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An Autobiography

Edited by Currer Bell

Authored by

Charlotte Bronte

First published 1847

Penguin Classics published 2008

This classic has long been on my list to read. I had the opportunity this summer to fall in love with Jane. The characters that were woven throughout the text were described so completely I feel that I know them intimately.

I believe that Helen Burns formed Jane’s character to become the honest, truthful, and modest adult Jane. I love the many ways Charlotte describes the nature scenes. If you allow your mind to stay a moment, you may find it to be quite beautiful.

If you have never read this book before, I hope that reading the select passages I have chosen to place here, will tease you to pick the book up yourself and hold in your hands for a little while, until it becomes close to your heart.

If you have read Jane Eyre before, I hope that my notes refresh your memory and take you back to that place along the moors where God so lovingly beholds your heart and listens to your prayers, whether they are whispered or spoken with great tears that water the earth.

Introduction:

xxvii – Jane’s five-fold progression through significantly named way-stages treads in the footsteps of Bunyan’s Christian on his way to the Celestial City. ‘Gateshead’ suggests the gate of origins; ‘Lowood’ is allegorically the ‘low wood’ which incubates disease; ‘Thornfield’ refers to the ‘thorns’ of God’s curse on man’s crime in Genesis; ‘Moor House’ or ‘Marsh End’ suggests the wilderness of Jane’s wanderings; ‘Ferndean’ is a sylvan vale which, however, has features in common with Lowood.

Pg. 35 – To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow.

Pg. 48 – Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.

Pg. 66 – ‘Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school: that would be a great grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and, besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.’ (the voice of Helen Burns)

‘But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it.’ (the voice of Jane)

‘Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear.’ (Helen)

Pg. 69 – ‘Well,’ I (Jane) asked impatiently, ‘is not Mrs Reed a hard-hearted, bad woman?’

‘She has been unkind to you, no doubt, because, you see, she dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine; but how minutely you remember all she has done and said to you! What a singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have made on your heart! No ill-usage so brands its record on my feelings. Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world; but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain – impalpable principle of life and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature; whence it came it will return, perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than man – perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph? Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend? No, I cannot believe that: I hold another creed, which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention, but in which I delight, and to which I cling, for it extends hope to all; it makes eternity a rest – a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish the first while I abhor the last; with this creed, revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low; I live in calm, looking to the end.’ (Helen)

Pg. 82-83 – ‘Hush, Jane! You think too much of the love of human beings; you are too impulsive, too vehement: the sovereign Hand that created your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you. Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognize our innocence (if innocent we be: as I know you are of this charge which Mr Brocklehurst has weakly and pompously repeated at second-hand from Mrs Reed; for I read a sincere nature in your ardent eyes and on your clear front), and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward. Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness – to glory?’ (Helen)

Pg 86-87 – The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her. They woke, they kindled: first, they glowed in the bright tint of her cheek, which till this hour I had never seen but pale and bloodless; then they shone in the liquid luster of her eyes, which had suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple’s  – a beauty neither of fine colour not long eyelash, nor penciled brow, but of meaning, of movement, or radiance. Then her soul sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I cannot tell; has a girl of fourteen a heart large enough, vigorous enough to hold the swelling spring of pure, full fervid eloquence? Such was the characteristic of Helen’s discourse on that, to me, memorable evening; her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.

Pg. 147 – He (Mr. Rochester) spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed them alternately.

While he is so occupied, I will tell you, reader, what they are: and first, I must premise that they are nothing wonderful. The subjects had, indeed, risen vividly on my mind. As I saw them with the spiritual eye, before I attempted to embody them, they were striking; but my hand would not second my fancy, and in each case it had wrought out but a pale portrait of the thing I had conceived.

Pg. 148 – ‘Far from it. I was tormented by the contrast between my idea and my handiwork: in each case I had imagined something which I was quite powerless to realize.’ (Jane’s artwork)

Pg. 158-159 – ‘…I envy you your peace of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory. Little girl, a memory without blot or contamination must be an exquisite treasure – an inexhaustible source of pure refreshment: is it not?’ (Mr. Rochester to Jane)

Pg. 169 (Note from pg. 551 regarding the usage of extinguisher)His love is likened to a candle flame starved of oxygen under a snuffer. (Mr. Rochester speaking of Celine – one of his previous mistresses)

Pg. 183 – ‘…now I desire it, because expectation has been so long baffled that it is grown impatient.’ (Jane desires to speak to Mr. Rochester)

Pg. 203-204 – I wondered to see them receive with calm that look which seemed to me so penetrating: I expected their eyes to fall, their colour to rise under it; yet I was glad when I found they were in no sense moved. ‘He is not to them what he is to me,’ I thought: ‘he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine – I am sure he is – I feel akin to him – I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him. Did I say, a few days since, that I had nothing to do with him but to receive my salary at his hands? Did I forbid my self to think of him in any other light than as a paymaster? Blasphemy against nature? Every good, true, vigorous feeling I have gathers impulsively round him. I know I must conceal my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do now mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract; I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him.

