An inspiration I had for doing this project was the scene in Jane Eyre where Mr. Rochester disguises himself as a “gipsy” and reads the fortunes of the young, single women present in the house. One method described for this was palm reading and I wanted to research it more and apply it to the reading.
However, the scene in question carries anti-roma sentiments and enforces negative stereotypes. It is important to discuss this as, although palm reading itself is not harmful, the scene that gave me the idea to delve into palm reading is harmful.
“Despite some positive stereotypes (e.g. Roma have a natural talent for music), the stereotypes about Roma are overwhelmingly negative. The dominant groups in Eastern Europe regard Roma as uneducated, uninterested in school and work, conniving, dirty, and lazy. Identification of a Roma is made in the first place by physical appearance (e.g. dark skin and hair), smell (e.g. they are dirty and stink), attire (e.g. women wear the traditional Kaldarashi costume with multiple colourful aprons, and hair separated in braids decorated with coins) or language spoken (Romanes, the language spoken by Roma in Eastern Europe). Nowadays images about Roma and Travellers include several criminal stereotypes: they are regarded as beggars, thieves, swindlers, pickpockets, trespassers, rowdies, dirty, immoral, con-man, trickster. In addition, they are considered unsocial, social misfits, dishonest, lazy, work-shy, layabouts and parasitic deviants (Maučec).”
Thieves, Dishonest, Con-men
“’Now, now, good people,’ returned Miss Ingram, ‘don’t press upon me. Really your organs of wonder and credulity are easily excited: you seem, by the importance of you all—my good mama included—ascribe to this matter, absolutely to believe we have a genuine witch in the house, who is in close alliance with the old gentleman. I have seen a gipsy vagabond; she has practised in hackneyed fashion the science of palmistry and told me what such people usually tell. My whim is gratified; and now I think Mr. Eshton will do well to put the hag in the stocks to-morrow morning, as he threatened (Jane Eyre, Ch XVIII).’”
Immediately the “gipsy vagabond” is imbued with negative characteristics through Miss Ingram’s opinion of her. The vagabond is a “witch” and a “hag” with false, misleading practices that she uses to lure people in and deceive them. In the process, she demands compensation for telling people their future, as seen when she is about to read Jane’s palm: “I gave her a shilling: she put it into an old stocking-foot which she took out of her pocket, and having tied it round and returned it, she told me to hold out my hand. I did. She approached her face to the palm, and pored over it without touching it (Jane Eyre, Ch XIX).” The idea that the vagabond is lying and deceiving people while taking their money is something that fits the stereotype of the dishonest con-man often falsely attributed to roma travellers.
Social Misfits, Immoral (and the Supernatural)
“In accordance with characters of Gothic fiction and Gothic themes, the gypsy woman’s entrance is unexplainable and supernatural. Masquerading as a gypsy woman, Mr. Rochester wields a magical power over not only Jane, but the rest of the guests as well. Under this disguise, he controls the emotions of the young single women present (The Woman at the Door).”
Appearing out of nowhere as a wanderer and, as a lower social class than any attendants to the party, the gypsy woman that Mr. Rochester poses as is automatically a social misfit. She others herself by having this air of mysticism and fits the mystic/supernatural stereotype by seemingly being able to read the futures and fortunes of others. The apparent use of this supernatural ability to pick apart the emotions of the single women is something that could be considered immoral and invasive which paints the traveler in a bad light. Overall, the “gipsy vagabond” character is an outcast with supernatural abilities that are used dishonestly with the gain of taking money from others, all contributing to a harmful portrayal of a roma person.
Shape of the Hand – Element
“‘Earth’ has broad, square palms and fingers, thick or coarse skin, is ruddy in color, and the length of the palm equals the length of fingers. Solid values and energy, sometimes stubborn. Practical and responsible, sometimes materialistic. Work with their hands, comfortable with the tangible (Independence).”
“’I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot (Jane Eyre, Ch XXVII).’”
