to whom: if I had but a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 24

Quotation: As we re-entered the carriage, and I sat back feverish and fagged, I remembered what, in the hurry of events, dark and bright, I had wholly forgotten—the letter of my uncle, John Eyre, to Mrs. Reed: his intention to adopt me and make me his legatee. “It would, indeed, be a relief,” I thought, “if I had ever so small an independency; I never can bear being dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester, or sitting like a second Danae with the golden shower falling daily round me. I will write to Madeira the moment I get home, and tell my uncle John I am going to be married, and to whom: if I had but a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, I could better endure to be kept by him now.”
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Hi everyone! I don't quite understand the bold part. I try to? interpret it as below. Is it correct?

...to whom => tell my uncle whom my bridegroom will be
but => only (If I had only a prospect...)
accession => 1. b : acquisition of additional property (as by growth or increase of existing property)
prospect => 4 c : something that is awaited or expected : POSSIBILITY

the whole sentence: I tell my uncle John whom my bridegroom will be: If I believed it possible (but ≈ let along "certain") that I would increase Mr. R's fortune (i.e., make him richer), I could better endure to be kept by him (as his possession) now. ["if I had..., I could.. now" is a subjunctive, which suggests that actually Jane believes it unlike that she will increase Mr. R's fortune]
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think you understand the structure of the sentence -- up to the part about the subjunctive. She thinks that she will be able to bring Mr Rochester more money.

    Jane's uncle has sent a letter saying that he will adopt her and make her his legatee. That is, she will inherit his property or money when he dies. This is the fortune she has the prospect of bringing to Mr Rochester.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I am hopeless at understanding the role of a subjunctive in English, but I think your gloss on this is quite accurate.

    I suppose the uncertainty is that she doesn't know for sure what Uncle John will do with his fortune in the long term, but in the near future she feels that having contact with a wealthier relative will make her feel less "kept" by Mr R.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hmm, yes he has said she will inherit, so the emphasis in this sentence is "even" the prospect of wealth (rather than real wealth at this time) will mitigate her resistance to being a kept woman.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you for your explanation. I see it now. :D

    I've just got a idea. Jane always described herself as an orphan, and so she would feel somewhat of uncertain when she was informed of the bequest and adaptation.
    If Bill Gates sent me a letter saying he would bequeath his Microsoft empire to me when he died, I would wonder if it was a daydream. I would be still uncertain though the letter proved authentic. :D
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A kept woman is suggestive of sexual servitude outside marriage, surely. I don't think that's what Jane means by 'being kept by him now'.

    My memory of the book is that she meant being financially supported, but within marriage.

    Thus, Irelia, I'm not clear that this part of your otherwise excellent analysis is correct: I could better endure to be kept by him (as his possession) now. I'm worried about that 'as his possession'. A lot depends on what you mean by the word possession.

    I think Jane is saying that the idea of not being able to contribute financially to their married domestic state would be offensive to her, but that her doubts over the initial position would be allayed by the prospect of later enrichment.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I think that ambiguity is there, about what "kept" meant. Hence my use of inverted commas around it in #3.
    Bronte is astute enough to play on that dual meaning.
    Jane's sense of shame and outrage certainly mean she is not happy with the way things are unfolding in terms of who has money and contrl in their relationship. She certainly feels the inequality very strongly.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you Thomas Tompion for your explanation. I'd say the word "kept" really puzzles me. My guess of "as his possession" derives from below:

    Mr. R used the word "to claim" in the above sentence; I mean shortly to [claim] you
    “After all, a single morning’s interruption will not matter much,” said he, “when I mean shortly to claim you—your thoughts, conversation, and company—for life.” --- chapter 24

    and the sentences immediately below my quotation:
    He smiled; and I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched: I crushed his hand, which was ever hunting mine, vigorously, and thrust it back to him red with the passionate pressure.
    ...

    He chuckled; he rubbed his hands. “Oh, it is rich to see and hear her?” he exclaimed. “Is she original? Is she piquant? I would not exchange this one little English girl for the Grand Turk’s whole seraglio, gazelle-eyes, houri forms, and all!

    The Eastern allusion bit me again. “I’ll not stand you an inch in the stead of a seraglio,” I said; “so don’t consider me an equivalent for one. If you have a fancy for anything in that line, away with you, sir, to the bazaars of Stamboul without delay, and lay out in extensive slave-purchases some of that spare cash you seem at a loss to spend satisfactorily here.” --- chapter 24
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But Irelia, all the talk of Sultans and harems is surely Mr R's way of expressing his appreciation of Jane's qualities, both personal and moral. After all, Jane is too apparently humble to be accepted by his circle as a normal choice for a wife.

    It's many years since I read the book, but there is no suggestion, is there, that Mr R is planning to take Jane as his concubine, though a great deal depends on how one sees the proposed marriage, when one thinks of the mad first wife hidden in the house.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes, your explanation is convining. I suppose the huge inequality between a wealthy gentleman and a poor governess makes Jane feel as if she was "kept" by Mr. R (though actually she is his beloved wife). :D

    Perhaps Cinderella would feel as if she was "kept" by the prince when she was humbled by the royal dignity. :eek:
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, your explanation is convining. I suppose the huge inequality between a wealthy gentleman and a poor governess makes Jane feel as if she was "kept" by Mr. R (though actually she is his beloved wife). :D
    That's how Jane sees it, I think.

    How Mr R sees it, knowing that he plans to marry her when he's already married, is another matter.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Jane does not like the idea of being entirely dependent. She wants to be married to Mr. R because she loves him, but she does not like the idea of being supported (kept) entirely by him. At the time the story is written, there would be no way she could possibly work for pay after marriage. She could not marry Mr. R and get a job as a schoolteacher, for example. That would be unthinkable. When she marries she will be dependent on him for everything (clothes, etc.). If she had a fortune of her own - even a small fortune - she could come to him as an equal.

    Most men of his class married women of their own class. When she first met him, she expected him to marry that wealthy woman he was entertaining. This is what is expected by society. It is almost a scandal for a wealthy man like Mr. R to marry a poor girl like Jane. Jane knows this and it embarrasses her. She is proud and wants to be self-supporting.

    On the other hand, it would also be a scandal for her to only wear her plain, inexpensive dresses after they are married. She will have to dress to fit her new station. A wealthy bride would come to the marriage with a wardrobe of appropriate fancy dresses. Jane can't afford these, so she has no choice but to allow Mr. R to buy them for her, even though she is embarrassed.

    If she knew she would - or even might - have money of her own coming to her one day, she would feel better about the whole thing.
     
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