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?