Response to Jane Eyre Vol III

“All the house was still; for I believe all, except St. John and myself, were now retired to rest. The one candle was dying out: the room was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I heard its throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling that thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and extremities, The feeling was not like an electric shock; but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor; from which they were now summoned, and forced to wake. They rose expectant: eye and ear waited, while the flesh quivered on my bones” (427)
Jane is at a turning point; she is about to make a decision that will determine the rest of her life. She has two drastically different options laid out before her. She must decide between reason and her heart. Moments before she experiences that strange feeling and hears voices, she says to St. John “I could decide if I were but certain, were I but convinced that it is God’s will I should marry you”.
Up until now, Jane’s firm rejection of St. John’s proposal seems to demonstrate that she has an assured sense of self. This brief moment of weakness reveals that, although she has given the impression of confidence in her character, there is still some part of her that doubts. She knows not whether she should let herself be guided by her heart or by her head. She proceeds to cry out to heaven “Show me the path!”, for she cannot conceive of making such a decision on her own.
She then experiences “an inexpressible feeling” which “acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor from which they were now summoned, and forced to wake”. She is overcome by what I believe to be some kind of physical manifestation of her subconscious making an ultimate decision for her in a crucial moment. It can be equated to the idea that in sleep, the subconscious can work out difficult problems for you. The expression “sleep on it” refers to this idea. Her crying out to a higher being is indicative of her letting go of the decision. Her subconscious takes over and guides her to make the decision as if she were working it out in a dream. In this dream like state she believes that she hears Mr. Rochester’s voice which is the trigger for her to make the final decision to reject St. Johns offer.
The fact that she soon makes the decision to return to him answers the question of why she left him in the first place. Aside from the fact that he was already married, I think she decided to leave him because she was not fully ready to succumb to her heart and emotions. Bertha was merely an escape from the decision.  Because society and conventions have taught her to live a certain way, the notion of siding with love was so difficult.

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