Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 24

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“Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with him!  Death was not for such as I.”

“Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in a suttee.”w

“Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by a reconciling kiss?”

“No: I would rather be excused.”

Here I heard myself apostrophised as a “hard little thing;” and it was added, “any other woman would have been melted to marrow at hearing such stanzas crooned in her praise.”

I assured him I was naturally hard—very flinty, and that he would often find me so; and that, moreover, I was determined to show him divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made, while there was yet time to rescind it.

“Would I be quiet and talk rationally?”

“I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I flattered myself I was doing that now.”

He fretted, pished, and pshawed.  “Very good,” I thought; “you may fume and fidget as you please: but this is the best plan to pursue with you, I am certain.  I like you more than I can say; but I’ll not sink into a bathosw of sentiment: and with this needle of repartee I’ll keep you from the edge of the gulf too; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself most conducive to our real mutual advantage.”

From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irritation; then, after he had retired, in dudgeon,w quite to the other end of the room, I got up, and saying, “I wish you good-night, sir,” in my natural and wontedw respectful manner, I slipped out by the side-door and got away.

The systemd thus entered on, I pursued during the whole season of probation; and with the best success.  He was kept, to be sure, rather cross and crusty; but on the whole I could see he was excellently entertained, and that a lamb-like submission and turtle-dove sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased his judgment, satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste less.

In other people’s presence I was, as formerly, deferential and quiet; any other line of conduct being uncalled for: it was only in the evening conferences I thus thwarted and afflicted him.  He continued to send for me punctually the moment the clock struck seven; though when I appeared before him now, he had no such honeyed terms as “love” and “darling” on his lips: the best words at my service were “provoking puppet,” “malicious elf,” “sprite,” “changeling,” &c.  For caresses, too, I now got grimaces; for a pressure of the hand, a pinch on the arm; for a kiss on the cheek, a severe tweak of the ear.  It was all right: at present I decidedly preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender.  Mrs. Fairfax, I saw, approved me: her anxiety on my account vanished; therefore I was certain I did well.  Meantime, Mr. Rochester affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, and threatened awful vengeance for my present conduct at some period fast coming.  I laughed in my sleeve at his menaces.  “I can keep you in reasonable check now,” I reflected; “and I don’t doubt to be able to do it hereafter: if one expedient loses its virtue, another must be devised.”

Yet after all my task was not an easy one; often I would rather have pleased than teased him.  My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven.  He stood between me and every thought of religion,d as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun.  I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.

X [w] suttee.”

The immolation of the widow upon the same pyre that consumes her dead husband's body.

X [w] bathos

Lowest depth.

X [w] dudgeon,

Anger, resentment.

X [w] wonted

Accustomed.

X [d] The system

Gender

Following the song, which she has engineered that Rochester sing and play, she embarks on a "system" that is dedicated to managing him. As she says, "lamb-like submission and turtle-dove sensibility," while fostering his despotism, would finally have pleased him less. It is essential that Rochester be "managed," that he be re-trained for a different role with respect to women, and …

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X [d] He stood between me and every thought of reli…

Religion

A momentous realization that suddenly sets Jane's life on another path.

Profane love has displaced sacred love. Hardly anything can be more serious. The "almost my hope of heaven" does little to minimize the condition, which in the next sentence is conclusive: "He stood between me and every thought of religion...."…

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