Friday, 27 September 2013

Villette and me

I first read Villette when I was 16. At that time, it made less impression on me, and while I enjoyed the poetical descriptions of scenery and feeling, and felt soothed by them, it seemed to lack the power of Jane Eyre. The whole piece reminded me of a French Impressionist painting on a cosy Sunday afternoon, with a sunny garden and mild blue skies in the background. As for the melancholy, I only felt sad when Paul died, but the whole power was lost on my adolescent mind. I could not understand the reason for Lucy's reserve and unhappiness throughout the novel, except the part when she was all alone during the summer holidays, and that was lost on me. Still, I liked the novel. I half-suspected that it was superior to Jane Eyre, but could not understand why, though the characters seemed far more real and convincing, and the language more refined and less purple. I was more interested in Paulina's character then than reticent Lucy's. I wondered why she had to reappear so late in the novel, but it was only till I was at university till I appreciated the power of Charlotte Brontë.

Many readers dislike Lucy for her anti-Catholicism and her prejudice against non-English people. The French and Belgians are skewered alive; they are said to be inferior and less intelligent, shallow, noisy, dishonest and coquettish. I admit I was surprised that everyone seemed to be hostile. But we are not asking for an objective, realistic vision of Belgian residents. It is not a minute detail of Belgian society Lucy is presenting us; it is an emotional record of her soul, and how she perceives them. The Belgians are obnoxious not because Belgians are generally obnoxious, but because they do not understand Lucy, and Lucy cannot identify with them. She is weak, uncharming, reserved and not calculated to gain affection from people in general. She has no charisma and cannot fit into society. Naturally the Belgians would be hostile to her. Even more so, in a foreign environment she experiences culture shock at the manners of Belgian citizens. And because Lucy's account is biased, we see how it is really like to experience culture shock, in Charlotte Brontë's version. We don't always blame ourselves; we are apt to blame the locals for being unruly, annoying, etc. Lucy cannot be objective because if she were, that would not be consistent with her traumatised character. This I only learnt after I had gone abroad, and had the misfortune to be placed in the same kitchen with mainly drunken and noisy students in my first year. I had the impression people there were a shallow, drunken bunch, and only later, when I got to know more sober students I realised my first impression was wrong. I can safely say that Villette has taught me many things about myself.

There are passages in Villette that explain Lucy's philosophy of good art. Art criticism was popular in Victorian high culture, exemplified by John Ruskin's Modern Painters. Charlotte enjoyed his works, but what in particular she liked we do not know. She does tell us, however, that on going to the art gallery, she prefers works which are true to nature, and picturesque scenes. She deplores showy paintings, painted to impress rather than to illuminate a truth. For example, the Cleopatra, which depicts a lazy woman reclined on a couch with pots and pans scattered on the ground, her form barely covered by sheaths of cloth. This is sloth and sensuality in excess, a symbol of how humans have degraded into, and this argument may be used for some Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which are more interested in pretty women and surroundings than truth to nature or emotional power. Look at some of the popular Victorian paintings and they are meant for gaudiness than truth. Such paintings are horrible because they are shallow and immoral. But Lucy doesn't stop there. Oh no, she condemns landscapes for not being accurate to nature, because the painters paint trees an idealised colour rather than the truth, and present things as being more exciting than they are. Real life, she implies, is not so sunny or Gothically gloomy. At first I was at a loss at her art criticism, because I like the Impressionists with their vague landscapes, and the gloomy, powerful Romantics, but recently her views on art have influenced my taste.
A depiction of Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable

I was going through some paintings of the Romantic era when I alighted on the works of John Constable. Formerly they were good, but boring; and now I derived a fresh source of inspiration from them. The trees and the grass are always faithful to nature, the water feels slow but flowing, and the essence of the Suffolk countryside is captured. He draws labourers at their tasks, instead of showy Grecian buildings in the midst of solitude, as the neo-Classical painters were apt to do. The trees are not stereotypical green paint on trunk, but real species you see. I felt the force of Lucy Snowe's argument in Villette. Especially since I underwent a similar experience at the Tate 2 years back. Most of the portraits were more interested in bright garish colours than in portraying how the sitter really looked; there was a lack of depth of space and dimension; many were more interested in depicting some ideology of the painter that no one could discern, unless well-read, rather than in painting things in a more straightforward manner. The symbolism was trite. There were a few JMW Turner paintings - I liked his sea-paintings with ships rolling on distinct waves, but his famous and powerful paintings puzzled me. They are vague and full of gleams and flashes, and very few outlines, that you cannot guess what they are supposed to represent. I quote the part where Lucy objects to certain paintings:
These are not a white like nature. Nature's daylight never had that colour; never was made so turbid, either by storm or cloud, as it is laid there, under a sky of indigo: and that indigo is not ether; and those dark weeds plastered upon it are not trees.

indistinct Turner. supposed to represent a railway. The rest is fog and mystery.

