Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
The next evening, St. John makes his way through the snow with some important news for Jane. He has received a letter from Mr. Briggs, a lawyer, inquiring about a person called Jane Eyre, whose history strongly resembles hers. He even narrates the account of her story and reveals that he knows her real name, which she had written on the slip of paper he took from her desk. The solicitor wants to locate her as her uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, has died, leaving her his entire fortune of twenty-thousand pounds. He explains that they are, in fact, cousins. At first Jane is saddened at the news of her uncle's death, and then she is delighted to know that her father is St. John Rivers' uncle.
Jane is thrilled to have a family of her own. But St. John thinks that her joy is due to the fact that she has gained such a large sum of money. Jane thinks of the ways in which she would like to spend the inheritance. She plans to distribute the amount equally between St. John, Diana, Mary and herself. St. John raises objections, but they are brushed aside by Jane. She wonders if the wealth will enable St. John to marry Miss Oliver. She decides to settle in at Moor House.
Both Jane and St. John marvel at the fact that they are related to each other. While Jane is glad to have him as a brother, St. John merely admits that he has found her company pleasing. For the present, Jane decides to continue her work at Morton School until someone else can take over.
The chapter reveals the basic incompatibility between St. John and Jane. It is like the incompatibility of fire with water. St. John visits Jane's little cottage in a snowstorm. He brings her the news of her inheritance and reveals important details of family history. Jane has never seen such a "tall figure white as a glacier." His handsome face looks "more like a chiseled marble." The firelight shines free on his pale brow and pale cheek.
The fireside proves favorable for confidences and revelations, but Jane has to insist before St. John Rivers speaks frankly. In their exchange there is a significant play on "fire" and "ice." He tells her that he is "a hard man." She replies that she is "a hard woman, impossible to be put off." He says that he is "cold" and that "no fervour" infects him. She tells him that she is "hot and fire dissolves ice." There is also much humor in the conversation that reveals their clashing interests. Jane is anxious to get news of Mr. Rochester while St. John is determined to concentrate on the affairs of Mr. Briggs, the lawyer. Jane is excited to have three blood relations, whereas St. John assumes her to be excited to receive her inheritance.