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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 27

Summary

Jane remains in a dazed state for a long time. As soon as she recovers, she decides to leave Thornfield. She finds Mr. Rochester waiting for her outside her room. He offers her some food, but when she refuses to give in to his kisses, he becomes furious.

He tells her he will send Adèle away to school and take care of Bertha at Thornfield. She believes that he is offering to keep her as a mistress when he proposes that they stay in the south of France, where no one would recognize them. Jane remains firm in her decision to leave Thornfield. After that, Mr. Rochester boldly declares his passion for Jane, who is frightened by his outburst.

Then Mr. Rochester explains the circumstances of his marriage. He was cheated by his father and older brother. His father had wanted to leave all of his money to his older son, Rowland, in order to keep the property together. He had therefore arranged that his younger son, Edward, should marry Bertha Mason. This lady had a dowry of thirty thousand pounds. As Mr. Rochester was very young, he was carried away by Bertha's beauty and accomplishments. Only after they were married did he realize that he had a wife "at once intemperate and unchaste." He also learned that her mother was insane and that her younger brother was "a complete dumb idiot." In the meanwhile, the death of his father and brother had enabled him to inherit his father's estates. When Bertha also became mad, he kept her in confinement at Thornfield. Mr. Rochester then traveled all over Europe hoping to find a worthy wife as well as happiness. But he could find neither. He also confesses how he fell in love with Jane at their first meeting. At this point, Jane rejects her own desires and remains firm in her resolution to go away.

After completing his story, Mr. Rochester entreats Jane to come away with them. Jane refuses and leaves the house that night without Rochester's knowledge. Her "mother's voice," rendered symbolically in the image of the moon, helps her to maintain her stand. Although she wants to return, it is God who guides her forward from the moment she leaves Thornfield. She sees a coach approaching and offers the driver twenty shillings to take her to the town of his destination.

Notes

While reading Jane Eyre, the reader is tempted to "forgive" Mr. Rochester for his life of dissipation. The failure of his first marriage, which was not entirely his fault, serves as a key to his character. Bronte takes considerable trouble to indicate that Mr. Rochester married in accordance with the conventions of society and because of "the prurience, the rashness, the blindness of youth." Mr. Rochester's marriage to Bertha was arranged so that he could gain wealth. Mr. Rochester, who "seldom saw her (Bertha) alone and had very little private conversation with her" is carried away by the pride of conquest and passion. "I was dazzled, stimulated: my senses were excited; and being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I thought I loved her." In later taking his three mistresses, he lowers himself to the level of those whom he despises. He begins to feel that there is no such thing as an "intellectual, faithful, loving woman."


Mr. Rochester describes Bertha as "unchaste," and there are strong implications that her psychological problems exhibited themselves in her sexuality. Throughout his narrative of the early days of his marriage, Mr. Rochester paints a vivid picture of how he suffered at the hands of this monstrous woman: "I lived with that woman upstairs four years, and before that time she had tried me indeed: her character ripened and developed with frightful rapidity; her vices sprang up fast and rank: they were so strong, only cruelty could check them; and I would not use cruelty. What a pigmy intellect she had--and what giant propensities!"

In contrast, no reader can fail to notice the singular beauty of Mr. Rochester's description of his first meeting with Jane in Hay Lane. He acknowledges that "something new-fresh sap and sense" stole into his frame and that "this elf" must now return to him.

Jane experiences a conflict raging within her between passion and conscience. She is clearly able to see the path of suffering laid out for her. Conscience, turned into a tyrant, holds her passion by the throat and tells her that: "he would thrust her down to unsounded depths of agony." She wants to flee from unrestrained physical passion with all its threats of hidden danger.

Following Mr. Rochester's betrayal, Jane inevitably reverts to the condition of the insecure child deprived of love. This is evident in the trance-like dream that Jane has after the failed wedding. She dreams that she is back at Gateshead in the red room. There she sees the moon looking as though some "word of doom" were written on it. She sees a white human form which gazes on her. It whispers in her heart: "My daughter, flee temptation." In obedience to the dream vision, Jane exiles herself from Thornfield. This is a vivid description of how her conscience prevails over her intense passion.

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