Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
A week before Christmas, Jane closes the school and undertakes a thorough cleaning of Moor House to welcome Diana and Mary home for Christmas. The three girls spend a happy week enjoying their newfound independence, but St. John is irritated by their merriment and vivacity. He does not appreciate Jane's efforts to redecorate the house.
One day St. John comes and calmly announces the engagement of Rosamond to a gentleman called Mr. Granby. He persuades Jane to give up studying German and to learn Hindustani, which he himself is studying. Jane finds herself giving in to his influence. However, she has not forgotten Mr. Rochester. Her letters to Mrs. Fairfax for information about Mr. Rochester remain unanswered.
One day, St. John finds Jane shedding tears during the course of her Hindustani lesson. He invites her to walk with him across the glen. He tells her that he is soon to sail for India, and he induces her to marry him and join him as a fellow missionary. As he does not have any love for her, Jane is willing to accompany him as his sister or helper, but not as his wife. This suggestion is not acceptable to him. For her part, Jane cannot accept St. John's idea of love and is afraid that he would not even grieve for long, were she to die in India. The argument takes a bitter turn, and St. John wants her to reconsider his proposal for a fortnight. He also asserts that refusing to go on this mission with him would amount to denying the will of God.
The same night, St. John comes to Moor House where the three sisters are. While he pays attention to his own sisters, he completely ignores Jane. She is obviously hurt by this behavior and is persuaded by Diana to go after him. She follows him to wish him goodnight, but he reacts with cold formality. This makes her feel extremely dejected.
In this chapter, Jane persistently returns to the imagery of water and earth in forms suggestive of hardness, coldness and destructiveness. Ice, rock, stone, torrents and avalanches are used to express her physical and emotional alienation from St. John. There may be some significance in Rivers' name; the imagery of cold, rushing water is persistently applied to him. Jane rightly remarks: "he asks me to be his wife, and has no more of a husband's heart for me than that flowing giant of a rock, down which the stream is foaming in yonder gorge."
In leaving Mr. Rochester, Jane has once before fled from unrestrained passion. Now she is offered another choice, the rejection of life: the journey into asceticism with St. John Rivers.
Although she is hurt and dejected by her experience with Mr. Rochester, it is not possible now for Jane to deny the world and all that it has to offer. She certainly cannot enter a loveless marriage.
Mr. Rochester offered Jane love without marriage, and now St. John offers her marriage without love. The two men are both prepared to be entirely unscrupulous in achieving their ends. However, Mr. Rochester is capable of reform and can sympathize with Jane's need for what is missing in their relationship. St. John, on the other hand, has nothing but contempt for people unlike himself. Jane wishes to please St. John, for she genuinely admires him, "but to do so, I felt daily more and more that I must disown half my nature"--the half of her that cries out for feeling and human love.
In this chapter, the imagery of fire keeps pace with that of earth and water, as applied to St. John. Jane remarks: "his wife-at his side always and always restrained-forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital-this would be unendurable." Therefore, Jane's eventual resolution of the problem is hinted at here. She simply cannot sacrifice herself to the stern and demanding St. John Rivers.