Chapter 30 (Pages 355-364)

At Marsh End (also called Moor House) Jane lives as an equal with people like herself, "There was a reviving pleasure in this intercourse, of a kind now tasted by me for the first time--the pleasure arising from perfect congeniality of tastes, sentiments, and principles" (p. 355). After being the total outsider, cut off from all connection to other human beings during the few days she spent homeless, Jane is again a part of human society. Is Jane still the outsider in any way? or has she found a home, a place where she can belong and people with whom she can live with satisfaction, even if only for a short while? She comments, "Our natures dovetailed: mutual affection--of the strongest kind--was the result" (p. 336). She participates freely in the sisters' home life. She enjoys their stimulating conversation, takes German lessons from Diana, and gives art lessons to Mary.

A minister in the Anglican Church, St. John is frequently out attending to the needs of his parishioners. Her relationship with him is more formal or distant than that with his sisters. She admires his intellect and commitment. However, after hearing him preach, Jane perceives that St. John has not yet found peace or contentment; rather she hears restlessness, disappointment, "troubling impulses of insatiate yearnings and disquieting aspirations" (p. 358). In a conversation with Jane, St. John acknowledges that he yearns for a larger life, that he is discontented with parish duties, and that there is a discrepancy between his ambition and his preaching "contentment with a humble lot... in God's service" (p. 362). Like Jane, he must find a way to reconcile the conflicting demands of reason and passion. St. John summarizes a major theme in the novel when he says of himself, "propensities and principles must be reconciled by some means" (p. 362). He shows an equal understanding of Jane, whom he sees as impassioned, someone on whom "human affections and sympathies have a most powerful hold" (p. 362).

When St. John offers Jane the position of school mistress, she reflects on its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that "it was independent; and the fear of servitude with strangers entered my soul like iron" (p. 361). Sandra M. Gilbert describes Jane's life as a pilgrimage or progress toward selfhood. Is Jane seeking a way to express and to fulfill her essential self? Are freedom and independence necessary for the fulfillment of Jane's essential self?

Chapter 31 (Pages 364-371)

One way of looking at Jane's life is as a search for family and a home. When she moves into the two-room cottage of the school mistress, she calls it "home" (p. 364). In what sense is it a home?

Jane's sense of social class and status is still with her. Is there snobbery in her saying, "I must not forget that these coarsely-clad little peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy" (p. 365)? She feels "degraded. I doubted I had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social existence" (p. 365); doubt is used in the older meaning of to be uncertain. But she also knows these feelings are "wrong" and she is determined to overcome them. She fulfills her teaching duties conscientiously and comes to appreciate the intelligence and sterling qualities of many of her students. She becomes friendly with and visits her students' families. Is she fully integrated into the community of Morton, i.e., is she accepted by it, and does she accept it?

She is convinced she made the right decision in leaving Rochester, but she still longs for him. She dreams of him and cries at thoughts of "the desperate grief and fatal fury. . . which might now, perhaps, be dragging him from the path of right, too far to leave hope of ultimate restoration thither" (p. 366). Adding to her suffering is her belief that

no one will ever love me so again. I shall never more know the sweet homage given to beauty, youth, and grace--for never to any one else shall I seem to possess these charms. He was fond and proud of me--it is what no man besides will ever be" (p. 365).
Would this belief be a strong emotional reason to stay attached to someone, to continue loving that person? Is it significant that she still calls him "master" occasionally, or is does she use the term merely out of habit (p. 366)? Supported by her belief in God, Jane has chosen reason over passion, despite the claims of love.

