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Rory Book Discussions > Jane Eyre: Chapters 26-30

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) ***Spoiler***
Yes, Bertha is Grace Poole's charge, and so much more. Poor Grace got blamed for Bertha's misdeeds because they were trying to keep Bertha a secret.

message 2: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod

So, the wedding's off. Mr. Rochester is married already. We learn Bertha's story. Jane refuses to be Mr. Rochester's mistress and leaves Thornfield. Jane is penniless and hungry and is taken in by Mary & Dianna, and Mr. St. John. Jane agrees to be mistress of a poor school.

"My hopes were all dead--struck with a subtle doom, such as, in one night, fell on all the first-born in the land of Egypt."

In regard to being a mistress, Jane says, "Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour"

"Prejudices...are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education."

I hated the part when Jane was begging and almost died. It was worse than Lowood!

message 3: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments From reading the descriptions of Berta it also sounded to me like she was disfigured in some way and I kept expecting there to be something about her being in accident. I guess her appearance is from being crazy and nothing else.

I can't remember when divorces became legal, I thought it was before this time but I guess not. You'd think there would be some way out of a marraige to someone who is totally insane.

The whole part about Jane having to beg is awful. She got so lucky landing with the Rivers though.

message 4: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Having a wife in an insane asylum was for many of the earlier years one of the legal blocks to divorcing -- I believe that is right at any rate. I'm not certain when divorce as such actually became acceptable and established in England -- nor even here -- anyone else know?

I have some vague recollection that Bertha had some disfigurement also -- something she had done caused it -- in one of her mad spells? I may be getting this from a film version though rather than anything in the book.

message 5: by Meghan (last edited Feb 15, 2008 07:01PM) (new)

Meghan Okay, I haven't read the other threads since I hadn't finished that part until now. But what are people's thoughts on Rochester? I think he is weak, spineless, and cowardly. And a complete fruitcake--seriously, stern and stoic one moment, completely googly eyed the moment a women turns his head the next. No wonder Jane fled the house in silence.

message 6: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Okay, I think I'm the worst person in the world or otherwise I just don't get Bronte's writing, but I found Jane's begging situation completely unbelievable. I get that she had to leave in a rush and all. I get that she didn't have much money to begin with. But I don't believe that she was so stupid as to give ALL her money to a guy to drive her to the middle of nowhere and then have no plan. I just don't think that's true to her character. I could see her saying to the dude 'hey I have 18 shillings, how far will that get me?' But leave herself a couple of shillings. I can see her running out of money once she got to a village because she was unable to find a job. But just wandering aimlessly in the wilderness just seemed like Bronte was trying to (for me, once again) make odd some biblical reference that just didn't ring true.

(okay, you can commence the stoning. I've read enough of the threads to pick up on how much everyone is loving this book.)

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Well she left her money on the seat of the carriage, didn't she? (It's been a while, but that's how I remember it.)

But I did find the part where she was wandering through the wilderness a little tough to read.

message 8: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments She left a package in the carraige but I don't think it had any money in it, just her brooch from Miss Temple or something.

You're right Megan, she definitely shouldn't have told the driver what she really had for money but that's the stuff I'm happy to overlook when I like a book. When I'm only lukewarm on a book that's the stuff that will make me insane, I didn't even think of it though, I was just into the story.

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) OH, okay. So would she have sold her brooch if she hadn't left it?

message 10: by Meghan (last edited Feb 16, 2008 05:01PM) (new)

Meghan Yes. I don't blame her for leaving her package on the coach. I leave my purse just about everywhere. But she asked the driver where he was going. He told her. She asked him how much it would be. He told her but it was more than what she had. She told him she only had 20 shillings. He told her he'd take her as far as he could for that. So she gave it ALL to hiim. That was what I didn't buy. The whole book she's suppose to be this cautious and smart lady and now, in the moment where she needs to be the most cautious, she throws it to the wind. It just felt really weird.

And it really bothered me that Rochester threatened to rape her. It was just a tiny little sentence but after reading its meaning in the footnotes, it seemed to tell a lot more of his personality.

message 11: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments I think I missed that line-that's really disturbing. Where about is it?

message 12: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments I have no footnotes. What was the sentence in question?
Also, Maybe she was so careless just because she was so distraught, her entire world had just turned upside down. It wasn't smart to give it all to the driver, but I didn't find it unbelievable. At the age of 18 I was married, but if I put myself in her shoes and ascribe the betrayal of Mr. Rochester to my hubby and her options and situation to me, I don't think I'd be thinking too clearly either.
And I think I'm kind of like Joanie, minor plot points like that just get swallowed up in my total enjoyment of this book.
But we won't stone you Meghan! That's so middle ages! Can't we consult the archives of survivor and find something more appropriate (i.e. bird eating?) :-)

message 13: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Yes, what chapter is that in -- or pinpoint it closer even if you can. I don't have footnotes either. I don't recall that bit at all and am wondering how I've missed it in my multiple readings and long "relationship" with this book.

message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I have footnotes, but a different edition, and I don't remember anything about that.

message 15: by Meghan (last edited Feb 17, 2008 09:52PM) (new)

Meghan Found it!

