've already brought the credibility of the innkeeper's story about the fire into question. And as for the first, well, the evidence is purely circumstantial. Jane wakes up, hears strange murmurs, thinks someone's touching her door from the outside, tries to sleep, is woken up again by that demonic laugh, hears the sound of footsteps running up to the third floor and the door to the third floor opening and closing. She gets up, opens her door, looks down the gallery, sees a candle on the floor, notices smoke coming out of Rochester's room, the door to which is ajar, smells something burning, rushes to his room, sees the fire, and quickly extinguishes it with the water from the pitcher.

The next day, Jane walks into Rochester's room where Leah is cleaning and Grace is sewing the curtain. She pretends to be ignorant of last night's incident and asks Grace what's going on, has anything happened. Grace's answer:

“Only master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes or the wood-work caught, and contrived to quench the flames with the water in the ewer.”

Obviously that's not true, but the origin of the fire is plausible. We cannot establish which candle it was that started the fire. Jane doesn't have time to notice any candles in his room, understandably, but when Grace gives her account, Jane doesn't immediately think "bullshit, there was no candle burning in his room", so we can safely say she doesn't know. 

Let's say Bertha enters her husband's room, the door of which was inexplicably unlocked/unbolted, without waking him up and sets fire to his curtains. Okay. She did it. Then Bertha, that CUNNING woman, exits the room leaving the door ajar instead of closing it. She places the candle on floor of the gallery. And doesn't forget to laugh that very distinct laugh of hers right there, outside the room a witness, in the dead of the night when any noise carries ten times louder than during daylight.

Why did she not shut the door?

Leaving the door open made the fire more likely to be discovered. Also more likely to spread, as opposed to if it was only contained to Rochester's bedroom. Had she escaped from Thornfield, she might have wanted to burn the whole motherfucker down, but she went back to her attic, so if she burned the whole motherfucker down, she'd have died in it too. So far she'd shown no signs of wanting to kill herself. 

Why did she leave the candle on the floor? Just why??? Why did she not take it with her? Did she go back upstairs in the dark? Jane mentions the night was "drearily dark". And Bertha had to climb the stairs to get back to her room.

Maybe those red eyes of hers can see in the dark, yo.

Though she had a candle when she came to Jane's room, two nights before the supposed wedding.

Charlotte, hon, your story is inconsistent.

So, I don't know *throws arms*. She could have done it or she could have not. Despite being a supporter of Bertha, I don't necessarily insist that she's innocent of the arson, though I started this section with it. I understand why she'd want to burn Rochester alive. I wish I could burn him alive too. She is guilty of stabbing her brother, I don't deny that. I gave theories on that. Speaking of the stabbing, I have to wonder why Bertha didn't just stab Edward. She was out of her cell, she could have gone to the kitchen and got the knife then. It's a lot less messier than starting fires. Sure, once it was discovered, she'd definitely be charged with murder (as opposed to the fire in the bedroom appearing to be accidental)--but what did she have to lose? It's probable they'd commit her to an institution, rather than execute her. And she might have felt that it couldn't have been worse than being at Thornfield. (Rochester claims it was better for her at Thornfield, but she herself might not have thought so, she might have had a grass-is-always-greener style of thinking and besides, she might have just wanted Rochester dead, never mind at what cost.)

Accidents are always possible, albeit not very dramatic. More probable than arson, for sure. This was the time of candles, fires in the fireplaces, lots of flammable materials around, and no health and safety guidelines.

Having both fires be accidents is a cop-out, but there are lots of possibilities to play with. For the purposes of writing a pro-Bertha fanfic, it doesn't matter. The writer doesn't even need to explain it. You can have two characters, neither a Thornfield inhabitant, discussing the event. Which is what's in the actual canon. It's just that nobody has thought of doubting the innkeeper's word. Nobody but me. As far as I know, at least. Will this help me find kindred spirits?

Given what we now know of Rochester's womanising ways, the door to his room being left ajar at night and the candle on the gallery floor may have a different explanation. And the fire could still have been an accident, like Grace described--he fell asleep forgetting to extinguish his own candle.

But, just as I did in the Grace Poole section, I have to wonder how it was possible that Bertha was able to set TWO fires. Measures should have been taken after the first time, ensuring it didn't happen again. After his secret was out, what stopped Rochester from hiring a second nurse, to ease Grace's workload? 

And why was Grace cooking in Bertha's room?

Some serious incompetence going on at Thornfield. 

Reunited

Jane gets off the chaise a mile from her destination, opting to cover the rest of her journey on foot. Ferndean Manor is a manor-house that Papa Roch bought for the sake of hunting, but could never find a tenant to let it out to due to its dreary location. Jane enters its grounds, but all she can see is trees and the path stretches on forever. At last the house appears in front of her and it is indeed, as the innkeeper put it, a desolate spot. She wonders if life can be there.

Apparently it can--a door opens.

It opened slowly: a figure came out into the twilight and stood on the step; a man without a hat: he stretched forth his hand as if to feel whether it rained. Dusk as it was, I had recognised him—it was my master, Edward Fairfax Rochester, and no other.

And here was I, getting excited it would be someone more interesting. A strong, silent hermit, in touch with nature, a closer kin to the woods than to people, his horse is his only companion, he shuns the society for the hurt they caused him and his loved ones. 

It seems I wandered into a different fantasy.

She notes his appearance is not changed much (for once she doesn't mention his ugliness) but he's looking all hurt and broken. But check this out:

His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour as ever: his port was still erect, his hair was still raven black; nor were his features altered or sunk: not in one year’s space, by any sorrow, could his athletic strength be quelled or his vigorous prime blighted. 

So there is still a lot she likes about the way he looks. It's only his face that's ugly. She likes his general physique. The way she's been going on for the whole book, claiming the moral high ground for not caring about a man's exterior, when she does actually find some of his features attractive. Because that's normal, because she's a human being, like the rest of us. I would have more time for her had she not felt so superior about herself. 

Rochester goes back in. Jane approaches the door and knocks. Mary (John's wife, who used to be a cook at Thornfield, I know y'all getting confused about all the different Marys) opens and gets the fright of her life. Jane arranges with Mary a stay for the night and asks Mary to tell Rochester there's someone to see him when his bell rings. Mary comes back with a message saying Rochester demands to know the name and the business. Mary fills up a glass with water and places it on a tray with some candles; she explains that's how he wants it.

"he always has candles brought in at dark, though he is blind.”

Okay, but why? His house LITERALLY FUCKING BURNED DOWN. He is blind, he could easily knock a candle down by accident! Look, I don't give a fuck, he can scorch himself as far as I'm concerned, but he's not there alone, John and Mary are there and he could put them in danger. He won't be able to play the hero and rescue them if a fire breaks out this time, he can't fucking see!

Jane takes the tray from Mary and carries it to Rochester herself, because of course she cannot think of any other way to come to him other than serving him. 

She brings him the tray, surprising him with her presence, puts the tray down, hands him the glass, pats him on the shoulder and says: "Goodbye, Eddie. Enjoy your miserable existence." And off she goes to live a fabulous life.

Just kidding. That is not what happens. The lovers are re-united is what happens.

Nope. She still calls him "sir" and directly addresses him as "my master". 

You and me, Padme, both.

Charlotte Bronte insisted these two had to be together. Okay. It's her book. I just think it would be a million times more romantic if Jane's first words were: "My dear Edward. I am back and I am here to stay." She doesn't work for him anymore, he's not her master, he's not a master in the Mr Miyagi sense, and although she is somewhat lower than him in society hierarchy, she has her own money now and he is more or less a broken man with whom the gentry doesn't want to associate with anymore. There is no need to call him "sir" again, ever. 

