|Our heroine is now enmeshed in a strange new world with different rules she doesn’t understand. She must prepare for the descent into darkness to face the ultimate test.
In the heroine’s journey this stage often involves a confrontation with the dark masculine, like Bluebeard, or the powerless father. The heroine realises the father cannot save her – she must save herself. This means a journey into the underworld to find the sensitive man, which may involve some sort of abduction, death or dismemberment. This is the beginning of the transformation from maidenhood to full womanhood.
Jane Eyre Approaches the Inmost Cave
Jane eats lunch with Adele and Mrs Fairfax while the sound of doors slamming and men shouting carry through the house. Gun shots ring out. Jane observes that Mr Rochester is very abrupt and changeable and Mrs Fairfax says he’s okay when he’s in a good mood. Jane watches him from the window as he shoots randomly over the wall outside.
Jane and Adele play badminton in the garden while Mr Rochester helps the gardeners. A look passes briefly between Jane and Rochester. Later, Rochester broods at the piano, banging out random notes. He tells Jane to sit with him and they talk. He teases her some more and they exchange some sexually charged banter. He tells her she is otherworldly, but she won’t take any of his nonsense, speaking openly and directly, which he admires.
He wants them to speak as equals but, as Jane points out, she is his paid subordinate. Rochester drops hints about his tormented past: he is seeking pleasure since happiness was denied him. When he calls Jane an angel of light she says she can’t follow him, that he’s talking nonsense. Rochester points out that she isn’t naturally austere just like he isn’t naturally vicious. They share a common nature.
Later, Jane wanders the halls and looks at a painting of a nude. That night she hears noises in the hallway and goes out to investigate. She discovers Mr Rochester’s room ablaze and wakes him. Together they fight the fire. Rochester disappears to find out what happened. He returns at dawn, telling her to say nothing about what happened. He holds her hand and says he owes her his life and that he knew she would do him good in someway. They almost kiss, but Jane leaves saying she is cold.
Later that morning she discovers Rochester has gone to visit Blanche Ingram. Mrs Fairfax thinks he is planning to propose. Jane is shaken but keeps it together, repressing her true feelings. She teaches Adele but her hands are shaking. Later she walks alone in the freezing garden and sits drawing frantically by the window.
So Jane appears to have found a kindred soul in Mr Rochester but she is having trouble understanding him. She seems afraid of her feelings and unwilling to surrender to them. Her feminine sensuality is starting to awaken and she finds herself drawn to this damaged man who is obviously seeking redemption. They are both trapped in cages and in need of healing. But can Rochester be trusted? Just as the connection between them is formed he disappears and seems intent on marrying someone else. Perhaps Jane is right to distrust her feelings. She is heading towards the Ordeal.
Next: Jane Eyre’s Ordeal