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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 18

Summary

The gloomy atmosphere of Thornfield changes, yielding to cheerfulness and activity. When it rains continuously for some days, the guests find indoor amusements. One evening, the guests decide to play charades, and Jane watches them from a distance. She finds it impossible to give up her love for Mr. Rochester. She also realizes that Mr. Rochester is not in love with Blanche. In spite of this, it appears that he intends to marry her.

One day, Mr. Rochester is called away on business to Millcote, and the guests become restless. A carriage comes to the house, and Adèle cheerfully announces that it is the master. This pleases Blanche, but Adèle is mistaken. The person who arrives is a Mr. Mason, who claims to have been Mr. Rochester's good friend and who has just returned from the West Indies. Blanche snaps at Adèle for her mistake.

Soon afterward, the footman announces the arrival of old Mother Bunches, a gypsy woman. This strange woman is willing to tell the fortunes of the young ladies present. Blanche is the first to want to know about her future and rushes off to consult with the gypsy. However, she is extremely disappointed with what she learns and refuses to disclose the gypsy's prediction to the other guests. She returns to the room in a huff and pretends to begin reading a novel. Mary, Amy and Louisa also have their fortunes told. They are evidently impressed by the gypsy's knowledge of their past.

The gypsy refuses to leave without first seeing Jane. Evidently, Jane is not intimidated and is even eager to encounter this strange fortune- teller.

Notes

In this chapter the reader is presented with the superficial conversations and empty pleasures of Mr. Rochester's guests as they seek to amuse themselves in their host's absence. One can see both their materialism and their insensitivity. Against these rich idlers of society, Mr. Rochester stands out as a passionate and sympathetic human being.


The unexpected visitor, Mr. Mason, is attractive and charming in the eyes of the young ladies. However, Jane is repulsed by him. That is mainly because a lack of strength and character is reflected in his face. Jane's description also hints at a certain threat lurking in Mr. Mason: "His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life--at least so I thought."

The chapter is significant for many reasons. Mr. Mason, an important character to the overall structure of the story, is introduced. Secondly, the gypsy's prediction for Blanche creates suspense about Jane's own future. Thirdly, Blanche and Jane, rivals in love, are set in opposition to each other. Blanche is a lady endowed with a talent for music and the ability to make conversation. Jane, however, claims not to envy Blanche. Blanche is sadly lacking in warmth and tenderness, whereas Jane is full of love for Mr. Rochester. Blanche enjoys a superior social position and status, but her attempts to win Rochester's affection have elicited no response from him. This situation has brought some solace to Jane. It is evident that Blanche's interest in Mr. Rochester is not motivated by emotion but by material and social reasons.

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