I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered – and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him.’

Pg. 209-210 – ‘But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes – indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie for Adèle. Good-night, my __’ He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me. (Mr. Rochester desiring for Jane to remain in his and his guests company)

Pg. 238 – I had forgotten to draw my curtain, which I usually did, and also to let down my window-blind. The consequence was, that when the moon, which was full and bright (for the night was fine), came in her course to that space in the sky opposite my casement, and looked in at me through the unveiled panes, her glorious gaze roused me. Awaking in the dead of night, I opened my eyes on her disc – silver-white and crystal clear. It was beautiful, but too solemn: I half rose, and stretched my arm to draw the curtain.

Pg. 249 – Now here’ (he pointed to the leafy inclosure we had entered) ‘all is real, sweet, and pure.’…the sun was just entering the dappled east, and his light illumined the wreathed and dewy orchard-trees and shone down the quiet walks under them.

‘Jane, will you have a flower?’ (Mr. Rochester)

He gathered a half-blown rose, the first on the bush, and offered it to me.

‘Thank you, sir.’

‘Do you like this sunrise, Jane? That sky, with its high and light clouds, which are sure to melt away as the day waxes warm – this placid and balmy atmosphere?’

‘I do, very much.’

Pg. 252 – ‘Sir,’ I answered, ‘a wanderer’s repose or a sinner’s reformation should never depend on a fellow-creature. Men and women die; philosophers falter in wisdom, and Christians in goodness: if anyone you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace to heal.’

Pg. 254 – Presentiments are strange things! And so are sympathies; and so are signs;* and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life, because I have had strange ones of my own. Sympathies, I believe, exist (for instance, between far-distant, long-absent, wholly estranged relatives asserting, notwithstanding their alienation, the unity of the source to which each traces his origin) whose workings baffle mortal comprehension. And signs, for aught we know may be but the sympathies of Nature with man.

*Note (pg. 559) In the Puritan tradition of reading Providence, Jane invokes three unconscious modes of apprehension: intuitions (‘presentiments’); messages transmitted by affinity (‘sympathies’); and writings in the Book of Nature (‘signs’).

Pg. 265 – It is a happy thing that time quills the longings of vengeance and hushes the promptings of rage and aversion. I had left this woman in bitterness and hate, and I came back to her now with no other emotion than a sort of ruth for her great sufferings and a strong yearning to forget and forgive all injuries – to be reconciled and clasp hands in amity. (Jane speaking of Mrs. Reed)

Pg. 278 – ‘If you and I were destined to live always together, cousin, we would commence matters on a different footing. I should not settle tamely down into being the forbearing party; I should assign you your share of labour, and compel you to accomplish it, or else it should be left undone; I should insist, also, on your keeping some of those drawling, half-insincere complaints hushed in your own breast. It is only because our connection happens to be very transitory, and comes at a peculiarly mournful season, that I consent thus to render it so patient and compliant on my part.’ (Jane’s thoughts regarding her cousins Georgiana and Eliza)

Pg. 372 – I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature: I will seek her breast and ask repose. (Jane ran away from Thornfield Hall)

I touched the heath: it was dry, and yet warm with the heat of the summer day. I looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge. The dew fell, but with propitious softness; no breeze whispered. Nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was; and I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness. To-night, at least, I would be her guest, as I was her child: my mother would lodge me without money and without price. I had one morsel of bread yet: the remnant of a roll I had bought in a town we passed through at noon with a stray penny – my last coin. I saw ripe bilberries gleaming here and there, like jet beads in the heath: I gathered a handful, and ate them with the bread. My hunger, sharp before, was, if not satisfied, appeased by this hermit’s meal. I said my evening prayers at its conclusion, and then chose my couch.

Pg. 373 – My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad heart broke it. It pained of its gaping wounds, its inward bleeding, its riven chords. It trembled for Mr Rochester and his doom; it bemoaned him with bitter pity; it demanded him with ceaseless longing; and impotent as a bird with wings broken, it still quivered its shattered pinions in vain attempts to seek him.

