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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 32

Summary

Jane settles down in the village school and becomes a popular schoolmistress. Her days pass pleasantly, but her nights are tormented by dreams of Mr. Rochester. St. John visits the school everyday to give his catechism lesson, and Rosamond times her visits to coincide with his. The fact that he is secretly attracted to Rosamond is not hidden from Jane. She herself admires Rosamond's beauty and sketches her portrait. Mr. Oliver appreciates Jane's talents and invites her to his house. She learns that Mr. Oliver is eager to have his daughter married to St. John. Showing Rosamond's portrait, Jane broaches the subject to St. John during one of his visits. St. John admits his love for Rosamond but declares that she will not make a good wife for a missionary. He admits that he is a "hard" and "cold" man and that he will never compromise his Christian ideals. His attention is caught by something written on a piece of paper on Jane's desk. He hastily tears off a portion of it and leaves.

Notes

This chapter shows both Jane and St. John suppressing their true emotions. St. John seems to be suffering from denying his natural impulses and passions. Jane also suffers, but she never denies her true feelings. Jane compares John's suppression to a different kind of fire. His "heart is already laid on a sacred altar: the fire is arranged around it."


St. John is reminiscent of the spirit of Lowood and Mr. Brocklehurst, but he is no hypocrite. Brocklehurst advocates mortification of the flesh for others, but he himself makes no sacrifices. St. John, on the other hand, is harder on himself than on any one else. He does not want Jane's sympathy and is unsparing in his self-critique: "When I colour and when I shake before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself, I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble: a mere fever of the flesh ..." He boasts to Jane that he is "a cold, hard man." When he says arrogantly, "Reason, and not feeling, is my guide," the reader is reminded of Jane's cousin, Eliza, in whom Jane had observed a "judgment untempered by feeling."

St. John Rivers is quite disconcerted to be spoken to so boldly and bluntly by Jane. He acknowledges her originality and sees something brave in her spirit. Charlotte Brontë reveals Miss Oliver's character in greater detail. Rosamond takes to Jane with "an amiable caprice." In her character there is no mystery or disguise. She is coquettish, good humored, literal minded, sufficiently intelligent and very charming. But she is not "profoundly interesting or thoroughly impressive." Jane likes her the way she liked her pupil Adèle. Jane notices that when disappointed in her flirtation with St. John, Rosamond sulks "like a disappointed child." However, Jane is not blind to the fact that in Rosamond, beauty is not allied with strong character and profound intelligence. Jane observes: "A very different sort of mind was hers from that of the sisters of St. John.

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