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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 16

Summary

The next morning, Jane is shocked to see Grace Poole sitting and sewing rings for the new curtains in Mr. Rochester's room. Grace seems cool and composed. Jane tries to question her, and Grace in turn attempts to cross-examine her. Jane wonders why Mr. Rochester has not had her arrested for the crime.

As Jane has not seen Mr. Rochester the whole day, she becomes very impatient by evening. Mrs. Fairfax tells her that he has gone to the Leas, the residence of Mr. Eshton, to stay for a week. She informs Jane that Mr. Rochester is a favorite at such parties because he is "so talented and so lively in society." She also tells her of his attraction for the beautiful and accomplished Blanche Ingram. Mrs. Fairfax had seen her as a girl of eighteen, when she attended a Christmas ball at Thornfield.

Hearing this, Jane wants to nip her passion for Mr. Rochester in the bud. She goes up to her room and scolds herself for having indulged in romantic thoughts of her master. As a punishment, she sketches two contrasting portraits: one of herself and the other of Blanche Ingram. While one is plain, the other is done on ivory.


Notes

In this chapter Jane has an encounter with Grace Poole. She wonders what hold such an unattractive person can possibly have over Mr. Rochester. Significantly the chapter begins with Jane's wish and fear to see Rochester. She wants to hear his voice again, yet fears to meet his eye. When Mrs. Fairfax tells her where he is, Jane wonders whether Mr. Rochester is indifferent to her. He is possibly in pursuit of more beautiful and socially suitable woman.

Jane's response to Mrs. Fairfax's description of Blanche Ingram is equally interesting. She tells herself that she has been foolish to suppose that Mr. Rochester could possibly be drawn to a poor and unattractive girl like herself. Indeed, it is her modesty and discretion that are reflected in the way she upbraids herself. Gazing into the mirror, she paints two portraits: one of herself, "a governess, disconnected poor and plain," and the other of Miss Ingram. This exercise is meant to be a reminder of and a corrective to her folly. Thanks to this determination, she teaches herself not to indulge in romantic hopes. The one important thing that comes between Jane and Mr. Rochester is social class. Although Jane is probably the most qualified employee at Thornfield, the fact remains that she is a servant. Therefore, class poses a serious obstacle to a romantic relationship--or marriage--between them.

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