by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre Foreignness and "The Other" Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)
"One night I had been awakened by her yells—(since the medical men had pronounced her mad, she had, of course, been shut up)—it was a fiery West Indian night; one of the description that frequently precede the hurricanes of those climates. Being unable to sleep in bed, I got up and opened the window. The air was like sulphur-steams —I could find no refreshment anywhere. Mosquitoes came buzzing in and hummed sullenly round the room; the sea, which I could hear from thence, rumbled dull like an earthquake—black clouds were casting up over it; the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball—she threw her last bloody glance over a world quivering with the ferment of tempest. I was physically influenced by the atmosphere and scene, and my ears were filled with the curses the maniac still shrieked out; wherein she momentarily mingled my name with such a tone of demon-hate, with such language!—no professed harlot ever had a fouler vocabulary than she: though two rooms off, I heard every word—the thin partitions of the West India house opposing but slight obstruction to her wolfish cries." (3.1.75)
Aww, poor Rochester. He goes to Jamaica to get in on the whole colonial-exploitation thing, marries a woman to get rich, and he doesn’t like her and she has mental problems. Now he has to deal with hot weather and mosquitoes and that pesky Bertha screaming and screaming at night because he’s imprisoned her in their house. These British colonies sure are a hellish experience... for the overlords using them to get rich quick.
"A wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean and rushed through the open casement: the storm broke, streamed, thundered, blazed, and the air grew pure. I then framed and fixed a resolution. While I walked under the dripping orange-trees of my wet garden, and amongst its drenched pomegranates and pine-apples, and while the refulgent dawn of the tropics kindled round me—I reasoned thus, Jane—and now listen; for it was true Wisdom that consoled me in that hour, and showed me the right path to follow.
"The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering in the refreshed leaves, and the Atlantic was thundering in glorious liberty; my heart, dried up and scorched for a long time, swelled to the tone, and filled with living blood—my being longed for renewal—my soul thirsted for a pure draught. I saw hope revive—and felt regeneration possible. From a flowery arch at the bottom of my garden I gazed over the sea —bluer than the sky: the old world was beyond; clear prospects opened thus:—
"'Go,' said Hope, 'and live again in Europe: there it is not known what a sullied name you bear, nor what a filthy burden is bound to you.'" (3.1.78-80)
Have you ever felt convinced that the problem wasn’t you, it was the crumby place you lived? Rochester can’t be to blame here; it’s not like he got himself into this situation with Bertha in the West Indies. The problem must be Jamaica itself. If he goes back to Europe, everything will be good and civilized again. There’s no chance that he himself was the original problem and that wherever he goes he’ll take it with him.
Ugh. This guy.
"This parlour is not his sphere," I reflected: "the Himalayan ridge or Caffre bush, even the plague-cursed Guinea Coast swamp would suit him better. Well may he eschew the calm of domestic life; it is not his element: there his faculties stagnate—they cannot develop or appear to advantage. It is in scenes of strife and danger—where courage is proved, and energy exercised, and fortitude tasked—that he will speak and move, the leader and superior. A merry child would have the advantage of him on this hearth. He is right to choose a missionary’s career—I see it now." (3.8.31)
Rochester used a British colonial outpost (Jamaica) as a get-rich-quick scheme. St. John, on the other hand, is planning to use a British colonial outpost (India) as a sort of adventure playground. Ah, the many different kinds of exploitation!