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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 14

Summary

Over the next four days Mr. Rochester is very busy. Whenever Jane happens to encounter him, he sometimes acknowledges her presence and sometimes does not. However, his indifference does not affect Jane. She is sure that his moods depend on causes that are not connected with her.

One evening after dinner he sends for both Jane and Adèle. He gives Adèle her box of presents and asks Mrs. Fairfax to keep the child occupied. He announces his intention to be "gregarious and communicative" and wants Jane to speak. She makes it clear that she will only answer his questions. He begins by commenting on her primness and then asks for her opinion of his appearance. Jane replies objectively, saying that although he is not handsome in the typical sense of the word, he does merit praise for his broad chest, dark hair and rugged features. Then Mr. Rochester offers an apology for his brash conduct, claiming it to be an effect of age. She wonders if he has had too much to drink.

Mr. Rochester confesses to her that he has made bad use of his time and experience. He was put on the wrong path at the age of twenty- one. He admits that he has never been able to extricate himself from it. His purpose in bringing up Adèle is to atone for the sins of his youth.

Notes

The long conversation between Mr. Rochester and Jane reveals his growing fascination with her. Being both older and the master of the house, Mr. Rochester assumes the dominant role. Jane, however, declares: "I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I or because you have seen more of the world than I have--your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience." From this conversation one can describe Jane Eyre as an early feminist novel. During those times, women were often depicted as meek and submissive, but here Jane refuses to be subordinated by her male employer. This is a very bold stance that she cultivates throughout her life.


Mr. Rochester senses that it is not in Jane's nature to talk about herself; she prefers to listen to others with a sense of sympathy. Hence Mr. Rochester makes her his confidante. Jane, however, expresses her own strong opinions, even when they contradict those of her employer. Mr. Rochester claims that on the basis of her youth and inexperience, Jane should not speak her mind so freely. Nevertheless, he is obviously impressed by Jane's intelligence and personality. He even acknowledges that in the past his "heart was a sort of charnel; it will now be a shrine." It is surprising that such an apparently arrogant person should be aware of and even apologize for his behavior.

In this chapter, Jane's good sense and independence save her from submitting tamely to Mr. Rochester's will or opinions. She has the courage to speak the truth even when this seems to reprove Mr. Rochester. In fact though her bold answers sometimes repel him, he admires her self-confidence and firm convictions. The readers are also given a hint of the growing attraction between these two characters.

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