Chapter 22 (Pages
Jane arrives at Thornfield at twilight, which is symbolically a
time of transition from one state to another. Literally, day
passes into night at twilight. Thus, twilight may symbolize dying,
i.e., moving from life into death, or it may symbolize moving from
the natural world into the supernatural world or from the known
into the unknown. In this novel, Jane is moving from Gateshead,
the house where she was rejected and abused, and Lowood, where she
found a place but could not express her essential self, to Thornfield,
where she is accepted and feels loved. She is aware that her
return is a new experience, "How people feel when they are
returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know: I
had never experienced the sensation" (p. 246).
When she first sees Rochester, she is emotionally shaken and
keeps her veil covering her face so that she can hide her
agitation. When Rochester calls Thornfield her home and expresses
regret at her absence, Jane feels pleasure:
His last words were balm: they seemed to imply that
something to him whether I forgot him or not. And he had spoken of
Thornfield as my home--would that it were my home! (p. 249).
Does his warmth also cause her pain? Why or why not?
Rochester goes on to discuss his marriage to Blanche Ingram.
Why does he encourage Jane's belief that he is marrying Blanche? He
knows perfectly well that it is Jane he wants to marry. Is he
exerting power over her? Does he want to see her reaction, to
force an admission of her feelings for him? Even if she doesn't
speak, would her body language and what he can see of her face
behind the veil reveal her feelings to him? Is he
causing her pain?
Whatever the pain, Jane is delighted to be back at Thornfield.
An impulse moves her to tell Rochester, "I am strangely glad to get
back again to you; and wherever you are is my home--my only home"
(p. 250). Jane, who has never had a home before, now faces the
prospect of having to leave it. Adele, Mrs. Fairfax, even Sophie
are pleased to see her, and, she says, "there is no happiness like
that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your
presence is an addition to their comfort" (p. 250). She also faces
the prospect of leaving people who love her. What do you think her
feelings must be at this prospect? Is there any necessity for her
suffering? Is Rochester being cruel? Is he toying with her? Whose needs
is he placing first, his or hers?
In the next two weeks, Rochester sees her regularly but never
refers to his marriage. Jane can only repeatedly ask Mrs. Fairfax,
who knows nothing, about the wedding; how do you think Jane feels,
living in this uncertainty? Rochester, who has full control over
their relationship and his marriage plans, is happier than she has
ever seen him, "I could not remember a time when it [his face] had
been so uniformly clear of clouds or evil feelings" (p. 251). Jane
does not explicitly describe her feelings; however, her description
of their conversations is suggestive psychologically, "If, in the
moments I and my pupil spent with him, I lacked spirits and sank
into inevitable dejection, he became even gay" (p. 251). Is he
enjoying the proof of his power over her, of her being unable to
hide her feelings for him? From another perspective, is he enjoying
her pain? Is her suffering necessary? What do you think of
Rochester's treatment of Jane regarding his marriage to Blanche? Jane
has no place to live except Thornfield, has no relatives or
friends to turn to, and no income except what she earns as Adele's
governess. Under these circumstances, what do you think of
Rochester for making Jane live with the threat of having to leave?
of once again being alone in the world?
Chapter 23 (Pages
On another evening at twilight, Jane is unable to avoid a
conversation with Rochester in the garden. Rochester leads Jane to
believe that he is about to marry Blanche and that she must leave
Thornfield soon and forever. How do you characterize or describe
Rochester's treatment of Jane before his proposal? She becomes
increasingly upset, as he must see. What is the point of telling
her she must go to Ireland? why does he joke at her expense with
the names Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternutt Lodge? Jane's
anguish becomes so unbearable that she "sobbed convulsively"
and "was shaken from head to foot" (p. 256). Passion moves her to
speak from her essential self, "I grieve to leave thornfield, etc."
His approach to a "proposal" is ambiguous; understandably, his
insistence that she must stay at Thornfield doesn't sound like a
proposal of marriage to Jane, who protests vehemently. She asserts
her equality to Rochester and her sense of self-worth,
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! . . . I am not talking to you now
through the medium of custom, conventionalities, or 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! (p. 257).
