This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!
September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
Defining Success as a Writer
Success as a writer will be unique to each author.
A writer’s perceived success will depend on the goals they set out to achieve as an author in the first place.
In my case, I wanted to publish a sequel to Jane Eyre that would include the premise of the prequel Wide Sargasso Sea, which gave Bertha Antoinetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, a voice.
I imagined a daughter, born in the attic at Thornfiled Hall, Annette Mason, who was rejected by Edward Rochester and taken to Jamaica by her uncle Richard Mason.
In Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Richard Mason returns to the Rochester estate while Mr Rochester is on his death bed. He brings his niece, Annette Mason, who is now twenty-two years old, with him, in order to claim her birthright.
The Eyre Hall Series (Amazon.com link) is the sequel to Jane Eyre. Especially for readers who love action packed, neo-Victorian romantic thrillers, with gothic mansions, evil villains, unforgettable main characters, lots of drama, and unexpected twists and turns, reminiscent of Victorian novels.
I imagined I would write one novel, then I realised it would be a trilogy, and now it has become The Eyre Hall Series of six novels (four already available for purchase and two more will be published in 2022).
And Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella will be available for preorder shortly.
My aim in 2013 was to write and successfully publish one novel, which I did, so mission accomplished. But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with my writing career in 2021.
Goals are not fixed, they are constantly being revised and expanded.
Now I have new goals, which I haven’t yet achieved, namely to complete my series. I’m fairly confident that by the end of 2022, I will have published the entire Eyre Hall Series,.
I also have plenty of other literary projects underway, such as a A contemporary thriller, which is finished and on the waiting list for a second edit and proofread. I have also started work on another series of non-fiction books called, you guessed it: Rereading Jane Eyre! But more about those future projects in the coming months.
I am determined to present readers with a polished novel, which has a professional cover, is well written, edited and proofread. I cannot expect all readers to like my novels; they are not for everyone, no book is.
My ability to market as an independent author is limited, but reaching international fame and fortune is not my primary goal, as I have my retirement pension and I’m quite shy.
I’m happy to write to my heart’s delight and produce a polished product I enjoyed writing and which I can be proud of. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a successful writer!
If you click on the image, you will be taken to my newsletter sign up page. Go ahead, make my day and sign up if you want to get news of special offers, new releases and updates on The Eyre Hall Series and all things related to Jane Eyre.
Thanks for reading! And I hope you’re having a fabulous Friday and weekend!
How I realised I was no rival for Blanche Ingram, an accomplished lady of rank.
I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day which followed this sleepless night. During the early part of the morning, I momentarily expected his coming; he did step into the schoolroom for a few minutes sometimes, but nothing interrupted the quiet course of Adele’s studies.
After breakfast I heard some bustle in Mr. Rochester’s chamber and the servants’ voices, discussing the fire, which they attributed ton a candle. ‘What a mercy master was not burnt in his bed!’
I saw through the open door that all was again restored to complete order. Leah stood was rubbing the panes of glass dimmed with smoke. Grace Poole sat on a chair by the bedside, staid and taciturn-looking, as usual, in her brown stuff gown, check apron, white handkerchief, and cap, intent on sewing rings to new curtains.
She said ‘Good morning, Miss,’ in her usual phlegmatic and brief manner. I did not see any evidence of a woman who had attempted to murder her employer, who had, as I believed, charged her with the crime. She looked up, while I gazed at her: no consciousness of guilt, or fear of detection.
‘Good morning, Grace,’ I said. ‘Has anything happened here?’
‘Master fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes or the wood-work caught, and contrived to quench the flames with the water in the ewer.’
‘Did Mr. Rochester wake nobody? Did no one hear him move?’
She seemed to examine me warily and answered. ‘Mrs. Fairfax’s room and yours are the nearest to master’s; but Mrs. Fairfax said she heard nothing. Perhaps you may have heard a noise?’
‘I heard a strange laugh.’
She spoke with perfect composure—‘It is hardly likely master would laugh when he was in such danger. You must have been dreaming.’
‘I was not dreaming,’ I said.
‘Have you told master that you heard a laugh?’ she inquired.
‘I have not had the opportunity of speaking to him this morning.’
‘You did not think of opening your door and looking out into the gallery?’ she further asked.
The idea struck me that if she discovered I knew or suspected her guilt, she would be playing of some of her malignant pranks on me; I thought it advisable to be on my guard.
‘On the contrary,’ said I, ‘I bolted my door.’
‘It will be wise so to do,’ was her answer.
I was dumfoundered at what appeared to me her miraculous self-possession and most inscrutable hypocrisy.
Cook told me Mrs. Fairfax was waiting for me: so I departed, puzzling my brains over the enigmatical character of Grace Poole, and wondering why she had not been given into custody or dismissed from her master’s service.
After classes, when Adele left me to play in the nursery with Sophie, I keenly listened for the bell to ring below with a message from Mr. Rochester which did not arrive. Still it was not late; he often sent for me at seven and eight o’clock, and it was yet but six. Surely I should not be wholly disappointed to- night, when I had so many things to ask him!
Leah made her appearance to intimate that tea was ready in Mrs. Fairfax’s room. Thither I repaired, glad at least to go downstairs; for that brought me, I imagined, nearer to Mr. Rochester’s presence.
‘You must want your tea,’ said the good lady, as I joined her; ‘you ate so little at dinner. Are you not well today? You look flushed and feverish.’
‘Oh, I never felt better.’
‘It is fair tonight, though not starlight. Mr. Rochester has, on the whole, had a favourable day for his journey.’
‘Is Mr. Rochester gone anywhere?’
‘He set of the moment he had breakfasted! He is gone to the Leas, Mr. Eshton’s place, ten miles on the other side Millcote. I believe there is quite a party assembled there; Lord Ingram, Sir George Lynn, Colonel Dent, and others.’
‘Do you expect him back to-night?’
‘No—nor tomorrow either; I should think he is very likely to stay a week or more: when these fine, fashionable people get together, they are so surrounded by elegance and gaiety, so well provided with all that can please and entertain, they are in no hurry to separate. Mr. Rochester is so talented and so lively in society, that I believe he is a general favourite: the ladies are very fond of him; I suppose his acquirements and abilities, perhaps his wealth and good blood, make amends for any little fault of look.’
