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Symbolism in Mr Rochesters Descriptions of Jane Eyre - Essay Example

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Mr Rochester's descriptions of Jane Eyre, from Chapter 12 when he first comes into physical contact with her till Chapter 26 when his projected marriage to her has to be called off, are particularly interesting in that they seem to reveal his own nature rather than hers…
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Symbolism in Mr Rochesters Descriptions of Jane Eyre
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Download file to see previous pages At their first meeting (in Chapter 12 of the novel), Mr Rochester and his horse have taken a fall, and Jane Eyre is the only human being at hand to offer help. When he comes to know that she stays at Thornfield, he is puzzled because he cannot make her out. He can see that she is not a mere servant; when she tells him that she is the governess, he expresses amazement at having 'forgotten' that possibility. However, it is only when they next meet that she learns that he is the master of the house. At this time, in Chapter 13, he reveals what he thought of his first meeting with her:
. . . you have rather the look of another world. I marvelled where you had got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet.
In the course of the conversation he admits that he would not have managed to guess her age, for her"features and countenance are so much at variance." He demands to see her schoolgirl drawings and judges that they have been born of "elfin thoughts."
. . .
In the next chapter, at his next meeting with her, Mr Rochester reiterates that there is something "singular" about Miss Eyre:
. . . you have the air of a little nonnette; quaint, quiet, grave, and simple, as you sit with your hands before you, and your eyes generally bent on the carpet (except, by-the-bye, when they are directed piercingly to my face; as just now, for instance); and when one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least brusque.
This seems to be the only description of Jane by Mr Rochester that accords with the one that occurs at the end of Chapter 26. It appears to imply that he sees her grave and pure simplicity, and that the elfin and fairy imagery he scatters so readily in his descriptions of her reflect his own thoughts and fears rather than his conception of her true nature.
In Chapter 15, Jane, perhaps somewhat roughly, saves her sleeping master from a fire. The words that he then addresses to her are, to put it mildly, unusual: "In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre" he demanded. "What have you done with me, witch, sorceress Who is in the room besides you Have you plotted to drown me"
It is, surely, only Mr Rochester's conception of Christendom that can accommodate
elves, witches and sorcery. Anyway, Jane is not in the least put out by this response and answers her master "in Heaven's name" without reference to any such profane or pagan imagery as used by her master.
Mr Rochester, in Chapter 19, disguises himself as a gipsy woman who had come to tell the fortunes of the single women of quality then present at Thornhill. The other ladies are either amused or disappointed with what they hear, but the fortuneteller seems to have come especially to read Jane's fortune. When face to face with Jane the ' woman' sheds her gipsy tongue and declaims in high poetic language:
The flame flickers in the eye; the eye shines like dew; it looks soft and full of feeling; it smiles at my jargon: it is susceptible; impression follows impression through its clear sphere; where it ceases to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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