Jane Eyre’s handshape would best fit the earth element. She is head-strong and stubborn – moreso in childhood but this trait can be applied to her adulthood and predict her future behaviors. Jane’s stubbornness, for example, influences the strength of her attachments to her own sense of morality and what she values. When she found out that Mr. Rochester has a wife, Jane adhered to her set of values by choosing to leave the estate instead of becoming his mistress. She respected herself too much to let emotions blindly lead her into doing something that she felt was morally wrong to do. Jane can also be described as practical and responsible, as she consistently navigates the world realistically and utilizes her skillset to provide for herself, such as becoming a governess and a teacher.
“This line is believed to indicate emotional stability, romantic perspectives, depression, and cardiac health… [A] Broken line = emotional trauma (Independence).”
“In his last moments he had required a promise of Mrs. Reed that she would rear and maintain me as one of her own children. Mrs. Reed probably considered she had kept this promise; and so she had, I dare say, as well as her nature would permit her; but how could she really like an interloper not of her race, and unconnected with her, after her husband’s death, by any tie? It must have been most irksome to find herself bound by a hard-wrung pledge to stand in the stead of a parent to a strange child she could not love, and to see an uncongenial alien permanently intruded on her own family group (Jane Eyre, Ch II).”
“Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures and compare them: say, ‘Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady’s love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian? (Jane Eyre, Ch XVI).’”
Jane’s heart line would be broken, which could be interpreted as a sign of emotional trauma (both past and future). Undeniably, Jane’s childhood was filled by trauma, especially with how her aunt treated her as an unwanted outsider and even wished death upon her. Jane’s aunt also locked her into the red-room where the ghost that appeared to her was arguably a manifestation of all of the trauma she faced in her childhood. How this trauma translates to Jane’s future at Rochester’s estate can be seen in her attitude towards herself and her general self-perception. Jane doesn’t believe someone like her is capable of being loved and thinks of herself as undeserving/insignificant due to her lower class. This makes sense, as she was treated as lower and less than within Aunt Reed’s home.
“This line represents learning style, communication style, intellectualism, and thirst for knowledge… [A] Deep, long line = thinking is clear and focused (Independence).”
“During these eight years my life was uniform: but not unhappy, because it was not inactive. I had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel in all, together with a great delight in pleasing my teachers, especially such as I loved, urged me on: I availed myself fully of the advantages offered me. In time I rose to be the first girl of the first class; then I was invested with the office of teacher; which I discharged with zeal for two years (Jane Eyre, Ch X).”
“He then went on to explain that Hindostanee was the language he was himself at present studying; that, as he advanced, he was apt to forget the commencement; that it would assist him greatly to have a pupil with whom he might again and again go over the elements, and so fix them thoroughly in his mind; that his choice had hovered for some time between me and his sisters; but that he had fixed on me because he saw I could sit at a task the longest of the three (Jane Eyre, Ch XXXIV).”
Jane’s head line would be long and deep, which could be interpreted as an indication of clear and focused thinking. This can especially be seen through the course of Jane’s stay at Lowood school and her subsequent endeavors afterward. She is able to focus through her studies to such a degree that she became a teacher (and, later, a governess.) Jane was also identified as the clearest/most focused between her and her 2 cousins, with St. John asking her to learn Hindostanee because she can “sit at a task the longest.” Overall, Jane has some modicum of talent in teaching, piano playing, language learning, and painting which demonstrates her capacity and eagerness to learn.
“This line reflects physical health, general well-being, and major life changes… [A line that] ends below the thumb = strong attachment with family (Independence).”
“I surveyed him. It seemed I had found a brother: one I could be proud of,—one I could love; and two sisters, whose qualities were such, that, when I knew them but as mere strangers, they had inspired me with genuine affection and admiration. The two girls, on whom, kneeling down on the wet ground, and looking through the low, latticed window of Moor House kitchen, I had gazed with so bitter a mixture of interest and despair, were my near kinswomen; and the young and stately gentleman who had found me almost dying at his threshold was my blood relation. Glorious discovery to a lonely wretch! This was wealth indeed!—wealth to the heart!—a mine of pure, genial affections. This was a blessing, bright, vivid, and exhilarating (Jane Eyre, Ch XXXIII).”
