A book I’ve enjoyed reading is Jane Eyre. I read it years ago and read it again recently. Beautiful piece of writing. The story is timeless. I was moved to tears. If you’ve never read the book, you’re in for something special. One of the best.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Rochester to Jane:
“My bride is here… because my equal is here, and my likeness.”
“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you–especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.” -Mr. Rochester
I love you as my own flesh. I beg of you to marry me. Say “Edward, give me my name.” Say “Edward, I will marry you.” –Rochester
You – you strange – you almost unearthly thing! – I love as my own flesh.” – Mr. Rochester.
” ‘Come to me – come to me entirely now,’ said he: and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, ‘Make my happiness – I will make yours.’ ” – Mr. Rochester.
“No – no – Jane; you must not go. No – I have touched you, heard you, felt the comfort of your presence – the sweetness of your consolation: I cannot give up these joys. I have little left in myself – I must have you. The world may laugh – may call me absurd, selfish – but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied: or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.” – Mr. Rochester
He turned away; he threw himself on his face on the sofa. “Oh, Jane! my hope–my love–my life!” broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob.
Rochester loves Jane “as his own flesh”, sees her as his equal, says (poetically) their ribs are connected and if she were to leave he’d bleed inwardly, calls her his hope, his love, his life.
And here are some words spoken by Jane to Rochester, or in regard to him:
I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home–my only home.” –Jane
“I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I have wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and no, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.”
“it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.”
“You are no ruin, sir—no lightning-struck tree: you are green and vigorous. Plants will grow about your roots, whether you ask them or not, because they take delight in your bountiful shadow; and as they grow they will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your strength offers them so safe a prop.”
Well he is not a ghost; yet every nerve I have is unstrung: for a moment I am beyond my own mastery. What does it mean? I did not think I should tremble in this way when I saw him – or lose my voice or the power of motion in his presence.” – Jane Eyre, narrating.
‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? – a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?
It was near: and as I had lifted no petition to Heaven to avert it – as I had neither joined my hands, nor bent my knees, nor moved my lips – it came: in full, heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described: in truth, ‘the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me’. ” – Jane Eyre, narrating.
“I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.” –Jane, Chapter 38
Such love and beauty and passion in those words, to one another and about one another. I wonder sometimes if art (literature and the visual arts) are mocking reality? Does such love exist? Is it an idealistic portrait of what could be, were it not for our humanness or circumstances or other obstacles? Such love– really– is Charlotte Bronte mocking true love? Is it too good to be true, or have I been living in a cycle of fog so long I don’t really know?
Or, is Charlotte Bronte expounding for us what love can realistically be through this remarkable story? Is this story, this piece of art, a true representation of what is real? I wonder–especially in matters of love between a man and a woman. I have not experienced this kind of love in my own life. I realize– just because something is beyond my scope of experience– does not meant it does not exist. On the contrary, it wholly can exist. I’ve never experienced going to the moon, but it is a true possibility; man can fly and land on the moon and just because I’ve not done it does not mean it is outside the realm of possibility. I’m simply wondering if love truly does exist in the sublime, passionate way it is depicted in literature and art.
And yes, it is excruciatingly sad to live trapped within four walls of hypocrisy, with someone who considers himself “good” and is self-righteous. I am tormented… because I feel trapped and saddened by this predicament in life and I long for something deeper and real, an authentic relationship with someone who knows me and with someone I know.
I am in the process of reconciling myself to the fact that… this kind of love is something I may never experience in my life. I have to accept it as a possibility. Hope for it, but don’t put all my hopes in it and banking on the fact it will happen. I don’t know what will happen.
What I do know is that something “better” than what I am living with does exist. Perfect? No. Better? Yes. Better– defined as living with myself– in terms of self-respect, self-confidence, and realizing who I am and what I am, and am worth more than being treated like a wadded up piece of paper… a person with gifts, talents, and a voice that has something to say. Not listening to voices of defeat, hate, belittling, but listening rather to voices of hope, encouragement, fortitude, strength, courage.
I may never find my Mr. Rochester (even though I’d surely like to), but I am finding myself. I am no longer hidden under the pile of abuse.
And maybe that is the art– a life, uncovered, unhidden, really living life, authentically.
I’m coming out of the rubble. Something beautiful is finding life.