If you study the structure of Villette, you realise that the focus of Lucy's friends/acquaintances changes: in volume I, it is Ginevra Fanshawe she talks about; in Volume II, Dr John and Paulina; in Volume III, it is Paul Emmanuel. The divisions are fairly distinct that I wonder if Charlotte Brontë did it on purpose. This is important in a Bildungsroman; it's not a dramatic plot where everybody meets up for a jolly good yak continually over the course of the novel, like David Copperfield. Instead it mimicks real life, where you make and break relationships, lose touch with your friends from each stage of your life. This is part of the depressing factor of Villette - Lucy doesn't retain close ties with most of her friends.  I was initially sad we didn't get to see much of Dr John and Paulina after Volume II, but it was necessary to the development of the plot and Lucy's character. In Volume III she finally sees them at a fête without her, with their families; she is no longer their bosom friend, but an outsider, a horrid awakening reality. Certainly at university, my friendships did not have the same depth and intensity as my high school friendships, and I have moved on faster than I would have expected, and looking at Villette, I am struck by the prophetic powers of Charlotte Brontë.

It is a curious thing that the good, liberal and intelligent characters, Dr John and Paulina, first become friends with Lucy, then later their friendships cool. After Paulina and Dr John fall in love they are absorbed in each other, and lose interest in Lucy, and Lucy gives up on them. In contrast the less benevolent characters, Ginevra and M. Paul keep in touch with Lucy. We never find out whether John and Paulina keep in touch with her. And this does reflect some ironies in real life - we may love our flawed and prejudiced friends more than our good and broad-minded friends, because we just have more chemistry with the former than the latter. Lucy claims to despise the shallow and selfish Ginevra, but obviously she's fond of her in her own rough way. Ginevra is the sort of friend serious people love to despise, and yet you can't help liking her. She is rude and prejudiced and occasionally vulgar, but she is never too haughty to approach the diffident Lucy. Paulina on the other hand is cold and reserved with Fraulein Anna Braun, though the former is generally a good and humble character, and her pride is of a higher order than Ginevra's.  M. Paul is prejudiced against the English and Protestants, but he can't help being attracted to Lucy's individual spirit, and eventually they fall in love. So in Villette, chemistry seems to have a greater influence on friendships and relationships than intellectual compatibility and ideals (Lucy is intelligent like Paulina and Dr John). But this is simplifying matters: both Lucy and Paul are religious, only Lucy is a fierce Protestant, and Paul a devout Catholic - still, they believe in the same God.  They are both prejudiced against an opposite (Lucy against Catholics and Belgians; Paul against English and Protestants) and thus share a similarity in temperament (Paul notes their physiognomies are similar, indicating character is similar).  Lucy is not liberal and confident in cultivated society (unlike Paulina, who shines with the accomplished scientists, and Graham, a successful doctor and amateur scientist) though intellectually she is probably on par with them. Her prejudice and somewhat insularity places her on equal terms with Paul. Both she and Paul are odd characters in a sense: both insular, think their own nationality/religion is superior, and yet both are original and intellectual. Intellect is usually associated with liberality and not insularity, but they share this paradoxical quirk. You could say it makes them outcasts. Paul has more power, energy and charisma than Lucy, however, being based on Constantin Heger, Charlotte's beloved teacher in Brussels, and perhaps this is compatible with her passivity and anticharisma. But he brings out her fire and energy, her teasing and witty remarks, her originality in writing devoirs, and unlike Dr John and Paulina, refuses to see her as a shadow. She is the latters' listener; but she is on equal ground with Paul. I think we see a progression, from friendly acquaintance/obnoxious friend in Ginevra (who doesn't call her a friend), to not-so-close friends with Graham, good friends with Paulina, to lover in Paul. Only Paul really remains constant - is Lucy/Charlotte asserting the superiority of romantic relationships? Many of us forget our friends when we are in a committed relationship, preferring to tell things to the lover instead - and this is true for Lucy.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Nutting by William Wordsworth

