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
"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
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
genealogy" (p. 365)? She feels "degraded. I doubted I had taken a step
instead of raising me in the scale of social existence" (p. 365); doubt
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
She is convinced she made the right decision in leaving
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
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
courage and eloquence, the best qualifications of soldier, statesman,
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
have merged all ambitions in the glorious one of bettering their
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
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.
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
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
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
One evening Jane forces a frank conversation about Rosamond
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,
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
marriage; and that to twelve months' rapture would succeed a lifetime
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
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
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.
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
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
family duplicates the rejected Reed family, with two sisters and one
brother. Interestingly the Ingram family has the same breakdown of
Jane reacts so jubilantly to this news that St. John asks her
herself (as Rochester and Mrs. Reed asked her to calm her emotions).
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
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
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
he was of the material from which nature hews her heros--Christian and
Pagan--her lawgivers, her statesmen, her conquerors: a steadfast
for great interests to rest upon; but, at the fireside, too often a
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 offending him. During the course of their lessons, he comes to
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
"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
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
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
be patient and quiescent under any treatment, and in the tenth break
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,
When St. John asks Jane to marry him and be a missionary's
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
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
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
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
freedom keeping the essential self whole?
St. John rejects her offer because it would be improper (what
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
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
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
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
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
Jane explicitly rejects his offer, "I cannot marry you and
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
egotism and passion of Rochester and the egotism and reason of St.
Jane, with her need for human love and her unwavering passion
Rochester, defies St. John, "I scorn your idea of love . . . and I
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).
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
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
|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
Core Studies 6 Page || Melani Home