Jane Eyre By Charlotte Brontë Summary and Analysis Chapter 13

Summary

Life at Thornfield changes following Rochester's arrival. Jane and Adèle are forced to abandon the library because Rochester needs to use it as a meeting room. Before, silence had ruled; now, the house it filled with new voices. Jane likes the place better now that it has a master. Adèle finds it impossible to concentrate on her lessons because she's so busy wondering what presents Rochester has brought for her.

Jane isn't pleased with the "additional ceremony" of dressing up for tea with Rochester. Jane again notes the firm, decisiveness of his face, which is imposing rather than beautiful. Rochester's stiff, impatient formality with Jane intrigues her more than "finished politeness" would have. Questioning her about her family and discovering that her parents are dead, Rochester concludes that Jane is a fairy. He then judges her accomplishments, her piano playing and drawing. While he finds her playing average, Rochester is impressed by Jane's drawings. At nine o'clock, Rochester dismisses the women.

Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane more of Edward Rochester's history. His father, Old Mr. Rochester, and brother, Rowland, plotted against him, so Edward was forced into a painful position, of which Mrs. Fairfax knows nothing. Edward broke away from the family, only returning to Thornfield nine years ago when his brother died and he thus inherited the property.

Analysis

The relationship between Jane and Rochester develops in this chapter. Rochester is a grim and unfriendly man, but Jane enjoys his gruffness, because she wouldn't have known how to respond to grace, elegance, or politeness. Because Rochester is so natural, not acting a part, Jane feels she can also be open and honest during her interactions with him. Continuing with the mythic, almost supernatural theme of their initial encounter, Rochester reveals that he thought Jane was a fairy who had bewitched his horse when they first met. Rochester repeatedly refers to Jane as a sprite or elfin character, claiming that the "men in green" are her relatives, repeating the associations between Jane and fairies that began early in the novel, and emphasizing the mystical aspects of her personality. As an orphan, Jane's past and future are both open; she is not required to cater to anyone else's desires for her; if she wants to claim fairies for kin, she can. Significantly, both Jane and Rochester give their initial meeting a fairy-tale significance, suggesting their relationship will be ideal or special in some way.

After gazing at her drawings, Rochester finds that they, too, are "elfish." Jane confides to her readers that her "spiritual eye" provided her with the images for the drawing, which are only "a pale portrait of the thing I had conceived." Jane's daydreaming has been channeled into her artistic productions, so that her passion and restlessness have a creative outlet. As Rochester notes, the drawings are not typical schoolgirl productions, but have strange, sometimes violent subjects: a drowned corpse; a vision of the Evening Star with dark and wild eyes; and a colossal head resting upon an iceberg. Rochester immediately wonders if Jane was happy when she created these images, and she replies that to paint them was "to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever know." For her, happiness comes through artistic creation, and the starkness and beauty of the pictures signals the depth of her character. Despite her pleasure in creative work, Jane is upset by the contrast between her ideas and the actual pictures. Is this also true of the autobiography? Is this also an artistic product that doesn't fulfill the artist's desires? Still, Rochester is impressed by the glimpses the drawings give of Jane's inner visions. As "elfish" productions, they have spiritual and magical power over him.

Glossary

ami a friend.

Et cela doit . . . n'est-ce pas, mademoiselle? And this must mean there's a present inside for me, and perhaps for you also, miss. Mr. Rochester asked about you: He wanted to know the name of my governess, and if she was petite, rather thin, and a bit pale. I said yes: because it's true, isn't it, miss?

N'est-ce pas . . . petite coffre? Sir, isn't there a present for Miss Eyre in your little trunk?

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