Jane’s life line would end below her thumb, something that could be interpreted as her having a strong familial attachment. Family is something that Jane was unable to experience for the longest time, but her attachment to family can be seen in the intense affections she exhibits towards St. John, Diana, and Mary. She is overjoyed to have found blood-relations and her attachment is to such a degree that she doesn’t hesitate to divide her newly acquired fortune amongst them. Jane places more value on her relationship with her new-found cousins than she does on her new-found fortune.
“This line indicates the degree to which a person’s life is affected by external circumstances beyond their control. [A] Deep line = strongly controlled by fate (Independence).”
“I sincerely, deeply, fervently longed to do what was right; and only that. ‘Show me, show me the path!’ I entreated of Heaven …
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.
‘What have you heard? What do you see?’ asked St. John. I saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry—
‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’—nothing more (Jane Eyre, Ch XXXV).”
Jane’s fate line would be deep, something that could indicate that fate is a heavy influence on her life. This is true to some extent. While Jane is strong-willed and capable of asserting her own opinions and choices, she does chance upon opportunities through what appears to be fate. Being sent to Lowood school enabled her to acquire a skillset that led to her posting an ad looking for work as a governess. From that opportunity, she happened to be hired to Rochester’s estate where the two fell in love. Upon her subsequent departure, she ends up on the doorstep of her cousins. One of the most prominent fated encounters happens at the end of the novel when Jane calls upon heaven for guidance and hears Rochester’s voice calling out to her. This leads to her returning to him and marrying him. This series of events are mostly spurred by chance encounters which one cannot help but attribute to fate.
“In Palmistry, the mounts, or bumps of flesh, on the palm play a very important role during a reading. They are related to the influences of the planets, which also tell us a lot about our physical and emotional makeup (Psychic Library).”
“The Mount of Venus is located on the palm of the hand at its base, between the thumb and the Life Line. It is an indicator of love, romance, passion, sensuality, the lovers one chooses and physical appearance … A flat or absent Mount of Venus can indicate a person who does not have a connection to family life, faces many troubles and might possibly suffer from an illness or other hardship. It can also indicate someone who easily criticizes others and who is not taken in by physical beauty (Psychic Library).”
“Most true is it that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’ My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,—all energy, decision, will,—were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,—that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! (Jane Eyre, Ch XVII).”
Jane’s mount of Venus would be relatively flat, if not absent. This could connect to her aforementioned lack of family connections in her youth and the troubles she faced in that situation. It also connects to how Jane perceives others. She scrutinizes appearances often, taking note of seemingly mundane details such as nostril shape. With everyone she meets, Jane’s descriptions of their appearance are very in depth, arguably more than what the average person would focus on. Ultimately though, Rochester’s unattractive appearance didn’t deter her. Jane didn’t marry him for looks – she wasn’t taken in by physical beauty.
“The Mount of Saturn is located on the palm of the hand below the base of the middle finger. It is an indicator of patience, duty and responsibility, as well as one of modesty and a need for solitude… If it appears overly developed, this can mean an individual who is stubborn to a fault, at times depressed, cynical, mistrusting, too shy and too isolated from others (Psychic Library).”
“’Where the dickens is she!’ he continued. ‘Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out into the rain—bad animal!’
‘It is well I drew the curtain,’ thought I; and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once—
‘She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.’
And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack (Jane Eyre, CH I).”
“At last coffee is brought in, and the gentlemen are summoned. I sit in the shade—if any shade there be in this brilliantly-lit apartment; the window-curtain half hides me. Again the arch yawns; they come. The collective appearance of the gentlemen, like that of the ladies, is very imposing: they are all costumed in black; most of them are tall, some young (Jane Eyre, CH XVII).”
Jane’s mount of Saturn would be overly developed, which could indicate that she is mistrusting and isolated. From the moment of Jane’s introduction, readers do get the sense of a withdrawn and isolated individual because she is initially hiding behind the window-seat reading alone. She comes out of her own volition as she doesn’t trust Jack to be civil with her if she disobeys. In adulthood, Jane also takes to hiding behind the window curtains when she is at the party, finding the wealthy higher-class attendants to be intimidating. With the abuse she suffered as a child, it makes sense that Jane would learn to be weary of others – especially those of a higher class than her, and her reaction of staying out of sight would be influenced by that weariness.