Jane speaks as the absolute individual, "I am a free human being
with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you" (p. 257-
8). As the absolute individual, she will speak and act according
to her own values and beliefs, regardless of custom,
proper behavior, or any other of society's restrictions. She
struggles free of his embrace. He tells her she is "over-excited,"
i.e., carried away by her emotions, just as Mrs. Reed did years
before. In some ways, the adult Jane is still the same as the
child Jane; she is not yet fully in control of her emotions. On
the other hand, is Rochester pushing her beyond the control anyone
could reasonably be expected to have? Or, to rephrase this
question, is it natural that she would lose emotional control under
Jane does not believe his proposal, which acknowledges their
equality and similar natures, "my equal is here, and my likeness" (p.
258). She only begins to believe him "in his earnestness--and
especially in his incivility" (p. 259). Jane seems to equate
sincerity and rudeness in Rochester. Why? Does her response
indicate anything about her, about him, or about their relationship?
Rochester's behavior and statements are hardly the usual
a man whose proposal has just been accepted. He asks for God's
pardon and defies any man to meddle with him. He exults when Jane
replies that she has no family to interfere, "No,--that is the best
part of it" (p. 260). Would Rochester have been able to trick a
lady (i.e., a person of his social class) with a family to protect her
interests? Is he taking advantage of her solitary and economically
dependent position? or of her inexperience of the world?
Should his responses alert Jane that something is wrong? Jane
herself notes, "And if I had loved him less I should have
thought his accent and look of exultation savage: but sitting by
him, roused from the nightmare of parting--called to the paradise
of union--I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in so
abundant a flow" (p. 260). Is it her passion that keeps Jane from
being warned that something is wrong? Though she perceives his
savagery, she focuses on her love and happiness rather than question
his response rationally.
It will atone--it will atone. Have I not found her
cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace
there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will
at God's tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the
judgment--I wash my hands thereof. For man's opinion--I defy it
If Jane's emotions were not dominant, might she have wondered about
speech? What is being atoned? what is being expiated and
the defiance of the world? Or is it only natural that happiness at
marrying the man she worships
predominates over Jane's reason?
What does this speech reveal about Rochester? Is he justifying
bigamy to himself? Does this speech show excessive pride, egotism,
unrestrained willfulness? Is Rochester being swept along by his passion
and his selfish desires?
Rochester is willing to run the risks of a bigamous marriage and
consequences may follow in order to possess Jane. Is he considering the
consequences for Jane of his making her his
mistress? (Isn't that how society would perceive a governess in this
relationship?) If the truth comes out, will they be treated equally by
Will Jane and/or Rochester both become outcasts,or will society treat a
man of wealth and status
differently from a poor governess? What alternatives will Jane have
after their "marriage"? Who will
hire a governess who had a sexual relationship with her employer? Even
if the truth is never known
publicly, how will Jane feel about her position when she learns the
truth? By withholding
truth about his marital situation, Rochester takes the choice away
Jane about the terms of their living together; does he have a right
to make Jane's decision for her?
- If Rochester does not believe he is committing an offense
or transgression, why does he use the word
atone? Atone means (1) to make amends or
reparations for an offense, a crime, or a sin
or (2) to make up for errors or deficiencies. The word has strong connotations.
- When he contrasts her unhappy past with his intention to
provide her with a happy future, is he
merely stating facts or is he rationalizing his behavior to himself?
- When he says, "It will expiate at God's tribunal," is he
being egotistic and arrogant? [Expiate
means to atone for or make reparations for wrongdoing or guilt; a tribunal
is a place of judgment,
a court of justice; God's tribunal is the Last Judgment.] Rochester
assumes he can commit a wrong
because God will approve, presumably because he loves Jane and will
cherish and protect her.
- He goes on to assert God "sanctions" his action [sanction:
(1) to make free from sin, to purify;
(2) to make sacred.] Sanctify has powerful religious meanings.
He implies God approves adultery
and bigamy. But has God given us a commandment which says, "You may
commit adultery under certain circumstances"? Isn't Rochester equating
his will and God's will? Can pride and arrogance go any
further than Rochester's equating them? (Traditionally in Christianity,
the chief deadly sin is pride; it was
pride that caused Lucifer to equate himself with God, and it was pride
that prevented Lucifer from
repenting and being saved.)
The sudden darkness expresses the darkness of
proposal. The chestnut tree split by lightning foreshadows their
Though previously Jane asserted her willingness to defy
society for Rochester's sake, she
cares what Mrs. Fairfax thinks of her kissing Rochester. Why?