Originally Nutting was meant to be included in Wordsworth's magnum opus, The Prelude, but he decided to omit it, because it had no real bearing on the "plot" (if The Prelude can be said to have a plot) and it served well as an independent entity. Nutting is a self-contained poem with a sort-of plot and moral, in the manner of nature preservation. Carol Rumens in the Guardian discusses the fairy-tale-like aspect of the poem.
As in all his profoundest poems, the moral "story" is seamlessly entwined with the psychological one, and both are realised through a rich mixture of naturalistic and idealised pastoral imagery. The "fairy-tale" qualities are apparent from the start. The poem begins with a quest. The young boy sets off, armed with his nutting-crook and wallet: he is dressed in raggedy old clothes, for the practical reasons proposed by the "frugal dame" - but an element of disguise ("More ragged than need was!") is strongly suggested. Having forced his way through the brambles and over the "pathless rocks" the young adventurer finds the treasure he is seeking. And, although there are no monsters or goblins in sight, and the lesson is purely psychological, he learns like any young hero that treasure is not as easily taken as he had believed. 
The boy goes to the woods to look for nuts, and to prevent him from tearing good clothes, the old woman he rents his room from, Ann Tyson, tells him to wear his old clothes. There is a sense of mystery and excitement in his "disguise." The boy perhaps a little too confidently ( he smiles "at thorns, and brakes, and brambles") thinks this is unnecessary, for he is not doing any particularly strenuous activity. Then Wordsworth adopts a delightful tone, as the boy enjoys his liberty and sense of discovery at exploring a "pathless" wood, a path possibly untrodden by others.  He comes across a Paradise, to his exultation, in "one dear nook unvisited," which he claims as his kingdom.
... Not a broken bough
Droop's with its wither'd leaves, ungracious sign
Of devastation,but the hazels rose
Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung,
A virgin scene! - A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and with wise restraint
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival eyed
The banquet ...
The Grotto Rydal Hall Lake District

The unknown scene is viewed with sensuous delight, a strange adjective for a peaceful woodland scene, when it would be more suited to perfume, or spices of the Orient, or a pretty girl, or something. He is happy to come across a previously uncharted territory, and sits beneath the trees and plays with the flowers. Rumens writes:
Both the laden hazel-tree and the "dear nook unvisited" have magical qualities, and a moral suggestiveness which the boy partly responds to. He defers gratification, experiences sheer delight in the loveliness and abundance of his surroundings. But then another, more primitive self breaks through and lays waste to the trees. The hero of this fable is also its monster.
Abruptly the speaker breaks away to ponder about some beauties, and he tries to justify a reason for what he did that he regretted. About to withhold from gratifying his greed for nuts, he is overwhelmed by the beauty and luxuriant scenes. It seems like he is unwilling to part with the treasures in this wood, because beauty is transient, and will not last through the seasons. He gives in to instant gratification of the senses; in this case, greed and gluttony.
Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons reappear
And fade, unseen by any human eye,
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
forever, and I saw the sparkling foam,
And with my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleec'd with moss, beneath the shady trees,
Lay round me scatter'd like a flock of sheep,
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
Tribute to ease, and, of its joy secure
The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
And on the vacant air. 
Interestingly, the "murmuring sound," is mentioned in Paradise Lost, which comes from water issuing from a cave, which means that Wordsworth probably had Paradise Lost in mind when he wrote this. As he worshipped Milton and took him for a model (as Keats took Shakespeare) this is more likely.

