QCQ-06 English 420, Victorian Monsters

QCQ-06 English 420, Victorian Monsters


“I was in my own room, and sitting by the window, which was open: it soothed me to feel the balmy night-air; though I could see no stars, and only by a vague, luminous haze, knew the presence of a moon. I longed for thee, Janet! Oh, I longed for thee both with soul and flesh! I asked of God, at once in anguish and humility, if I had not been long enough desolate, afflicted, tormented; and might not soon taste bliss and peace once more. That I merited all I endured, I acknowledged – that I could scarcely endure more, I pleaded; and the alpha and omega of my heart’s wishes broke involuntarily from my lips, in the words – ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!” (549, 550)


Mr. Rochester is convalescing at Ferndean after having experienced loss on many levels: loss of love, loss of home (Thornfield), and physical debility. In this scene he is experiencing a dark night of the soul. He is praying in anguish and acknowledges his belief that he deserves the suffering he is experiencing and wonders if he can take anymore. And suddenly in this intense suffering and prayer to God, the first and last desire of his heart “broke [out] involuntarily” in the utterance of Jane’s name as mantra.

The podcast episode, On Eyre: She Kindled the Bed (Chapters 36 + 37), addresses critiques of Mr. Rochester’s suffering and disability as a reversal of power from Mr. Rochester to Jane, and what Bronte orchestrates to achieve it: disability as subdual and punishment.

Battle of the sexes aside, I wanted to highlight this quote as universally representative of the human experience. We all suffer – yet might we, in deepest despair, experience an opening to insight or peace beyond us, that leads us to a break through moment?


Reversal of power is quite relevant today as we reckon with inequity. Does establishing equity require disability and punishment?

Brontë Charlotte, and Richard Nemesvari. Jane Eyre. Broadview Press, 2004, p. 549, 550

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