'Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?'

“Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are!”

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


khakrichic said…
Loved how you related all this with the 'soul' and 'spirit' thingie. Clear demostration of a broken heart.
Zahra Khaled said…
This is one of my favourite quotes from Jane Eyre. And (telling as this is) it's surprising to find a Pakistani man quoting it, at a time most urban Pakistani women can identify with Jane in her quest to attain equality with men in terms of 'beauty, wealth and status' in a similar society.

Something you'd probably like discussing on your blog is the poetically written 'prequel' Wide Sargasso Sea (by Jean Rhys) critiquing this novel through a post-colonial context and (especially with your background in Psychiatry) its own critique by Gilbert and Gubar in 'Madwoman in the Attic'. Sargasso Sea contributes to, rather than taking away from, Jane Eyre - in fact, the last line of this passage acquires a chilling meaning with that context in mind. :)

As female characters, I honestly found the madwoman the more interesting in post-colonial & feminist contexts. Reading JE after that, gave double meaning to Jane's words, as if echoes of Mrs Rochester sounded in them. Rochester roams a free man, confining his wraith to a dark room, trapped with all her aspirations and longings. Where Jane is the trumpeting victor of this discourse, modern novelists (Rhys, and du Maurier in Rebecca) question whether equaling such a man should be a goal at all.

Apart from that, this passage holds its own in imbibing a spiritual approach to their meeting, elevating their love beyond a usual physical attraction. There is a selfish desperation too, of a soul hungering to make the other realize she can hold her own without the usual societal crutches. 'Full as much heart' recalls Viola and the Duke from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in one of the best romantic scenes in Literature, where Viola equates the passions of men and women,

Duke: Alas, their love may be called appetite,
No motion of the liver, but the palate,
That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt;
But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
And can digest as much. Make no compare
Between that love a woman can bear me
And that I owe Olivia.'

PS: (Motion of the liver suddenly reminded me of CYP450 :p) Love your blog!
Awais Aftab said…
@ Zahra

Hi, thank you very much for your insightful comment! Appreciate it. I had little knowledge of the authors and texts that you mentioned, so grateful for that.

Do you blog?