“The Mount of Moon, also known as the Mount of Luna, is located on the palm of the hand at its base, on the little finger side of the hand. It is an indicator of intuition, creativity and vivid imagination…If this mount is well defined, this can indicate a person with excellent creative power. This individual has a love of the arts and nature (Psychic Library).”
“I felt a thrill of artist-delight at the idea of copying from so perfect and radiant a model. She had then on a dark-blue silk dress; her arms and her neck were bare; her only ornament was her chestnut tresses, which waved over her shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls. I took a sheet of fine card-board, and drew a careful outline. I promised myself the pleasure of colouring it; and, as it was getting late then, I told her she must come and sit another day.
She made such a report of me to her father, that Mr. Oliver himself accompanied her next evening—a tall, massive-featured, middle-aged, and grey-headed man, at whose side his lovely daughter looked like a bright flower near a hoary turret. He appeared a taciturn, and perhaps a proud personage; but he was very kind to me. The sketch of Rosamond’s portrait pleased him highly: he said I must make a finished picture of it. He insisted, too, on my coming the next day to spend the evening at Vale Hall (Jane Eyre, Ch XXXII).”
Jane’s mount of moon would be well-defined which could indicate her creative abilities with the arts. As aforementioned, Jane is able to play a bit of the piano, paint, is a polyglot, and has the ability to teach. Her paintings pleased Rosamond and her father greatly, demonstrating her general knack for art. Jane also seems to enjoy art a lot. The prospect of painting Rosamond fills her with delight, and the fact that she gets to color in the painting is a “pleasure” to her.
Upper Mount of Mars
“The Upper Mount of Mars, or Positive Mars, is positioned between the Head Line and the Heart Line, below the little finger. It reflects temperament. An overly developed mount denotes a stubborn, defiant individual who is not one to enter into a give and take situation (Psychic Library).”
“‘A female curate, who is not my wife, would never suit me. With me, then, it seems, you cannot go: but if you are sincere in your offer, I will, while in town, speak to a married missionary, whose wife needs a coadjutor. Your own fortune will make you independent of the Society’s aid; and thus you may still be spared the dishonour of breaking your promise and deserting the band you engaged to join.’
…. ‘There is no dishonour, no breach of promise, no desertion in the case. I am not under the slightest obligation to go to India, especially with strangers. With you I would have ventured much, because I admire, confide in, and, as a sister, I love you; but I am convinced that, go when and with whom I would, I should not live long in that climate’ (Jane Eyre, CH XXXV).”
Jane’s upper mount of Mars would be overly developed, indicating a stubborn and defiant individual. In this case stubborn and defiant are not necessarily bad traits, even though some men would beg to differ upon seeing such traits in a woman. These treats are what makes Jane admirable and strong-willed. She is able to defy the path that St. John attempted to force her upon, not wanting to enter a situation where she is unloved and merely expected to labor for the benefit of her cousin. Jane’s defiance and stubbornness ultimately aid her in breaking away from St. John’s manipulation tactics.
Plane of Mars
“The Plane of Mars, which is located in the center of the palm, is also known as the Middle Mars Plane … A thick, well-developed, and firm Mars plane indicates a highly energized person and a sociable individual. However, there can be a negative side to this, it may also be an indication of a rebellious individual who has no regard for the law or others (Psychic Library).”
“’You are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should—so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.’
‘You will change your mind, I hope, when you grow older: as yet you are but a little untaught girl.’
‘But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved’ (Jane Eyre, Ch VI).”
Jane’s plane of mars would be well-developed as she displays rebellious traits in her youth and does not want to bow to authority if she feels the authority does not deserve it. Much like her being defiant and stubborn, this is not necessarily a negative trait. Jane retains a sense of justice and morality and seeing Helen being unjustly punished sparks outrage within her. She is a strong role-model for women, especially with this being a Victorian novel.
- Brontë, Charlotte, 1816-1855. Jane Eyre. Peterborough, Ont. :Broadview Press, 1999.