‘Are there ladies at the Leas?’
‘There are Mrs. Eshton and her three daughters—very elegant young ladies indeed; and there are the Honourable Blanche and Mary Ingram, most beautiful women. Blanche came here to a Christmas ball and party Mr. Rochester gave six years ago. You should have seen the dining-room that day—how richly it was decorated, how brilliantly lit up! I should think there were fifty ladies and gentlemen present—all of the first county families; and Miss Ingram was considered the belle of the evening.’
‘What was she like?’
“Miss Ingram was certainly the queen. Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr. Rochester’s: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And then she had such a fine head of hair; raven- black and so becomingly arranged: a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front the longest, the glossiest curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure white; an amber-coloured scarf was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied at the side, and descending in long, fringed ends below her knee.’
‘She was greatly admired, of course?’
‘Yes, indeed: and not only for her beauty, but for her accomplishments. She and Mr. Rochester sang a duet.’
‘Mr. Rochester? I was not aware he could sing.’
‘Oh! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music.’
‘And Miss Ingram: what sort of a voice had she?’
‘A very rich and powerful one. Mr. Rochester said her execution was remarkably good.’
‘And this beautiful and accomplished lady, she is not yet married?’
‘It appears not: I fancy neither she nor her sister have very large fortunes. Old Lord Ingram’s estates were chiefly entailed, and the eldest son came in for everything almost.’
‘But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has taken a fancy to her: Mr. Rochester, for instance. He is rich, is he not?’
‘Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age: Mr. Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five.’
‘What of that? More unequal matches are made every day.’
‘True: yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Rochester would entertain an idea of the sort. But you eat nothing: you have scarcely tasted since you began tea.’
‘No: I am too thirsty to eat.’
When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring back with a strict hand into the safe fold of common sense.
That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life; that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.
‘YOU,’ I said, ‘a favourite with Mr. Rochester? YOU gifted with the power of pleasing him? YOU of importance to him in any way? Go! your folly sickens me. Poor stupid dupe!
Cover your face and be ashamed! He said something in praise of your eyes, did he? Blind puppy! Open their bleared lids! It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and 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.
‘Listen, Jane Eyre, you are no match for the beautiful Blanche Ingram, an accomplished lady of rank. You are a governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.’
I had reason to congratulate myself on the course of wholesome discipline to which I had thus forced my feelings to submit. Thanks to it, I was able to meet subsequent occurrences with a decent calm, which, had they found me unprepared.
In the first part of this chapter, Jane is astonished that Mr Rochester has informed the staff that he provoked the fire by falling asleep with a lighted candle in the room, and subsequently put it out with his ewer. Grace Poole has not been reprimanded or dismissed, and implicitly denies any hand in the event. There is another allusion to Bertha’s presence in this chapter as she tells Grace Poole that she heard strange laughter. Grace suggests that Jane bolt her room at night.
Jane is looking forward to asking Mr Rochester about this strange turn of events, but Mrs Fairfax informs her that he has left to visit his friends, the Eshton’s, where he will stay for some weeks, at a party for fine, fashionable people. The reader, like Jane wonders what’s going on in the third story. The staff, and especially Grace Poole are hiding something or someone, who could be dangerous.
The second part of the chapter is devastating for Jane. Poor Jane feels that her employer has made a fool of her by pretending to enjoy her company. She learns that he is popular with the ladies, which is something he had already told her, but she naively thought it was in his past. She also learns she has a specific rival for his affections in the beautiful and accomplished Blanche Ingram, who is looking for a rich husband, as her brother will inherit her father’s entailed estate.
We learn that Jane had hoped to marry Mr Rochester. ‘It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her;’, but she realises she is no match for Blanche Ingram. She chastises herself for believing a poor governess could aspire to marry her wealthy employer. The first-time reader will think she is probably right, or perhaps not? But why has Mr Rochester taken French leave? Has he been toying with Jane? When will he come back? Is he looking for a bride?
After a brief period of happiness, our young heroine is dejected once more. Where will Jane go from here? Will she stay and watch him marry another woman, or will she leave? And what about the strange laughter on the third floor?
The plot thickens! See you next week for chapter XVII.
Before I discuss the ten lies Mr. Rochester told Jane in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, I’d like to summarize some key aspects about the nature of lies.
According to Neuroscientist, Sam Harris in his concise and brilliant book Lying, ‘To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true.’
Most people consider there are degrees to lying, from lying out of what we consider kindness, or white lies, to malicious reasons, or black lies, but Harris considers that both types of lies are equally harmful, because the liar is consciously creating a false reality for their victim, the person who is tricked or duped.
Harris claims lies of any color are harmful. Moreover, he reminds us that an ethically superior, noble person does not lie. He affirms that lies cause irreparable damage to our relationships, sacrificing our honesty, and giving up the possibility of deep and meaningful bonds with the people we interact with.
The value of integrity by far outweighs any short-term benefits of lying. A person who lies lacks moral principles, and the victim will lose faith and trust in this person.
By denying reality and lying to ourselves and others, we also make it impossible to face reality or develop meaningful relationships based on honesty and mutual trust.
Now let’s identify Mr. Rochester’s lies to Jane Eyre.
First a warning: this post is not suitable for unconditional fans of Mr. Rochester.
Where to start with the gentleman’s lies? I could organize them according to the severity or the type of lie, but I’m going to take a chronological approach. I’ll identify his lies in the order in which they appear in the novel. I’ll describe Rochester’s lie, identify the intention, and discuss the consequences.
The first time Rochester met Jane was when his horse slipped on the ice on the causeway. On this occasion, he pretended to be someone else, although he didn’t say he was someone else, he asked about Mr. Rochester, as if he didn’t know this person. He doesn’t actually say he is not Rochester, but he leads her to believe he is not Mr. Rochester. The intention is unclear. I’d say he enjoys being condescending and playing with Jane by leaving her in the dark. He found out who she was, but refused to reveal his own identity, to benefit his amusement, because there was nothing to gain. The consequences were that Jane was surprised and mortified when she discovered his identity.
