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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 36

Summary

The next day, St. John leaves for Cambridge after writing a note to Jane in which he urges her to reconsider her decision. Jane informs Diana and Mary that she will be away for four days to see a friend.

She takes a coach to Thornfield, where her ardent hopes and expectations are shattered: Thornfield Hall is in ruins. Jane is anxious to know Rochester's fate. The innkeeper tells her that after her departure Mr. Rochester tried to find her and eventually became frustrated. He discharged Mrs. Fairfax and put Adèle into a school. Then, one night, Bertha set the house on fire and leapt to her death in the courtyard before she could be rescued. While attempting to save her, Mr. Rochester was injured and lost his eyesight and his left hand. He has been living in seclusion ever since at a different property, Ferndean. Jane sets out to meet him immediately.


Notes

The innkeeper brings a sense of suspense to this episode. His manner of relating past events tests the reader's patience. He repeatedly mentions the "late" Mr. Rochester and causes Jane to worry that the man she loves is dead. The innkeeper also presents an "insider's" view of Thornfield because he once worked there and was acquainted with Rochester's family.

Jane discovers that Mr. Rochester has passed through his ordeal by fire, both physical and spiritual. When Jane Eyre is examined as a poetic work that is full of symbols, the episode of the fire is artistically appropriate. Bertha Mason has destroyed herself. In other words, the madness that can accompany unrestrained passion has burned itself out. In addition, it has left Mr. Rochester disfigured and blinded.

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