Amethyst Gration 2018
Jane Eyre Creative Response
Ah! She said she would stay with me; how true was this? I scarcely could believe she stood before me, speaking of mysterious uncles leaving fortunes, yet naught considering the strangeness of now spending her enriched days with one who had fooled her, from whom she had run, and who now lamented the loss of both a hand and the faculty of sight!
With a sigh, I began to speak, to again question the sprite of her conviction; but remembering her disregard of my doubt, I withdrew from expressing such thoughts aloud. Confidence renewed, I envisioned a new life, one filled with the joys of shared disposition and mutual companionship, but in thinking of Jane I was forced to reflect on her response. I frowned, uncertainty slowly closing on my consciousness, my hopeful visions obscured by doubt.
I felt Jane begin to shy away from my embrace, and, hesitation momentarily overwhelmed by passion, I drew her more tightly to my breast. I could not bear to have my dearest angel, herald of all joy, plucked from my arms again by the cruel whims of Fate. Once was surely enough.
I subsequently expressed the necessity of her remaining by my side; she duly reminded me she had already made clear her full intention to do so, but our conversation was again drawn to the intent of Jane’s promised residence, and my mood declined. She declared she cared not for marriage, and seemed joyously liberated in her dismissal of Holy union. Oh, but were I restored to my former strength! I might have sought her out, rather than dwelling in my misery, and boldly asked her hand!
Such a hand appeared, then, as Jane resumed speaking. Little could I tell of it by sight, but her small, fine fingers upon my hair and forehead confirmed the character of the pale blur my vision rendered for me. As she fussed over my surely wild locks, I was seized by shame; she noted the dilapidated and beastly state of my appearance. I was sensible of remorse, and some strange cousin of horror, as the light of Jane’s presence illuminated for me how cowardly I had been. Twice I had been wounded by Chance; and yet rather than recover what remained, I had instead allowed myself to sink to further morose depths. I had abandoned myself just as I had abandoned company and society; I had ceased regard of my appearance, renounced care of my person, and become an unkempt ogre in my near hermitage. Jane took a haughty tone in her evaluation, a superior mien; I feared she found me offensive.
Yet, what! A new thought rose; I was at once agitated and soothed. Surely she merely teased me? In spite of my distress over the dishevelled aspect of my exterior, I sensed that Jane did not express genuine revulsion, or even mild distaste; her words seemed entirely designed to articulate a desire to rehabilitate me. Presenting her with the stump that concluded my left arm produced for me a similar impression, and even when questioned she maintained she was not revolted.
She eluded further conversation on my limb and visage, instead restoring the hearth and calling for some supper. We sat, and she arranged before me what Mary had brought in. The meal was consumed and then forgotten as we conversed, the warmth and fire I had so missed rekindling as if its radiance had never disappeared at all. I felt much revived with my darling Janet beside me; she too appeared jubilant. I desired to know all of her, any change in her since our parting; I enquired. I had much to ask, head full of questions; but if Jane stayed as she so promised, there would be time enough for that.
My piece is intended to be a direct companion to the passage on pages 502-504 of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, rewritten from Mr Rochester’s point of view. I wanted to explore Brontë’s theme of the power dynamics between men and women, and her ironic reversal of these dynamics, as well as the usual roles and situations society give men and women, between Jane and Rochester. Earlier in the novel there is an almost exact reversal of my passage in which Rochester and Jane are under the horse-chestnut, and he is teasing her by making her think he will marry Blanche Ingram and send Jane to Ireland, while knowing he intends to marry Jane. In that passage Rochester is in control of the conversation and Jane is at his mercy. In this passage their roles are reversed, and I thought it would be interesting to show Rochester’s point of view when Jane is the one in control and he is in distress over Jane’s intentions.
To imitate Brontë’s writing style, I observed and utilised her literary techniques. I used paratactic grammar, having only independent clauses connected with punctuation or coordinating conjunctions, in as many situations as possible. However, like Brontë, I did use some non-paratactic structures where it was simply the best way of expressing a phrase. I also endeavoured to use complicated syntax, such as changing the order of the subject, verb, and object, as Brontë often does this. I wrote the passage in the first person, as Brontë does, to explore Rochester’s inner thoughts and feelings and lend sympathy to his character.
Additionally, I aimed for a 19th Century lexicon, by using more complex or protracted synonyms that would have been in parlance in Brontë’s time. Words such as “regard”, “mien”, “faculty” and “disposition” are uncommon today but were typical vocabulary of Brontë’s time. I included also specific phrases used by Brontë, namely “I was at once _ and _” where two opposing emotions or characteristics are juxtaposed, “I was sensible of” as an alternative to ‘I sensed’, and “some strange cousin to/of _” where an emotion that is not entirely describable at the time is related to something similar.
I added little exclamations in Rochester’s narration, as Jane’s narration and Rochester’s dialogue both included such. Interjections such as “Oh!” or “Aha!” were used to indicate excitement or new, sudden thoughts. Alliteration is also used by Brontë, and the poetic tone created by it reveals the influence in her writing of poets such as Milton, Wordsworth, and Scott. In the red-room Jane had to stem a “rapid rush of retrospective thought”, and here Rochester “feared she found [him] offensive”.
Brontë uses personification to intensify Jane’s emotions or ideas, such as “Hope”, “Passion” and “Conscience”. I was not able to include this so much in my response, but I did capitalise “Fate” and “Chance” to continue the idea of these more abstract concepts being given a more tangible presence. I attempted some Gothic elements, with Rochester referring to Jane as a “sprite” and himself as an “ogre”, incorporating the supernatural airs Brontë is so fond of. Also difficult to include was irony, and the social criticism Brontë creates with it. There was, though, some to be found in Rochester’s distress over Jane’s dismissal of marriage and her opinion of his appearance, as this highlights the unconventional and ironic nature of the situation in which Jane is leading Rochester on while Rochester is embarrassed and anxious.
Throughout Jane Eyre, Brontë explores the ongoing theme of the balance of power between men and women. However, we always get this balance from Jane’s perspective, which while insightful does not tell all the story. I thought it would be fun to take the opportunity to show this relationship from Rochester’s perspective, especially at the point where the usual social roles have been reversed.