Later, he accused Jane of bewitching his horse, which was a downright lie because he was not a superstitious man. His intention in this case was to cover up his mistake. He didn’t want to admit that he was not a perfect horseman who had slipped because he was riding too fast, and perhaps once again, he enjoyed teasing her. He may also have wanted her to feel responsible for his accident. The consequence was that Jane let him know she wasn’t superstitious, and she was not willing to agree with everything he said.
He said Adele’s mother claimed he was her father, and he denied it. But why else would such a selfish and unloving man take in a little girl as his ward? His intention was to convince Jane that Adele was not his daughter, and the consequence was that Jane felt sorry for him and considered him a victim.
He pretended to be interested in marrying Blanche Ingram, but he was simply using her to make Jane jealous. That was a double lie, which was disrespectful to both women. The consequence was that Jane handed in her notice, and Rochester confessed he loved her and proposed.
He pretended to be a gypsy fortune-teller during the party at his house, and although that was a game, ironically, it was the only lie she caught him out on at once.
He did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Richard Mason, who was his brother-in-law. Neither did he tell Jane that Mr. Mason had come to visit his sister in the attic. He led Jane to believe Mason was dangerous, while in fact it was Rochester who had imprisoned his sister. Although it was not considered a criminal act at the time, he knew it was morally wrong to lock your wife in the attic, which was why he didn’t want Jane to know what he had done.
He led Jane to believe that Grace Pool was responsible for attacking Mr. Mason the night while he stayed at Thornfield (it was Bertha). This is a lie by omission and commission, because although Jane made the suggestion out of innocence, he repeated the lie maliciously.
He asked Jane to marry him, although he was already married. He led her to the altar, knowing the marriage would be annulled. He must have realized the bigamy would eventually have been discovered, after his wedding night and honeymoon, ruining Jane’s prospects in the long term.
When the wedding was interrupted by a lawyer, Mr. Briggs and Mr. Mason, he still denied it all inside the church. He finally admitted he was married and took them to visit his wife, whom he had kept in the attic in a deplorable condition. Even so, he continued to defend his actions. He insisted on the marriage because he considered himself above both divine and man-made laws. The consequence was that Jane left him.
When the marriage was definitely canceled, he offered Jane a villa in France where she could live as his ‘friend’. He was obviously asking her to be his mistress, although he denied it. He even forcefully tried to persuade her, which was why she escaped from Thornfield at daybreak.
There are two more very serious lies, but there is no explicit proof in the novel.
11 and 12. Perhaps Bertha didn’t start the fire or fall off the battlements. Perhaps he started the fire and/or pushed her. I find it hard to believe Mr. Rochester would go up to the roof to save his mad wife’s life, risking his own, when he could be finally rid of her.
But he wasn’t the only person to lie to Jane Eyre. Here is another post I wrote called Liars in Jane Eyre with a few more liars.
Finally, Mr. Rochester promised eternal love, but would they have lived happily ever after?
I have no doubt that Mr. Rochester was in love, or perhaps infatuated by Adele’s young governess, but how long would their honeymoon period have lasted? Bearing in mind his irascible and selfish character and Jane’s generosity, kindness and independence, I doubt it would have lasted longer than her first childbirth.
All Hallows at Eyre Hall has seven main characters, Jane Eyre Rochester, Edward Rochester, Richard Mason, Annette Mason, Michael Kirkpatrick, John Rochester and Adele Varens, although there are about thirty-eight other secondary characters, 16 created by Charlotte Bronte, which appeared in Jane Eyre, and 16 characters which are unique to The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
I just love this image, sandwiched between Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Gaskell. You can’t get more Victorian than that!
Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre and All Hallows at Eyre Hall:
Edward Rochester, Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter, Mr Briggs, Mrs. Diana Rivers, Mary Rivers, St John Rivers, Captain Fitzjames, Mr Wharton, Mrs Alice Fairfax, Mr Fairfax, Mr Woods.
Note: Jane’s Aunt Reed and cousins Georgina and John are briefly mentioned, but they do not appear in All Hallows (her Aunt and John died in Jane Eyre).
In any case, none of the original characters are exactly the same as they were in Jane Eyre, twenty-two years have passed, so their lives have changed and their characters have developed over time and they been recreated in my own imagination.
The following table will help you see this transition from Jane Eyre to All Hallows at Eyre Hall.
In Jane Eyre
In All Hallows at Eyre Hall
He was the master of Thornfield Hall and the Rochester Estate. He was about forty years old and claimed to be a bachelor with no children.
He’s about 65 and on his death bed. He’s still the master of the Rochester Estate and also of Eyre Hall. He claims to have only one son, John Rochester.
She was a 19 year-old governess, who married her employer, Mr Rochester.
She’s 42 and becomes a widow during the novel. She is a novelist and philanthropist, who is concerned with the well-being of young orphans and the education of children.
An English landowner who lived in the British colony of Jamaica. He was Bertha Mason’s brother (step-brother according to Wide Sargasso Sea) and he interrupted Jane and Rochester’s wedding, exposing him as a bigamist.
He still lives in Jamaica, but he has squandered his family fortune and has returned to blackmail Jane, after Rochester’s death. He knows more of Rochester’s secrets, which are still unknown to Jane.
Mr Rochester’s 10-year-old ward, who was born and brought up in France. She was most probably Rochester’s illegitimate daughter, and her surname is Varens, like her mother, a French opera singer, who was Rochester’s mistress.
She is a 32 year-old spinster, who is still living with Mr Rochester and Jane, searching for the love of her life and looking forward to meeting her mother who is living in Italy, before she dies.
She was a young servant when Jane Eyre arrived at Thornfield.
Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She is a spinster who is about Jane’s age.
Bertha Antionette Mason
Mrs Rochester. She was Mr Rochester’s first wife, whom he locked in their attic claiming she was insane. She allegedly burnt Thornfield and jumped from the battlements to her death.
She is mentioned as Annette Mason’s mother, whom she gave birth to while she was in the attic.
He was Mr Rochester’s private physician.
He is still the Rochester family doctor, who currently resides at Ferndean, Mr Rochester’s manor house. He is about Mr Rochester’s age. He has one son who is studying medicine.
