Essay, Pages 5 (1032 words)
“He is not to them what he is to me,” I thought: “he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine; – I am sure he is, – I feel akin to him, – I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him. […] I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered: – and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him.
Seeing Rochester among his high-class houseguests, Jane realizes that he has more in common with her than he does with them. Despite Jane’s and Rochester’s different class backgrounds, their master-servant relationship, and the strict gender roles of Victorian society, Jane can tell that they share something intangible – but she doubts that they can overcome all the social obstacles keeping them apart. This isn’t the first time Jane has felt affection for someone – but it may be the first time she’s felt like somebody else.
“Whenever I marry,” she continued, after a pause which none interrupted, “I am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a foil to me. I will suffer no competitor near the throne; I shall exact an undivided homage: his devotions shall not be shared between me and the shape he sees in his mirror.” (2.2.128)
Blanche Ingram’s idea of a good marriage is one in which the partners are distinctly different and one partner is far superior to the other.
As a stunning beauty, she doesn’t want a handsome husband, but a hideous one – that way she’ll always get all the attention. Notice how different this is from Jane’s (and Rochester’s) ideas about love and marriage–they’re drawn together because they are alike. Blanche thinks that opposites attract, but Jane knows that kindred spirits attract more strongly.
Ere long, a bell tinkled, and the curtain drew up. Within the arch, the bulky figure of Sir George Lynn, whom Mr. Rochester had likewise chosen, was seen enveloped in a white sheet: before him, on a table, lay open a large book; and at his side stood Amy Eshton, draped in Mr. Rochester’s cloak, and holding a book in her hand. Somebody, unseen, rang the bell merrily; then Adèle (who had insisted on being one of her guardian’s party) bounded forward, scattering round her the contents of a basket of flowers she carried on her arm. Then appeared the magnificent figure of Miss Ingram, clad in white, a long veil on her head, and a wreath of roses round her brow: by her side walked Mr. Rochester, and together they drew near the table. They knelt; while Mrs. Dent and Louisa Eshton, dressed also in white, took up their stations behind them. A ceremony followed, in dumb show, in which it was easy to recognize the pantomime of a marriage. (2.3.8)
Blanche Ingram and Mr. Rochester pair up for an elaborate game of charades, and the first thing they do is play-act their own wedding, silently, in front of the other houseguests and Jane. This is the first of several not-quite-real weddings we’ll see in Jane Eyre, each of which suggests something about the actual marriages and pairings in the novel. In this particular case, the pretend wedding is meant to be a charade for the word “bride” – but that’s only the first half of the word being acted out in the game, which is “Bridewell,” a famous prison. Hmm, something that begins with a marriage ends with being in prison. Do you think that’s supposed to be some kind of OMEN or something?
I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons; because her rank and connexions suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point – this was where the nerve was touched and teazed – this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him. (2.3.27, italics original)
Jane is really hot and bothered by the idea that Rochester is going to marry Blanche, not just because she’s jealous, but also because she can tell that they are so unsuited and that Rochester himself knows exactly how flawed and unpleasant Blanche is. Jane herself knows exactly how to “charm” Rochester, how to argue with him and keep him amused and even how make him love her. Basically, the way Jane feels here is the way we feel when we see someone doing something badly that we know how to do well. She wants to take Rochester away and show Blanche how this relationship should be done – but she can’t. She has to watch and suffer in silence, as usual.
I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr. Rochester’s project of marrying for interest and connexions. […] All their class held these principles: I supposed, then, they had reasons for holding them such as I could not fathom. It seemed to me that, were I a gentleman like him, I would take to my bosom only such a wife as I could love; but the very obviousness of the advantages to the husband’s own happiness, offered by this plan, convinced me that there must be arguments against its general adoption of which I was quite ignorant: otherwise I felt sure all the world would act as I wished to act. (2.3.31)
Jane doesn’t get why anyone would not marry for love, especially if they’re rich enough to do pretty much whatever they want, but she figures there must be some reason that so many people who are already wealthy and important insist on marrying to get more money and status instead of to make themselves happy. Notice that Jane doesn’t talk about her own ideas about marriage – only the ideas that she would have if she were in Rochester’s place. Somehow Jane can’t conceive of herself needing to make a choice about marrying for love or status – only of a man like Rochester doing so.