This was a very eventful section of Eyre’s life for me! Someone (Grace Poole?) sets Mr. Rochester’s bedroom on fire, people come to party, there’s a fortune teller (sort of), she lost two family members, gained a new one, got engaged, and then discovered the wife in the attic.
One thing I found really interesting was in the fortune teller section (which went on way too long for being a gag), where Jane is extremely skeptical about the whole situation. When the “old woman” offers to read her forehead instead, she is totally willing to buy into it. Throughout the book, Jane makes assumptions about people based on their bone structure, which was a huge deal in the Victorian Era, but actually reminded me how much society still makes those judgements, even with all the extra knowledge we have that says that’s bull. I will always remember being a teenager and reading in Seventeen Magazine that random celebrity’s eyebrows were close together, which meant she was kind. I’m not sure what it says about Jane that she’s above a lot of the pettiness that the other characters show, but still judges book-people by their covers.
Charlotte Brontë used the word lugubrious! I love that word!!! (Mostly from the musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but hey, there are worse ways to increase one’s vocabulary!) My vocabulary is increasing so much from reading this book! One of the other words that I found wildly entertaining was deglutition. It is a fancy word for “to swallow.”
Aside from vocabulary, I kept finding myself frustrated by this book. As an English major, it’s common knowledge that Mr. Rochester has a wife in his attic. I kept getting confused as I read because I didn’t know if he’d marry Miss Ingram, and she’d become the wife in the attic, or if Grace Poole was secretly his wife (I was doubtful on this theory), or Grace Poole is a crazy servant to Mr. Rochester’s actual crazy attic wife who I hadn’t been introduced to yet.
THEN I had to wonder if he did already have a wife in the attic, how was he planning on marrying someone else? That’s definitely not a thing in nineteenth century England. Or he thinks she’s dead and his household staff is passing all the crazy stuff off as Grace Poole doing it. Knowing one vague detail about this book is extremely frustrating!
And now I’ve met Mrs. Rochester. I have the whole backstory. My goodness, Mr. Rochester has bizarre morals! He basically rationalized that he can be a polygamist on the grounds that the first wife was broken. The reveal of this wife and the interruption of the wedding, I actually found humorous. He was kind of like, “oh, I’ve been caught! Fine I have a wife.” However, I do feel really bad for Jane. I think she’s just so disconnected emotionally, that the reader doesn’t really get the full emotion of the situation until Mr. Rochester explains the whole story.
I’m glad Jane stuck to her morals and didn’t bend to Mr. Rochester’s desires. When he threatened to get violent, I got so angry for Jane. She should have walked out then and there.
I’m in the home stretch now! I will be finishing the book for next Monday, about which I’m excited and also sad. I hate finishing good books.