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“The impatient anticipations of our reason”: Rough Sympathy in Friedrich Schiller and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

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Publication date31/01/2020
Host publicationAnticipatory Materialisms in Literature and Philosophy, 1790-1930
EditorsJo Carruthers, Nour Dakkak, Rebecca Spence
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030298173
ISBN (Print)9783030298166
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This chapter argues for Friedrich Schiller’s influence on the aesthetic logic of Charlotte’s Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847). Jane’s development across the novel is traced through her learning of an attitude of patient anticipation towards her vital, vibrant world, most poignantly expressed in her appreciation of the rough Rochester. Schiller’s aesthetic theory celebrates the “Naturmenschen” as the natural man, responsive to the world and characterised by the quality of the “rohen” (raw or rough) as the privileged aesthetic of receptive sympathy. The rough, unfinished object in the world forestalls reason’s controlling impulse to impose order, demanding instead a patient response. Schiller’s and Brontë’s depictions of the educative powers of nature as vital to inter-human relationships reveal the importance of matter to the emotional life of humans.