He was a London solicitor who interrupted Jane and Rochester’s first marriage attempt, at Richard Mason’s instance, and later informed Jane that her uncle had died and she had inherited his fortune.
He is a solicitor who works in London and is employed frequently by Mr Rochester.
Miss Diana Rivers
Jane’s cousin, whom she met by chance after leaving Thornfield. Diana and her siblings take Jane in when Jane is homeless and penniless after leaving Mr Rochester on finding out he was married. She marries Captain Fitzjames. She is Mary and St John’s sister.
Mrs Fitzjames. She is married to Admiral Fitzjames. She employed Michael’s mother as a seamstress and took the orphaned Michael and Susan for holidays at her house. Jane met Michael and Susan on a visit to Diana’s home at Christmas. They have no children.
Miss Mary Rivers
Jane’s cousin, whom she meets by chance and takes her in at Morton, when Jane is homeless and penniless after leaving Mr Rochester on finding out he was married. She marries clergyman, Mr Wharton. She is Diana and St John’s sister.
Mrs. Wharton is a clergyman’s wife. They have moved to Wales, where he has found a good position. They visit Jane once a year, usually at Christmas. They are childless.
St John Rivers
Mary and Diana’s brother. He is a clergyman. He proposes to Jane, but she rejects him. He leaves for the colonies in India as a missionary and never returns to England.
He is only mentioned, but he has not returned to England and is still in India.
Mr Rochester’s housekeeper whose husband was related to his mother, née Fairfax.
She is only mentioned.
He was a clergyman who was related to Mr Rochester’s mother, whose surname was Fairfax, thus Mr Rochester’s middle name was Fairfax.
He is only mentioned, but a letter written by Mr Rochester to Mr Fairfax, shortly after his marriage to Bertha Mason, is an important document in All Hallows.
He was the local clergyman at the church on the Rochester Estate. He married Jane and Rochester.
He is very elderly now, but he is still clergyman on the Rochester Estate church.
He is briefly mentioned as Jane’s cousin, Diana’s, husband.
He is now retired Admiral Fitzjames. Michael and Susan’s father died while on a mission on his frigate.
He is briefly mentioned as a Clergyman who married Jane’s cousin Mary Rivers.
He is briefly mentioned in All Hallows.
Characters which are unique to All Hallows at Eyre Hall:
John Eyre Rochester, Michael Kirkpatrick, Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, Bishop Templar, Mr. Greenwood, Jenny Rosset, Nell Rosset, Thomas Rosset, Simon, Beth, Christy, Mr Raven, Mr Cooper, Mr Tempest, and The Sin Eater, Isac das Junot.
Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester denies being the father, although he was married to Bertha Mason, who was locked in the attic, when Annette was born, so, if he is not lying, her father’s identity is, as yet, unknown.
Her uncle, Richard Mason, who had taken her with him to Jamaica, as a baby, brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester was dying.
John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is 21. He is studying Law at Oxford and he is engaged to Elizabeth Harwood, the daughter of a London Judge. Elizabeth is mentioned, but she does not appear in the novel as she is ill throughout the novel.
Michael Kirkpatrick. He is Jane’s faithful valet, who has been employed at Eyre Hall since he was fifteen, nine years ago. Jane met him at her cousin, Diane’s home and offered him and his sister, Susan, a job at Eyre Hall.
Susan Kirkpatrick,is Michael’s younger sister. She started working as a maid and is now teaching at the Sunday and Parish school, although she still lives at Eyre Hall.
Jenny Rosset claims to be s a widow with two young children,Nell and Thomas. She is about Jane’s age and she works at the George Inn occasionally and sometimes she works as a prostitute for wealthy clients. She knows some secrets about both Thronfield and Eyre Hall.
Mr. Greenwood is a widowed London poet who has been courting Adele. They have been exchanging letters for months and he has been invited to stay at Eyre Hall and meet Adele and her family. He has offered to marry Adele and accompany her to Venice to be reunited with her mother Celine Varens.
Simon is a clumsy servant at Eyre Hall. He is Mr Rochester’s valet.
Beth and Christy are two maids who work at Eyre Hall.
Mr Raven is the owner of the Rochester Arms, the only pub on the Rochester estate. The Sin Eater, Isac das Junot, is a mysterious, supernatural character who appears in every book of the trilogy when someone has died. He makes prophesies and scares the life out of most people who cross his path.
Mr Cooper is Mr Rochester’s accountant and Mr Tempest is the Undertaker.
This post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly flash fiction challenge.
January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound. It can be an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy. Go where the prompt leads you. To take part, join in here!
Today’s flash was inspired by the Christmas season, which has just passed.
The Good Nephew
‘Go away,’ he shouted, covering his head with the woollen blanket, but the rattling grew louder.
‘Leave me alone!’ He was trembling.
‘I don’t want to go there again!’
‘I warned you last Christmas,’ came the ghostly echo with more thunderous rattling.
Minutes later, the ghost discarded the heavy chains and stood by the skeletal corpse in the icy bedroom.
‘I was only reminding you to keep your promises,’ he said closing Ebenezer’s blank eyes.
Then he opened the safe where the miser kept the gold coins and dropped them into his purse.
‘Rest in peace, uncle.’
One of the strategies I use in my retellings of Victorian fiction are ‘what if’ questions.
In the case of A Christmas CarolI asked myself:
What if Scrooge didn’t change after all?
What if there were never ghosts, just a trick to scare the old miser?
What if the nephew wasn’t such a good person?
What if his nephew, became more greedy and tired of waiting to inherit?
The same story with a ‘what if’ becomes another story, which is complimentary to the original story. The more feasible the ‘What if’, the more credible your new version becomes.
There are many possible ‘what ifs’ to any story. Here are some more for A Christmas Carol:
What if Scrooge was an opium addict instead of a miser?
What if Scrooge wasn’t as rich as people thought?
What if the ghosts were time travellers?
What if his nephew was really his son?
What if Scrooge had killed Marley to take over the business?
The options are endless and exciting if the questions are reasonable. It can also work with ‘unreasonable’ what ifs.
For example, if I asked, ‘What if Scrooge was really Prince Albert who was bored at home with Queen Victoria?’ It might work as a nonsense story, but not as an alternative version.
