1. What causes Jane Carlyle to write letters? What does she seem to believe are characeristics of the best letter writing?
--even writes her mother in her own home
--flights on fancy on herself
--theories on what are best letters, on naturalness in letters
Which of her attitudes toward herself and her correspondents differ from those of earlier letter writers you have read? (e. g. Wollstonecraft)
2. What are some features of her sense of humor? What things does she parody or make light of?
--her own pride
--her assertive desire for encounters
3. What seem prominent characteristics of her attitude toward her husband? Why does she seem to have married him?
Judging by the introduction and his letters to her, were there features of Thomas Carlyle’s character which were useful complements to her own, or which satisfied her deepest desires? During their courtship what does she seem to want from him?
Do you agree with her editors that she more frequently parodies or notices the petty aspects of Carlyle’s life than the intellectual qualities? What is her attitude toward his increasing celebrity?
--needs to be needed and praised
To what extent does she maintain assertiveness and independence of character within her marriage?
4. Are there ambivalent feaures of her response to him? What does she expect from their future life together, and to what extent were these hopes unrealistic?
5. Would you describe her attitudes toward others as generally kindly?
6. Does she make comments on women in general and on characeristics of other women?
--“my silly sex”
7. What does she claim to believe concerning women’s position and role at the time? Does she seem to have any views on the movement to improve women’s education and independence?
Does she maintain a consistent attitude toward marriage?
--speaks of female novelists who infest the kingdom! (32)
Might her attitude be inflected by jealousy?
8. What are some significant features of her character? Do you find any apsects of her nature puzzling and self-contradictory?
--creates a persona
--focuses intensely on social situations
9. Do you believe she was troubled by a sense of inadequacy, and if so, how did this affect her attitude toward herself and others?
What do you make of the passing reference to sleepless nights and anxiety? Do they seem consistent with the tone of the letters?
10. What is the effect of her constant use of italics and exclamation points?
11. Do the letters give any indication of her social status, her attitudes toward soical class, and her political views? (103) Does she seem to hold religious beliefs?
12. Do you feel a self-pitying tone throughout her letters, and if so, what seems its purpose? (desires drama and activity--her life essentially purposeless except for its value to Thomas Carlyle)
13. What does Thomas’ journal entry concerning her after her death seem to reveal about his expecations concerning her behavior? (259)
14. What are some of the more striking differences between her self-conception and that of such reformers as Mary Wollstonecraft? Or writers such as Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot?
15. Does her prose style suggest that of other writers from the period you have read?
16. What features of a good novelist or dramatist do her letters reveal? What are some stylistic devices which she uses to create her narrative?
--comic exaggeration 33
--ironic juxtaosition without comment 32-33
--sense of dramatic response to small situations
--extraordinary rapidity in following shifts of thought
16. Does Jane Carlyle seem greatly interested in books or the intellectual achievements of her day? What kind of books does she seem to like best?