Chapter 17 of Jane Eyre is filled with wisdom, Jane’s wisdom. Here she is coming round to knowing that Mr. Rochester is removed from her, not just absent from Thornfield Hall but from her standing in the world:
“You have nothing to do with the master of Thornfield, further than to receive the salary he gives you for teaching his protégée, and to be grateful for such respectful and kind treatment as, if you do your duty, you have a right to expect at his hands. Be sure that is the only tie he seriously acknowledges between you and him; so don’t make him the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, agonies, and so forth. He is not of your order: keep to your caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.”
I love how smart Jane is–the paragraph above shows an active brain going full throttle.
Days later Rochester returns with a gaggle of party guests–Jane makes her way down to the galley for some food, and upon returning up the stairs spots some of the female guests. Note the detail and the reverence in Jane’s observation–and how Scott Fitzgerald might have been influenced by this bit when Nick Carraway first sees his cousin and her golfer friend:
Presently the chambers gave up their fair tenants one after another: each came out gaily and airily, with dress that gleamed lustrous through the dusk. For a moment they stood grouped together at the other extremity of the gallery, conversing in a key of sweet subdued vivacity: they then descended the staircase almost as noiselessly as a bright mist rolls down a hill. Their collective appearance had left on me an impression of high-born elegance, such as I had never before received.