Ohhh, how Jane finally gets to admit that she's in love with Rochester! And he doesn't waste a moment whipping out that marriage proposal, does he? After all the dancing around it and the mind games--flirting with Blanche, dangling a new carriage in Jane's face--all becomes clear. Well, sort of. Not really.
Because he still has a crazy wife in the attic! And in Jane's room, ripping up her veil! The gothic elements are really cranking in this section, and I ate it up like candy.
Even after Jane and Rochester are engaged, I love that Jane still sort of has her guard up. On the one hand, it's a nice foreshadowing to ALL THE REVELATIONS coming up, but I also love that Jane resists being made into a Cinderella. She's never had need of a dozen fine dresses or a string of pearls, so why now? Rochester is baffled by it, but Jane stands her ground as Jane so often does to this point in the novel and in the sections to come. Her idea of marriage exists on a very different level from that traditionally accepted by society during this time.
And speaking of wifehood. BERTHA! My heavens, what a symbol--the penultimate madwoman in the attic representing the horrors of Victorian marriage. Or the ill effects of British colonization. Or a double of Jane herself...a sick foil who embodies all of her fears about marriage. Or a hell of a plot pusher. There's that, too.
It's in this section, too, that I have ill feelings toward Rochester. One can take shelter in the idea that he was just desperate to hold onto happiness with Jane, but HE LOCKED HIS WIFE IN THE ATTIC. If she wasn't crazy before, she's ape-poop crazy now after years of confinement.
It's in this section we really learn the backstory about how tortured Rochester was, and how his family used him as a pawn to try and gain Bertha's fortune. I do feel bad for him but HE LOCKED HIS WIFE IN THE ATTIC. Hmmphf.
I was exceedingly proud of Jane for getting the heck out of dodge. Oh, what a heartrending decision, no doubt. But it's par for the course and reinforces Jane's ability to remain true to herself--not without internal struggle, for sure--but in the bleakest of times.
Jane, penniless, without a true sense of a future, was one of the hardest parts to read. I was desperately worried for her as she set out in the coach with only a small parcel to her name and as she almost dies on the Rivers' front stoop.
St. John. Lordy, St. John. Can't wait to talk about him next week and my revolving-door feelings for Mr. Rochester.
DRAMA, mama, and I love it!