So you wonder, what is the first thing she tells him, once he gets over the shock of her being there in the flesh, when he feared she was dead in some ditch? Does she perhaps say something along the lines of "hey, I heard you're widowed now, so what's up with that wedding?" or "so Thornfield burned down, eh? couldn't deal without me being there to throw water on it, tsk tsk". Or "isn't that just so CONVENIENT that your INCONVENIENT wife KILLED HERSELF?" (And Usain Bolt it out of there.)

What does Jane say to a man who has already married one woman for her money?

Jane: "I am an independent woman now.”

Rochester: “Independent! What do you mean, Jane?”

Jane: “My uncle in Madeira is dead, and he left me five thousand pounds.”

Rochester's reaction:

“Ah! this is practical—this is real!”

It is practical. He's not lying. 

Jane:

"I will be your neighbour, your nurse, your housekeeper. I find you lonely: I will be your companion—to read to you, to walk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to be eyes and hands to you. Cease to look so melancholy, my dear master; you shall not be left desolate, so long as I live.”

That's the fifth time she has used "my master" since she started on her journey back to him. Second time she called him so directly.

A nurse or a purse, or why not both, Jane, eh?

Stupid Girl

All the facepalms by all the regulars of all the Star Treks (ALL of them, including all the new shows and the Kelvin timeline) are not enough facepalms for this.

Jane, at the beginning of the story, was a naïve and inexperienced girl. That is no longer so. She bravely escaped the only home she had, with nowhere else to go, fell to an almost literal rock bottom, met people outside of her previous limited experience--not teachers at girls' schools or servants in country mansions--had long talks with a man other than Rochester, lived by herself in a small cottage, therefore running her own household, getting groceries etc, instead of having staff to rely on with domestic tasks. She inherited a fucking fortune, making the commendable decision to split it with her cousins because she felt they deserved it. Yet she has not learned a thing.

You know why I think Jane chose to divide the twenty thousand four ways? Because she wouldn't know what to do with all that money. She made no use of it. The only activity she found pleasure in was giving Moor House a good scrubbing, top to bottom, to make it ready for Christmas, and buying some new furniture and decorations. She started learning German, because Diana and Mary did so, later Hindi because St John asked her to, and occasionally taught at the Morton school, but that was it. Briefly she considered going to India as a missionary, not because it was something she was passionate about, but on St John's suggestion. 

When she first came to Thornfield, before the arrival of Rochester, she found life there dull and it was dull. But here she is, all the opportunities for excitement at her doorstep, and she doesn't take them. She does no travelling. She takes no trips to other cities, or to London, to museums, or theatre or opera, or just sightseeing. We know she sneers at fashion, but surely she likes some type of clothes, at least she can't be wearing the same thing every day. In that interrogation by Rochester at the beginning, she admitted she's not read many books and those she did were not very learned, but there's no sign of her buying any new books. The Marmion she reads was a gift from St John. She likes painting, but seemingly has no interest in visiting galleries. To put it plainly, she has no fucking life.

She doesn't open her own school, but I'm thinking she doesn't actually want one--at the time, in the gypsy fortune teller episode, opening her own school was the best it could get for her. Now that she has money she has more options, obviously, she doesn't have to go on "schoolmarming" for the rest of her life. (I mean, who would want to...) Except she doesn't even consider any other option. She's still never visited a city. Or the seaside. All her life experience is limited to countryside; to villages and country mansions. The only men she's ever got close to are Rochester and St John. No wonder she has such a scarcity mentality. She doesn't believe life can get better for her. She's not yet twenty, her whole life ahead of her, healthy and of sound mind and rich to boot. Yet she does an absolute fuck all, apart from listening to St John's long monologues. She thinks she will not marry, not because she doesn't need to depend on a man anymore, or out societal pressure, but because she doesn't believe anyone would ever love her, she doesn't believe there is any man for her, despite talking to all of TWO men in her life.

She likes to paint, yet seeks no new landscapes to capture with her brush. Explore the world, or England at least, Jane! Visit York, see the Minster, the Shambles. Go to the Lake District. Go to the coast. (Anne Bronte loved Scarborough, she died there too, poor soul...)

Yeah, so that double fare didn't make any difference to her finances. I know that. She was still stupid to pay it, though. Whether she got there on the same day, or on the morning of the next would have made zero difference.

Jane continually looks down on other women for being shallow but it's not that she's that deep herself. Honestly, all she cares about is Rochester. Nothing and nobody else exists for her. During the month of their engagement, she worried she was making him her whole world. She knew being that obsessed with him was not a good thing, but she did nothing to change it. Even after she put a physical distance between herself and him. She was in the prefect position to get over an ex. New life, new friends, and even a new fortune. But no. She passes judgements on everyone that crosses her path, yet brags about not getting over a married man. 

There is being in love with someone. And there is being stupid.

The next day, Jane gives an account of what she went through after her escape from Thornfield. Rochester starts asking about St John, as he features so heavily in her narrative (what can I say, I wish he didn't). You know what Jane does now?

She teases Rochester with St John. Because St John was good looking and young and of good character (in Jane's eyes; she likes him, she just isn't in love with him), she is able to make Rochester jealous. Which... girl.

Too little too late. It's like sending a health and safety inspector to Thornfield the day after it burned down. What's the use of it now? She's just travelled all this way to see Rochester, clearly she has no intention to be with another man. She is sitting in his lap, for heaven's sake

She should have done this when she was still his governess. When the merry company was there and Rochester was pulling that stunt with Blanche. True, there was no suitable guy for that around, but that wouldn't matter, she could have made one up. Say, for example, she comes back from her day or afternoon off and Rochester asks her what she's been doing and she says "oh nothing much, met an old friend from Lowood today for a cup of tea in the village, he used to come give us music lessons, he's on his way to Manchester for a new job but stopped by here so that he could see me, we were such good friends back in the day, you know." Even better, ask for an extra time off when the said friend is passing by, so that she can meet him. It doesn't matter if she'd spend the time sitting alone in a village pub. 

Another one to file under "what could have been".

And it's not that her teasing goes on for long. Pretty soon she spills out the truth, that St John doesn't mean anything to her and neither does she mean anything to him, that he only wanted to marry her because she would make a good missionary wife.

"But if you wish me to love you, could you but see how much I do love you, you would be proud and content. All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence for ever.”

Sir. And she used "my master" sixth time (to the reader, not to him).

He tries to protest, pointing out his disabilities. He compares himself to that chestnut tree under which he proposed to her, the tree that was struck by lightning. (The tree deserved better. Rochester didn't.) Jane responds by continuing with that metaphor and he thinks she means they would be friends (she just declared her love for him (again) but okay). 

“Ah! Jane. But I want a wife.”

Of course you do, Edward. Who else will look after you? Mary does all the housekeeping tasks, but it's only a job to her and she has her own husband. 

Marriage is beneficial to men. Married men live longer than single men. Don't believe all the lame "wife" jokes. 

So he asks her to marry him and she says yes. He emphasises that she will have to wait on him, but she's happy with that. 

Of course she is happy with that. She literally walked back into his life carrying him a tray. She'd give her life to serve him. She's always done what he asked her to do, things that were outside her job as a governess. She sat in the drawing room with the guests at Thornfield, she stayed up at night when he needed her to, she kept running to his bedroom the night Richard got stabbed to fetch things, which included a highly suspicious substance (that everyone seems to ignore), she complied with his demand not to talk to Richard, she didn't advertise for a new job when she believed her stint at Thornfield was coming to a close because he told her not to advertise, she keeps calling him "sir" and "master" long after she is not his employee and has her own money. My master, my master, my master, waah-waah-waah. The good, obedient girl, who will help him bury the body. That's Jane Eyre.