In the Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, some of my ‘what ifs’ were the following:
What if Bertha had a child in the attic?
What if Rochester had the child removed?
What if Bertha’s daughter returned to Eyre Hall as an adult to claim her birth right?
What if Rochester went back to his old ways shortly after marrying Jane?
What if Jane stopped loving Rochester?
What if Jane fell in love with another man?
And many, many, many more!
Creating alternate, complimentary, versions of well known novels or stories is fun and creative, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
I love reimagining fiction and reinventing stories.
Some people criticise me for doing so. I answer that writers have been borrowing stories and retelling them since pen was first put to paper (Chaucer, Shakespeare and Scott, did it all the time! Even Dickens did it occasionally).
My retellings are a tribute to the original authors and works, and I consider it an honour to be able to share my reimaginings with my readers.
Do you ever venture into the world of ‘what ifs’ in your writing?
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “your, you’re or yore” Use it in your post as a noun or a verb… or a name! Enjoy!
Days of Yore
We all have our own days of yore. They start when we’re still children.
As soon as we’re old enough to have memories we can recall the days of yore.
Even so, the word yore has a distant sound to it, as if it refers to things which happened long before our own memories began.
The days of yore refer to the memories of others who have died generations before us. So why do they belong to us, too?
Perhaps their recollections are still alive in our collective unconscious. Don’t we all remember and re-imagine the same things?
Isn’t storytelling and all forms of literature a way of recalling and passing on events of the days of yore?
The big bad wolf, the fierce dragon, the handsome prince, the wicked stepmother, the Trojan Horse, the pairs of animals in Noah’s Arc, King Arthur’s Round Table, etc. Someone must have seen and recalled them of yore and passed on the memory, because, don’t we remember them as if we’d seen them ourselves?
The problem is, it’s like Chinese whispers, as the stories are passed down over generations they gradually change; they transform into something else, something later generations can relate to…
They say the legend of the mad woman confined to an attic was told to Charlotte Bronte on a visit to a local country house in her youth. Years later she recreated the legend in Bertha Mason, who became the catalyst in Jane Eyre and most famous secondary character in literary history.
I also shared Miss Bronte’s memories of the days of yore and remembered the story of the screams on the third floor and imagined that a baby was crying in that windowless attic, a baby who returned as a young woman to claim her birthright by her father’s deathbed: Annette Mason in The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
It happened of yore, but I remember it so well, don’t you?
This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today Jane is going to tell you all about the Mason family, her husband’s troublesome in-laws.
I met two members of the Mason family personally; Mr. Richard Mason and his sister, Bertha Mason, who was Mr. Rochester’s first wife.
Richard Mason was Edward’s brother-in-Law, when I first met him, Richard took the liberty of installing himself as a guest at Thornfield. When Edward discovered that he was at Thornfield he was distressed and asked me to spy on him, worried that he might be talking about grave and mysterious things, but I told him he seemed engaged in a merry conversation with the other guests. Then he asked to speak with him privately in his study. I was worried about Mr. Mason’s intentions. They talked for an hour and seemed to part on friendly terms.
Later that night there was a great commotion at Thornfield Hall. Everyone was woken up by cries of help coming from the third storey. Edward told them it was a servant who had had a nightmare, but later, when everyone had gone back to bed, he called me to nurse Mr. Mason, who had been attacked, but I knew not by what kind of creature. I should have realized they were keeping a dark secret, but I had no idea what had happened and dared not even ask.
I met, no it could not be called a meeting, I mean I came face to face with Bertha Mason the night before my first ill-fated wedding day. She stood before my eyes in my room in the dead of night. ‘She was tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I could not tell. Her face was a fearful, ghastly, discoloured and savage face with red eyes. She reminded me of a Vampire. She tore my veil and approached me with a candle and I fainted.
Edward tried to convince me it had been a nightmare until I saw the torn veil on the floor. I would find out who she was on my wedding day, after the wedding was interrupted and we were taken upstairs to see her in her windowless room on the third floor.
Richard interrupted our marriage because he was defending his sister from her husband. Rochester was given a high dowry of 30,000 pounds for marrying her, by Mason’s father.
It seemed strange to me that he was not concerned about her physical welfare. He seemed to agree that she should stay in the attic. I suspected that Mason was a villain who had tried to blackmail Edward.
Many years later, one of my Dear Readers, who knew Mr. Mason was a villain, imagined he would return to haunt me twenty-two years later, while my husband lay on his death bed, in her novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. She has written another post about Richard’s role as villain.
Kevin Spacey would be a great Richard Mason, 22 years later.
There were other members of the Mason family, whom I never met. Edward also told me that Richard and Bertha’s father, had been an acquaintance of Edward’s father, and they had planned Edward and Bertha’s marriage as a business arrangement. Edward’s father negotiated a 30,000 pound dowry and conditions, such as his removal to Jamaica to marry and live there with Bertha.
Much later, when Bertha’s presence became known to me, Edward also told me he found out Bertha’s mother was a lunatic, who lived in an asylum, and that she had another brother, who was a ‘dumb idiot’.
Finally, Bertha burnt down Thornfield Hall and committed suicide, at least that what I was told…
It does indeed seem that the Mason family were the most unpleasant in-laws.
Another Dear Reader called Jean Rhys, wrote a whole book about the Mason family called Wide Sargasso Sea. It’s a prequel to Jane Eyre. More about that in letter ‘P’ for Prequel, on Tuesday.
This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Husband. Edward Rochester himself will tell us all about his life. This is Edward Rochester’s autobiography.
My name is Edward Fairfax Rochester. My honourable surname, dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. It’s etymology is related to a fortress, ‘chester’ meaning Roman fort in Old English. My family has lived in Yorkshire since the 12th century. My surname was briefly changed to ‘de Rochester’ after the Conquest, which was probably when my ancestor moved from Kent, where there were too many Norman invaders, to Yorkshire.
My first famous ancestor was Damer de Rochester, a brave soldier who had been struck by a cannon ball on Marston Moor in 1642, fighting for the Parliamentarians against the Royalists. My father used to say that was why King George, whom he considered a vengeful man, had denied my grandfather a Peerdom.