- “Earth Hands.” Palmistry Solutions, www.palmistrysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/the-four-elements/.
- “Fate Line.” Ryland Peters, rylandpeters.com/blogs/health-mind-body-and-spirit/palmistry-the-four-major-lines.
- “The Four Major Hand Lines.” Ryland Peters, rylandpeters.com/blogs/health-mind-body-and-spirit/palmistry-the-four-major-lines.
- “Head Line.” Ryland Peters, rylandpeters.com/blogs/health-mind-body-and-spirit/palmistry-the-four-major-lines.
- “Heart Line.” Ryland Peters, rylandpeters.com/blogs/health-mind-body-and-spirit/palmistry-the-four-major-lines.
- “Life Line.” Ryland Peters, rylandpeters.com/blogs/health-mind-body-and-spirit/palmistry-the-four-major-lines.
- Maučec, Gregor. “IDENTIFYING AND CHANGING STEREOTYPES BETWEEN ROMA AND NON-ROMA.” Innovative Issues and Approaches in Social Sciences, vol. 6, no. 3, 2013, doi:10.12959/issn.1855-0541.iiass.
- “Mounts of the Palm.” Spiritual Cookie, www.spiritualcookie.com/mount-moon-meaning-in-palmistry/.
- “Palmistry.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Last edit 9 Apr. 2021, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmistry
- “Palm Reading.” Independence Big Brothers Big Sisters, www.independencebigs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Week33.pdf
- “Palmistry Mounts.” Psychic Library Beyond Books, psychiclibrary.com/palmistry-mounts/.
- “The Woman at the Door: The Gypsy Scene in Jane Eyre.” Literature Essay Samples, 1 June 2019, www.literatureessaysamples.com/the-woman-at-the-door-the-gypsy-scene-in-jane-eyre/
The fact that I’ve been getting into occultism lately was a big influence over doing a palm reading project, despite my lack of any prior knowledge on the topic. It was actually quite hard to find reliable sources on the meanings of the shape, lines, and mounts in palm reading but I tried my best to pick ones that seemed more reliable than others. For hand shape, I was very torn between Jane having Earth hands (Solid values and energy, sometimes stubborn. Practical and responsible, sometimes materialistic. Work with their hands, comfortable with the tangible) and Water hands (Creative, perceptive, and sympathetic. Can be moody, emotional, and inhibited/ Introverts. Do things quietly and intuitively), but I felt as if the traits of the Earth hand encompassed Jane well from childhood through adulthood and the growth experienced. The lines of the palm were pretty straightforward from there. The love line provided a good opportunity to discuss the emotional trauma that Jane endured and how it left a lasting impact on her future relationships and how she perceives herself. The head line aligned with Jane’s whole career choice as a governess and how she had to become an independent woman because she had nobody else to support her. The life line was able to show the importance Jane places on family, especially with her growing up with a complete lack of healthy family connections. The fate line was able to narrow in on how Jane’s path seems to be heavily influenced by factors outside of herself. Admittedly, I skipped a lot of the palm mounts in this palm reading because I felt that a lot of them were very repetitive and couldn’t justify going through them only to regurgitate the points I had already made previously. I decided to do the mount of Venus, Saturn, Moon, and the upper mount/plane of Mars. Venus allowed me to discuss how Jane perceives other people, namely how she hones in on and fixates on appearances. Saturn ties back into Jane’s emotional trauma and how she may hesitate to trust others and isolates/withdraws in certain situations. Moon went into more depth on Jane’s creative artist side. The upper mount of Mars and the plane of Mars both provided the opportunity to discuss why Jane’s stubbornness and defiance is actually a good thing. I overall tried to put quotes that I thought best fit what I wanted to discuss in each section of it. I found this project very interesting/fun to do, but I dislike the fact that it was an anti-roma scene that helped me come up with the idea – however it provided a good avenue to discuss that scene more in depth which is a needed discussion to have. The reason that my response to this literature matters is a more personal one just relating to myself and my hobbies. It allowed me to explore something that I was always interested in learning more about. Sometimes I need that extra push to branch out and try new things and I’m glad that I got to do so while incorporating literature into it.