And yes, Jane was in no position to refuse her master's orders, especially not as a live-in staff. But she doesn't even wonder why he gives these orders. So much time she spends in her head, talking to the reader, observing Blanche's behaviour, suspecting Grace of arson, pondering Richard Mason's existence, but she doesn't stop once to think about Rochester's motives. Not "why does he make me sit in the drawing room, what's his game?" Not "why should Mr Mason not to talk to me?" Not "how come he has a vial full of liquid from an Italian charlatan? What does he use it for?" The only time she doesn't comply is when she runs away. 

At the beginning, when she arrived at Thornfield, she thought it strange that Mrs Fairfax was so friendly to her, when she believed her to be the mistress of the house. But she showed no such surprise when the real master started behaving like a friend. 

I think it's real shitty of her to not even acknowledge that Grace Poole wasn't the bad guy after all. But if she did, if she, only in her head, said to herself, "I've been a real fool suspecting Grace of criminal activity", she'd have to also acknowledge that her beloved master was a piece of shit.

And it wouldn't kill her if she allowed at least one semi-friendly thought towards Richard Mason. She didn't have to like him, or talk to him if she didn't want to (not because Rochester demanded it), but again, she could have at minimum acknowledged that it was nice of him to care about Bertha, despite everything she was. And if she really cherished the hope of meeting her newly found uncle one day, why didn't she ask Richard about him? 

After they agree they'll marry, Rochester goes on to say that he was wrong in what he did but--let me copy it here:

“Jane! you think me, I daresay, an irreligious dog: but my heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent God of this earth just now. He sees not as man sees, but far clearer: judges not as man judges, but far more wisely. I did wrong: I would have sullied my innocent flower—breathed guilt on its purity: the Omnipotent snatched it from me. I, in my stiff-necked rebellion, almost cursed the dispensation: instead of bending to the decree, I defied it. Divine justice pursued its course; disasters came thick on me: I was forced to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. His chastisements are mighty; and one smote me which has humbled me for ever. You know I was proud of my strength: but what is it now, when I must give it over to foreign guidance, as a child does its weakness? Of late, Jane—only—only of late—I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were, but very sincere."

I don't know. It's at best a half-assed apology. He found Jesus. And it only refers to his demanding her to become his professional mistress. Nothing about all the other stuff, or how awfully he treated the women he had relationships with.

He called her name--loudly--that time she heard him in Morton. But she doesn't tell him she heard him, so as not to frighten him. I can buy it. It's a gothic novel. Still more believable than her collapsing on the doorstep of the people who turned out to be her cousins.

I would have liked it better had he added "waah-waah-waah". 

He swears he will live a clean life from now on.

Not like he has any choice. He can't be running off to London or Europe and chase after women anymore. He can't host parties because: 1. nobody wants to attend 2. Ferndean Manor is a hole and a dump 3. he can't see. Sneak in a 4. what is his financial situation now?

Lovers reunited or not, the real winner of this chapter is the driver who got the double fare. I hope he spent it wisely.

Reader, She Married Him

This is why I like Bertha better. Her story would have ended with "reader, I murdered him". Or "reader I divorced him", depending on how dark you want it to get. 

This may sound like I'm contradicting everything I talked about in this piece, but I'm not actually against Jane and Rochester getting together at the end. Let them be happy for all I care. I just want happiness for Bertha. First of all, I want her to escape from the fire and get to safety and second, I want her to get a divorce from Rochester. Sir George Lynn would be able to arrange for that. The only difference is when Jane waltzes back into Edward's life, he's divorced instead of widowed, but that doesn't make one iota of difference. All you need to do is discard the portion of innkeeper's testimony about her jumping off the roof. That's all. 

Yup, that's literally all. 

Have you not noticed?

Neither Jane nor Edward ever mention Bertha. Or the burned down Thornfield. 

Jane narrates her experiences after she ran away, but he's quiet. It's reversed from how it used to be with the two of them, when he always talked about himself. Not this time. No long paragraphs anymore--apart from the one I copied here. He doesn't even ask how she knew he was at Ferndean. Also, like, she saw a ruined Thornfield in her dream once? A dream she told Rochester she had? And neither one of them makes any reference to it? "Oh hey, Jane, ain't you a prophetess!" He mentions the chestnut tree struck down by the storm, but not her dream. Both are gothic elements. 

Stranger yet, Jane makes no reference to him rescuing the servants from Thornfield. Surely that was a heroic act? "You couldn't go without being a hero and now look at yourself, tsk tsk." Instead they talk about how ugly he is because that is, of course, of the upmost importance.

But nope, nothing from him this time. The guy who at length talked about how the world wronged him has nothing to say about his old family seat having burned down and him being the hero rescuing everyone, including the wife he hated. "I tried to save her, Jane, despite everything." It would have added some tenderness and it would have been the perfect closure on the past. Instead--zilch.

Which suits me perfectly. I don't have to twist the canon into a pretzel to have Bertha survive, so no complaints from me.

The wedding was a quiet one, only the happy couple, the parson and the clerk were present. So exactly how it was with their first attempt at a wedding. Richard and Briggs were uninvited guests.

"And I coveted that wedding invitation so much!" said no one ever. But still I'm entertained at the thought of Bertha, Blanche, Richard and Lord Ingram making their way to the church epic walk-style and sitting down in the front pew. Jane almost gets a heart attack (not Roch because he can't see) but they're like "go on, we're just here to wish you good luck" and they leave before the groom kisses the bride. This is not a fanfic idea--they all have better things to do with their time than attend the wedding of such nonentities. Besides, Bertha won't go near her ex-husband. It's just funny to imagine.

Jane comes home from church and informs Mary and John that she married Mr Rochester. She makes a point of the couple reacting to it very quietly, but they probably weren't surprised. Why else would she come to Ferndean if not to marry him now that he was free? I don't know why Jane assumes everyone is as stupid as her. She gives them a five pound note and later overhears Mary telling John that she (Jane) will be better for Rochester than any of the grand ladies. (Boss: "here's your bonus, employee." Employee later: "best boss ever!")

Oh, Jane Jane Jane Jane Jane. Who cares what a servant thinks? What does Mary know of grand ladies? Who cares? Seriously, who cares???

Look, Mary's right. But not for the reasons Jane thinks she is. Grand ladies have a lot going on. Jane is better for him because her whole self is dedicated to him. 

I wrote to Moor House and to Cambridge immediately, to say what I had done: fully explaining also why I had thus acted. Diana and Mary approved the step unreservedly. Diana announced that she would just give me time to get over the honeymoon, and then she would come and see me.

(St John was in Cambridge.)

Give me Diana's email, I want to ask her myself.

No but like, what difference would it have made whether they "approved" or not??? The marriage was legal. It didn't need any approval from the relatives. Besides, I don't see them giving too many fucks. They probably just shrugged, like okay. Jane flaked on them and didn't even invite them to the wedding. She could have waited a few days for them to arrive. What was the rush?

Seriously, what was the rush? This is what Rochester says in the previous (penultimate) chapter:

“The case being so, we have nothing in the world to wait for: we must be married instantly.”

He looked and spoke with eagerness: his old impetuosity was rising.

“We must become one flesh without any delay, Jane: there is but the licence to get—then we marry.”

Jane remarks that it's getting late and they should get back inside (they're in the garden) and eat and he says: 

“The third day from this must be our wedding-day, Jane. Never mind fine clothes and jewels, now: all that is not worth a fillip.”

I thought the licence would have taken more than three days? Maybe it didn't at the time it's supposed be set in. But why this insistence? I repeat yet again, neither of them is going anywhere. If he's afraid she'll do another runner, then he doesn't trust her. She has no reason to do a runner, he's free now. Unless there's, you know, something else going on.

