In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the title character has to keep vigil over an apparently dying Mr Mason while Mr Rochester goes off for help. The overwhelming sentiment gained from reading these paragraphs is that this heroine is rather breathless and filled with anxiety. The short and incomplete sentences mimicking her eyes darting around the room and reflecting the short breaths she must be taking. There is also the sense of her mind running away with fright the longer she sits there nursing Mr Mason, worrying if Grace Poole, whom she believed to be the cause of this trauma, was capable of getting out and attacking her in the same way.
The longer she sits in this darkening room the more questions pop into her head and without answers to them, they only get worse and more frequent. Jane Eyre’s description of the patient’s eyes actually quite reflects what her own would be doing if she didn’t have him to look after so closely. The eyes darting around, opening and closing, the horrified look in his eyes mirroring her own emotions. The language used in this section shifts from the previously almost overly descriptive to very brief synopsis of what her anxious mind can hold on to.
The short sentences all dutifully begin with ‘I must’ which the reader should expect from the character of Jane Eyre that we have gotten to know up to this point. This dutiful stream of thought ends with her looking at the religious aspects of the room finally looking upon the ‘dying Christ’. She starts seeing things that aren’t there but are perceived through the low flickering light and her anxiety. She was torn between listening for relief toward the door out into the rest of the house and the threat of movement from the door leading deeper into the house where the reason for this terror resided.
Following the intense feelings of duty is the spiral of questions arising from the situation that left her alone with only a victim and her thoughts. Starting with the questions of what happened followed by who this injured man was and how this all came to be, each group of new questions seemed to crescendo more urgency. All of this thought and emotion percolated into an almost verbal cry to herself trying to hurry the return of Rochester.
Just as things begin to turn black, both the candle and her patient, relief and light came back to her in the form of Pilot’s barking the return of his owner followed by the confirmation of his return through the description of the key and then the lock opening, relieving her of the confines of what had become a terrible room for her. Throughout these two hours however, there is the sense that her worry about her own safety and Mr Mason’s was eclipsed with her worry for Mr Rochester and how the injured man effected him.
While the book conveyed, up to this point, Jane Eyre’s growing feelings for Mr Rochester, there seemed to be a shift in their relationship as she was no longer just the governess, she moved into the role of confidant. These few pages convey intense emotion through sentence structure and language. The short sentences broken by other thoughts reflects the way the brain works in these situations, we were no longer the confidant of Jane Eyre but we could almost slip into her place, as if all this was happening to the reader.
The short breaths, the fear, listening for signs of things getting worse or about to get better, the unanswered questions which wouldn’t get answered, not at least when they were weighing so heavily on our heroine. The language was simple and informal as the situation required. While it was probably more than the sheltered and unworldly governess could ever have expected to experience, Jane Eyre did as ordered, as seen through the ‘I must’ sentences. However, it would have been unreasonable to expect our heroine not to have questioned these strange events, especially as they concerned the safety of Mr Rochester.
There are a few aspects that this passage relates to the rest of the novel. In one aspect there is the second confidence that Mr Rochester puts in Jane Eyre by calling her to help him a second time, and trusting her to keep the scene a secret from the rest of the residents in the house that night. Another aspect we have to consider is how the language changes in this scene and begins the end of the mystery surrounding the strange occurrences and characters in the novel.
As well as learning more about the characters in the story, Jane Eyre reveals more of herself to the reader by appearing not to be telling the story but actually going through it line by line as it is happening. We can also see that while her emotions will be strained later as they have been in this scene, she believes her eyes to be playing tricks on her with strong reference to religion, such as the apostles in the room with an ailing Mr Mason and the final light most associated with heaven and dying when Jane Eyre believes she will be falling asleep in the field for the last time.
Throughout the novel Jane Eyre usually confides in the reader through asides to us and the scene where she was left alone with Mr Mason bleeding and to her thought dying, we could have expected an aside, but it was as if the character where real and ignoring we were there and simply reacting to what was going on around her candidly as opposed to forming well thought out sentences or phrases, the emotion, as well as the word came as they would have in that situation naturally.
When Jane was thrown into the situation, her emotions effected her eyesight where she felt as thought the twelve apostle carvings were coming to life slightly mirroring her own position where the satanic form was living amongst them without showing him or herself until the fateful night, where Judas was revealed or in this case, the snarling noise was given form and made evil through their actions.
Later in the novel, when Jane Eyre was wandering through the fields cold and hungry she swore that the light she saw off in the distance was that of the final light, she thought her eyes were deceiving her, but as she neared the source, she realized they weren’t, it was indeed the light from a house. Jane’s time at Lowood House could go some way to describe her reactions at points in her life when she is most stressed. As Jane Eyre is a story about a heroine coming into her own, self revelation is an integral part of this.
She finds things out about herself that she either doesn’t think she is capable of or, through modesty, won’t admit to being capable of. This scene proves to her and the reader that she is capable of handling even the most trying events when required to by Mr Rochester. The questions here remain unanswered for a great deal of the novel, however, until she learns of the nature of the relationship between Mason and Rochester and what the ‘Fury’ in that hidden cupboard was, at which time she feels as though she has been deceived even though she was given no answers previously.