Monday, October 3, 2011

The Forces of Nature

Two passages in the books struck me as very symbolic.  The first is after Rochester reads the letter from Daniel and witnesses a scene between Christophine and Antoinette.  He decides to take a walk and ends up in the forest.  He makes a comment to himself that he "had reached the forest and you cannot mistake the forest.  It is hostile." (Rhys 62).  The forest had tall tress that were very imposing and a feel of something that was not quite right.  He makes many references to watching over his shoulder sure that someone is watching or following him.  I think that this is reference to his recent discovery about Antoinette's illness.  While he had suspected and was not completely surprised by the revelations of the letter he was more upset that it seemed like everyone else knew but him.  The forest represents both Antoinette's illness and the deception by everyone involved in the marriage.  It was a hostile action they took against him and Antoinette's behavior (ripping the sheet) is getting increasingly worse.  He feels like everything is closing in on him and his path is not clear anymore.  This can be represented by the path slowly disappearing but still being able to recognize that a path once existed.  Perhaps this is also a foreshadowing of him following the same steps as Mr. Mason.  Mr. Mason had his wife locked away while he went off to explore the world and live his life.  Rochester ends up doing the same thing, following the path the Mr. Mason had already laid out before him.

The second scene is when Rochester is getting ready to leave and he is thinking about the coming hurricane season.  He notices how the trees seem to be planting their roots deeper to prepare for the violent weather to come.  He notes how some are stripped of their leaves and branches only to be left barren.  Others have bent to the will of the storm and lay "creaking, moaning, crying for mercy" (Rhys 98).  However, the wind comes without regard for anything living.  I think that the trees represent Rochester as he prepares for what he knows will be a long, hard life with Antoinette.  Antoinette, of course, is the hurricane winds, "howling, shrieking, laughing the wild blast passes" (Rhys 98).  I don’t think he is sure if he is going to be the strong palm tress that get stripped of everything or the bamboos that cry for mercy.  Either way he is left a barren man.  He knows that taking care of Antoinette will drain him of life and he will either become a hard stiff man (like the palms) or a weak, groveling man (like the bamboos).  No matter how much he prepares for the coming storm he knows there will be no escape.

1 comment:

  1. Since Antoinette/Bertha is eventually enclosed in the attic -- perhaps she and Rochester are more alike than they seem initially?