We must be married instantly, we must become one flesh without delay, three days from now it must be our wedding day. You must choke yourself, Edward. Jane gets no say. She changes the subject!

Wait, I think I've just figured it out. "Become one flesh", he wants to fuck her asap. He's been going without for--how long? Too long for a philanderer like him. Assuming John is not bringing him peasant girls to bed. 

I want to also point out the line about the fine clothes and jewels. He says never mind them, they're not worth a fillip, so the reader is to think he's changed. But has he? Jane never had anything but contempt for fine clothes and jewels. These things should not matter for their wedding, because they don't matter to Jane. Not because they're "not worth a fillip". (Also because he can't get them now and also because he can't see so it makes no difference to him what Jane is wearing.) It's like he's not learned that Jane has no need for fine clothes and jewels. He makes it all about himself. If he had said "you'll marry me as you are now because I know you don't give a damn about dresses and jewels." Or heck, even have some dialogue about it. Roch: "I would like us to marry asap, but you might want to get a nice dress?" Jane: "No, Edward, I'll marry you as I am now because no dress matters to me as much as becoming your wife." Give her some agency about it. The day of their first wedding, he rushed her to the church, holding her hand, until she was out of breath. Let her be the boss this time. At least have one nice thing, for example flowers. Once again, Charlotte, I'm begging you, you're not a bimbo for liking nice things. 

Remember that pearl necklace? Rochester has been wearing it underneath his clothes all this time. 

At least someone appreciates it.

Just wondering, what would he have said if Jane wanted to invite Diana and Mary to their wedding? "Can you chill out for a week longer, Ed, it matters to me that they come." 

St John never responded to her letter, but wrote to her six months later, not mentioning her marriage at all. (Okay but how did he addressed it? Miss Eyre? Mrs Rochester?) They write to each other occasionally.

Adele

You have not quite forgotten little Adèle, have you, reader?

No, but you know who has, Jane? YOU. You've not given a single thought to the child ever since that morning you said goodbye at her door.

Romy Settbon Moore as Adele Varens in the 2011 film 

I have not quite reached the end of my rage, despite there being only a few paragraphs left. In fact, the worst is yet to come.

Last we heard of Adele, she was sent to school. Jane went to see her at the said school. She "asked and obtained leave of Mr Rochester" to do so.

She's talking as if she was still his employee. She's calling him Mr Rochester and asking him for leave. They are married.

The school is way too strict and Adele looks pale and unhappy, so Jane takes her home. 

I meant to become her governess once more, but I soon found this impracticable; my time and cares were now required by another—my husband needed them all.

Okay but why a governess? Why not an adoptive mother? 

Rochester taking up all of Jane's time is hardly surprising.

Jane finds a different school, a better one, from which Adele could come back for holidays. Adele settles herself well and progresses with her studies.

As she grew up, a sound English education corrected in a great measure her French defects.

For all the bullshit in this book, Rochester's lies, Jane's holier than thou attitude, this is the worst sentence of all.

Jane, you fucking piece of Brexiteer shit. 

You know what future I want for Adele? I want her to grow up and get her French defects back. I want her to go on stage, like her mother, and I want her to be a successful singer or actress, and I want her to dazzle the world with her talent, and I want Jane's head to fucking explode from this.

Adele's character provides the most opportunities for fanfics, whichever way you take the canon, since she is still a child. Angela Carter submitted a synopsis for a book, which she never wrote due to her untimely death. This is it:

Adele was going to fall in love with a schoolteacher, seduce her own father and watch her mother being guillotined; it was going to play 'some tricks with history... But then it is a novel'.

Sounds interesting. Unfortunately nothing but the synopsis remains. 

Jane and Rochester being the endgame at least means Adele is well looked after. I like that Jane inspected the first school and, seeing that it was too strict, found her a more indulgent one. She knew what it was about, with her experience of Lowood. She didn't want Adele to go through the same.

Rochester alone did not give a single fuck about the little girl. Jane did. But you know, there's always a way. 

Rochester said the girl had no one after her mother abandoned her (if that's what happened), but he could have just been mistaken or uninformed. There could have been a relative, even multiple relatives, Celine could have been disowned by her family for being scandalous. It's not like he cares about her anyway. After the failed wedding, Rochester says he wants to leave Thornfield and Jane suggests he should take Adele with him, for company. 

“What do you mean, Jane? I told you I would send Adèle to school; and what do I want with a child for a companion, and not my own child,—a French dancer’s bastard? Why do you importune me about her! I say, why do you assign Adèle to me for a companion?”

Why did you take her in then, Edward?

If care is not taken, I will start suspecting that the only reason he brought Adele to Thornfield was because she'd need a governess, and he wanted a governess in his house so that he could seduce her and bigamously marry. I know, I know, that's going too far, but is it? Sure, he couldn't have predicted the hired governess would end up being a young and naïve one, with no relatives, but he could have instructed Mrs Fairfax to hire someone specifically from Lowood, a place he knew was ran by Brocklehurst (I find it quite surprising he knew that--why would a landed gentry like him know anything of directors of girls' boarding schools???) who was a bastard, so his pupils would be prone to graduate with lots of trauma. Easy to manipulate and all that. The fact remains that the governess was the only member of his staff who was not supposed to know about a housemate hidden in the attic--everyone else did, albeit not the housemate's true identity.

Remember, Edward is very calculating. 

Happily Ever After

They have now been married for ten years. So everything that Jane has been narrating took place at least as long ago as that. How much of this is misremembered or revised is up to the reader to decide. The conflicting descriptions of the madwoman, the inconsistency of the time of sunrise on two July days in a row, the puzzling attitude towards her uncle, whom she wanted to meet, but not really.

The Rochesters are one happy couple.

No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.

Are they Siamese twins?

We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking.

Ah, Rochester and his monologues.

She goes on about how she was his eyes and never tired of it, yadda yadda yadda, until, two years on, he partially recovered eyesight in one eye. It starts like this:

“Jane, have you a glittering ornament round your neck?”

I had a gold watch-chain: I answered “Yes.”

“And have you a pale blue dress on?”

She had.

Hold it right there. She wore a glittering ornament? A dress that was not black or grey?? A light coloured dress???

Right, so a watch chain is not as big a crime to her as, say, a diamond necklace would be (she never mentions the pearls again) but the dress? Mayhaps our plain Jane has discovered that she won't go to hell for wearing something pretty? She's not wearing it for her husband's benefit--as when she put it on, she didn't know he regained some of his sight. I wonder, did she, after all, have that shopping trip with the girls? 

My Edward and I, then, are happy: and the more so, because those we most love are happy likewise. 

She's calling him Edward now, when we're like, 99.99% though with the book. "Those we love most" refers to Diana and Mary Rivers. Who are Jane's relatives/friends, not Edward's. There's no mention of any friends of Edward's. He doesn't have any. 

The Rivers sisters also found their marital bliss: Diana married Captain Fitzjames of the navy (good for you, girl!) and Mary married Mr Wharton, a clergyman who was a college classmate of St John. They all visit each other every year.

Am happy for them.

I hope Diana gets to travel the world with her hubby and makes the best of her inheritance. 

There is also one interesting line in the paragraph where Jane talks about Edward's sight:

When his first-born was put into his arms, he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were—large, brilliant, and black.

So Jane tells us a boy was born. A son of Rochester, with the same eyes.

However, nowhere does she state that she's the kid's mother.