St. John too achieved control over his powerful ambitious desires through his belief in God --he found another outlet for them. Instead of achieving worldly success as an artist, a politician, or a soldier, he will be a missionary. Missionary work requires "skill and strength, courage and eloquence, the best qualifications of soldier, statesman, and orator" (p. 368). As God's soldier, he will carry out God's will and purpose and at the same time earn his own salvation. Chapter 32 makes explicit why the missionary prospect captures his imagination and moves his passions; to Jane's suggestion that he marry Rosamond rather than become a missionary, he exclaims:

Relinquish! What! my vocation? My great work? My foundation laid on earth for a mansion in heaven? My hopes of being numbered in the band who have merged all ambitions in the glorious one of bettering their race--of carrying knowledge into the realms of ignorance--of substituting peace for war--freedom for bondage--religion for superstition--the hope of heaven for the fear of hell? Must I relinquish that? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. It is what I have to look forward to, and to live for (p. 380).
Because ours is a materialistic age which values money and success, it may be hard for you to see a dedication to carrying out God's will as the fulfillment of St. John's highest human aspirations. In his view, there is no nobler, more glorious, more fulfilling life than dedicating himself to be God's instrument on earth and helping to carry out His will.

Of course, many modern critics point out the colonial, racist assumptions in St. John's belief in the superiority of Christianity to other religions and the suepriority of the White Englishman to other nationalities and races. They also point to the portrayal of the Creole Bertha Mason, with her dark skin and animal nature, as further evidence of a colonial, racist attitude. By the nineteenth century, England was the largest imperial power ever; its empire spanned the globe. If you have taken Core Studies 3 or 4, you have probably discussed the racist assumptions which underlie colonialism and imperialism.

One of the few human connections which St. John has to cut before he can leave for India makes an appearance, the lovely Rosamond Oliver. He represses any response to her, but his feelings for Rosamond and his determined suppression of those feelings are obvious to Jane.

Chapter 32 (Pages 372-383)

Most of the time Jane is for thankful for her life, though she continues to have upsetting dreams about Rochester.

One evening Jane forces a frank conversation about Rosamond with St.John. He describes the mixed nature of his feelings for Rosamond,

          "It is strange," pursued he, "that while I love Rosamond Oliver so wildly--with all the intensity, indeed, of a first passion, the object of which is exquisitely beautiful, graceful, and fascinating--I experience at the same time a calm, unwarped consciousness, that she would not make me a good wife; that she is not the partner suited to me; that I should discover this within a year after marriage; and that to twelve months' rapture would succeed a lifetime of regret. That I know" (p. 380).
Jane challenges his statement. He assures her,
you partially misinterpret my emotions. You think them more profound and potent than they are. You give me a larger allowance of sympathy than I have a just claim to. When I colour, and when I shake before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself. I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble; a mere fever of the flesh: not, I declare, the convulsion of the soul That is as fixed as a rock, firm set in the depths of a restless sea (p. 381).
What is the nature of his feelings ("a mere fever of the flesh")? How does he resemble Rochester with Bertha Mason? How does he differ?

St. John says, "Reason, and not feeling, is my guide" (p. 381). Might Rochester not have said with equal truth, "Feeling, and not reason, is my guide"? St. John is the Man of Reason, a man who subordinates his passions to reason. Clearly he contrasts with the Man of Passion, Rochester, who subordinates reason to his passions.

Chapter 33 (Pages 383-395)

Does the way St. John tells the story of Jane's inheritance indicate another similarity to Rochester, a desire for control and power? Initially Jane has a mixed response to becoming an heiress; she feels the burden of having a fortune and a sense of loss at her uncle's death as well as joy:
And then this money came only to me: not to me and a rejoicing family, but to my isolated self. It was a grand boon doubtless; and independence would be glorious--yes, I felt that--that thought swelled my heart (pp. 388-9).
When she discovers that she is not an "isolated self," that Mary, Diana, and St. John are her cousins, she is overjoyed, "Glorious discovery to a lonely wretch! This was wealth indeed! --wealth to the heart!--a mine of pure, genial affections. This was a blessing, bright, vivid, and exhilarating" (p. 391). At last Jane belongs to a family she fits into; she has a family whose members enjoy and respect her and whom she enjoys, respects, and can love. The Rivers family duplicates the rejected Reed family, with two sisters and one brother. Interestingly the Ingram family has the same breakdown of siblings.

