Wednesday, 9 February 2011

VI THE PARANORMAL IN VICTORIAN LITERATURE: 'JANE EYRE'

THE INTERPENETRATION OF MIND AND MATTER


Picking up from the previous Post, we now move to a discussion of MESMERISM (sometimes known as ANIMAL MAGNETISM) and TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION IN THE NOVEL.

The TELEPATHIC references in the novel relate mainly to the relationship between Jane and Rochester, and I wish first to look at one of the Garden Scenes. On this occasion Jane decides to walk in the garden in the rising moonlight. Rochester is there standing with his back towards her studying intently a large moth and she does not wish her PRESENCE to be detected. Consequently, Jane walks softly on 'an edging of turf' to avoid making a sound.

But look what happens!

"As I crossed his SHADOW ... he said quietly without turning: 'Jane, come and look at this fellow'

What Jane thinks of this is very important

"I had made no noise: he had not eyes behind - could his SHADOW FEEL? (Vol. ii. VIII)

There are two ways of considering this. Ask yourself, How would the Victorian Readers understand it? It is possible that they might judge the scene by considering the work of the MESMERISERS from two angles: 

1. Such was the relationship between Jane and Rochester that some sort of MAGNETIC SIGNAL was PASSING from the SHADOW to Rochester. In this connection see the discussion concerning the Marquis De Puysegur in one of my earlier Postings.

2. That TELEPATHIC thought waves were passing between Jane and Rochester because of their rising intimacy.

Whatever the case we shall now consider an example of Charlotte Bronte's belief in TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION.

We are now at a turning point in the novel. It is the scene where Jane is living in the house of St John Rivers and his sister. We recall that St John Rivers has attempted to coerce Jane into what would be a loveless marriage. Jane spends a little while mulling it over.

JANE THINKING OVER ST JOHN RIVERS ARID PROPOSAL BEFORE THE TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION FROM ROCHESTER


In our picture we notice our heroine, fairly miserable, weighing up Rivers proposal. Notice him in the background. She feels some reluctance to go ahead, but wonders whether it might be her Christian duty.




And then with compelling suddenness  as she is almost on the POINT OF DECISION late at night a dramatic call is issued, which settles the matter. Let us look at this scene in some detail. The picture MOONLIGHT gives us some idea of the atmosphere when Jane receives Rochester's TELEPATHIC SUMMONS.

A MOONLIT ATMOSPHERE WHEN JANE RECEIVES ROCHESTER'S TELEPATHIC MESSAGE.


 THIS IS WELL BROUGHT OUT IN THIS ENGRAVING OF HARPER'S FERRY BY   R. HINSHELWOOD



So let us examine this crucial scene in detail. Jane is sitting alone in the house. The interior of the room exudes all the atmosphere of a SEANCE. She reports, "all the house was still'; it was late at night for all 'were now retired to rest'; the only illumination came from 'one candle' which was 'dying out' and from moonlight. A strange excitement creeps over Jane. Her heart stands 'still to an inexpressible feeling that .... passed at once to my head and extremities.'

The resorting to the language of the MESMERISERS she says,' The feeling was not like an electric shock, but it was quite as sharp..' As if she had been in a MESMERIC TRANCE she speaks of her senses 'as if their utmost activity had been but torpor' - as if she had been in a MESMERIC SLEEP - 'from which they were now SUMMONED and forced to wake.' Then it begins

I heard a voice SOMEWHERE cry -


'Jane! Jane! Jane! Nothing more. 'O God! is it?' I gasped. I might have said, 'WHERE is it?' for it did not seem in the room - nor in the house - nor in the garden: it did not come out of the air - nor from under the earth - nor from overhead. I HAD heard it .... it was the voice ..... of Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it SPOKE in pain and woe - wildly, eerily, urgently.


How then does Jane respond. She resorts to the same sort of TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION. This time it takes the form of a two way TELEPATHIC conversation.

She calls out, 'I am coming! ... Wait for me! Oh I will come.' She then runs into the darkness outside



JANE RUNS INTO THE DARKNESS OF THE GARDEN.


THIS IMAGE BY MATTBUCK CAPTURES IT.




Once in the dark garden she CALLS OUT again, 'Where are you?'


She receives a faint telepathic answer. But this time from NATURE itself; as if Natural Elements were conveying the answer to Jane's Mind. In short there seems to be an INTERPENETRATION OF MIND AND MATTER.



Let us look at how the answer was COMMUNICATED:

'The hills beyond Marsh-Glen SENT the answer faintly back - 'Where are you!' I listened. The wind sighed low in the firs: all was moorland loneliness and midnight hush' (Vol. iii. IX)


THE NATURAL ELEMENTS CONVEY ROCHESTER'S TELEPATHIC MESSAGE TO JANE, AS THIS PICTURE BY F.E. CHURCH SHOWS






The message was certainly understood by our heroine, for she at once responds to the call and hurries to Rochester's side. When she arrives she finds that Thornfield is a blackened ruin; his wife is dead; Rochester is blind and living in almost total isolation at Ferndean.

He listens to her account and tells her that HE DID SEND OUT THE TELEPATHIC SUMMONS in sheer desperation at his physical and mental state.

I want you to think about one or two things in relation to this scene and it links with the Victorian Consciousness.

1. Maybe it is stretching things a little, but perhaps it might also be in some senses like A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD.

2. After Jane receives the TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION she has a CLAIRVOYANT insight (strictly Clairaudient) into his semi-helpless condition: she HEARD the voice speak 'IN PAIN and WOE - wildly, eerily, urgently'

3. The TELEPATHIC EXPERIENCE determines her choice of the man she will spend her life with.

4. The Victorian Reader, unlike some modern critics would see the whole thing, not as Artistic Contrivance, but as the Natural outworking of things they believed.

In 'Jane Eyre' Charlotte Bronte fictionalised her commitment to her belief in the Interpenetration of Mind and Matter; her contact with MESMERISM and PHRENOLOGY serves to confirm it.

Well, there you have it.

I shall divert from the Victorian Paranormal a little in the next Post. After all, 'Variety is the Spice of Life.' Therefore, I shall discuss the importance of Studying Archetypes in two Fairy Tales. I think this also gives one an insight into THE HUMAN MIND.

After this I shall return to the Paranormal in the Victorian Novel and look at the work of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy.

I do hope you have enjoyed the excursion.

Any Comments?

Picture Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Quotations From 'Jane Eyre' Clarendon Edition (London 1969)




  

2 comments:

  1. The Jane Eyre books is my favorite from Charlotte Bronte. Villette and Shiley are must-read from her as well. :)

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  2. I agree with the proposition that one can know, without sound or vision clue, when the object of one's affection is close at hand.

    this happened to me on one occasion in the past when the lady of my affection was close I just knew when she glanced in my direction.

    There is also the subject of one's aura which is a psychic projection from and which surrounds the body. One consciousness can project to the edge of the aura if one is sensitive enough. Therefore one can 'feel' people and circumstances in that subtle field.

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