Jane Eyre Chapters 33-38
Jane continues her steady duty of teaching the village girls. She finds among them many talented and kindred girls, most fitted with the desire to learn and excel; progress comes. Jane is often met with romantic and terrifyingly passionate dreams at night of Mr. Rochester, of what her future with him would be. But she is always woken in the night to the harsh reality of her life, of which she is not wholly unhappy. She describes the work as warm and satisfying, where she is liked and regarded affectionately by all those who work in the village.
Often Miss Rosamond will come to visit during her lessons, often when St. John is teaching catechism--Jane is not unawares of his fervor for her, or the power over him which she has. Jane takes up the craft of her drawing once more, and upon Miss Rosamond's discovery of her talent, Jane begins a miniature of Miss Rosamond. On the eve on a holiday several days later, Mr. St. John comes by to bring her a book, and comes upon the portrait. He is immediately struck, and Jane takes the opportunity to discuss St. John's passion and affections for Miss Rosamond, with him. He admits to their veracity--and for a quarter of an hour, indulges in staring at the picture and thinking passionately of her. Jane tells him that she does care for him, asks why he does not just marry her? But after the fifteen minutes end, St. John rises and replaces the picture on the table, saying that he is very much in love with Rosamond; but in fact he knows that she would not be suited to be a missionary's wife--he knows her defects as well as her positives. Within a year, he would be miserable with her, they would have nothing of which to speak--her mind would be empty from companionship. He insists that he is a cold, hard man who is not willing to give up his ambitions for God, for love. He remarks that Jane is original and direct in her manner, and with that comment and stealing a small strip of paper from the scratch-sheet, her quits the house.
It begins to snow that night. The next night, while reading Marmion, a poem brought by St. John for Jane's diversion, the latch to the door shakes, and suddenly St. John emerges from the blizzard. He is bright and sudden, and Jane questions him as to the reason for his arrival in the middle of a storm. He says that there is the second part of a tale to tell her, half of which she only knew before. St. John reveals that he has got word from a solicitor in London, a Mr. Briggs, that the search is on for a Miss Jane Eyre, who has recently come into a fortune, upon the death of her uncle in Madeira. St. John tells the tale of the orphan (who is actually Jane), without revealing that he initially knows it to be her. Jane questions him over his knowledge of Mr. Rochester, of which he has none. St. John quiets reveals that he knows her to be Jane Eyre, by showing her the slip of paper he ripped two days earlier--on which is her name, inscribed in vermilion ink.
Jane finds from St. John that she has inherited twenty thousand pounds, quite a fortune indeed. This is sudden and shocking news to Jane, who admits that is a quiet a breath of air to find out that one was poor and now one is rich with fortune. But another shock comes--when Jane realizes suddenly what St. John already knows--that he is in fact, with his sisters, her cousins. The uncle who died was uncle John, both Jane's and St. John's uncle. It was his father who had had the dispute with his uncle, his uncle who left his entire fortune to a poor orphan niece rather than to his brother's children, as a act of forgiveness. St. John's mother's name was Eyre, and it was one of her brothers who married a Jane Reed of Gateshead--both of whom died right after Jane was born.
After a great exclamation of joy upon finding living relatives with whom she already feels such kinship, Jane resolves to divide the twenty thousand pounds evenly among her three cousins and herself, so that they should all be taken care of well. She says,
"I had found a brother: one I could be proud of,--one I could love; and two sisters whose qualities were such that, when I knew them but as mere strangers, they had inspired me with genuine affection and admiration. The two girls on whom, kneeling down on the wet ground, and looking through the low, latticed window of Moor House kitchen, I had gazed...were my near kinswomen, and the young and stately gentleman who had found me almost dying at his threshold was my blood relation. Glorious discovery to a lonely wretch! This was wealth indeed!--wealth to the heart!--a mine of pure, genial affections. This was a blessing...not like the ponderous gift of gold: rich and welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight." Chapter 33, pg. 339
Jane tells St. John, who partially believes her to be a bit mad with the fervor of good news, that she will indeed divide up her fortune between the four of them. She will live in Moor House with her two cousins, and St. John will perhaps settle down with Rosamond, or at least have the money to go off and do missionary work peaceably. Jane stays at the school until a substitute can be found. Accordingly, she closes the school at the beginning of winter as usual, and her students who have much affection for her, wish a sorrowful goodbye. St. John asks Jane what she will now do with her time, what are her ambitions, what good will she do. She responds that she must give equal time to her own diversions and talents, as to the act of helping other people--that is what she plans to do by living with Mary and Diana. She says she will not marry.