It's... an interesting way of putting things. The passive voice, the detached way she says it. Not "we named our first born [whatever]", or "we were blessed with a son". His first-born was put into his arms. It's the only sentence in the whole book that makes any reference to any child or children of theirs. Considering what a large part their relationship plays in the story, it's... odd. Jane talks a lot about side characters, including those she hates, but this child gets one sentence. His first-born, his eyes. Was he not Jane's son too?

Given Rochester's philandering ways, who knows. But then, it's likely he had kids all over Europe and this would not therefore be his first born. I don't believe Adele was his, but he's been with many women. And there is, of course, the small detail of him him having been married before. Imagine one day a young man with dark hair, flanked on one side by his uncle Richard, on the other by a lawyer, turns up on their doorstep: "what's up, dad, I'm of age now and came here to claim my inheritance." I only accept a dead Bertha in a timeline where she had a son with Edward. But I don't like this timeline. I prefer her not to have children, not with Edward at least. She's suffered enough.

I'm sure nobody wants that. Let Jane and her master be happy and let Bertha be happy too. Any potential European offspring will be illegitimate, therefore of no threat. 

St John went to India and never married and never will, as he will soon die. In his last letter he writes he is anticipating the hour in which his Lord Maker will come for him. We're not given any more information, but as far as I understand, the Indian climate didn't agree with the young missionary.

Let me quote the last line of the book, which is a line from St John's letter:

“My Master,” he says, “has forewarned me. Daily He announces more distinctly,—‘Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond,—‘Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!’”

My Master. The phrase I have been laughing about for half the recap. You can't fucking make it up.

St John has got it right. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. I'm not religious, or a believer, but I understand that's how it works. And Jane did worry she was making too much of Rochester, back in their engagement days, many moons ago. She still had a chance then. 

I don't know, maybe if you spell it with lowercase "m", it's not a sin?

Final Thoughts

We hear nothing about Thornfield--what happened to the lands? They still belong to the Rochesters. And the ruins--are they just going to stand there, with no attempt at rebuilding at least a part of the old Hall? 

No word about the poor state of Ferndean Manor and whether the happy couple did any renovating. Jane told us in detail about how she cleaned Moor House, a place that was her home for only a short time, and purchased new furniture for it. On the subject of her married home, however, she has nothing to say.

She seems not to be bothered about living so far from the nearest human settlement. I wonder what it's like in winter (their reunion was in June, so if the place looked deserted then, what about January?) I wonder how many deliveries are missed because the tradesmen can't make it to Ferndean. I suppose it's also why they couldn't hire a nurse to help out with Edward's condition. A live-out one would not be able to get there daily and they wouldn't be able to accommodate a live-in one, unless they made some repairs to the house (which, as Jane tells us, only had three functioning rooms. With time there would have to be more, but as Jane gives us no info on this, all we're left with is speculation.).

I wonder what it's like for children to grow up in such a place. Seeing who their parents are, the poor fuckers must be so hideous it's better they're hidden from the rest of the world.

Sorry. That was mean. It was her constantly going on about Rochester's ugliness and her own plainness, not me. I'm innocent! 

Maybe the little buggers got lucky and inherited more favourable genes. 

We get no word about Mrs Fairfax, whether Jane kept in touch with her or not. Remember, Alice Fairfax was not just a housekeeper at Thornfield, she was a widow of Edward's relative. Did Jane ever write to her of their marriage (this time it's for real)? Did Mrs Fairfax send them a letter of congratulations?

We're given no info about the merry company.

Jane told us of what became of her other cousins, the Reeds, earlier, in the chapter when she returned from Gateshead to Thornfield. Georgiana, the beauty Lord Ingram mentioned, married a wealthy man and Eliza, the pious one, converted to Catholicism and became a nun at a French convent, later rising to a superior. It's interesting that two not exactly sympathetic--though not as evil as their mother--characters received such positive outcomes. 

Look at the similarity in cousinhood: Jane has two sets of cousins, two girls and one boy each. The Reeds on her mothers side: John, Georgiana, Eliza and the Riverses on her father's side: St John, Diana, Mary. The men share the same name (for the most part) and they both die, while all the women get happy endings. 

There are characters that feature in the narrative that I haven't mentioned. Helen Burns, Jane's dear friend at Lowood, who died; Miss Temple, the good teacher at Lowood, who got married and went away--the catalyst that made Jane seek out employment as a governess. Then, from Jane's time at Morton, Miss Rosamond Oliver, daughter of the area's richest man. I left her out because she's irrelevant to my piece, but it's important to note that this is the beautiful and fashionable female character who is NOT presented in a negative way (unlike Blanche, Celine or even Georgiana). So Charlotte was capable of such a thing. St John is in love with her, but because he doesn't think she'd make a suitable wife for a missionary (he's probably right, which I mean as a compliment to Rosamond), he fights his infatuation. She reciprocates his feelings, but seeing as it goes nowhere, she gets over him and marries Mr Granby, an heir to a fortune. I like to think they were very happy together. (Fun fact: When I read Jane Eyre for the very first time, Rosamond was my favourite female name.) 

Dog lovers will be glad to hear that Pilot survived the fire and lives at Ferndean with Edward when Jane arrives. 

What to conclude then?

If I believed Rochester has changed, I wouldn't have written this long-ass piece. For sure, his womanising days are over (because they're physically impossible, not because he's married--he already cheated on one wife). Although--you don't expect me to give up on this so easily, do you--there are ways. Jane might sometimes be away while he stays at home and John is a faithful servant--he will get him girls if his master wants him to get him girls. John, like the innkeeper, is loyal, he worked for the family since Papa Rochester's time. 

The other stuff--the gaslighting, the manipulation, the lying--would not vanish with his disabilities. In fact, after his injuries, Edward could have got even worse. Jane only talks about how she serves him. Nothing about what he does for her. But hey, she's happy. The not-bird that no net ensnared landed in a semi-habitable residence deep in the woods, caring for her husband. *shrug*

A side note: Where the fuck she met those paysannes and Bäuerinnen, I would like to know. Those words mean peasant women in French and German, respectively. But she mentions no travelling. Let's say they did travel to France and Germany--but what the fuck does she meet peasant women for? Did she go to the mainland Europe to trace Edward's illegitimate offspring? 

I'm being mean again. They probably went to Switzerland, where both those languages are spoken, for Edward's health. But you'd hope she'd tell us more about it.

Would I like a different ending for her? I presented some different ideas, but since she insists on being with him so much, let her have him. He's twenty years older and if, by chance, he dies relatively early (by falling into a hole, for example) while she's in her thirties, there's still plenty of time for her to enjoy a bit of life. 

What ending would I want to see for him? 

Same as the canon, except without Jane's return. Alone, broken, abandoned by everyone, far from civilisation. And after while, with his insistence on candles, coupled with his visual impairment... third time lucky, eh? It would have to be on John and Mary's day out, they don't deserve to die from smoke inhalation. He'd leave them a bit of money so that they could buy or build a small cottage where they could live together for the rest of their life.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe Edward was given a hard time by his father. Issues also come with being the second son. But at some point, you have to become responsible for your own shit. Edward chose not to break the cycle. 

As I reach the end, one last question pops into my mind.

What kind of a master asks his newly hired governess if she thinks him handsome?

What the Year of Our Lord?

It's not stated anywhere explicitly, but Jane Eyre most likely takes place much earlier than the book's year of publishing, 1847. Jane Eyre Guidesite (my favourite source) places the main plot in 1808, based on the publication of Marmion. Jane refers to it as a new book. 