It's in Chapter 27:

"Jane! Will you hear reason?" (he stooped and approached his lips to my ear); "because, if you won't, I'll try violence." ("I'll try violence" meaning rape according to my footnotes.)


St. John Rivers also threatens rape too (although in the form of legalized, socially accepted rape as a husband taking his "rightful" share with his wife). I found this incredibly disturbing and fairly forward thinking for Bronte's times. (My introduction dealt with both of their threats and how that made the two men similar.

"Rivers, as the "bride of Christ", offers Jane a marriage as invalid as Rochester's first proposal, for Rivers is, in the deepest possible sense, betrothed already. The conjugal relations he proposes would involve the institutionalized rape the law permitted: 'Can I...endure all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupulously observe)?" (Chapter 34). Men's violence against women is treated by Charlotte Bronte with an unashamed openness unique in the period: St. John implicitly proposes and Rochester contemplates rape.")

Arielle - Off to exile island for me with my bird fetus and Gatsby! heh

message 16: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments Interesting. Now that you mention it, I remember reading that sentence, but I guess I just took it to mean he was just desperate to get her attention, not that he would actually do anything.
It's weird though how even though Jane sensed that Mr. Rochester was about to lose it, it says she wasn't afraid because she had a kind of power over him.


I wasn't particularly horrified at the thought that Jane and Rivers would be intimate if married, because she knew that she could come to love him (even if it would be her folly). However, it really bothered me that St. John presumed to know what God's will for her life was, and tried to guilt her into following his beckoning. And while he was probably very well-intentioned, I hated that he was so close minded to the thought that Jane should write her own destiny and might just be a better judge than he on God's will for her.

message 17: by Erin (last edited Feb 19, 2008 05:11PM) (new)

Erin | 76 comments SPOILER......

Arielle - I too was bothered by the way St John attempted to get Jane to marry him. He was such a bully - trying to disguise it by using God's name, but really just trying to (as you say) guilt Jane into obeying his own wishes. And his chilly treatment of her afterwards - refusing to acknowledge that he had been 'offended' by her and insisting that he was treating her no differently than normal. More manipulation. When I compare Jane's behavior against his, I see that she had a much better understanding of what love is really about: seeking reconciliation, and seeking God's will - even tho I'd have been so ticked off there's no way I would have wanted to go with St John in any capacity!

message 18: by Shannon, the founder of fun (back from sabbatical) (new)

Shannon | 254 comments Mod
I too had major issues with St John. I find it horrifying anytime someone uses God or religion to control people by saying that it's God's will - when really it is only their own will they are trying to impose on others. I didn't understand how Jane could continue to be so patient and forgiving of St John after he gave her the cold shoulder and tried to punish her for not doing as he wanted. She kept saying that she still believed he was really a great man - how can that be after he treated Jane the way he did? He gave me the creeps.

What's the recommended film adaptation of this novel? I would like to see how St John is portrayed because I absolutely hated him in the novel.

message 19: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Feb 21, 2008 12:49PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I have not seen this book adapted to film, yet. I'm going to check out the BBC mini-series "Jane Eyre." It's in my Netflix queue, but who knows when I'll get to see it. I believe there's an older version with Orson Welles as Mr. R, Joan Fontaine as Jane? I'll have to look it up. Anyone?

message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) There is a version with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine but I don't think it's the full book. I don't remember any of the St. John stuff. I think Jane never left Thornfield. I've heard the version that was on PBS for Masterpiece a couple months ago was really good. I didn't really care for the one with William Hurt in it.

message 21: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
O.K., what's in my queue is a 2006 Masterpiece Theater production. I didn't realize Joan Fontaine played Jane Eyre & Rebecca...interesting. I've not heard much about that version (outside of above)...also says Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns.

message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I know, isn't it weird that she played both those parts? She's still alive. Maybe if they ever make a movie version of Thursday Next (which they couldn't do, since the brilliance is in the way it's written) she should play Granny Next. Heh.

message 23: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Feb 21, 2008 02:01PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I wonder how she felt about being typecast as the young girl, struggling for her own identity? Actually, I guess they're two pretty different characters, as Jane Eyre was relatively self-assured and frankly honest and assertive, and Unnamed Narrator was kind of weak and pathetic haha.

