QCQ-04 Part 1 & 2 for English 420, Victorian Monsters

QCQ-04 Part 1 & 2 for English 420, Victorian Monsters

QCQ-04 Part 2

I read the QCQs of my regular in-class group. Interestingly we selected similar quotes (I employed two quotes, actually. One as the feature and one as context) or similar scenes but different quotes. For this to happen implies there must be particular power in them. To the similar quote (hers was the feature and mine was the context): her emphasis seemed to be Jane as the nonconformist, while my perspective was and still is admiration of Jane’s inner strength and curiosity. To the similar scene, where Mr. Rochester is disguised as the psychic, my classmate’s observation: how strange is Mr. Rochester! I have to agree this Sybil charade is “extra” from my, a practical person’s, perspective. We both had the same question–why the Sybil? Perhaps Rochester was trying to be unthreatening, as an old woman usually is. Perhaps Rochester’s wealth and leisure incline him to take more risks and creative license?

QCQ-04 Part 1

Quotation

“Your fortune is yet doubtful: when I examined your face, one trait contradicted another. Chance has meted you a measure of happiness that I know: I knew it before I came here this evening. She has laid it carefully on one side for you. I saw her do it. It depends on yourself to stretch out your hand, and take it up: but whether you will do so, is the problem I study. Kneel again on this rug.”

“Don’t keep me long; the fire scorches me.” (281)

Connection

Jane meets with the mysterious Sibyl for fortune-telling. The Sibyl is also called “one of the old Mother Bunches, a real sorceress, the gipsy” (273, 274, 275). A brief look at what these labels seem to imply: insight, wisdom, transcendence, nonconformity.

We see that Jane has inner strength and is observant and curious. She has bettered herself to the extent possible for her class and background. She has creatively maneuvered herself into a position as governess. She yearns for a richer life experience, for “…women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts…they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer…It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced…” (178)

Despite Jane’s level of awareness, it appears her acuity is clouded when it comes to Mr. Rochester. Otherwise Jane’s discernment is demonstrated in her assessment of peers at Thornfield Hall (especially Grace Poole), and in the fact that she realizes the Sibyl is Mr. Rochester in disguise. (282)

As Cohen posits in Thesis VII: “The Monster Stands at the Threshold…of Becoming,” Mr. Rochester disguises himself as the Sybil to suggest to Jane that what she desires is within reach, and it is up to her to take it.

The Sybil is providing an objective reflection to Jane, who due to inexperience and indoctrination in a limitation mindset, has heretofore been unable to see it. In response, Jane expresses her discomfort to such vulnerability and the “heat” of scrutiny.

Question

Even with self-awareness and discernment, what limitations does classism impress upon Jane especially in relation to Mr. Rochester? Why did Mr. Rochester disguise himself as a Sibyl? Was he truly so progressive to consciously embrace female power (however monstrous in the eyes of society at that time)?

Brontë Charlotte, and Richard Nemesvari. Jane Eyre. Broadview Press, 2004, p. 178, 273-275, 282

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