Worn out with this torture of thought, I rose to my knees. Night was come, and her planets were risen: a safe, still night: too serene for the companionship of fear. We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr Rochester. Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky Way. Remembering what it was – what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light – I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiving: the Source of Life was also the Saviour of spirits. Mr Rochester was safe: he was God’s, and by God would he be guarded. I again nestled to the breast of the hill; and ere long in sleep forgot sorrow.

Pg. 380 – And I sank down where I stood, and hid my face against the ground. I lay still a while: the night-wind swept over the hill and over me, and died moaning in the distance; the rain fell fast, wetting me afresh to the skin. Could I but have stiffened to the still frost – the friendly numbness of death – it might have pelted on; I should not have felt it; but my yet living flesh shuddered at its chilling influence. I rose ere long.

Pg. 391 – …Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. Hannah had been cold and stiff, indeed, at the first: latterly she had begun to relent a little; and when she saw me come in tidy and well-dressed, she even smiled.

Pg. 393 – ‘But I do think hardly of you,’ I said; ‘and I’ll tell you why – not so much because you refused to give me shelter, or regarded me as an impostor, as because you just now made it a species of reproach that I had no “brass” and no house. Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime.’ (Jane to Hannah)

Pg. 427 – ‘…I have brought you a book for evening solace,’ and he laid on the table a new publication – a poem: one of those genuine productions so often vouchsafed to the fortunate public of those days – the golden age of modern literature. Alas! The readers of our era are less favoured. But courage! I will not pause either to accuse or repine. I know poetry is not dead, nor genius lost; nor has Mammon gained power over either, to bind or slay; they will both assert their existence, their presence, their liberty and strength again one day. Powerful angels, safe in heaven! They smile when sordid should triumph, and feeble ones weep over their destruction. Poetry destroyed? Genius banished? No! Mediocrity, no: do not let envy prompt you to the thought. No; they not only live, but reign and redeem: and without their divine influence spread everywhere, you would be in hell – the hell of your own meanness.

Pg. 438 – ‘Twenty years ago, a poor curate – never mind his name at this moment – fell in love with a rich man’s daughter; she fell in love with him, and married him, against the advice of all her friends, who consequently disowned her immediately after the wedding. Before two years passed, the rash pair were both dead, and laid quietly side by side under one slab. (I have seen their grave; it formed part of the pavement of a huge churchyard surrounding the grim, soot-black old cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing town in –shire.) They left a daughter, which, at its very birth, Charity received in her lap – cold as that of the snow-drift I almost stuck fast in to-night. Charity carried the friendless thing to the house of its rich, maternal relations; it was reared by an aunt-in-law, called (I come to names now) Mrs Reed of Gateshead. You start – did you hear a noise? I daresay it is only a rat scrambling along the rafters of the adjoining schoolroom: it was a barn before I had it repaired and altered, and barns are generally haunted by rats. – To proceed. Mrs Reed kept the orphan ten years: whether it was happy or not with her, I cannot say, never having been told: but at the end of that time she transferred it to a place you know – being no other than Lowood School, where you so long resided yourself. It seems her career there was very honourable: from a pupil, she became a teacher, like yourself – really it strikes me there are parallel points in her history and yours. She left it to be a governess: there, again, your fates were analogous; she undertook the education of the ward of a certain Mr Rochester.’ (St John discovering the true Jane)

Pg. 441 – Here was a new card turned up! It is a fine thing, reader, to be lifted in a moment from indigence to wealth – a very fine thing; but not a matter one can comprehend, or consequently enjoy, all at once. And then there are other chances in life far more thrilling and rapture-giving: this is solid, an affair of the actual world, nothing ideal about it: all its associations are solid and sober, and its manifestations are the same. One does not jump, and spring, and shout hurrah! At hearing one has got a fortune; one begins to consider responsibilities, and to ponder business; on a base of steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares, and we contain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn brow. (Jane’s humble thoughts regarding the large sum of money left to her from an uncle)

Pg. 443 – ‘You are not, perhaps, aware that I am your namesake’ – that I was christened St John Eyre Rivers?’

I stopped: I could not trust myself to entertain, much less to express, the thought that rushed upon me – that embodied itself – that, in a second, stood out a strong, solid probability. Circumstances knit themselves, fitted themselves, shot into order: the chain that had been lying hitherto a formless lump of links was drawn out straight – every ring was perfect, the connection complete. I knew, by instinct, how the matter stood, before St John had said another word; but I cannot expect the reader to have the same intuitive perception, so I must repeat his explanation. (Jane’s thoughts upon discovering that she was not alone in the world)

Pg. 360 – Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr Rochester, reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune. Not for a moment. His idea was still with me, because it was not a vapour sunshine could disperse, nor a sand-traced effigy storms could wash away; it was a name graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it inscribed. The craving to know what had become of him followed me everywhere; when I was at Morton, I re-entered my cottage every evening to think of that; and now at Moor House, I sought my bedroom each night to brood over it.

