Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top 10 Quotes to Spark Discussion: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

 Discussing books can truly be one of the great joys of time spent with others! Sometimes, though, it's difficult to know where to begin. The following quotes from Jane Eyre are not only some of the "gold nuggets" of the book, still applicable today. They also provide a window into the plot and characters.  For instance, after reading the quote you can discuss the circumstances surrounding the encounter, as well as how the quote backs up or contradicts the character's usual manner. This can be an extremely enlightening exercise in delving into the literature.

#1 In Chapter 4, Mr. Brocklehurst visits the house. Mrs. Reed says some pretty negative things about Jane. Jane feels that Mrs. Reed is "sowing aversion and unkindness along her future path".

#2 In Chapter 10, the typhus outbreak has shed light on the harsh conditions at the school. The author encourages a balance in extremes: "combine reason with strictness, comfort with economy, compassion with uprightness".

#3, #4, #5 In Chapter 14, Mr. Rochester alludes to the fact that he made some wrong turns in life when he was about Jane's age. Mr. Rochester warns Jane against such folly, saying that "Remorse is the poison of life." Jane counters by reminding him that "Repentance is said to be the cure." He argues that "It is not..." though "Reformation may be..." (Note: these three quotes really say more when considered separately, and have been divided for this reason.)

#6 Chapter 21 includes this quote, upon Jane's return to visit the ailing Mrs. Reed: "Feeling without judgment is a washy draught indeed; but judgment untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition." Who said this quote and what does it show about their character? (And what is "deglutition"?)

#7 Chapter 23 includes a purposeful scene between Jane and Mr. Rochester in which he states, "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 (English) Channel, and 200 miles or so of land came broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion would be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly..."

#8 Chapter 24 continues on a similar subject when Jane says, "I am not an angel...Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me-for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you; which I do not at all anticipate." 

#9 Chapter 27 includes something of  a climactic moment in which Jane must reason with herself in order to decide her next move. "Who in the world cares for you?" (Jane asks herself). "Or who will be injured by what you do?"..."I care for myself" (she decides) "Law and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour..."

#10 In Chapter 34 Jane contemplates a very different offer of marriage from a very different man. She realizes, "He asks me to be his wife, and has no more of a husband's heart for me than that frowning giant of a rock, down which the stream is foaming in yonder gorge." 

Bonus: So much is said at the end of the book between Jane and Mr. Rochester, a conclusion of so many belated thoughts and words. Each reader might find that they have a favorite quote from the final chapters which would be really great to share.

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