Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jane Eyre Part 2: Things Get Slightly Better Kinda

I told you I would be back! I bet you though I was lying and/or going to back out, but I'm not. I'm totally here. I know, I'm as surprised as you. Alright, let's get down to business.

Chapters 4-5

These were long chapters so, yes, I'm only doing two.

When we left off, the subject of Jane being sent away for school had been brought up and presumably accepted. In chapter 4, Jane is alone. Like, totally alone. A few months have gone by since the subject of school was approached. No one has spoken to Jane very much since then. Christmas has come and gone and Jane has been rejected and excluded from all of the activities. The other children have been instructed to stay away from her. Jane was given her own room, simply to keep her away from the other kids. This is fucking bleak. I just want to remind you all that Jane is 10 and being actively rejected from the only family she has ever known. Poor thing.

At one point that bastard John Reed attempts to chastise Jane, but she lashes out at him, making him
Jane's not fucking around anymore.
think she's going to fight with him again. He runs to his mommy and she tells him, "Don't talk to me about her, John: I told you not go near her; she is not worthy of notice; I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with her." Jane totally hears it, too. What a bitch. Jane claps back at her, saying, "They are not fit to associate with me." You tell 'em, Jane, you little spit fire. Love this girl more and more with ever sentence I read. That is intentional on the part of the author, though that doesn't make it any less wonderful. After Jane's comment, Mrs. Reed pulls Jane into the nursery and forces her to sit on the bed, telling her not to move or speak for the rest of the day. Jane asks her what Master Reed would think of all this, were he still alive. Mrs. Reed is shocked by the question, so Jane keeps going. "My uncle Reed is in heaven, and can see all you do and think; and so can papa and mamma: they know how you shut me up all day long, and how you wish me dead." Holy shit. This little girl has got some chutzpah. Also, if you ever want to know how to use a semicolon, read this book. They are fucking everywhere. Mrs. Reed regains her sensibilities and decides the best course of action is to shack Jane aggressively and box her ears. What the fuck? What an awful human being. I'm glad Jane is being sent away. I don't think she'd survive much longer.

The mutual armistice returns. No one talks to anyone. Only the servant Bessie speaks to Jane. Jane talks about caring for her doll, how she doted on it and treated it like a real person. The alludes nicely to Jane's eventual employment as a governess. Jane then describes Bessie as being pretty and kind, but having a sharp temper. She is also a great story teller and very smart. Basically, she is Jane. This again alludes to Jane becoming a governess to upper class children, just as Bessie is. Bessie begins to treat Jane like an assistant of sorts. She helps to clean up the nursery. One day, Jane is cleaning and she walks over to the window. She sees a carriage come down the driveway, but thinks nothing of it. She also sees a bird and gives it some bread. I'll tell you later why the bird is important, because it seems like useless information now, I'm sure. Soon after, Bessie bursts into the nursery, looking for Jane. She tells her to get dressed and go downstairs into the breakfast room. There is someone waiting there who wants to speak to her.

Jane goes downstairs and stands outside the door. She wonders who would want to speak to her. She eventually goes in and sees a tall, slim man dressed all in black. Mrs. Reed is there, too. He talks to Jane for a bit about her behavior. He asks if she is a naughty child and Jane just looks at the floor. Mrs. Reed answers for her, saying that they shouldn't talk about it. The dude basically spends a long time actively shaming Jane for being bad, saying that Jane will go to hell. He also tells her she will go to hell because she doesn't like the right books of the bible. Jane doesn't like the Psalms and dude has a problem with this. Mrs. Reed starts talking to the dude, named Mr. Brocklehurst about his school, the Lowood Institute. Jane is to be sent there soon. Mrs. Reed tells him to have the teachers look out for Jane's "tendency to deceit," which hurts Jane. She cries because it isn't true. Mrs. Reed wants Jane trained to be useful in "a manner suiting her prospects." She adds that she wants Jane to stay at the school full time and never be sent home during any vacations. What an asshole. They are literally having this conversation in front of Jane. Mr. Brocklehurst gives Jane a book about how liars go to hell, Mrs. Reed tells him to say hi to his family for her, and he leaves.