Yeah, she'd make a good Granny Next. Was she the lady that was always complaining?

I just tried to add Rebecca to my Netflix queue, by the way, and it has an unknown availability date. :( Has this not been released to DVD?

message 24: by Shannon, the founder of fun (back from sabbatical) (new)

Shannon | 254 comments Mod
I just put that version in my netflix queue too.

message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Hmm, I don't know. It was on TCM a while back and I had it saved on my DVR for months though. The ending of the movie (Rebecca) is different. They had to change it to get it past the censors.

message 26: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments I really enjoyed the Masterpiece Theater rendition of Jane Eyre, though I probably should have read the book first. Curiosity got the better of me.

Chapter 27 has got to be my favorite chapter in the whole book. Nowhere else do we get as clear a picture of either of the two main characters and their personalities as here. I have something marked on nearly every page. I love that she finally gets to see him as he is and how she sticks to her principles. This part in particular I thought really put Rochester in his place:

"Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on lust for a passion--vice for an occupation?"

"Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure--you as well as I: do so."

Also, regarding the rape threat, I totally picked up on that as well and needless to say it did not improve my opinion of Rochester or his questionable sanity. This part too I think points in that same direction, especially the second paragraph, very powerful writing:

Mr. Rochester, reading my countenance, saw I had done so. His fury was wrought to the highest: he must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed; he crossed the floor and seized my arm and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming glance: physically, I felt, at the moment, powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace: mentally, I still possessed my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety. The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter--often an unconscious, but still a truthful interpreter--in the eye. My eye rose to his; and while I looked in his fierce face I gave an involuntary sigh; his gripe was painful, and my over-taxed strength almost exhausted.

"Never," said he, as he ground his teeth, "never was anything at once so frail and so indomitable. A mere reed she feels in my hand!" (And he shook me with the force of his hold.) "I could bend her with my finger and thumb: and what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed her? Consider that eye: consider the resolute, wild, free thing looking out of it, defying me, with more than courage--with a stern triumph. Whatever I do with its cage, I cannot get at it--the savage, beautiful creature! If I tear, if I rend the slight prison, my outrage will only let the captive loose. Conqueror I might be of the house; but the inmate would escape to heaven before I could call myself possessor of its clay dwelling place. And it is you, spirit--with will and energy, and virtue and purity--that I want: not alone your brittle frame. Of yourself you could come with soft flight and nestle against my heart, if you would: seized against your will, you will elude the grasp like an essence--you will vanish ere I inhale your fragrance."

...and hence why the threat is empty. Thank goodness Rochester is sane enough to see this much at least.

And the part where they exclaim each other's name was also great. You could almost hear the unwritten pleads. Jane!(don't leave!) Mr. Rochester!(don't make me stay!) It's this concession that Rochester makes to Jane that gives him some reprieve in my eyes.

Speaking of which, did Jane make the right choice in leaving or was she just being a prude? Earlier on, Rochester goes on about how he would stay devotedly by her side if Jane were to go insane, saying that he never loved his wife at all. But I have a hard time believing this. For all we know he could have just gotten bored with her and then she happened to go insane. I may have to read Wide Sargasso Sea after all.

message 27: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Heather - I really appreciate your thoughts! It's helping my opinion of the book to read them.

message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Heather, is that what was on this past Sunday? I totally forgot to TiVo it.

message 29: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments No, I saw it back in early January. I don't think there was a MT this week. I had my tivo setup for it and nothing recorded at least.

Meghan, thanks for the comment. Glad to be of some help. I'd been having a hard time with this book so I was happy to find a part I enjoyed finally and had to share.

message 30: by Grace (last edited Aug 31, 2019 09:27PM) (new)

Grace (gch1995) | 1 comments I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Rochester. On the one hand, I know I certainly would never ever want to date or marry a man like him in real life because he could be controlling, deceptive, delusional, entitled, manipulative, moody, and, at worst, engage in some behaviors with Jane that would be considered borderline sexual harassment/sexual coercion in the modern day era of #Me2, though Rochester’s still far, far, far better towards Jane in Jane Eyre, even at his worst, in comparison to Harvey Weinstein, R Kelly, or Bill O’Riley. Back then, he would have been called somewhat of a seductive and libertine cad with women. While bigamy was still illegal to commit back then, regardless of gender, even back then in the era of early-mid 19th century Victorian England, men seducing women was not a punishable crime by law in the legal system, though it was certainly still frowned upon as libertine behavior back then, and women were considered “fallen” if they gave in to pressure and temptation. That’s why Jane Eyre is considered such a proto-feminist heroines of her time. She recognizes that men who impose their authority and dominance over her life are not entitled to do so, and she has no obligation to love them, marry them, or run away with them to live in sin.

