Jane Chooses Wisely

13 Jun

We reached the crux, the climax, the pivot around which the story of Jane Eyre turns the other day.

The wedding has been stopped, the mad wife revealed, Mr. Rochester has given his history and begs Jane that she promise him “I will be yours, Mr. Rochester.”  When she refuses, he tries to manipulate her by saying she will ruin his life if she does not do as he wishes (by becoming his mistress) as there is no one who will be offended and they are in love.

“This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitor against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. …Who in the world cares for YOU?  or who will be injured by what you do?”

“Still more indomitable was the reply–“I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am , the more I will respect myself.  I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad–as I am now.  Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth–so have I always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane–quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.  Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”

One Response to “Jane Chooses Wisely”

  1. weesandy 22 July 2008 at 4:02 PM #

    Loved this quote. It’s chilling, isn’t it? And so wise. I’m a great fan of 19th century women’s literature, and this is one of the reasons why.

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