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Old 10-27-2017, 11:47 AM   #16
issybird
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
I liked the realism of the characters. These were all flawed human beings for whom I couldn't help but feel empathy even when the roles they were assigned were far from heroic.
It was interesting to me that some of the characters were direct opposites; we've got Jane's two cousins, St. John Rivers and John Reed, where even the names themselves indicate they're poles apart. But some of the characters were variations on a similar theme and one thing I found detestable about Rochester was his condemnation of Blanche Ingram for seeking to marry for money and lust, which is exactly what he did! He's comfortable blaming his father and brother for his marriage, when in fact he had options. It must have been during the Napoleonic Wars and I can't imagine that his father would have been unwilling to purchase a commission for him, a traditional route to a career for a younger son. There was an irony in the end, where Rochester's disabilities were those that might have been acquired during that war; in fact, they're pretty similar to those Nelson suffered.

And what exactly were Blanche's options? No money of her own, continuing to live on her brother's sufferance? Sense and Sensibility is a story of how badly that strategy might go. Why shouldn't she have rejected Rochester if she thought he had no money? Jane's fetching up on her cousins' doorstep might have saved her from starvation and death; the text itself showed how quickly fortunes might reverse.

I also have to spare a thought for the miserable existences of Mrs. Poole and Bertha. Mrs. Poole was well compensated and it was worth it to her, but Bertha wasn't responsible for her madness. And when you think that she had weeks at a time of mental clarity! Maybe her attempts on Rochester's life didn't come from her madness, but from her sanity.
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