I just can’t hate Rochester because he’s clearly not a neurotypical or sane man, and in the Victorian era that would have been incredibly difficult to overcome without becoming a total monster, so I think Rochester does genuinely deserve some credit for holding onto some deep semblance of genuine humanity, self-awareness, and self-control in that era, though he’s still far from a saint and a total mess.

He seems to clearly suffer from mild-moderate traits of NPD and hypomanic depression. Yes, he has trouble being honest, fair, and emotionally vulnerable with Jane. It would really suck to not be able to get a divorce from someone who turned out to be clinically insane, unfaithful, and abusive to you back then, especially after finding out your brother and your dad set you up for failure in their trap of a marriage that you naively fell for. Yes, Rochester was somewhat of a libertine with women, which would make us cringe today, but within that backwards Victorian patriarchal society in which women were viewed as second class citizens to men, there was little to no proper treatment or therapy for people with mental health issues, most people didn’t fully understand what all the red flags of abuse were in relationships, men were allowed to get away with sexually harassing/seducing women, and the only crime that was penalized by the law was bigamy, so I can completely understand why a broken, cowardly, emotionally damaged, deeply insecure, unconsciously emotionally/psychologically abusive, controlling, blindly entitled, self-sabotaging, possessive, and delusional man who had serious trouble fully understanding what consent was from a woman, like Rochester would exist within that historical context of Jane Eyre, and my heart completely breaks for him. Rochester’s no saint, even by Victorian standards, but I still want for him to get better. Obviously, he’s still fully responsible for the emotional trauma he caused Jane by deceiving and pressuring her, Jane was completely in the right for leaving him when she did after finding out the truth because he was not entitled to her, like he was attempting to make her feel, and if Jane hadn’t wanted to forgive him or take him back in the end, then she still would have been completely obligated to that choice.

I love Mr. Rochester and Jane, both as individual characters and an ultimate couple by the end. However, the most important aspect of having a fictional favorite problematic character and/or couple is fully acknowledging their faults and recognizing why they are problematic. Mr. Rochester may not have been physically abusive of Jane, but he occasionally was somewhat emotionally abusive of Jane up until she left him for his deceptions, he lost his eyesight (temporarily), a hand, his estate, and he started atoning for his sins. We have to acknowledge that it was very wrong for him to be this way with Jane as readers to appreciate his atonement arc at the end of the novel, just as both of the characters ultimately did in the novel before they could get a happy ending together as a healthy couple.

Usually, those who emotionally/mentally abuse others truly aren’t totally aware that they are causing any emotional trauma to others by coercing, deceiving, manipulating, gaslighting, disregarding their right to, controlling their finances, isolating, being possessive, pressuring, guilt tripping, threatening, intimidating ,etc. in relationships for what they believe is “love.” Instead, they are usually very deeply self-loathing people with untreated mental illness(es) and/or personality disorders with entitlement/self-delusional issues who convince themselves and attempt to convince those who become their victims in relationships that they are doing what is best for them by controlling them because they are too hyper-focused on their own personal insecurities and/or perceived shortcomings, and too afraid to be emotionally vulnerable with someone else because they are so afraid of rejection. I think Rochester’s issues were mild-moderate NPD, manic depressive, and histrionic traits, and considering the fact that he was a 19th century Englishman living with those issues, I think he genuinely does deserve some credit for being able to hold onto enough of his humanity and sanity to keep himself from completely falling over the edge of the brink and becoming a monster.