The untarnished virgin imagery is coming out here; the violet (flowers are often used to describe pretty girls) are out only for 5 seasons, and after their bloom, fades away, rather like young lasses who, after their first beauty, decline. Thus he must act to claim the joy they give him. But it sounds disturbing, this sense of transience and fragility. Violets are also mentioned in one of the Lucy poems:
A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the Eye!
And are small with a tender fragrance. Like Lucy, the violets are scarcely seen, and sheltered by the moss, and fade away. In his wilfulness to claim his property, he cannot resist nature's charms and fells the hazel bushes and the bower.
Then up I rose,
And dragg'd to earth both branch and bough, with crash
And merciless ravage; and the shady nook
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower
Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being ...
Nature is given human treatment, and the effect is that of rape, pillage and deformity as a metaphor for killing nature, which is unable to resist such force from cruel man. This might for all you know be a metaphor for greedy man who build factories and fell trees to clear land for development. A rare and secluded beauty is ripped apart by a greedy boy, and you can't help but compare it to ravishing a defenceless virgin. Defloration was considered a highly important, emotionally-affecting and potentially ruinous event in those days, which makes the rape-imagery more powerful in its time than now.
The movement of the syntax over the blank verse lines has been almost relaxed until this moment, rhythmically one of abrupt high drama: "Then up I rose." No reason is given: none is needed. A natural human impulse drives the boy to jump up and rake the trees of their hazel-nuts. After he has seized the hoard, the sight of the "silent trees" themselves and "the intruding sky" awakens another response, a terrible sense of guilt at the destruction caused by his innocent greed. That he has "deformed and sullied" the "bower" is the wisdom, the "knowledge of good and evil", that he has painfully achieved – and so he imparts the lesson to his listener
Now the formerly shaded woods are destroyed, for the sun peeps through the trees, who remain silent over his crimes. And despite getting his treasure he is filled with guilt that overwhelms his pleasure.
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
The silent trees and the intruding sky. 
And so he tells his moral to his "dearest Maiden!" possibly Dorothy Wordsworth, to
move along these shades
In gentleness of heart with gentle hand
Touch - for there is a spirit in the woods.
For Nature has a life-force which we cannot ignore, and a soul of its own, very Romantic. The lesson is not a hard one, but the power of the ravaging boy upon the nuts and flowers gives it a special place among Wordsworth's nature-poems. I would not call him a Byronic hero, but the sympathetic hero's cruelty to the nuts and flowers, and his sensuousness share some things in common with a Byronic hero. Noticeably, nature here is portrayed as calmer than the more visual and intense scenes in Coleridge's conversational poems; the excitement is all from the speaker, not the scene itself, unlike the moving torrents of water commoner in Coleridge. But this might be Wordsworth's own personality: his style tends to be sonorous but calm and measured; Coleridge, lyrical, excitable and irregular. Coleridge must see the movements in nature; Wordsworth is content with its calmness, which reflects both men's characters: Coleridge was intellectual, excitable and volatile; Wordsworth steady, down-to-earth and calm.

The parallels between this and Paradise Lost seem quite clear. The boy is tempted by an Eden-like bower, where he experiences voluptuous bliss, and thinks he is in a fairyland of happiness and eternity. He is tempted to destroy the place to pick his hazels, and this he does, only to regret as he sees the intruding sky - possibly an allusion to Adam and Eve surprised in their nakedness? This would mean that Wordsworth is Eve or Satan. Imagine sober old Wordsworth as a Satanic figure!

Nutting could be an interesting re-write of Paradise Lost.  Instead of sex as sin, it is Nature as the Tempter, and unlike Paradise Lost, there is no external devil to whisper temptations into Eve's ear. The devil lurks within the boy, and there is no Satanic tempter. We must not blame the source of temptation for our actions, Wordsworth seems to say, we must blame ourselves - in this case, Wordsworth the Destroyer. Perhaps he was criticising Milton's morality, which seems too unrealistic and obvious. Wordsworth's temptation is more subtle, too. One criticism of Milton by the Romantics (it might have been Hazlitt) was that Milton, though grand and impressive, lacked the human touch, which Wordsworth has, though he can only do the egotistical sublime really effectively (a complaint from Keats). Or could Wordsworth be reading Satan as a personification of our own base desires (rather than a separate enemy out to conquer a kingdom). The boy does end up destroying his newly-discovered kingdom - but this time, the kingdom belongs to him. This makes the Satanic figure more complex - and you can tie it in with the Romantic Gothic exploration of the evil unconscious, or repressed base desires. In Hogg's Confession of a Sinner, it is not fully apparent whether the evil Satanic figure is the villain's repressed subconscious or a mythical figure. Nutting doesn't sound Gothic, which makes it more realistic (Wordsworth despised the Gothic genre), and yet he might have been influenced by the same things that influenced the Gothics (Gray's Elegy in the Churchyard is one thing).

Another influence cited is Spenser's The Faerie Queene, (a very popular influence on 19th century poets)  in the scene whether Sir Guyon goes to Acrasia's Bower of Bliss, a beautiful haven of nature. To defeat her (a nymphomaniac who tempts men and turns them into beasts) he destroys the bower to prevent more men from being tempted into that poisonous paradise, just as Wordsworth the boy destroys the real-life bower. However, Guyon is supposed to be good, and Wordsworth commits a sin in destroying the bower, so Nutting may be a rewrite of Spenser's morals (perhaps Wordsworth thought Spenser was thoughtless and giving the wrong message about nature).
Acrasia by John Melhuish Strudwick

It seems there was an earlier, longer version of the poem, in which the speaker addresses a girl called Lucy (possibly the same Lucy as in his Lucy poems), who is confronted with rape. Wordsworth eventually tidied it up to publish the finished version of "Nutting," but after the publication of that poem, he had Mary Hutchinson copy out the verses for the original version, which is far more disturbing than the published one, which indicates he considered the first version important, and had not fully given it up.