My theory is based on the presence of the character of Sir George Lynn, an MP for Millcote. We know Millcote is meant to be Leeds. But Leeds didn't get any parliamentary representation until 1832. Therefore, the story cannot be set earlier than that. You can argue that Millcote was a fictional city, of course, so it doesn't matter, and that's valid. But the point is that these big northern industrial cities had no reps in parliament and that was precisely the problem. Same for Manchester. Hence the Peterloo Massacre. When the merry company arrive at Thornfield, Jane asks Mrs Fairfax how long they'll stay and Mrs Fairfax responds:

After the Easter recess, Sir George Lynn, who was lately elected member for Millcote, will have to go up to town and take his seat;

She says "lately". Following the Reform Act, there was a general election in Britain in 1832, then in 1835. The former saw two Whigs elected for Leeds, the latter a Whig and a Tory. I can't see Sir George as anything other than a conservative. I therefore place the main story in the year after he got elected, 1836. The merry company came for Easter, the aborted wedding was in July and Thornfield burned down in September. Jane and Rochester were reunited in June 1837. (Queen Victoria ascended to the throne that year.) The narration ends a decade later--the year the book is published. 

It just depends on which fact you pick. For some it's fashion, that (according to a linked source on the above mentioned guidesite) appears to be more Regency than Victorian. Charlotte may not have had any particular period on her mind when she wrote the book. She may also have meant Marmion was new with relation to old literature, like for example Shakespeare.

Real Life

So, why did Charlotte Bronte write Jane Eyre the way she did?

In 1842 Charlotte Bronte and her sister Emily travelled to Brussels and enrolled at a school, a pensionnat. As the sisters planned to start their own boarding school, they first needed to expand their education. They were able to get board and tuition by teaching--Charlotte taught English, Emily music. The school was run by a married couple, the Hegers. Constantin Heger was a teacher and, by all accounts, one very passionate about his profession. Charlotte had a massive crush on him. It's not hard to understand. He was the one who first recognised her talent for writing. In October 1942, Elizabeth Branwell, the aunt to Bronte children, who had lived with the family since their mother's death (she was the mother's sister) died and Charlotte and Emily left the school for home. Charlotte returned to Brussels on her own in January 1843 and stayed there for a year.

The extent of her feelings was not known until The Times published Charlotte's letters to Prof Heger in 1913. The letters were torn and glued back together again. They are also rather one sided, it appears Heger rarely responded. Here's an excerpt from one dated January 1845 (source):

all I know – is that I cannot – that I will not resign myself to the total loss of my master’s friendship – I would rather undergo the greatest bodily pains that have my heart constantly lacerated by searing regrets. If my master withdraws his friendship from me entirely I shall be absolutely without hope – if he gives me a little friendship – a very little – I shall be content – happy, I would have a motive for living – for working.       Monsieur, the poor do not need a great deal to live on – they ask only the crumbs of bread which fall from the rich men’s table – but if they are refused these crumbs - they die of hunger -  No more do I need a great deal of affection from those I love – I would not know what to do with a whole and complete friendship – I am not accustomed to it – but you showed a little interest in me in days gone by when I was your pupil in Brussels – and I cling to the preservation of this little interest – I cling to it as I would cling on to life.

Do you see it? "I will not resign myself to the total loss of my master's friendship". "Monsieur, the poor do not need a great deal to live on - they ask only the crumbs of bread."

Charlotte Bronte wrote an emotionally unavailable man as the main heroine's love interest, because her own love interest was unavailable--he was married. It also explains Jane never calling him Edward--Charlotte never got to call the man she loved by his first name.

The age difference between Charlotte and the professor was not as big as the age difference between Jane and Rochester--only 7 years. But at the time of the publication of Jane Eyre in 1847, he was 38--the same age as Rochester in the book.

I wonder, when she came back to the pensionnat in 1843, did he ask her where she had been, did she answer, with her family as her aunt died, and did he say to her: "a true Charlottian reply"?

Was the geography fail in the Mind Games - With a Proposal Like This, Who Needs Death Threats section a slip of a pen? When she returned home for good, Charlotte was separated from Heger by the English Channel. In the book, had Jane taken the job in Ireland, she would have been separated from Rochester by the Irish Sea. Yet Rochester talks of the Channel. Did Charlotte make this mistake subconsciously? (Otherwise it's got to be the Watsonian explanation of Rochester making a slip of a tongue--he was used to being separated from his mistresses by the Channel. He said himself he never went to Ireland.)

Why a Mad Wife?

The idea of a madwoman most likely came from Charlotte's visit to Norton Conyers in North Yorkshire. The place has a legend of such a madwoman confined to the attic. That is well known. However, we're not talking about mad women inhabiting Norton Conyers. We're in my abyss.

Constantin Heger's wife was Claire Zoe Parent. She was the one who owned the school. According to this source, she made him sign in the ledger for his salary. 

So she appeared to be the one with the wealth. 

I wonder, what colour was her hair? 

Portrait of the Heger family:

The Hegers by Ange François in 1846

Blanche and Bertha are similar, you say, they both have dark hair? Will Blanche end up in a nuthouse?

It turned out to be much simpler than that.

I save the best item for last. 

The hands down most baffling bit of the narrative, so irrelevant and nonsensical, it makes one scratch one's head so much one risks one's hair falling out, in a desperate and feverish attempt to understand why in the ever living fuck Charlotte included it in her book.

Bertha being five years older than Edward. Why is it a thing?

Constantin Heger's year of birth: 1809.

Claire Zoe Parent's year of birth: 1804.

I rest my case.

So wait, the entire book is a wish fulfilment?

Looks like it.

Shrug.

I don't hold it against her. It's not a bad thing. After all, male writers do it too. Indulge yourself, girl. We've all done it, all of us that ever dabbled in writing. 

Sometimes it helps just to it write it all out, get it out of one's system. Heck, I'm doing it right here!

Why so bitchy then?

Well, sometimes you gotta. And there is the fact that after the death of Anne, Charlotte prevented re-publication of her sister's novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Cancelled Sister

All three sisters were talented writers. It's quite amazing there was so much talent in one family. Heck, even Branwell could have made something of himself if he hadn't been such a troublemaker, he wrote poetry and painted. Papa Patrick Bronte was a clergyman, of course, but he tried his hand at poetry himself. When they were little, the Bronte children played with wooden soldiers their father bought them, creating whole fictional worlds. The sisters first published a collection of poems, which was unsuccessful, yet they didn't give up. There is no need, there never was and never will be, to pit them against each other. Both is good, or in this case, all three is good. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Emily's only novel, are the most famous Bronte works. But Anne is overlooked. She wrote two books: Agnes Grey, inspired by her experience of working as a governess and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a story of a woman who ran away from an abusive husband. I'm sure you agree with me that's an important topic.

But Charlotte fucking cancelled her. This is what she had to say about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:

"For my part, I consider the subject unfortunately chosen – it was one the author was not qualified to handle at once vigorously and truthfully. The simple and natural – quiet description and simple pathos – are, I think Acton Bell's forte. I liked Agnes Grey better than the present work."

And you were qualified to write about someone with a mental illness?

Wildfell Hall it hardly appears to me desirable to preserve. The choice of subject in that work is a mistake, it was too little consonant with the character, tastes and ideas of the gentle, retiring inexperienced writer.

Can you get more patronising?

Anne had as much experience as Charlotte. Both had at the time written two books, plus the poetry. 

Charlotte's gatekeeping makes no sense anyway--Anne didn't pull this story out of any part of her body. She wrote what she observed during her stint as a governess. Branwell had an affair with the lady of the house where she worked (she got him a job there as a tutor). A lot of Arthur Huntingdon's traits probably come from him.  

Wuthering Heights was pretty shocking too and Charlotte didn't stop its publication. 

Unfortunately as a result of Charlotte's decision, Anne to this day struggles to be recognised. If you're still reading this, please give The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a go. Anne deserves to be as well known as Charlotte and Emily. Believe me--praising the youngest sibling means a lot coming from me (I'm the eldest daughter).