Hannah comes to stay with Jane at Moor House; Jane proceeds to bake, clean and decorate in anticipation of the coming of her two cousins from London. St. John seems very dissatisfied and distrustful of Jane's desire for sensual comfort and calm in household familiarities to come, and blood relations. He warms her not to let it eclipse the "God-given ability" which Jane has to help others, to do real work which is not transitory or flesh-bound. Jane tells him to not spoil this joy for her, and quits his presence. Jane cleans the house and in several weeks, she and Hannah await the arrival of their cousins.
St. John arrives first, but his joy at the house is not great; Jane is disappointed to hear no positive remarks of pleasure about her duties. It is quite the opposite; he seems suspicious that she spent so much time on such 'trivial' things as household furnishings--as if such things were innately suspect. Jane is left cold. Diana and Mary arrive home full with exhilaration and joy. But suddenly, a boy shows up at the door; he has come to fetch Mr. Rivers to see his mother, who is on her death bed. St. John goes and returns near midnight; he looks better and more content with duty. News comes that Miss Rosamond Oliver is to be married to Mr.Granby, a rich and esteemed man of good standing living near town. Both Jane and his sisters express concern for him at this news, but St. John remains implacable--cold and distant.
Days go on; Jane is studying German, but one evening on his sister's absence, St. John convinces Jane to begin to study Hindostanee (an Eastern language) so that he may improve his competence by teaching a pupil. Jane comments that as she becomes more of a pupil of St. John, she wishes to please him and admires him, but that she feels that his nature is so completely different than her own, that she is losing some better part of herself. She almost wishes he would neglect her more, not be so hard to push her. One evening, Diana teasingly asks why he does not kiss her as he kisses his two real sisters--since he names Jane his 'sister' as well? St. John and Jane are both a bit uncomfortable, but St. John stoops to kiss her, what Jane calls 'an experimental kiss'. Jane says that kiss felt like a fetter to her will--attached again every time he gave it.
Jane writes to Mr. Briggs to inquire about Rochester--daily he frequents her thoughts--but he knows nothing. Twice she writes to Mrs. Fairfax to inquire as well, but over three months pass without any response; Jane becomes a bit anxious. It is at this time that St. John and Jane go for a beautiful May walk in the heath. Again, Jane comments that St. John's will is so strong that she either is submission or revolt; St. John tells her to walk with him in ten minutes and she does. Down in the heath, St. John reveals that he believes Jane should come with him to India, to be a missionary's wife--not in body but in mind, in spirit. He is convinced she has the qualities that are needed to help others and he is sure this is her calling. He says,
"I have made study of you for ten months. I have proved you in that time by sundry tests: and what have I seen and elicited? In the village school, I found that you could perform well, punctually, uprightly, labor uncongenial to your habits and inclinations; I saw you could perform it with capacity and tact: you could win while you controlled. In the calm with which you learnt you had become suddenly rich, I read a mind clear of the vice of Demas:--lucre had no undue power over you...Jane, you are docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, constant, and courageous; very gentle, and very heroic: cease to mistrust yourself--I can trust you unreservedly. As a conductress of Indian schools, and a helper amongst Indian women, your assistance will be to me invaluable." Chapter 34, pg. 355
St. John tells Jane that she is disposed to be a missionary's wife--that it is not personal but mental endowments that she has been given my God, she is made for labour not for love. Jane is overcome too much and argues with him increasingly. She admits that inside his voice and logic have a great pull on her, but that she knows her spirit. She feels no great elevation upon his words and offer, no internal knowledge that this should be her chosen vocation; she believes such knowledge should come from inside the individual. Jane thinks and comes to the conclusion that she would and could be a missionary with St. John, but never as his wife. She realizes that it is for God and not in love that he summon her to him for this vocation; he has no husband's heart for her, only a brother's heart. And Jane is sure he would observe all the duties of a husband--and cannot live and bear that every affection would be a sacrifice made on principle, absent of spirit or love.
