Jane awakes from her fit to find herself being attended by the apothecary. After her fright, she is strangely unsettled, unable to find joy in things that previously made her happy. When the apothecary returns, he asks Jane a number of insightful questions with regard to her feelings and state of mind. He then recommends that she be sent off to school, which agrees mightily with Mrs. Reed.
Jane’s ability to forgive is astounding. While musing on her treatment by Mrs. Reed she says: “Yes, Mrs. Reed, to you I owe some fearful pangs of mental suffering. But I ought to forgive you, for you knew not what you did: while rending my heart-strings, you thought you were only uprooting my bad propensities.” The power of Jane’s words elevate her over Mrs. Reed. With her capacity for compassion, she can see intention through application, and her magnanimity shows her superiority over her tormentor. However, as the words spoken appear to be from an adult Jane, perhaps it took some time for her to learn this charity.
Bessie and Abbott once again meditate on Jane’s looks, saying if she were pretty like Miss Georgianna, it would be much easier to be kind to her. Again, outward appearance is valued above good character.
|Girl At A Window (1907)
Jane waits impatiently for a change, but none comes and she is relegated to an invisibility by the Reed household, which is both painful and cruel. Made to stay in the nursery and have little contact with her cousins, one day a carriage arrives. When Jane is called to the breakfast room, she meets Mr. Brocklehurst of Lowood School, a harsh, imposing man who has a single-minded religious fervour. Mrs. Reed relates Jane’s faults, emphasizing her tendency to deceit, and the master leaves, promising to take Jane on as a pupil. Incensed at the unfair characterization, Jane berates Mrs. Reed, startling her benefactress with her intensity and articulation.
“How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth. You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember how you thrust me back —- roughly and violently thrust me back —- into the red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day; though I was in agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with distress, “Have mercy! Have mercy, aunt Reed!” And that punishment you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me —- knocked me down for nothing. I will tell anybody who asks me questions this exact tale. People think you a good woman, but you are bad; hard-hearted. You are deceitful!”
Jane and Bessie have an exchange, where Jane admits regret at leaving Bessie, and Bessie is struck by Jane’s new-found confidence.
In spite of the cruelty she’s suffered under, we see Jane’s character expand and grow, and it is a comforting thought that one can build good character in the midst of persecution and uncertainty.
|The Schoolmaster (1826)