There is a certain detail Jane Eyre and The Tenant have in common. In both we have the heroine's love interest emotionally manipulating the heroine by showing affection to another woman. (No cute fake dating trope, I stress again.) Both feature the heroine running out of the drawing room. Except in The Tenant, this man is a villain--he's the abusive partner.

But Really?

Charlotte's second era in Brussels was apparently unhappy, due to her homesickness and her attachment to Monsieur Heger. In a letter to her friend Ellen Nussey, she drew herself next to the Hegers:

It's displayed at the Haworth Parsonage museum. Reminds you of something? In the book, Jane draws Blanche Ingram as a beautiful young woman and herself as a plain little girl. This is before she ever sees Blanche; the portrait is drawn solely from Mrs Fairfax's (rather flowery, not really in the style of a practical, uncomplicated housekeeper) description.

I'm not going to get into any speculating about whether anything took place between Charlotte and Heger. Most likely it was just unrequited love on her part. Whatever the case may have been, dude would have realised which side his bread was buttered. 

Constantin Heger and his wife had six children. They were still having them while Charlotte was at the pensionnat. She returned to Haworth in January 1944.

The first book Charlotte wrote was titled The Professor. (In which the main character is mistreated by his brother, gets a teaching job at a boarding school in Belgium, ran by a woman who he initially is attracted to, but finds out she is deceitful. He starts teaching a young female aspiring teacher whom he falls in love with. The scheming directress of the school actually falls in love with him but he gets another job elsewhere and marries the young teacher-student.) It was rejected by the publishers and only released posthumously. Jane Eyre, the second book she wrote, met with more success.

Later, Charlotte published Shirley and Villette. The latter draws heavily from her time in Brussels, Charlotte used some parts of The Professor and rewrote it into Villette. The villainess is once again a headmistress of a boarding school, who schemes to marry the professor M. Paul Emanuel. Who is really Constantin Heger and Madame Heger is the conniving Madame Beck, but just because they appear in this book doesn't mean they didn't appear in Jane Eyre. Charlotte totally gave herself away by inserting the age difference between Rochester and Bertha. It's not even that it's unnecessary to the narrative, it feels so tacked on that I suspect she added it later, maybe after she had already written the whole book. Hence it contradicting the earlier item of Bertha's older brother Richard being the same age as Rochester.

I've not read any of Charlotte's other books. I've got all the Bronte works as audio plays in my Audible library, though, and it seems to me that Shirley and Villette are better than Jane Eyre. But I don't know, like I said, I've not read the actual books, so I shouldn't judge. Villette has a dark, melancholy atmosphere. Not surprising, written after the death of her siblings, Charlotte's grief must have come through.

So where does the xenophobia come from? 

Fuck knows. But this just proves that being in love with someone from a different culture doesn't exempt you from being discriminative of the culture. "I'm not racist I have black friends". That dig about peasant women is telling. Why it had to be in the book at all, I cannot fathom. It's just like the whole Celine mess. It didn't add anything of value. She's like a typical Brexit supporter, feeling all superior about herself. 

It is quite the twist of fate that Brussels became the capital of the EU.

Tragedy

With all that said, I still have sympathy for Charlotte. I moved to another country and whilst I suffered no homesickness, I realise it's different for everyone. As for Charlotte's unrequited feelings, we've all been there. It's not, unfortunately, the worst thing that happened to her.

The Bronte history is a tragic one. Branwell, Emily and Anne all died in the space of less than a year, between September 1848 and May 1849. The family had already lost the mother Maria to cancer and two oldest daughters at a young age. Charlotte was the only one left. 

She married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate and long term friend of hers (now see, this is what I'm talking about). It seems they were quite happy together. 

Then she got pregnant and died. 

Exit the Brontes. 

Poor Rev Bronte... I can only hope his faith was some consolation to him. Curiously, he got to live to the ripe old age of 84. 

Who knows, had Charlotte lived longer, maybe she would have recognised the merits of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and decided to re-publish it again. 

Underwhelmed By Jane Eyre

I think it describes how I've always felt about the book. Underwhelmed. I find it an enjoyable read and doing this recap made me even appreciate the prose more, something I always fought with. It's worth reading only for the gothic elements. But the romance and Rochester's character was never something that ever captivated me.

I get that it appeals to people. It just doesn't appeal to me. At least not for the reasons it appeals to them. And it inspires me too, again, for the wrong reasons, but it does. 

And, after all, you can never go wrong with a story of an abused orphan growing up and finding happiness.

Why Are You Doing This?

I wrote this because I needed to get it out. Some of these thoughts I've had in my head for a while, some are new. The redemption of those three characters--Blanche, Richard and Grace--has been on my mind since about 2018, when I first got the idea of writing a fanfic. The way I see it is: if I want to write Bertha's story, in which I present Rochester as a villain, there is no need to villainise any other character. Also I'm somewhat of a contrarian (can you tell?) and Jane's descriptions made me want to make them good purely out of spite. This goes for the merry company too. Blanche is, as I said, not that important at the end of the day, Grace is not explicitly a bad guy, and as for Richard, his mere presence at Thornfield indicates the good of his character. That's how I see it. If I need any other villain, I use Dr Carter, and even that only to a limited extent. I claim the innkeeper is telling tales, but he's not villainous. I understand he has an inn to run. And he has his biases, just like the rest of us.

And then, with a story told in a first person narration, there's always room for unreliability.

Let me tell you something. I came to UK to be an au-pair. Sort of a similar situation as a governess, though one that doesn't require any qualifications. So forgive me when I'm not exactly thrilled about a story of a poor, plain governess marrying her boss. My employer was a single mother with a daughter, so no men in the house, but I can assure you, nobody is going into this position with the intention of snatching anyone's husband. 

Years ago I read the book Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and what I liked about it most was that even though the main character, the titular girl, got close to her boss, the artist Vermeer, while working as a maid in his household, eventually helping him with his work and sitting for him as a model, nothing ever took place between them and she sensibly married the butcher. I was in my mid-20s when I read it and I remember quite distinctly how I compared it to Jane Eyre and thought, oh thank the gods it's not like that. Sure, Vermeer--a real life person--had a wife and about a dozen kids but an author can deal with that. And the heroine didn't spend her life pining for a married man, she got married and had family of her own. There's a film too, with Scarlett Johansson.

Do you even feminism?

No idea. What makes a work of fiction feminist or not feminist?

I just like a good story. I don't know if Rebecca could be considered feminist, for example. Probably not.

They say Jane Eyre was groundbreaking when it was released. But so was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which Charlotte suppressed.

Then again, there is the fact that all three of them originally published under male pen names. Charlotte's pen name was Currer Bell, Emily's Ellis Bell and Anne's Acton Bell. The initials check out.

Jane Austen, who died a year after Charlotte Bronte was born, had already been writing stories featuring female protagonists.

I don't know how it's measured. Is Little Women feminist because it was written by a woman and it's about four sisters?

Maybe. I still irrevocably hate it with with the fire of thousand burning suns. 

How about Anne of Green Gables? The series relegated to the children's books section, despite its heroine being sixteen years old at the end of the first book, working as a teacher in a village school in the second book and studying for BA in the third book and... you see where's it's going. Anne is the first girl in her home village, Avonlea, to go to college. Rilla of Ingleside, chronologically the last in the series, centres on Anne's youngest daughter aged 15-19 during WW1. It's a very authentic picture of the war from the point of view of women at home. Yet, it's in the children's section, while Little Women, a preachy book that talks down to the reader, gets to be with the classics.

