Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chapter 9: There's something about Helen...

Oh, dear. Sadness ensues in this chapter.

But first - you know how the Romantics had a thing for nature? Yeah.
April advanced to May: a bright serene May it was; days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filled up its duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook loose its tresses; it became all green, all flowery; its great elm, ash, and oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland plants sprang up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of moss filled its hollows, and it made a strange ground-sunshine out of the wealth of its wild primrose plants: I have seen their pale gold gleam in overshadowed spots like scatterings of the sweetest lustre.
But all is not well at Lowood. And thought he isn't called out directly, Jane blames Mr. Brocklehurst's mismanagement from the beginning:
Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay ill at one time.
Jane's one of the hardier girls, so she gets to enjoy more-or-less freedom while all the adults are busy in their makeshift hospital. She'd be quite content to spend her days with Helen Burns, but Helen is tucked away in another wing of the school - unlike the other sick girls, she has consumption. Jane assumes it's some kind of minor illness, but she and reality eventually have a little get-together.

Motif alert: Jane's visit to Helen's sickbed marks the moon's first appearance in the book. We'll be seeing more of it.
It was quite at the other end of the house; but I knew my way; and the light of the unclouded summer moon, entering here and there at passage windows, enabled me to find it without difficulty.
Helen's a tragic figure, and she assures Jane she's totally at peace - and within a few paragraphs, she is. Jane stays with her until the end.

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