First, this passage amused me-- I actually chuckled out loud as I sat in the OB's office attached to the fetal monitor for my non-stress test-- because although the language is not at all contemporary, the sentiment expressed by Miss Ingram against pretty men who are concerned only about their appearance is similar to one I've heard in rants against "metrosexual" men:
"Oh, I am so sick of the young men of the present day!" exclaimed she, rattling away at the instrument. "Poor, puny things not fit to stir a step beyond papa's park-gates; nor to go even so far without mama's permission and guardianship! Creatures so absorbed in care about their pretty faces and their white hands, and their small feet; as if a man had anything to do with beauty! As if loveliness were not the special prerogative of woman-- her legitimate appanage and heritage! I grant an ugly woman is a blot on the fair face of creation; but as to the gentlemen let them be solicitous to possess only strength and valour; let their motto be: -- "Hunt, shoot, and fight: the rest is not worth a fillip. Such should be my advice were I a man."And another bit that amused me is the way Jane and Mr Rochester bicker a bit over money before she sets off to see Mrs. Reed:
My edition, the Signet Classic, has an afterward by Arthur Zeiger of The City College, New York in which he complains about how stilted Bronte's dialog is to a modern ear. I didn't notice it to be stilted at all; but then maybe I'm used to reading period novels. In any case, the above exchange is certainly one of the better bits of dialog.
"You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!" he growled, "At your peril you advertise! I wish I had only offered you a sovereign instead of ten pounds. Give me back nine pounds, Jane; I've a use for it."
"And so have I, sir," I returned, putting my hands and my purse behind me. "I could not spare the money on any account."
"Little niggard! said he, "refusing me a pecuniary reuest! Give me five pounds, Jane."
"Not five shillings, sir; nor five pence."
"Just let me look at the cash."
"No, sir, you are not to be trusted."
Another of Zeiger's complaints I found much more apt and that was about the plotting. I'll agree that I found I had to turn a blind eye to the improbability of Jane's turning up at her cousins' doorstep when she flees Thornfield. That did strain the limits of my credulity and I just had to accept it. Though at the same time, I wasn't really bothered by the telepathic communication between Jane and Mr. Rochester which leads her to reject St John's proposal and instead return to Thornfield. So perhaps I'm just an inconsistent reader.
One last unconnected thought was about the nature of Bertha Mason's mental illness. Especially after working as a receptionist and doing the billing for a group of therapists for a while after college, I am fascinated by the way mental illness is portrayed in literature. Sometimes you can guess what the condition would be in today's diagnostic terms. At other times, it seems so hard to figure out. A large part of the barrier is just that mental illness was understood so differently that I think the symptoms are even perceived and described differently. In the same way, I also sometimes have a hard time figuring out physical ailments in older novels.
All this is really random. I hope someone else has a bit more focus than I do right now.