My mother’s surname is also of ancient Anglo-Saxon origins. In this case, the Fairfax were landed gentry who have always lived in Yorkshire. My mother’s older brother, retained all the land, as was customary. Her father remarried, when his wife died, and her younger step-brother, was later disowned and became a clergyman. My mother was rather fond of her little brother, so she insisted my father should employ him as vicar at Hay church, and when he died, his wife, Mrs. Fairfax, was employed as our housekeeper.
Mrs. Fairfax was a good woman who knew her place and never boasted of her husband’s relationship with the landowning Fairfax family. My parents cut off their relationship with the Fairfax shortly after they married. My mother’s family considered the Rochesters too fierce and warlike. I’ll admit, my father was never a patient man, much like myself, but he was an honourable Rochester.
Our house, Thornfield Hall, and the nearby church, was built by my ancestors in the 12th century, shortly after moving to Yorkshire. Additions were made in the 13th and the 17th centuries.
The Hay district church stood just beyond the gates of Thornfield Hall. It was a small village place of worship, which was erected, when the original house was built in the 12th century. My grandfather renovated the older derelict building. It was the church where my grandparents were buried, where my parents married and were buried, and where my brother, Roland, was buried, too, in the family vault at the front of the altar. It was the same altar where I had stood as Jane’s groom, twice. It is where we christened our son, too. My unfortunate first wife, Bertha Mason, was buried anonymously in the graveyard.
This quiet, secluded place of worship, which would also be my last resting place, had been Roman Catholic before Henry VIII’s ecclesiastical reform, and although we had become Anglicans, not wanting to vex the King, there are still many reminders of our ancient religion, both in the church and in our minds.
I once confessed to Jane that I had brought Adele over from France when her mother died on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sins, great or small, by one good work. Adele was my expiation, and she was the person who brought Jane to me, so perhaps we shouldn’t have swapped our ancient beliefs so easily. In any case, officially, I’m an Anglican.
I was the spare, the second son, who would not inherit my ancestor’s lands. I hated being second best to my brother, simply because he had been born first. He was a whining, fair-haired and sickly Fairfax, like my mother. I was my father, and grandfather’s living image. I was the Rochester, but my brother, Rowland Rochester was destined to inherit what was mine. I realized I would always be the aimless and unlikely replacement to my brother, and behaved recklessly in my youth.
My father and my brother schemed to get me as far away as possible, out of the country, to be rid of the troublesome young man I had become. So, my father provided me with a wealthy marriage. He had an old acquaintance, Mr. Mason, a West India planter and merchant, whose possessions were vast. Mason had a son, Richard and a daughter, Bertha Antoinette. He offered thirty thousand pounds as dowry for his daughter, and my father signed the deal. I left college and was sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me. My father told me Miss Mason was the boast of Spanish Town for her beauty, and this was no lie. She was a beautiful woman, tall, dark, and majestic, and I was suitably dazzled. Her family wished to secure me because I was of a good race, but they did not tell me the truth until it was too late.
Miss Mason was Mr. Mason’s step-daughter. She was a creole, like her mother, his first wife, who was shut up in a lunatic asylum, and there was a younger brother, who was a dumb idiot. I soon learned her splendid dresses, and demure glances were a farce, because she had been familiar with other men on the island. I had been tricked to marring her.
I found her nature wholly alien to mine, her tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher. In short, she had a pigmy mind. I found that I could not pass a single evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her. Soon she showed me her outbreaks of violent and unreasonable temper.
I lived with that monster for four years, on that infernal island,until I received news that both my father and my brother had died, and the Rochester Estate was mine, at last. I brought her back with me. Her brother insisted and what could I do? He reminded me of the dowry and I told him that it was insufficient for everything I had put up with, and still had to endure.
I made sure she was well fed and comfortably hidden in my attic. I paid a trustworthy woman to look after her. She had everything she needed, but her madness spiraled after our arrival in England. She escaped and tried to burn the house down, on several occasions
I could not stand living under the same roof as her, even though I never saw her, but I heard her. I began to abhor Thornfield Hall, so I travelled to the continent in search of a good and intelligent woman. Instead I fell under the spell of the beautiful but fickle opera singer, Celine Varens.
Six months before Jane arrived at Thornfield Hall, Celine gave me her daughter, Adele, affirming she was mine. I tell you Pilot is more like me than Adele! Celine abandoned her child, and ran away to Italy with a musician or singer. I am convinced I am not her father, but hearing that she was quite destitute, I took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English country garden.
You see, my goodwill has always turned against me. I vowed never to become involved with a beautiful woman again.
One day, nine years after returning from Jamaica, I met a small, pale, elf-like creature who stole my heart. I fell in love with her youth, her naiveté, her quick, sharp mind and her generous spirit enraptured me. However, I soon learnt she was as independent and headstrong as I was selfish and scheming. I had to have her as my wife, not my employee or my mistress. I wanted her skin on my skin, our bodies joined as soon as possible, so I devised a plan.
I thought she was too young to realize she loved me yet, so I had to make her feel jealous, I invited Blanche Ingram, a beautiful woman, who was the antithesis of Jane. Blanche was tall, with raven hair and dark eyes. She wore expensive clothes and jewels to catch a husband. She was also a snob and a bitch. I would tease them both nicely. It was a game for my enjoyment. I knew Jane would win. She already had my heart and Blanche was only after my money. I would never marry a dark beauty again, I had already done that once. I wanted a real, English rose, on this occasion. An intelligent, soul mate. I wanted Jane Eyre.
After Jane left Thornfield Hall, when Richard Mason cruelly interrupted my first wedding attempt, the lunatic’s madness escalated. She succeeded in burning down the house, and when she went up to the battlements to throw herself down, I tried to save her. I swear that’s why I went up there, but she threw herself off, after burning down my ancestral home.
I had lied, and I had broken the law, God’s law and man’s law, to make Jane mine. I even tried to ruin her, by trying to convince her to be my mistress. I would have done anything in my power to have her back at my side, but she disappeared like a summer breeze. I became a desperate and brooding beast living in a decrepit and secluded manor house with two old servants.
