In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, we are led to believe that Jane is no more than a Governess for Mr. Rochester. Even despite this assumption, it is obvious that there seems to be some romantic tension between Mr. Rochester and Jane. What bothers me is how off-putting Mr. Rochester is with his stance on appearance and beauty in general. It almost seems like a forewarning for what will come in future chapters (I am a little behind on blogging but am ahead of the readings) so it is interesting to me to go back and see things which I overlooked.
“’You have the air of a little Nonnette; quaint, quiet, grave, and simple’” (194).Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2020.
I of course, had zero idea what a “Nonnette” meant, so bless the world that has working internet and a search engine at the drop of a hat… I ultimately came to learn that this is a French pastry, which is palpable because Adele is French. And to discern the rest of the meaning in that sentence, my interpretation of what Mr. Rochester is saying is that Jane is plain. What else is to be deduced? He compares her to a French pastry, then calls her “quaint” which she is not, “quiet” which she has literally been taught to be since she was stuffed in the Red Room, “grave and simple” of which she is neither—because Jane is hardly simple, and yet Mr. Rochester has the audacity to allege her this word.
“Plain” does not equate to being undesirable or unworthy of being eye-catching, as Mr. Rochester hints. In my opinion, Jane is brushed off quite a bit in this story as being “plain.” She is no simpler than she is a headless horseman (she is neither). Jane is complex, and brave, and in every situation thus far in her life she has persevered despite the oncoming challenges. For lack of better words, I think Mr. Rochester is a prick for saying this to Jane, who is complex in her own ways.