All the applause for Jane!
Here is the part where it gets a little more interesting. After the dude leaves, Jane sits in the room with Mrs. Reed for a while. Mrs. Reed tells her to leave. Jane moves to do just that, but comes back. She just has to say something. Jane has to finally stand up for herself to her aunt. She tells her aunt (and I'm going to quote the whole thing because it's lovely), "I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John Reed: and this book about the liar, you may give it your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I." Mrs. Reed stairs her down, so Jane continues. "I am glad you are not relation of mine...I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty." Mrs. Reed basically gives her best 'well I never!" But Jane isn't finished. Oh no, not by a long shot. She reminds Mrs. Reed about the incident in the red room, then delivers the final blow, "I will tell anybody who asks me questions this exact tale. People think you a good woman, but you are bad; hard-hearted.  You are deceitful." Jane feels triumphant while Mrs. Reed looks frightened. She rocks back and forth and looks like she may cry. Suddenly, Mrs. Reed is all concerned about Jane. She asks if she is alright, whether she needs some water. Jane tells her no. Mrs. Reed asks if there is anything else she can do for her. She tells Jane she wants to be her friend. What a lovely change of pace. Suck up the kid so she doesn't tell people how awful you are ruin you reputation. Jane doesn't want to be her friend and says she's going to tell everyone at her new school how she has been treated. Mrs. Reed continues to try to buddy up to her, but Jane shuts her down and asks to leave for school as soon as possible. Mrs. Reed says she will in a sarcastic tone, then leaves. Jane feels good about what just happened, as she should. But then she starts to feel like an asshole, like people usually do when things like this happen. She thinks she might go apologize, but decides against it because it will just make Mrs. Reed hate her again. She goes out into the garden for a while. Bessie finds her and they are friendly to one another. They talk about how Jane thinks Bessie dislikes her, how Jane should be bolder, and Bessie will miss Jane. That's nice, but it's a little too late. They hug and go back inside for tea.

The next morning, Jane is up by five. The carriage is coming to take her to school at six, so Jane is ready and excited to go. Bessie helps her get ready, the carriage comes, and she is off to school. I don't think she ever comes back, I wouldn't blame her if she didn't. The ride takes about a day. By nightfall, she is at Lowood. The superintendent, Miss Temple greets her and says that she hopes Jane is a good girl. Another teacher, Miss Miller, takes Jane to get her some food, they they go to bed. There are about 80 other girls in the school. They sleep two to a bed and everyone where the same outfit (brown dress, wool stockings, shoes with buckles). The girls are all between the ages of 9 and 20.

My writing partner isn't the easiest to work with
The next morning, Jane starts her schooling. They have morning prayers, then everyone in the school goes to breakfast together. They have burnt, inedible porridge. Then, they head to classes. Jane is sorted into the lowest class, because she is one of the youngest. A while later, Miss Temple interupts classes, saying that the food they had to eat that morning was unacceptable, so she is going to give them bread and cheese now, on her own dime. Miss Temple is a pretty swell lady. Everyone eats, then they have recess. Thus far, no one has directly spoken to Jane, but she doesn't mind. She has never minded being solitary. She sees another girl who is readying. Jane, being someone who enjoys reading, immediately feels a kinship with the girl. They start talking about the book the girl is reading. Jane finds the book boring, so she starts asking about the school. The girl tells her she asks too many questions and she wants to go back to reading. That's precisely when recess ends and they have to go back to lessons. They do a bit of learning. Everyone is in the same room, but they are learning different things based on their class. At one point, the recess girl is punished by having to stand by herself in the middle of the room. Jane says she would be mortified if that had happened to her, but the girl doesn't look perturbed. The girl is just looking at the floor. Jane assumes she must be having a day dream, something Jane has never done. Really, never had a day dream? Like, ever? How is that even possible? As a strange, bookish person myself, I can assure you, most of what we do is day dream. The classes are called to eat, they recess, then evening prayers, final meal and then bed.


The thing I want to talk to you about is the symbolism of birds. See, I told you I'd tell you why I brought it up before. The first time we see birds come up is in the book Jane is reading in the window
seat, shortly before John attacks her. We see another bird just before the man from the school comes to see Jane. What these two instances have in common is simple: something good is about to happen. While John's attack isn't a good thing, Jane's defense of herself is. She finally stands up for herself, which sets the rest of the story in motion. When we see the second bird, it's right before Jane learns that she is actually being sent to school away from Gateshead. It's also right before he final revolt against Mrs. Reed. Two conclusions can be drawn from this. Birds are either being used to symbolize good things to come or Jane's acts of rebellion. I'm leaning toward rebellion, based on the free-ness and lightness of the birds. Either way, birds are being used for an allegory of Jane herself and what is happening around her. This thought will probably be expanded upon as we read more.

That's it for now, kids. I'll see you again next week at some point.

Until Next Time, Happy Reading

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