Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapter 30: Jane settles in

Conveniently, the opening line of this chapter also makes for a pretty good summary: "The more I knew of the inmates of Moor House, the better I liked them."

I admit to being guilty of the same thing most of the movie adaptations have done (credit for that insight goes to a Times article): I pretty much skip over the Moor House section. True, it's nearly a third of the book. But it's booooooring! We've set the Rochester plot aside for a while. To be fair, there are some loose ends tied up and some positioning that makes the resolution possible, but (and I think this is the crux of it) no matter how hard I try, I just can't find St. John likable, so I rush through this section.

However, we are giving each chapter the dignity it deserves, so I will not skip to the end.

Jane's quite at home with Diana and Mary, but St. John's always busy, and not exactly personable, so she doesn't really get a chance to know him -- which is why she's amazed when she listens to him preach:
It began calm—and indeed, as far as delivery and pitch of voice went, it was calm to the end: an earnestly felt, yet strictly restrained zeal breathed soon in the distinct accents, and prompted the nervous language. This grew to force—compressed, condensed, controlled. The heart was thrilled, the mind astonished, by the power of the preacher: neither were softened. Throughout there was a strange bitterness; an absence of consolatory gentleness; stern allusions to Calvinistic doctrines—election, predestination, reprobation—were frequent; and each reference to these points sounded like a sentence pronounced for doom. When he had done, instead of feeling better, calmer, more enlightened by his discourse, I experienced an inexpressible sadness; for it seemed to me—I know not whether equally so to others—that the eloquence to which I had been listening had sprung from a depth where lay turbid dregs of disappointment—where moved troubling impulses of insatiate yearnings and disquieting aspirations.
St. John also finds a job for Jane, though he goes about offering it in the most backhanded way possible:
  • "I have nothing eligible or profitable to suggest."
  • "I can offer you but a service of poverty and obscurity."
  • "You shall hear how poor the proposal is,—how trivial—how cramping."
  • "Your scholars will be only poor girls—cottagers’ children—at the best, farmers’ daughters."
But it gives Jane the opportunity to earn as much as she made teaching Adele, while continuing to hide out, so she accepts.

And then the chapter ends with a scene that doesn't quite mean anything yet, but will soon: the Riverses have lost their uncle, but he left his wealth to another relative.

Three guesses.

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