There are two early drafts. One is this:

The other is this:

A few scholars suggest that the bower in Nutting is associated with Spenser's Bower of Bliss in the Faerie Queene. It is hard to see how the bower in Nutting is the same, because the bower in Nutting is good and natural, whereas the Bower of Bliss in the Faerie Queene is artificial and entraps people and turns them into beasts. The boy, however, does turn beastly when he destroys the bower, and the same voluptuousness is applied to the natural as Spenser did in the artificial bower. Wordsworth may have drawn parallels, but in his own case, chose to make the bower good, wholesome and delightful instead. It is unlikely that the message and morality in Nutting was drawn from The Faerie Queene, and Wordsworth might have been indulging in a personal literary joke.
Sir Guyon in Acrasia's Bower of Bliss by Thomas Uwins

Lucy has some education and culture, having known "some nurture," and so her violence in treating the hazels is all the more shocking to Wordsworth, particularly with her "cruel" eagerness, "tempestuous bloom," and "an enemy of nature" "far beyond the Indian hills." What makes it particularly disturbing is that she is female and gently nurtured. Yet the Lucy poems deal with a girl who lives in seclusion unknown and unloved by most, so the gentle nurture is surprising, because you think of a rustic recluse, not an educated and refined girl. This might indicate that Lucy has some similarities with Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of Wordsworth, an educated woman who gave up a life of comfort to live with her brother in the countryside with very little company (by the standards of that time).  Lucy represents Wordsworth's ideal woman, a Rousseauan ideal rather than a reality, and yet intrigues us with her mystery, because no one really knows who she is.  While Lucy normally has no voice, and seems passive, here Lucy is actively destroying hazels, and the speaker is directly addressing her instead of thinking or imagining about her. She is violent and imperfect here, instead of the supposedly perfect (but I would dispute the perfection of the Lucy of even the other poems). In the other poems she is a friend of nature; here, she is "an enemy of nature."  And in the other poems Wordsworth deemed her worth worshipping; here he is giving her a moral lesson based on his mistake of destroying the bower. He tells her to treasure nature, to be gentle and restful, and the superiority of nature to man. The final version still shows a moral story, but here the listener is passive and not violent; and the main action comes from the speaker. Literary theorists will wonder why (jealousy on Mary's part, etc etc) but it is more effective to cut out the Lucy parts, though it is less clear and lucid. Apart from the fact they are unharmonious and overmoralistic, it seems dull and repetitive to have two people committing violence on nature, and two people learning the same lesson, and two people with violent, destructive natures (potentially sexual?) The contrast between active and passive is more effective and interesting.

Then there's the sexual perspective, which is doubtful. True, he uses sexual rape language, but that could be to make the message more powerful. Then again, there might be a sexual subtext underneath the main "Do not harm nature" message. Perhaps it chronicles the process of growing up. The inconsiderate child who wants instant gratification learns that he must not pluck the branches, and becomes wiser, for his Eden is no longer eternal and unravaged. It signifies a loss of innocence, because he has committed a sin. Though instead of actually having sex he is killing trees, which is an interesting twist on the Paradise Lost Sin Story. Wordsworth might have had a sense of humour. But assuming that the sex angle is really there, it could signify puberty, which comes with violence and sexual energy and instant gratification. Lucy is supposed to be pure (at least in the other Lucy poems he wants her to be pure), and hence the violence the speaker disapproves of might be what he deems excessive sexuality in women.

Lucy is more real and less ethereal in the manuscript version, though it is less powerful, too clunky and more boring than the finished version of Nutting. It is however a useful guide as to his thoughts on the development of Lucy.

You see why he didn't publish the manuscript version. Apart from the fact it sounds awful (for Wordsworth, anyway), the theme of the poem is less clear and effective. "Nutting" is about loving nature; Lucy's presence would mingle too many themes and clutter up the picture.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A School Essay on Jane Eyre

Found among my old A-Level papers this essay I wrote 4 years ago for a class test on Jane Eyre. I've lost the question but you can judge what it was from the answer. Excuse the extremely rigid classifications and immature analysis.

It is true that Bronte presents men as deficient in morality and dependent on women to be their spiritual and moral guide in Jane Eyre. Indeed, this sentiment was felt by Charlotte Brontë as feminist and devout Evangelical, who, in her letters, condemned the shallowness of men.