I was crippled. On one arm, I had neither hand nor nails, but a mere, ghastly stump. My face had ugly burn marks, and I was almost blind. My eyes could only perceive a glow. Everything around me was a ruddy shapeless cloud, until a year later, when my fairy returned.
After the fire, I had a long time to think about my deeds. I did wrong to Jane. I would have sullied my innocent flower, breathed guilt on her purity. I began to experience remorse, repentance, and the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I prayed that Jane would return to me and promised the heavens that I would be a better man. When she returned to me, I humbly entreated my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done hitherto.
After we married, I recovered the sight of one eye, and learned to cater for my needs with one hand, instead of two. I held my son in my arms and saw he was a Rochester, like me, and thanked God for the second chance I had been awarded. I would try to be the man Jane Eyre deserved for the rest of my days.
I know some people don’t believe in me, and I can understand that. They think I can’t change, but I know I can. I’m not sorry for my past, I did what I had to do. I was a reckless youth and I married the wrong woman, but I was misled by my father and enticed by selfish women. None of it was my fault.
I’m only sorry for the unjust way I treated Jane. You may think I’m not good enough for Jane, and that’s true, too, but I’m going to try to be a better man for her. I will not go back to my gallivanting ways and I will never hurt her again.
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hallis the second volume in the sequel to Jane Eyre. Some of the main characters in this novel also appeared in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel, nevertheless, I have moved them on 22 years. I have developed their characters, reinventing them at a later stage in their lives. Other characters are my own creation.
Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre:
Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter.
Characters of my own creation:
John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon and Beth.
Jane Eyre. Jane is no longer a nineteen-year-old naïve and young girl. She is a mature woman in her early forties. She is involved in social work, mainly with orphans and parish schools. She writes novels, much like Charlotte Bronte did, and manages the Rochester estate. She had been married to Mr. Rochester for over 20 years, and had one son and several miscarriages. There were many ups and downs in the marriage, which ended with Edward Rochester’s death in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. The end of book one left Jane in a state of confusion, depression and physical illness. Her husband had died, she was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason, her husband’s brother-in-law, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and the man she thought she loved left her. She is gradually recovering her physical and mental stability.
Mr. Mason. Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s greedy and evil brother-in-law. He was Bertha Mason’s brother. Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s first mad wife. Richard returned from Jamaica with Miss Annette Mason, Bertha’s secret daughter (Book 1). Jane married him because he promised to hide Mr. Rochester’s secrets from young John Eyre Rochester.
Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall from an unknown father, while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. Her uncle brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester died (book 1). She is living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.
John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is headstrong, spoilt, and rich. He is in love with Annette, whom he believes is his cousin. He had accepted an arranged marriage of convenience, but his fiancée died, and now Jane is trying to convince him to marry her flirtatious younger sister, Phoebe. He is studying Law at Oxford.
Michael Kirkpatrick. In book 1, he was Jane’s faithful valet, but he left when she accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal, because he was in love with Jane. He joined the Royal Navy and is promoted to lieutenant by Captain Carrington. In book 2 he returns to Eyre Hall to help his sister, Susan, who also works for the Rochester family.
Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He is a father-figure to Michael, whose father was killed at sea when he was a child. He was captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.
Nell Rosset. Nell is a lively, young girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. She reads to her and walks with her. Her mother, Jenny, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall and Mr. Mason’s mistress.
Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France, for a time. He always denied being her father. She was a spinster, who now has a widowed suitor, the poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s young son, Dante. Susan, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion. Adele and Mr. Greenwood are soon to be married.
‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He is an intelligent young man, who has taken over his father’s practice in the area, with modern ideas on medicine. He is living at Ferndean, a manor house on the Rochester Estate, with his mother.
Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She also worked at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived. She is the only living person who knows everything about the Rochester family, including their secrets.
Simon and Beth are two loyal servants at Eyre Hall who are in a relationship.
Would you like to know anything else about any of these characters?
For those of you who have read book one or two, which is your favourite character, and why?
The moon makes many symbolic and significant appearances at Thornfield Hall, so this post will also come in two parts. This first part refers to Jane’s arrival at Thornfield hall and her first encounters with Mr. Rochester. The rest of her stay at Thornfield Hall will be covered in The Moon in Jane Eyre Part Three.
The Third Storey and The Attic at Thornfield Hall
The moon makes its first appearance the day after Jane’s arrival at Thornfield Hall. In the evening, once her first class with Adele was over, Mrs. Fairfax offered to show her around the house. The tour ended in the mysterious and uncanny third storey, which was devoid of the moonlight:
All these relics gave to the third storey of Thornfield Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine of memory. I liked the hush, the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by no means coveted a night’s repose on one of those wide and heavy beds: shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought old English hangings crusted with thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and stranger birds, and strangest human beings,— all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of moonlight. If there were a ghost at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt.’ ‘So I think: you have no ghost, then?’ ‘None that I ever heard of,’ returned Mrs. Fairfax, smiling. ‘Nor any traditions of one? no legends or ghost stories?’ ‘I believe not.”
Jane and Mrs. Fairfax continue their tour to the attic, which Jane describes as black as a vault. They walk up a very narrow staircase and then with the help of a ladder through a trap-door to the roof of the hall and a view of the surrounding countryside, which Bertha is denied.
Bertha’s room was described as ‘windowless’ and the rest of the upper floor was dark and gloomy, probably due to small windows and heavy curtains. The moon, which has been a positive omen in Jane’s life, lighting her way in dark moments, and announcing the appearance of positive characters, is denied to Bertha who must live concealed in absolute darkness.
Notice also the lies Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane when she claims there are no legends of ghosts, yet all the servants are aware of Grace Poole’s secret charge in the attic and the strange noises, which they all hear on occasions.
The lack of moon in this instance indicates a moral as well as physical darkness, as it encloses falsehood, as well as captivity and concealment.
