Reading (C10)

Read the passage given below and answer any eight of the questions that follow:

Thornfield Hall was a large gentleman’s house in the country, near a town called Millcote. There, after my sixteen-hour journey, I was welcomed by Mrs. Fairfax. She was a little old lady, dressed in black, who seemed glad to have someone else to talk to, apart from the servants. Although the house was dark and frightening, with its big rooms full of heavy furniture, I was excited at being in a new place, and looked forward to my new life there, working for kind Mrs. Fairfax.

But I was surprised to discover on my first full day at Thornfield that Mrs. Fairfax was not in fact the owner, as I had assumed, but the housekeeper, and that my new master was a Mr. Rochester, who was often away from home. My pupil was a girl called Adèle, seven or eight years old, who was born in France and could hardly speak English. Luckily I had learnt French very well at Lowood, and had no difficulty in communicating with your Adèle, a pretty, cheerful child. It appeared that Mr. Rochester, who had known Adèle and her mother very well, had brought Adèle back to England to live with him after her mother had died. I taught her for several hours every day in the library, although it was not easy to make her concentrate on anything for long, as she was clearly not used to the discipline of lessons.

One day I took the opportunity of asking Mrs. Fairfax a few questions about Mr. Rochester, as I was curious about him, and the little housekeeper seemed happy to talk.

‘Is he liked by most people ?’ was my first question.

‘Oh yes, his family have always been respected here. They’ve owned the land around here for years,’ she replied.

‘But do you like him ? What is his character like ?’

‘I have always liked him, and I think he’s a fair master to his servants. He’s a little peculiar, perhaps. He’s travelled a lot, you know. I expect he’s clever, but I can’t tell, really.’

‘What do you mean, peculiar ?’ I asked, interested.

It’s not easy to describe. You’re never sure whether he’s serious or joking. You don’t really understand him, at least I don’t. But that doesn’t matter, he’s a very good master.’

Questions

(a) Why was Mrs. Fairfax glad to receive the narrator ?

(b) Why was the narrator excited ?

(c) What wrong assumption was made by her ?

(d) Why had she come to Thornfield Hall ?

(e) How do we know that Mr. Rochester was a man of noble nature ?

(f) Why was it difficult to make Adèle study for long hours ?

(g) Why was Mr. Rochester liked by most people ?

(h) What was peculiar about the nature of Mr. Rochester ?

(i) How does the narrator describe Adèle ?

Answers

a) happy to get someone apart from servants to talk to

b) new place; new life; Mrs. Fairfax, a kind woman (any two)

c) had assumed that Mrs. Fairfax was the owner

d) to teach Adele

e) had brought Adele to England from France after her mother died

f) Adele not used to the discipline of lessons

g) had owned the land here for years / respected by all other tenants and he was the landlord

h) not sure whether he was serious or joking

i) seven or eight years old ; young pretty and cheerful