Pg. 462 – I know no medium: I never in my life have known any medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, antagonistic to my own, between absolute submission and determined revolt. I have always faithfully observed the one, up to the very moment of bursting, sometimes with volcanic vehemence, into the other; and as neither present circumstances warranted, not my present mood inclined me to mutiny, I observed careful obedience to St John’s directions’ and in ten minutes I was treading the wild track of the glen, side by side with him.

The breeze was from the west: it came over the hills, sweet with scents of heath and rush; the sky was of stainless blue; the stream descending the ravine, swelled with past spring rains, poured along plentiful and clear, catching golden gleams from the sun, and sapphire tints from the firmament. As we advanced and left the track, we trod a soft turf, mossy fine and emerald green, minutely enameled with a tiny white flower, and spangled with a star –like yellow blossom: the hills, meantime shut us quite in; for the glen, towards it head, wound to their very core.

Pg. 463 – ‘If they are really qualified for the task, will not their own hearts be the first to inform them of it?’ (Jane questioning St John of his declaration of God’s will in her life. He speaks his desire to marry her so she might accompany him as a missionary)

Pg. 466-467 – ‘Consent, then, to his demand is possible: but for one item – one dreadful item. It is – that 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. He prizes me as a soldier would a good weapon, and that is all. Unmarried to him, this would never grieve me; but can I let him complete his calculations – coolly put into practice his plans – go through the wedding ceremony? Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupulously observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent? Can I bear the consciousness that every endearment he bestows is a sacrifice made on principle? No: such a martyrdom would be monstrous. I will never undergo it. As his sister, I might accompany him – not as his wife: I will tell him so.’

Pg. 483 – ‘What have you heard? What do you see?’ asked St John. I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry –

‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ – nothing more.

‘O God! What is it?’ I gasped.

I might have said, ‘Where is it? for it did not seem in the room, nor in the house, nor in the garden; it did not come out of the air, nor from under the earth, nor from overhead. I had heard it – where, or whence, for ever impossible to know! And it was the voice of a human being – a known, loved, well-remembered voice – that of Edward Fairfax Rochester: and it spoke in pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently.

‘I am coming!’ I cried. ‘Wait for me! Oh, I will come!’ I flew to the door and looked into the passage: it was dark. I ran out into the garden: it was void.

Pg. 484 – I broke from St John, who had followed, and would have detained me. It was my time to assume ascendance. My powers were in play and in force. I told him to forbear question or remark; I desired him to leave me: I must and would be alone. He obeyed at once. Where there is energy to command well enough, obedience never fails. I mounted to my chamber; locked myself in; fell on my knees; and prayed in my way – a different way to St John’s, but effective in its own fashion. I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet. I rose from the thanksgiving – took a resolve – and lay down, unscared, enlightened, – eager but for the daylight.

Pg. 485 – ‘You left me too suddenly last night. Had you stayed but a little longer, you would have laid your hand on the Christian’s cross and the angel’s crown. I shall expect your clear decision when I return this day fortnight. Meantime, watch and pray that you enter not into temptation: the spirit, I trust, is willing, but the flesh, I see, is weak. I shall pray for you hourly. – Yours, St John’

‘My spirit,” I answered mentally, ‘is willing to do what is right; and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of Heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. At anyrate, it shall be strong enough to search – inquire – to grope an outlet from this cloud of doubt, and find the open day of certainty.’

Pg. 489 – Hear an illustration, reader.

A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank; he wishes to catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. He steals softly over the grass, careful to make no sound; he pauses – fancying she has stirred: he withdraws: not for worlds would he be seen. All is still: he again advances: he bends above her; a light veil rests on her features: he lifts it, bends lower; now his eyes anticipate the vision of beauty – warm, and blooming, and lovely, in rest. How hurried was their first glance! But how they fix! How he starts! How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms the form he dared not, a moment since, touch with his finger! How he calls aloud a name, and drops his burden, and gazes on it wildly! He thus grasps and cries, and gazes, because he no longer fears to waken by any sound he can utter – by any movement he can make. He thought his love slept sweetly: he finds she is stone dead.

