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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 30

Summary

Jane leads a happy life at Marsh End. She finds that Diana and Mary are more learned than she is, and so she happily gains knowledge from them. They share a mutual interest in books and begin to share ideas among themselves. Jane sees that Diana is the head of the household and appreciates her the most. Diana teaches Jane German, and Jane teaches Mary to paint.

Jane considers St. John difficult to understand. She finds him not as straightforward as his sisters. He hardly spends time in the house, as he is always away on account of his work. Jane perceives that although he dedicates himself to the care of the poor, he does not seem to be satisfied with what he does. He appears to be stoically performing his duty despite an inner conflict.

When the time comes for the Rivers sisters to return to their posts as governesses, Jane approaches St. John to inquire about the employment he had promised her. He offers her the post of village schoolmistress in his parish of Morton. He informs her that the local people there are "simple," and therefore the work may not be that interesting. She would also have lodgings to herself. Jane is eager to start this work. St. John seems to realize the reason for her enthusiasm, and notes that, like himself, she also needs to have a challenging occupation.


In the meantime St. John receives a letter informing him that his uncle has died and left his property to another relative. Jane learns that this uncle had had a quarrel with their father and had never been on good terms with the family since then.

Notes

At Moor House, Jane finds the happiness arising from "congeniality of tastes": " . . . with eagerness, I followed in the path of knowledge they had trodden before me. I devoured the book they lent me: then it was full satisfaction to discuss with them in the evening what I had perused during the day. Thought filled thought; opinion met opinion: we coincided, in short, perfectly." Jane finds their company so wonderful that she does not realize the passing of time. Moor House stands in contrast to Gateshead, just as Diana, Mary and St. John Rivers are a contrast to her original cousins, Eliza, Georgiana and John. The broken 'Reeds' are replaced by 'Rivers' of life.

St. John is a high-minded cleric representing an ideal in Victorian literature: the man who prides himself on subduing his impulses and personal ambition for the service of God. But when Jane hears him preach, his exposition of Christianity sounds to her like "a sentence pronounced for doom." Charlotte Bronte admirably sums up the predicament of St. John Rivers in this chapter. He works hard for the welfare of his parishioners, but he does not feel a sense of contentment. Jane rightly assesses his problem: he has not found his

peace with God. Jane often compares St. John's gloomy temperament with Mr. Rochester's tough-minded optimism. One of Jane's implied criticisms of St. John Rivers is that "Nature was not to him that treasury of delight it was to his sisters."

Jane feels a distance between herself and St. John Rivers. This is because he seems to be "of a reserved, an abstracted, and even of a brooding nature." This does not mean that there are no meeting grounds between Jane and St. John Rivers. St. John Rivers recognizes in her nature, as in his, an alloy "detrimental to repose." He feels that she may not hold the school post permanently, just as he does not plan to stay forever at Morton. His estimation is quite accurate.

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