An important aspect of "Jane Eyre" is its effective representation of the social setting in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the era where the plot of "Jane Eyre" is set. Historically, this era preceded the Victorian era, which brought with it several self-help novels dealing with the fictional autobiographies of those who had risen from poverty to middle-class respectability through diligence and industry. The late 18th and 19th centuries, however, was the Romantic era of profligation. The wealthy landowners were at the top of the social hierarchy and did not work for their own living, often seeking mistresses and wasting their life in social but destructive pleasures. This attribute is present in Mr Rochester, a symbol of the Romantic-era landowner. His father, who was "anxious not to divide the estate" send him to "Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me.  For a man, who, Jane observes, values peersonality, virtue, and conventionality, he holds to "the ideas of their class." namely, property, wealth and status: a shallow act. As "Jane Eyre" is a novel exemplifying true inner virtues and God's judgement, Rochester discovers that his wife has a "pigmy intellect," whose "vices sprang fast and rank," indicating judgement on his selfishness. She is inflicted by "the germs of insanity," due to her "excesses." "Yet I could not live alone," Rochester justifies himself and so "sought the companionship of mistresses," even  determined to marry bigamously, preferably to a "kind," 'caring," "intellectual" woman in order to save his soul.

The characterisation of Rochester indicates his lack of spiritual fulfilment. It is noted that for a man described as "proud," he constantly seeks Jane's advice on morality. Indeed, he asks her several times, where he is "justified in overleaping a custom" to gain access to purity. What his intentions are he initially does not specify, but he proposes to seek "a new acquaintance" who is "a disguised pilgrim - a deity, I verily believe." The fact that he bombards Jane with questions already ,mark her out as his spiritual and moral guide. In fact Rochester's and Jane's ideas on spirituality and morality differ: Rochester seeks it in a "stranger" who will impart to him "reformation" - in Jane, whose virtues he admires; whereas Jane advises him to "look higher than your equals" and 'men and woman may die, philosophers falter in wisdom." The key to this conflict is independence and individuality, tied to spirituality and morality. These virtues are the core themes of the novel. Rochester sins by depending on a "fellow-creature" for reformation, instead of striving alone. Such a reformation would hence be passive, reflecting Helen's view that "There is no merit in such goodness" (that is passive). After the revelation of Rochester's insane wife, Jane tells herself "Laws and principles are for moments like this" where temptation is prevalent.

The setting of "Jane Eyre's" key incidents occur in the "Eden-like garden" which is filled with "apple-trees, pear-trees," and "laden with ripe fruit. Its floral presentation with "jasmine," "sweetbriar" and "daisies" convey a feminine aspect to the surroundings. It is noted that it is outside, in the open, particularly in the garden, that Rochester is most frank and open with Jane; for it is "real, sweet and pure," like the woman he loves - Jane. Hence the garden is a metaphor for feminine truth and fertility. It is here that he asks Jane about his justification committing an act "which neither your conscience sanctifies nor judgement approves." Though still ambiguous, it centres on Rochester's true feelings - love, and the fact of his intended bigamy. In the proposal scene, he declares "For the world's judgement - I wash my hands thereof. For man's opinion - I defy it" in order to be with Jane as his spiritual helpmeet. Jane personifies the attributes if sweetness, fertility (when she later gives birth). life and freshness of the garden, where they spend their time being truly at ease with each other. Hence the setting is a symbol for Rochester's reverence for feminine qualities associated with all that is "real, sweet and pure."

Structurally, it is the men who bring ruin or seek to do so, to the female protagonist. The issue here focuses on morality and spirituality. When Rochester's mad wife is exposed, he insists on Jane's remaining with him: "You are my better self" in contrast to her advice: "Believe in God." It is only after her departure and his wife's death that he acknowledges as "The hand of God in my doom." In other words it is a woman (Jane) who must act by leaving in order to bring him to his senses. No matter how moral Rochester eventually becomes, it is not true, natural morality; it is the work of circumstances initiated by a woman. Similarly St John Rivers depends on Jane to be his spiritual and moral guide, although he refuses to act on her advice. His idea of morality is to marry Jane "to be a helper to Indian women." Despite Jane's persistence in "I will go ...

[The text stops here; either the page is missing, or I ran out of time. Then a new paragraph] ....

In conclusion, "Jane Eyre" depicts Bronte's opinions of men's immoralities and dependence on women for spirituality and morality, as she strove to convey the essence of feminine virtues associated with the Victorian era.