Chapter 24 (Pages 261-279)
As is often the case in this novel, the weather reflects the action and
Jane's feelings; the morning after their
engagement, the beautiful sunny morning reflects Jane's happiness. In
contrast, the novel opens on a
dreary, rainy November day, reflecting Jane's unhappiness in the Reed
household. It is cold and biting
when Jane arrives at Lowood, with its initially harsh regime. The storm
which follows Rochester's
proposal parallels his moral disorder and emotional turbulence.
Once engaged to Jane, Rochester ignores Jane's protests at
being given jewels, carriage, new clothes. Is
he treating her like Blanche Ingram or Celine Varens? Aren't these the
kinds of things Blanche and Celine, not Jane, would want? He perseveres
in this behavior in their shopping spree later in the day. Why?
Possible answers to this
question may be clearer later in this chapter.
Nevertheless, he knows how different Jane is from other women,
which is part of her appeal for him,
"I never met your likeness, Jane" (p. 265). Rochester continues his
expression of love for Jane in terms
you please me, and you master me--you seem to submit,
and I like the
of pliancy you impart; and while I am twining the soft, silken
my finger, it sends a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am
conquered; and the influence is sweeter than I can express; and the
conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can
In other words, her apparent submission to or acknowledgement of his
power conquers him. At the same
time that he acknowledges her dominance, his reference to "any triumph
that I can win" implies
past efforts to dominate, if not a continuing need to dominate.
Does power or control constantly shift in their relationship?
Does Rochester need to dominate the
beloved? If so, would his needing her submission make him dependent on
her? Another way of asking the question: Is the slave owner dependent
slave in order to be the master? to be superior, must there be an
inferior? To have control, must the tyrant have someone to
control? To state these questions yet another way: is the dominant
person dependent on
References to power, domination/submission, master/slave run
their relationship. Jane says, of Rochester's features,
they were full of an interest, an influence that
that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had
not intended to love him: the reader knows I have wrought hard to
extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now,
first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and
He made me love him without looking at me (p. 177).
Is it a coincidence that she consistently calls Rochester "master"
him as "master"? Mrs. Fairfax does not do this.
In this conversation, Jane's moral superiority is indicated by
her concern that her
engagement might be causing pain to Miss Ingram, even though she
Jane with contempt.
Mrs. Fairfax's incredulity at her engagement upsets Jane. It
mistake to underestimate Mrs. Fairfax and her common-sense point of
view, as both Jane and Rochester do.
She correctly doubts the engagement of Blanche and Rochester, and
warning about Rochester proves invaluable to Jane, "Try and keep
Rochester at a distance: distrust yourself as well as him. Gentlemen in
his station are not accustomed to marry their governesses" (p.
warning dampens Jane's spirits; she expresses her momentary doubt
terms of power, "I half lost the sense of power over him" (p. 271).
Though Rochester is apparently making Jane his wife, does he
treat her as the mistress that she will in fact become? He wants her to
wear jewels, brightly
gowns and to make the world acknowledge her beauty (p. 263).Has his
false proposal or lying begun to
corrupt his treatment of Jane? Does his dishonesty degrade their
His behavior and attitude upset Jane. Why does
Jane say that the more he bought her, the more she feels "a sense
annoyance and degradation" (272)? Why is she upset? How does she
herself? Why does his showering her with gifts make her decide to
her uncle, to have the possibility of some day inheriting her own
money? She interprets his smile "such as a sultan might, in a blissful
moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched" (p. 272).
does that make her feel? His smile causes her to crush his hand
it away "red with the passionate pressure" (p. 273). Why does his
reference to the seraglio anger her? (A seraglio is a harem,
where a Moslem keeps his wives and
mistresses.) What does she mean when she
"I will not be your English Celine Varens" (p. 274)?
Rochester acquiesces to her power--with the implication that
dominate her sexually once they are married, "But
your time now, little tyrant, but it will be mine presently: and
once I have fairly seized you, to have and to hold, I'll just--
figuratively speaking--attach you to a chain like this" (p. 275).
Ironically, the same statement which acknowledges her power reduces
Jane to a possession. The chain reference may also
slavery, particularly after the sultan-slave-seraglio references.
Mindful of Mrs. Fairfax's warning, Jane decides to keep
arm's length. She uses verbal barbs and repartee; she keeps
power/control by needling him. Her language indicates an awareness
the power element in their relationship, "I could see he was
entertained; and that a lamb-like submission and turtle-dove
while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased his
satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste, less" (p.