Jane reacts so jubilantly to this news that St. John asks her to calm herself (as Rochester and Mrs. Reed asked her to calm her emotions). She insists on sharing her money with them, because of "the craving I have for fraternal and sisterly love. I never had a home, I never had brother or sisters: I must and will have them now" (p. 394). She asserts, "I want my kindred: those with whom I have full fellow-feeling" (p. 394). She will not be wealthy while they struggle in poverty; she knows the experience of being a poor relation and the impossibility of equality between the haves and the have-nots.

Chapter 34 (Pages 395-417)

His indifference to the refurbishing of Marsh End gives Jane more insight into him:
I understood, as by inspiration, the nature of his love for Miss Oliver; I agreed with him that it was but a love of the senses. I comprehended how he should despise himself for the feverish influence it exercised over him; how he should wish to stifle and destroy it; how he should mistrust its ever conducing permanently to his happiness, or hers. I saw he was of the material from which nature hews her heros--Christian and Pagan--her lawgivers, her statesmen, her conquerors: a steadfast bulwark for great interests to rest upon; but, at the fireside, too often a cold cumbrous column, gloomy and out of place (pp. 399-400).
Jane's reference to "a love of the senses" echoes St. John's earlier description of his feelings as "a mere fever of the flesh." Her describing him as a column here and on page 412 (Chapter 34) echoes the description of Mr. Brocklehurst as "a black pillar" (p. 31, chapter 4). Do the two men have anything in common? If so, what?

When St. John asks her to learn Hindostanee, she agrees, out of fear of offending him. During the course of their lessons, he comes to dominate her,

By degrees, he acquired a certain influence over me that took away my liberty of mind: his praise and notice were more restraining than his indifference. I could no longer talk or laugh freely when he was by. . . . When he said "go," I went! "come," I came; "do this," I did it. But I did not love my servitude; I wished, many a time, he had continued to neglect me (pp. 404-5).
She describes his kiss in terms of dominance, using master-slave imagery, "I felt as if the kiss were a seal affixed to my fetters" (p. 405).

In what ways is her relationship with St. John similar to her relationship with Rochester? in what ways is it different? Jane willingly accepted servitude to Rochester; why doesn't she willingly accept her servitude to St. John? She pleased Rochester as she was, without trying. How does St. John regard her? Consider the statement, "He wanted to train me to an elevation I could never reach; it racked me hourly to aspire to the standard he uplifted" (p. 405).

Of her tendency to submit to the will of others, even when they are harsh and despotic, Jane explains,

          I know no medium: I never in my life have known any medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, antagonistic to my own, between absolute submission and determined revolt. I have always faithfully observed the one, up to the moment of bursting, sometimes with volcanic vehemence (p. 407).
Does this explain her behavior with Mrs. Reed? On her deathbed, Mrs. Reed could not understand her disposition, "how for nine years you could be patient and quiescent under any treatment, and in the tenth break out all fire and violence, I can never comprehend" (p. 243). Why did she rebel against Mrs. Reed? Did she ever rebel against Rochester? why or why not? Why doesn't she rebel against St. John's tyranny? In her response of either submission or rebellion, is there equality? In other words, does alternating between being submissive or being rebellious allow her to be the equal of the other person(s)? Does Jane have a relationship of equality, rather than submission-mastery or submission-rebellion, with anyone?