Mr. Rochester’s Arrival
Jane arrived at Thornfield Hall in October. The following months passed by tranquilly, as Jane taught Adele, Mr. Rochester’s ‘ward’. One afternoon in January, Jane volunteered to take a letter to Hay, which was two miles away, for Mrs. Fairfax, because she thought it would be a pleasant winter afternoon walk. On her way, she sat on a style and observed Thornfield, and the surrounding countryside as she watched the rising moon. Jane tells us:
I lingered till the sun went down amongst the trees, and sank crimson and clear behind them. I then turned eastward. On the hill-top above me sat the rising moon; pale yet as a cloud, but brightening momentarily, she looked over Hay, which, half lost in trees, sent up a blue smoke from its few chimneys: it was yet a mile distant, but in the absolute hush I could hear plainly its thin murmurs of life.
The rising moon is heralding a singular event. A few minutes later, Mr. Rochester fell off his horse on the causeway. She describes their first meeting thus:
‘If you are hurt, and want help, sir, I can fetch someone either from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.’ ‘Thank you: I shall do: I have no broken bones,—only a sprain;’ and again he stood up and tried his foot, but the result extorted an involuntary ‘Ugh!’ Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing bright: I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height and considerable breadth of chest.
The moon is not yet full, but it is ‘waxing’ or in the first quarter growing into a full moon, indicating the initial moments of a great event. After describing him in great detail, he asks her what she was doing on the causeway. There follows an important quote regarding the moon. Jane herself admits it is a positive omen, which assists her as she walks at night, and metaphorically through her own, uncertain life. It is also significant that the mood is shining directly on Thornfield Hall, signaling it out as a safe place for her.
He looked at me when I said this; he had hardly turned his eyes in my direction before. ‘I should think you ought to be at home yourself,’ said he, ‘if you have a home in this neighbourhood: where do you come from?’ ‘From just below; and I am not at all afraid of being out late when it is moonlight: I will run over to Hay for you with pleasure, if you wish it: indeed, I am going there to post a letter.’ ‘You live just below—do you mean at that house with the battlements?’ pointing to Thornfield Hall, on which the moon cast a hoary gleam, bringing it out distinct and pale from the woods that, by contrast with the western sky, now seemed one mass of shadow. ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Whose house is it?’ ‘Mr. Rochester’s.’ ‘Do you know Mr. Rochester?’ ‘No, I have never seen him.’ ‘He is not resident, then?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can you tell me where he is?’ ‘I cannot.’
Jane herself describes the moon as an element of security. It is her home, the place where she feels safe, which, at the moment, is Thornfield Hall. The moon lights her path, showing her the way to her errand and back home. It has also enabled her to scrutinise Mr. Rochester carefully, pointing out to her a person who will have a great influence on her life. We saw in part one, that Miss Temple was introduced to Jane in a similar way.
On her way back from posting the letter, she lingers at the gates of Thornfield Hall before entering. She watches the moon and the stars in awe, aware that something of great importance has occurred, although she is not yet able to fathom what has happened.
I lingered at the gates; I lingered on the lawn; I paced backwards and forwards on the pavement; the shutters of the glass door were closed; I could not see into the interior; and both my eyes and spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house—from the grey-hollow filled with rayless cells, as it appeared to me—to that sky expanded before me,—a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the moon ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she left the hill-tops, from behind which she had come, far and farther below her, and aspired to the zenith, midnight dark in its fathomless depth and measureless distance; and for those trembling stars that followed her course; they made my heart tremble, my veins glow when I viewed them. Little things recall us to earth; the clock struck in the hall; that sufficed; I turned from moon and stars, opened a side-door, and went in.
She soon realizes that the man she met was her employer. The following day, Mrs. Fairfax informs her that Mr. Rochester requires her presence for tea in the drawing-room. Mr. Rochester makes the usual inquiries an employer might make about her family, past life, and how she came to work at his house.
The conversation then takes a strange turn and he accuses her of being a witch and using magic, with the help of her ‘people’ and the moonlight, to throw him off his horse in their first meeting the previous day. She tells him jokingly there are no such beings in England any more.
‘I thought not. And so you were waiting for your people when you sat on that stile?’ ‘For whom, sir?’ ‘For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for them. Did I break through one of your rings, that you spread that damned ice on the causeway?’ I shook my head. ‘The men in green all forsook England a hundred years ago,’ said I, speaking as seriously as he had done. ‘And not even in Hay Lane, or the fields about it, could you find a trace of them. I don’t think either summer or harvest, or winter moon, will ever shine on their revels more.’
He also asks her to play the piano and show him her drawings, and comments on one of them in particular:
These eyes in the Evening Star you must have seen in a dream. How could you make them look so clear, and yet not at all brilliant? for the planet above quells their rays. And what meaning is that in their solemn depth? And who taught you to paint wind. There is a high gale in that sky, and on this hill-top. Where did you see Latmos? For that is Latmos. There! put the drawings away!’
The second painting he examines belongs to a Greek legend. It portrays the evening star and a hill with a woman’s bust rising into the sky, which he immediately identifies as Selena was a goddess of Greek mythology associated with the moon and even regarded as the personification of the moon. He asks Jane, “Where did you see Latmos? For that is Latmos.”
Selena is commonly depicted with a crescent moon, as in this picture, often accompanied by stars; or a lunar disc.
In Greek legend Latmos, or more correctly Mt Latmos, is where the goddess Selene first saw and fell in love with Endymion, vowing to protect him for ever. He tells her to leave him, as soon as he realizes that he has associated her with the goddess. It is interesting that Jane, herself, does not make this association. It is his own fear of the emotions she has stirred in him that makes him practically throw the three women out of the room.
It is interesting to notice how Mr. Rochester has a contrasting view of the moon to Jane’s. He fears the moon and considers it a negative omen. Mr. Rochester associates the moon with female love or lust, which he fears, and witchcraft, which he also associates with love spells. The reader is aware that he is a tormented man, and that this torment is due to unfavourable experiences with women. We have no proof yet, but it seems he does not want to fall prey to another woman brought to him by the moon. He probably also associates the moon with his wife’s lunacy, but of course, at this point, the reader is not yet aware of any of these events.
In part three we will learn more about why Mr. Rochester considers the moon as a negative omen.
If you enjoyed this post, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll never miss a post!
I will not spam you. I’ll send one or two emails a month to keep you updated on my blog posts, book releases, special offers, ARCs and free books. You can unsubscribe whenever you like.