278). Her statement identifies two strands or warring elements in
Rochester's nature, his emotional need for control and domination vs.
his good judgment
Helen Burns' warning, "you think too much of the love of human
(p. 70), still applies to the adult Jane. Jane acknowledges,
My future husband was becoming to me my whole world;
and more than
world; almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every
of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad
could not, in those days, see God for his creature of whom I had
idol (p. 279).
Jane has allowed her passion for Rochester to displace all other
considerations and obligations. For Bronte and her readers,
replacing the love of God for the love of a man was a terrible offense.
indicates disapproval. Jane's saying "in those days" implies that
view at the time of writing is different. "Creature" has
literal meaning of "a being created by God," and "idol" connotes a
"false god." After the truth about Rochester's marriage to Bertha Mason
is revealed, Jane pays
having turned away from God.
Chapter 25 (Pages 279-291)
Jane's distress as she waits for Rochester is reflected in the weather,
with the"blood-red and half-overcast"
moon (p. 281), the wind, and finally the rain. As they talk, she
expresses her expectations of her future life, "I thought of the life
that lay before me--
your life, sir--and existence more expansive and stirring
than my own" (p. 285). What would
happen to Jane if she allowed her life to be incorporated into
Rochester's? if she allowed her identity
to be incorporated into his? Think not just of his genuine love for
Jane, but also of his unrestrained
passion and egotism and wilfulness. Jane tells him of her dream of a
child, which in dream symbolism
Jane's active imagination shows itself in her associating the
face in the mirror with a vampire. Her bridal veil being torn in
prefigures the separation of Rochester and Jane. Rochester
promises to tell her the truth in a year and a day--again Rochester
control and he again thinks only of his needs and his desires. He
knows with certainty that Jane would never agree to the arrangement
he has planned, so he doesn't tell her. Though not satisfied by his
promise, Jane acquiesces because she
Chapter 26 (Pages
The interrupted wedding is a common literary convention or device
in nineteenth century melodramatic literature. Clearly it is included
the purpose of drama and shocking the reader. Bronte has Mason and
his lawyer loitering in the churchyard and letting the ceremony
proceed before interrupting; why would they do this? Isn't it more
likely that they would try to
stop the ceremony before it started by talking to Rochester and to
Jane? Is Bronte manipulating her material--and falsifying her
material--to shock the reader?
Rochester gives a brief history of his marriage and his wife's
madness, part due to heredity and part to her own excesses
(alcohol and sensual indulgence). She attacks Rochester, who refuses to
strike her at
risk to himself. In the theme of passion-reason, Bertha Mason
represents the culmination of unrestrained passion--insanity. A
danger to others and to herself, she must be kept imprisoned, that
is, restraint must be imposed by outside forces. Her attempt to burn
Rochester in his bed symbolizes the
danger that sexual passion poses to him.
Alone, Jane decides that Rochester's feeling for her was not
love, but merely sexual desire or lust. Having forgotten God in
love or idolatry of Rochester, she has no support now. She knows
she must leave, but where will she find the strength to flee? In
her agony, "One idea only still throbbed life-like within me--a
remembrance of God" (p. 301). Her prayer is ineffective, "Be not far
from me, for trouble is near: there is none to help" (p. 301). She
finds no comfort, no lessening of her pain through this appeal to
God. In the following
description of her worst agony, it refers to trouble.
It was near; and as I had lifted no petition to
to avert it--as I had neither joined my hands, nor bent my knees,
nor moved my lips--it came; in full, heavy swing that torrent
poured over me. The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love
lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and
mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be
described: in truth, "the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep
mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods
overflowed me" (p. 301).
Kathleen Tillotson finds this experience the true center of the
novel, for Jane undergoes a "crisis of event, character, and
spirit." It tests her emotionally, morally, and spiritually. She is, I
believe, lost in the "dark night of the soul," in which the individual
feels hopelessly lost in darkness and
is overwhelmed by emotional and spiritual chaos.
|M, April 16
||Bronte, Online overview
Jane Eyre, pp. 6-68
|W, April 18
||Jane Eyre, pp. 68-130
|F, April 20, Online class
|Jane Eyre, pp. 130-184
read and to send postings
|M, April 23
||Jane Eyre, pp. 184-244
|W, April 25
||Jane Eyre, pp. 244-302
|F, April 27, Online class
|Jane Eyre, pp. 302-355
read and to send postings
|M, April 30
||Jane Eyre, pp. 355-417
Paper 2 due
|W, May 2
|Jane Eyre, pp. 417-461
Jane Eyre as the