I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house; I saw a blackened ruin. (Jane’s discovery of Thornfield Hall)

Pg. 504 – …My spirits were excited, and with pleasure and ease I talked to him during supper, and for a long time after. There was no harassing restraint, no repressing of glee and vivacity with him; for with him I was at perfect ease, because I knew I suited him; all I said or did seemed either to console or revive him. Delightful consciousness! It brought to life and light my whole nature: in his presence I thoroughly lived; and he lived in mine. Blind as he was, smiles played over his face, joy dawned on his forehead: his lineaments softened and warmed. (Jane’s thoughts of her reunion with Mr Rochester)

‘And there is enchantment in the very hour I am now spending with you. Who can tell what a dark, dreary, hopeless life I have dragged on for months past? Doing nothing, expecting nothing; merging night in day; felling but the sensation of cold when I let the fire go out, of hunger when I forgot to eat: and then a ceaseless sorrow, and, at times, a very delirium of desire to behold my Jane again. Yes: for her restoration I longed, far more than for that of my lost sight. How can it be that Jane is with me, and says she loves me? Will she not depart as suddenly as she came? To-morrow, I fear I shall find her no more.’ (Mr Rochester to Jane)

Pg. 507 – I should not have left him thus, he said, without any means of making my way: I should have told him my intention. I should have confided in him: he would never have forced me to be his mistress. Violent as he had seemed in his despair, he, in truth, loved me far too well and too tenderly to constitute himself my tyrant: he would have given me half his fortune, without demanding so much as a kiss in return, rather than I should have flung myself friendless on the wide world. I had endured, he was certain, more than I had confessed to him.

Pg. 511 – ‘No, Jane, you are not comfortable there, because your heart is not with me: it is with this cousin – this St John. Oh, till this moment, I thought my little Jane was all mine! I had a belief she loved me even when she left me: that was an atom of sweet in much bitter. Long as we have been parted, hot tears as I have wept over our separation, I never thought that while I was mourning her, she was loving another! But it is useless grieving. Jane, leave me: go and marry Rivers.’ (Mr Rochester’s misunderstanding of where Jane’s love and devotion was)

Pg. 513 – ‘Mr Rochester, if ever I did a good deed in my life – if ever I thought a good thought – if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer – if ever I wished a righteous wish – I am rewarded now. To be your wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth.’

‘Because you delight in sacrifice.’

‘Sacrifice! What do I sacrifice? Famine for food, expectation for content. To be privileged to put my arms round what I value – to press my lips to what I love – to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice.’

Pg. 514 – ‘Jane! You think me, I daresay, an irreligious dog: but my heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent God of this earth just now. He sees not as man sees, but far clearer: judges not as man judges, but far more wisely. I did wrong: I would have sullied my innocent flower – breathed guilt on its purity: the Omnipotent snatched it from me. I, in my stiff-necked rebellion, almost cursed the dispensation: instead of bending to the decree, I defied it. Divine justice pursued its course; disasters came thick on me: I was forced to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. His chastisements are mighty; and one smote me which has humbled me for ever. You know I was proud of my strength: but what is it now, when I must give it over to foreign guidance, as a child does its weakness? Of late, Jane – only – only of late – I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance, the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were, but very sincere.

Pg. 515 – ‘I was in my own room, and sitting by the window, which was open: it soothed me to feel the balmy night-air; though I could see no stars, and only by a vague, luminous haze, knew the presence of a moon. I longed for thee, Jane! Oh, I longed for thee both with soul and flesh! I asked of God, at once in anguish and humility, if I had not been long enough desolate, afflicted, tormented; and might not soon taste bliss and peace once more. That I merited all I endured, I acknowledged – that I could scarcely endure more, I pleaded; and the alpha and omega of my heart’s wishes broke involuntarily from my lips in the words, “Jane! Jane! Jane!”’

Pg. 517 – ‘Mary, I have been married to Mr Rochester this morning.’ The housekeeper and her husband were both of that decent, phlegmatic order of people, to whom one may at any time safely communicate a remarkable piece of news without incurring the danger of having one’s ears pierced by some shrill ejaculation, and subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonderment. Mary did look up, and she did stare at me; the ladle with which she was basting a pair of chickens roasting at the fire, did for some three minutes hang suspended in air, and for the same space of time John’s knives also had rest from the polishing process; but Mary, bending again over the roast, said only – ‘Have you, miss? Well, for sure!’

Pg. 518 – You have not quite forgotten little Adèle, have you, reader? I had not; I soon asked and obtained leave of Mr Rochester, to go and see her at the school where he had placed her. …I took her home with me. …I sought out a school conducted on a more indulgent system, and near enough to permit of my visiting her often,…By her grateful attention to me and mine, she has long since well repaid any little kindness I ever had it in my power to offer her.

Pg. 519 – 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, and more than we do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character – perfect concord is the result.

Pg. 520 – …When his first-born was put into his arms, he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were – large, brilliant, and black. On that occasion, he again, with a full heart, acknowledged that God had tempered judgment with mercy.

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