Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chapter 15: I see London, I see France...

The first part of this chapter has a simple message: non-English things (like, say, French opera singers) are bad - "hardly congenial to an English mind" - though Rochester doesn't come out smelling like roses either.

In other words, we get the story of Adele's background.
"I had not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame and destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness not to deviate an inch from the beaten centre."
And we get another look at Edward Rochester, man in touch with his emotions:
"Pain, shame, ire, impatience, disgust, detestation, seemed momentarily to hold a quivering conflict in the large pupil dilating under his ebon eyebrow. Wild was the wrestle which should be paramount; but another feeling rose and triumphed: something hard and cynical: self-willed and resolute: it settled his passion and petrified his countenance: he went on—"
There's also an Othello reference tucked in here, as Rochester points out that it's "passing strange"
"that you should listen to me quietly, as if it were the most usual thing in the world for a man like me to tell stories of his opera-mistresses to a quaint, inexperienced girl like you!"
Yeah, Desdemona's got the marriage every girl dreams of.

After their conversation - well, his monologue, for the most part - the narrator takes over for a bit, and we get to see that while Jane's expending quite a bit of her thought process on her employer, she's got a rather clear-eyed perspective, especially considering she's an unworldly 18-year-old:
"Yet I had not forgotten his faults; indeed, I could not, for he brought them frequently before me. He was proud, sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description: in my secret soul I knew that his great kindness to me was balanced by unjust severity to many others."
And finally, the chapter concludes with a moment of high drama, as Jane hears noises in the hallway, and discovers Rochester in a bit of distress - someone* has torched his linens. Perhaps there's a trip to Linens 'n' Things in Mrs. Fairfax's future.

Rochester behaves a bit suspiciously, telling Jane not to wake any of the servants, and then darting off to some other part of the house. And when he returns, he's got a bit of a do-as-I-say thing going on, as he tells Jane to go back to bed, but doesn't quite let her leave. Our girl turns to a classic to get herself out of it:
"But he still retained my hand, and I could not free it. I bethought myself of an expedient.

'I think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir,' said I."

*Yes, we all presumably know who that someone is. But as she isn't going to be introduced for several more chapters, let's continue to feign ignorance, shall we?

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