Jane Eyre – Chapters III & IV

Chapter III

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)
Walter Sickert
source Wikiart

Chapter IV

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)
George Harvey
source Wikiart

Chapters I & II                                                Chapters V, VI & VII

0 thoughts on “Jane Eyre – Chapters III & IV

  1. I know I am kind of getting repetitive on this but i really like these minor characters of Jane Eyre…from Bessie to the Apothecary …everyday ordinary people who try to do whatever good they can!I completely agree with you that we are seeing instances where you can be as good as you chose to be despite the circumstances. One thing that really stuck me was Jane's understanding of "the poor" when the apothecary asked her if she would like to go her relations who may be poor but kind. Unfortunately many of us are in the habit of romanticizing poverty and especially authors; but the understanding that people who have very little to live on can hardly be expected to be or even have the means of being cultured or gentlemanly is extremely practical, though it may seem mercenary to many. This choice is a very interesting especially when contrasted with the choices Jane makes later when the choices are again similar and Bronte clearly delineates between what is mercenary and what can be considered basic human rights, before the later was even invented. Ok..will stop here! As usual I am running ahead and ranting my head off!

  2. Love your comments! 🙂

    For those of us who have read Jane Eyre, despite Jane's urge to leave the cruel Reed household, her desire to experience something different, and hope that the new situation will be improved, I believe she will find it not. This new experience will perhaps again shape her character in a positive way, in that she will find that life gives what it gives and the secret to happiness is to rely on your own inward thoughts instead of outward circumstances —- as we've been saying, right? On to chapter 5 ……

  3. Lovely summaries. 🙂 I am enjoying this story so much, and am so glad to be sharing in this gem with yourself and the rest of the read-along group!

    I have just wrapped up my summer family vacation (during which I neglected all things blogging). I need to get back into the swing of things and write my own reviews soon!

  4. Thanks, Kenia. I'm a little behind so hopefully I can catch up in the next couple of days and write the next post.

    I hope that you had a wonderful vacation. Mine will be in August and, honestly, I can't wait!

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