She tells him she will go as his sister, but this he will not hear--he sees it as a partial sacrifice to God--God will only accept a whole gift, consecrated in marriage. Plus, he does not want for a sister, but a wife who will be his helpmeet until his death. Jane cannot bear this, it is too much, and utters that she will give her heart to God, but that he does not want it! Jane sees that if she tired with him as his equal, which she now realizes yes she is, as his sister, she could bear this because her heart and mind would be free. But those objects would not be free bonded in marriage to St. John, it is impossible! But St. John will still not hear of it, he says that they must and will be married--to take her otherwise would arise suspicion in a foreign land, and he is sure she would not regret it later. Jane exclaims:
"'I scorn your idea of love,' I could not help saying, as I rose up and stood before him, leaning my back against the rock. 'I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offer: yes, St. John, and I scorn you when you offer it.'" Chapter 34, pg. 359
When questioned, Jane tells Diana and Mary of St. John's plans. They had hoped he had wanted to marry Jane, but are quite resolved with Jane that his cold and mental attitude is not suitable for a husband toward his wife. But just the next night, St. John alone with Jane late again almost has sway over her. She feels the call of God and thinking only of a duty not love, tells St. John that she could marry him if she only knew it was God's will. This continues until suddenly, Jane hears only in her own ear, the spectre of Mr. Rochester's voice. She stops, she is possessed and hears him calling her name--only shadows exist in the garden, while Jane rushes around the sitting-room, yelling that she will come. She releases herself from St. John and goes to her room, quite taken, to pray. The next morning St. John has left her a note saying that he will return in a fortnight to await her decision--he feels she will be clean in her spirit to know her duty by then.
But Jane goes to bed and wakes knowing her duty--she is at peace. The next morning she organizes her room for an absence, and after breakfast-time she tells Mary and Diana that she is going on a journey alone; she will absent at least four days. Jane takes a coach from Whitcross and arrives outside Thornfield Hall thirty-six hours later, nervous but clear in her mind and actions. Jane runs toward where the mansion sits, first quickly, then timidly. But the shock is exact; Thornfield Hall is no longer--all is gone and what exists is a blackened ruin of the large building.
Jane speaks to the man at the inn where she is staying; he tells her how Thornfield Hall burned at the mid of night last harvest season--he used to be the elder Mr. Fairfax's butler. The old butler tells Jane the story of Mr. Rochester and Thornfield Hall. It was Bertha, Rochester's mad wife who started a fire in Jane's old room--she lit the bed ablaze. Then she mounted the battlement and stood atop the roof, raving. Mr. Rochester, upon waking, as the mansion burned, made sure that every servant was out of the house first. Then he mounted the roof himself, calling his wife's name. But Bertha would not come down; rather she jumped from the building's roof and landed on the ground, dead. After all the servants were out, Mr. Rochester ran down the stairs, but was hit by a burning timber from the ceiling. He was pulled out from the rubble, but the timber knocked out one eye completely and injured the other one. It also crushed one of his arms. The surgeon had to amputate one of his arms, and the catastrophe left Mr. Rochester crippled and blind. He was now living in a small cottage at Ferndean, a manor thirty miles off.