Heathcliff was just a ****ing monster with no conscience and no ultimately redeeming qualities, and Emily Brontë didn’t ever pretend otherwise in the narrative of Wuthering Heights. He’s a complete subversion of the Byronic Hero with Classic Anti-hero traits, and clearly a Villain Protagonist variant Byronic Hero. Granted, the Phantom did have something of a redemptive moment at the end of POTO by letting Christine go with Raoul, but I still call him mostly a Byronic Hero with Villain Protagonist traits, too, like Heathcliff, rather than a Byronic Hero with Classic Antihero traits like Mr. Rochester. Not only was what Heathcliff and the Phantom put their victims through far, far, far worse than what Rochester ever put Jane through in Jane Eyre, but, unlike him, they also had malicious intentions, whereas Rochester deceived and manipulated Jane and occasionally acted overbearing because he was a deeply self-loathing coward with mild-moderate NPD/manic depressive traits, so I think people are making him out to be way worse in canon than he actually was intended to be by drawing comparisons between Rochester versus the Phantom and Heathcliff. Yes, they are all literary Byronic Heroes, but whereas the Phantom and Heathcliff are/were genuinely and intentionally evil Villain Protagonists, Rochester fits more into the Byronic Hero/ Classic Anti-Hero variant of the trope of a character. This variant of a Byronic Hero genuinely doesn’t intend to cause any harm to anyone and genuinely means well (or believe they do) but still hurts others in relationships, anyway, because their pride, cowardice, self-loathing, delusions, and personal insecurities act as their own worst enemies, and holds them back from doing what is right in the right ways. The Byronic Classic Anti-Hero variant applies more closely to Rochester. He genuinely and deeply loves Jane, he’s genuinely under the belief that he’s doing what’s best for both of them, even if his means are immoral, deceitful, cowardly, manipulative selfish, and just incredibly unhealthy, but it’s his own blind entitlement, recklessness, selfishness, and incredibly unhealthy coercive, deceitful, and manipulative means he attempts that act as his own undoing. Thankfully, he gets the opportunity to atone and redeem himself at the end, but, yeah, he was a total ****ing mess!

I suppose you could call Rochester an Anti-Villain, except he’s not really a heel-face-revolving door, and he genuinely thinks securing love with Jane through bigamy is his ticket to becoming a better man. He knew the deceit was wrong all along, but he thought the bigamy was okay. Anti-Villains are usually wild cards who are all over the place, aligning with good guys and bad guys alike for whatever suits their needs or desires, often caught in a heel-face-revolving door. Rochester could be in that category, except his desires and needs, for better or worse, really only align with Jane and her love in the novel. He’s something of an antagonist to Jane’s goal to gain, maintain, and retain free-will, happiness, and self-respect, but he’s also part of her success to find those things and triumph over them. I’m not sure if we would call him a villain of the story either.

Nonetheless, a lack of malicious intent does not excuse the emotional/mental trauma and pressure the emotional/psychological abuser puts on those who become their victims in relationships. Jane was completely obligated to not be in a romantic/sexual relationship with Mr. Rochester in chapter 27. If Jane hadn’t felt like forgiving Rochester and/or didn’t feel like taking him back in the end after she came back and his wife was dead, she would have been completely obligated to the choice not to. However, I’m glad she was rewarded by Mr. Rochester genuinely atoning for his sins, learning from his mistakes, and spending the next ten years of their life making it up to her by being the best husband ever when she forgave him and decided to marry him on her own terms.

I genuinely don’t believe Rochester ever would have actually physically harmed Jane, physically forced her to be his mistress/“wife,” especially not when he saw how unhappy he was making her by trying to coerce her in, and/or sexually violated her in chapter 27. But I think it’s also important for us to acknowledge that he was behaving kind of terrifyingly in that chapter towards her. We have to acknowledge it was wrong for him to attempt to dupe Jane into a bigamous union. We have to acknowledge that he was wrong to attempt to marry a woman who was under his employ the first time around, which was why he lost his estate. We have to acknowledge that it was wrong for him to attempt to persuade and pressure Jane to run away with him to the Mediterranean so they could get bigamously married there as “husband” and “wife” without the law being able to follow them across Europe outside of England, dropping an empty threat of physical violence, guilt tripping her, reminding her that she had no one else in the world’s opinion to care about but his own, kissing her forehead and cheek in attempt to shake her resolve to leave him, and by grabbing her arm and waist in a tight hold for a second, sharing some scary thoughts about how he felt tempted to hurt her and physically violate her, yet never actually could, and shaking her once in his anger before letting her go free to make her own choice.

As for the thing about keeping Bertha locked up in the attic, considering the historical context of the novel Jane Eyre, I really didn’t see that as a sign that Rochester was evil. I actually thought it was pretty humane, considering how terrible asylums were back then, though it genuinely was really shortsighted and stupid of him to not look for a more competent caretaker for Bertha than an alcoholic, which, of course, he does pay for at the end of the novel when Bertha burns down Thornfield, and he loses most of his eyesight, a hand, and his estate.

I also found Jane’s response to his threat of violence odd. Yes, it was always presumably empty, but she didn’t know that at the time, and yet, she’s just like, “He’ll never hurt me because I know how to ‘tame’ him by reminding him of his love and humanity, so the fact that he’s threatening to do something horrible is kind of a turn on.”

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