Is the weak-willed, thunderingly ignorant Bridget Jones a feminist heroine? A woman we're supposed to believe has a degree in English, and is so well-versed in Jane Austen, when in reality all she cares about is that Colin Firth in wet shirt scene in the 1995 mini series?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series deals with heavy themes like domestic violence and abuse and has several strong female characters (aside from the titular "girl", Lisbeth Salander). But the author, Stieg Larsson, was a male.

So I don't know. I thought I'd include this because I thought it needed addressing, but I have no answers myself. Make your own judgements.

Observe how Rochester talks about women. Re-read this if you must. There's a reason I wrote in such detail. The only female character he doesn't talk shit about is Mrs Fairfax. They're all either crazy violent psychos or gold diggers. When I speculated his remark about Grace Poole doing much for money was not necessarily meant in a malicious way, I was trying to squeeze some positivity out of the guy, and that was solely for Grace's benefit, not his. And even that matters not a bit considering he's trying to coerce Jane into being his mistress.  

Like I say, make your own judgements.

Other Reading

What do I recommend to read instead of Jane Eyre?

Well, first, I actually don't not-recommend reading Jane Eyre.

Other than that, anything I can offer is already well known. For better romantic heroes, try Jane Austen (although I'm not as familiar with her works as I'd like to be). The already mentioned The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Or North and South by Charlotte's friend Elizabeth Gaskell. It takes place in a fictional industrial city that is based on Manchester--Elizabeth lived here and her house is now a museum, with the interior reconstructed to look like how it did in her lifetime. After Charlotte's death, Elizabeth wrote her biography, The Life of Charlotte Bronte. (She knew about the Heger letters but purposefully omitted them.) North and South was adapted into mini-series in 2004, the role of the love interest Mr Thornton is played by the hottie Richard Armitage.

You can never go wrong with Gilbert Blythe of Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. In fact, speaking of wish fulfilment books and heroines coming from abusive homes, with rich inner world, meeting an absolute dreamboat of a man and getting rich, go for The Blue Castle. Just read it. You're going to demand answers to why L.M. Montgomery gets boxed under children's books. That could be a whole post by itself. (There is an answer. Some douchey male critic decided that it had to be so, so it was. Gatekeeping should be made the 8th deadly sin.)

As for gothic lit, you probably know all the best known titles. There's Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. For which I may remind you that yes, Heathcliff is awful, but I don't see the narrative presenting him as a romantic hero. Cathy is also awful, so they're equal to each other. The real victim, Isabella Linton, manages to escape. And let's not forget that the ending is Catherine Jr and Hareton getting together and breaking the cycle of abuse. It's just that everyone concentrates on Cathy and Heathcliff and ignores the second half of the book.

As always, my favourite book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Do I hate Maxim de Winter as much as I do Rochester? Yes. But somehow the way it's handled here is much better and also, unlike the popular interpretation, I don't see the ending as a happy one.

Dracula by Bram Stoker, although that's a full on horror. There are a couple of interesting sentences in Mina's journal entry for 11th August:

What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell; 

...something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes...

(Well, Jane did compare Bertha to a "vampyre")

Apart from being an unforgettable tale, it features a good relationship--Jonathan Harker and Mina. Make no mistake about that.

Angela Carter's The Bloody Chambers and Other Stories. A collection of short stories that are dark retellings of traditional fairy tales. The titular one gives me Rebecca vibes and Rebecca has some Jane Eyre parallels. Rochester and Maxim are both Bluebeard-like. Thornfield even has a literal Bluebeard chamber, while there's none at Manderley. 

As Jane Eyre is in the public domain, many retellings have been published. I can't say I particularly seek them out--I know I'm going to disagree with them. If you want to write your own retelling (or even just a fanfic to post on a fanfiction site), however, be assured that I support you.

I picked up Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne, a YA sci-fi retelling, because I watched Alexa's videos on YouTube, where she gives really useful writing advice. Interestingly, she renames Blanche to Bianca, like I do; we had the same kind of thinking. It's not my favourite book, but it was not bad, it was something different at least. The other one I read was John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews. I really liked it. I went for it because it's gender-flipped. The romance is between John Eyre and Bertha Rochester. It also features supernatural elements. I can't recommend any others because I haven't read them.

And if you, like Charlotte, want to fall in love with a Belgian man, there's always a better option!

Agatha Christie shares the year of birth with Jean Rhys, 1890 (in fact their birthdays are less than a month apart). She's my most favourite author, and I get that vibe from her books that she may have sympathised with Bertha. After all, her husband left her for a younger woman, an act that led to her disappearance in 1926. Which was very madwoman-in-the-attic of her.

More Crack?

Like I wouldn't leave you with something more outlandish at the end.

Rose Nylund and her St Olaf stories

When I got to the part in my recap where they enter Bertha's room and she's crawling on all fours, an idea struck me--could she be a werewolf? Or well, werewoman. Maybe she's just turned because it was full moon, which would explain why two days ago she looked human. The substance that Rochester gives Richard would then be an antidote. You could actually make a decent story out of it.

As a matter of fact, you could write Bertha as any supernatural creature. Vampire is the obvious one, it's even supported by the text. In fact, you can bet someone has already written it!

The next two come not from me but from other writers.

Although with Lin Haire-Sargeant's book Heathcliff - The Return to Wuthering Heights, there is no way of getting around spoilers. (No, it's not the wrong sister.) ***SPOILER*** It's a story of Heathcliff's three years away from Wuthering Heights. In this reimagining, Heathcliff is the son of Rochester and Bertha. Much of the plot takes place at Thornfield and features the familiar merry company. It's definitely an interesting concept, if nothing else. ***END SPOILER*** 

The final crack appears in Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Sue Townsend. You might be familiar with Adrian Mole diaries. The best known are the early ones, when he's a teenager in the 80s. He was still kinda adorkable then, plus the first two books give us such a good picture of Thatcher-era Britain. Unfortunately, Adrian grew up into a total loser. Weapons of Mass Destruction takes place 2002-2004; as you can no doubt tell from the title, Iraq war gets a lot of coverage. Adrian is in his mid-30s here. The bookshop he's working at starts a monthly book club and one of the titles is Jane Eyre. When they meet to discuss it, a character called Darren Birdsall says (entry of 26th February 2003):

"I reckon that George Bush is sort of like Mr Rochester and that Jane Eyre is a bit like Tony Blair."

Mr Carlton-Hayes, the bookshop owner, asks who Saddam is.

"Saddam is the mad wife in the attic."

Even I couldn't come up with something that crazy, so props to Sue Townsend.

End Credits

Luckily writing this thing didn't cost me my sanity, only my sleep schedule (I write best at night). 

Thanks to all those helpful sources I link throughout.

About the images in this post: the pictures of Jane Eyre on Kindle with the scattered pages of Anne of Green Gables, See Jane Run title on Kindle, the still life with Wide Sargasso Sea, the page from A Scandal in Bohemia, the letter on display in the Haworth Parsonage Museum, and the meme'd black cat (srsly?) are all my own photographs, taken by me. The rest I found on the internet. Images from the 2011 film are from IMDb.

As far as adaptations go, I've only seen the 2011 film by Cary Joji Fukunaga (can you tell?) and the 1997 TV movie. I hear the 2006 mini series is the most faithful adaptation.

Link to Charlotte Bronte's work at Gutenberg.

Link to Emily Bronte's works on Gutenberg.

Link to Anne Bronte's works on Gutenberg.

Link to Reader's Guide to Jane Eyre, the source I mentioned as my favourite.

Link to Bronte Parsonage Museum.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Take care of yourselves, lovelies. Enjoy whatever you choose to read next.

Post-Credits Scene

"Hello, is that the Communist Party headquarters? Would you come and collect those damn red flags, please?"