Jane asks the first coach available to take her to Ferndean. Jane reaches Ferndean the last mile by foot; advancing toward the house, she hears the door open. Suddenly, she sees Mr. Rochester outside the door. He is putting his hand outside, to feel for rain. Jane tells us that nothing about him has changed. His fierce, athletic form, good posture, and strength still exist. But something in his countenance has changed; he is wounded and almost ferocious in his sadness. He is desperate and trapped almost. Jane tells us that she did not fear him in this state, more did she know him as she watched silently. She follows Rochester into the house unknown.
Jane finds Mary and John inside the kitchen--the couple who stays with Rochester at Ferndean to care for him. They are terribly surprised to see her, for she has almost appeared out of nowhere. Rochester has asked for a tray with water and candles, now that it is nearing dusk; Jane takes the tray and brings it into Rochester, under the guise of Mary. She gives the water to Rochester, but does not hide her own voice; Pilot yelps at her entrance and she tells him to sit. After a few minutes Rochester can tell the difference, perceives that the voice is Jane's. He grabs for her fingers, her waist, her form to verify this spectre of a voice. He embraces her gratefully, still in disbelief that it is his Jane. In fact, he still believes the form and voice are in his mind, as they have come and gone before during dreams. He says:
"'My living darling! These are certainly her limbs, and these her features; but I cannot be so blest, after all my misery. It is a dream; such dreams as I have had at night when I have clasped her once more to my heart, as I do now; and kissed her, as thus--and felt that she loved me, and trusted that she would not leave me...Gentle, soft dream, nestling in my arms now, you will fly, too, as your sisters have all fled before you: but kiss me before you go--embrace me, Jane.'" Chapter 37, pg. 382
Jane kisses him gratefully on his broken, closed eyes, on his hair and his brow. Jane tells him briefly of her history of the past year, and how she is now an independent woman--her cousins, her fortune. She tells Rochester that she will stay with him to care for him and love him now, forever, if he wish it. There is some miscommunication at first--Rochester believes that Jane will only stay as his nurse and companion. He is downtrodden, and Jane sees where the confusion lies. He professes that he is not suitable for Jane now, being crippled and blinded. But Jane reassures him that she can and will love him, if he will let her; of course he wishes it.
Jane takes Rochester out for a walk through the fields the next day. They talk, as they always had before, Jane perching upon Rochester's knee. There in the waning light of day, Rochester asks Jane to marry him again. But he says he will leave the decision up to Jane--to choose. Jane says yes immediately; Rochester is ecstatic and says they will be married in three days. Rochester has also changed very much in his view about himself in the world, now after his accident and ill fortune. Rochester is now not so arrogant as before, and has a sincere gratitude to God for blessing him with Jane's return.
Rochester also tells how many days ago, around midnight, he was struck with an impossible desire to see Jane--in flesh and spirit. He could not control it, and against his will, he yelled out her name three times. To his surprise, he heard her voice answer that she was coming, etc... Jane is struck by the coincidence that this is exactly the same experience that she had, on the same night. She does not wish to tell Rochester though, fearing that it will make him too superstitious. She smiles inside and takes Rochester's hand to lead him home through the twilight.
Jane and Rochester marry. She tells us that she has now been married ten years to Mr. Rochester. Both Mary and Diana are married and come by at least once a year to visit her. She took Adèle out of the school where she was, which was too strict, and placed her in a more suitable school nearer to Ferndean. Jane has given birth to one boy--a son between herself and Rochester. And St. John did go off to India, and is doing the best work he can do in the name of God. He has always been respectful of Jane, and they have had a correspondence for many years. After the first two years of Jane and Rochester's union, Rochester began to regain partial sight in his left eye; now he has almost full sight in that eye again. Jane is happy, fulfilled and living in equal partnership. She tells us:
"I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character--perfect concord is the result." Chapter 38, pg. 397