Friday, March 11, 2011

Jane Eyre Read-Along, Chapters 21-30

Hello, fellow read-alongers! I hope you had a good week and I hope you were able to find some time to catch up with Jane. Let's jump right in, shall we?

We started this week by learning that Jane's cousin, the horrible John Reed, has killed himself and her aunt is on her deathbead.  Mrs. Reed is still as horrible as ever, but at least she told Jane that her uncle, John Eyre, wrote to her to ask if he could adopt Jane.  Granted, it was 3 years later, Mrs. Reed told John Eyre that Jane was dead, and Mrs. Reed says Jane is the reason she (Mrs. Reed) didn't tell her earlier. So, better late than never?

The next important plot point comes in chapter 23, when Mr. Rochester first says Jane will need to leave once he marries Blanche and then, in a complete 180, ends up proposing to Jane. How cruel to make her completely believe he was going to marry another, only to make her jealous?  And did anyone else think the chestnut-tree being split in half by lightning the same night the couple became engaged was foreshadowing?

While I wasn't the biggest fan of Jane's behavior in chapter 24 (she seemed unusually distant and combative), I understand that she really needed to test Mr. Rochester's love for her, especially considering how he deceived her earlier.

Chapter 25 was spooky, with Jane's nightmares and the "vampire" in her room that tore her veil. I became very interested that Mr. Rochester blamed it on Grace Poole and that he would explain everything after they had been married a year and a day.  Seriously, what is Mrs. Poole's job that it needs to be kept a secret for another year??

Next comes the wedding day itself, which seems to go smoothly and quickly until...oh, until.  Poor Jane.  I can't imagine how it would feel to have someone object at your wedding. Although this did explain why Mr. Rochester had been so scared when Mason originally showed up at Thornfield. I'm sure you read it, but quickly: Mason claims that Mr. Rochester is already married, and to his sister Bertha no less. And finally (finally!) we know the occupation of Grace Poole: she watches after Bertha, who is insane and kept locked up on the 3rd floor of Thornfield. This alone answers many questions. Now we know what Mrs. Poole does and who the ghostly figure has been.

But in case this wasn't clear at first, chapter 27 is devoted to Mr. Rochester explaining everything to Jane: how he was tricked into marrying into a family known for its insanity, how a voice told him that he was no longer married (now who's insane?), and how and why he fell in love with Jane. He implores Jane to stay with him, but her principles simply will not let her degrade herself into being his mistress.

Jane, therefore, leaves Thornfield without anyone's notice. However, she quickly becomes destitute and must beg for food and lodging. She finally finds peace when she practically collapses at the door of the Rivers family.  She is taken in and nursed back to health by Mary, Diana, and St. John, along with their servant, Hannah.  Jane does not feel she can completely tell the truth of her story, but she tells as much as she can.  The Rivers allow her to stay, and even come to like her. St. John even finds her employment as a schoolteacher for his poor parish.

At the end of chapter 30 we learn that the Rivers' uncle, John, has died, leaving them practically nothing and an unknown relative the bulk of his extensive wealth.  While little more is told to us, I have a pretty good idea how this is all going to link up.  But I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

So what did you all think? Could you believe Mr. Rochester? How awful a secret! And to want to wait for a year and a day after they were married to tell Jane that he already had a wife and, oh, by the way, she's completely insane and lives locked up on the 3rd floor. I'm amazed at how quickly Jane forgave him. I don't think I could have done the same.  And Jane was so concerned with how Mr. Rochester would handle her leaving him that she doesn't seem to care as much for the pickle that she's suddenly in.  No money, no friends, and no family, she was certainly in a precarious situation there for awhile. But she handled it with grace (did you really expect anything less?) and comes out on top in the end. The Rivers were amazingly kind to her, and Jane seems to be in a good position now.

Only 8 more chapters, everyone! We'll discuss chapters 31-38 next Friday. Any predictions as to how it will end?


  1. The first time I read Jane Eyre, when I got to the proposal part I was all "Oh whew, he loves her. Not cool that he tried to make her jealous, but at least he loves her.' This time around, while all the party people were hanging out at Thornfield I was SO MAD at Rochester for being SO MEAN to poor Jane. It's taking me a lot longer to warm up to Rochester this time.

    I do think that Rochester was truly regretful in Ch 27, although it almost sounded like he was more sorry for getting caught. And I agree that she forgave him way too quickly, but I also love the respect she has for herself, that even though no one in the world cares what she does, she cares and won't degrade herself.

    I didn't do a summary for these chapters, but I did do a musical post:

  2. I'm mad at him, too! I know he's supposed to be one of the characters that women love, but I just can't see it. His attitude and actions both turn me off.

    Jane, even when I find her infuriating, is commendable. She has incredible courage and principles and will follow through on her promises. She won't let herself be dragged down and she respects herself. And for that I respect her.

  3. I love reading Jane Erye this time around. Reading it in 10 chapter blocks has been great, the book seems to chunck up nicely that way. As I finished chapter 30, I could not stop and have kept on and only have two chapters left.

    Chapters 21 through 30 have really shown how Jane has grown. For all her heartache until she was 10, and then she found a friend and a mentor at Lowood until 17, and then a marriage proposal at 18...that ends in devastation. Then comes her fateful night, alone in her room, just her and God, and she knows what she must do...leave Thornfield, she obeys fully not knowing the outcome ahead. And then to be found by a family(following a light in the darkness), to be loved and respected, to get to teach like she had hoped to do....Every moment in her life has made her who she is, has led her to where she is, her story is unique to her, and I am eager to see the rest of the book play out.
    As to the love of Mr. Rochester...He was her first love, her first kiss, he seemed to adore her, she could always be herself around him. What an incredibly tough decision Jane had to make at her tender age. Well done, Jane!