When St. John asks Jane to marry him and be a missionary's wife, he says, "you are formed for labour, not for love" (p. 409). What is the irony here? Is he accurate? He ignores her protestations. His reasons why she should accept begin to overwhelm her, "My iron shroud contracted round me" (p. 411). Why "iron"? why a "shroud"? Jane makes a decision; she will go with him but not marry him. Significantly, she expresses her decision in terms of freedom, "I am ready to go to India, if I may go free" (p. 412). Sandra Gilbert finds "a passionate drive toward freedom" in all Charlotte Bronte's novels. Is her statement applicable to Jane Eyre? Is Jane motivated by "a passionate drive toward freedom"? If so, does she achieve it? Or to what extent does she achieve it? In rejecting St. John's marriage proposal, Jane defends the integrity of her essential self, "And I will give the missionary my energies--it is all he wants--but not myself" (p. 413). Is one source of freedom keeping the essential self whole, that is, keeping the essential self for oneself? Alternately, is one expression of freedom keeping the essential self whole?

St. John rejects her offer because it would be improper (what would people say if a single woman lived with a single man?). However, is the desire to control Jane a factor in his response? He says, "I want a wife: the sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life, and retain absolutely till death" (p. 413). In insisting on the need for marriage, St. John asserts he wishes to marry her, not out of personal desires or needs, but to carry out God's purposes. He even equates his will and his desires with God's:

Do you think God will be satisfied with half an oblation? Will he accept a mutilated sacrifice? It is the cause of God I advocate: it is under his standard I enlist you. I cannot accept on His behalf a divided allegiance: it must be entire (p. 413).
Is St. John, the Man of Reason, as egotistical and as tyrannical as Rochester, the Man of Passion? Bronte tests Jane twice, using the same situation, an offer of marriage. Neither proposal would lead to a marriage of equals, because of the lack of balance between passion and reason. How are Rochester and St. John similar as individuals and in their treatment of Jane? One difference between them is that Rochester loves Jane, and St. John does not. Is this a crucial difference?

St. John's speech frees Jane from St. John's influence:

I saw his fallibilities: I comprehended them. I understood that, sitting there where I did, on the bank of heath, and with that handsome form before me, I sat at the feet of a man, erring as I. The veil fell from his hardness and despotism. Having felt in him the presence of these qualities, I felt his imperfection, and took courage. I was with an equal--one with whom I might argue--one whom, if I saw good, I might resist (pp. 413-4).
How does Jane's view of St. John change? Why does her view change? Why does it enable her to resist him? What is the significance of his being an "equal"?

Jane imagines what going to India as a curate, a comrade would be like, "I would suffer often, no doubt, attached to him only in this capacity: my body would be under a rather stringent yoke, but my heart and mind would be free. I should still have my unblighted self to turn to: my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate in moments of loneliness" (p. 414). What is the freedom Jane imagines in this passage? Is it related to her essential self?

Jane explicitly rejects his offer, "I cannot marry you and become part of you" (p. 415). What is Jane's view of marriage for the woman? If she became "part of" either Rochester or St. John in marriage, would she retain her individuality? Would her essential self find expression and fulfillment and freedom or would it be overwhelmed and suppressed by the egotism and passion of Rochester and the egotism and reason of St. John?

Jane, with her need for human love and her unwavering passion for Rochester, defies St. John, "I scorn your idea of love . . . and I scorn you when you offer it" (pp. 415-16). She immediately apologizes for speaking immoderately. Driven by egotism, he rejects her apology, "and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God" (p. 416). Egotism can go no further than St. John's seeing her rejection of his proposal and him as a rejection of God.

Her refusal profoundly offends him, though as a Christian he is patient with Jane. That evening he ignores Jane after kissing his sisters good night. Jane runs after him with an apology, which he accepts as a Christian but rejects as a human being; there is no true reconciliation.

Bronte Syllabus

M, April 16 Bronte, Online overview
Jane Eyre, pp. 6-68
**Supplemental Reading**
      The Novel
W, April 18 Jane Eyre, pp. 68-130
F, April 20, Online class
Jane Eyre, pp. 130-184
Caucus: To 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
Caucus: To read and to send postings
M, April 30 Jane Eyre, pp. 355-417
Paper 2 due
W, May 2
Jane Eyre, pp. 417-461
**Supplemental Reading**
      Jane Eyre as the Other

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