Jane Eyre By Charlotte Brontë Summary and Analysis Chapter 22

Summary

Jane remains at Gateshead for a month, helping Georgiana and Eliza prepare for their departures: Georgiana to her uncle in London, and Eliza to a nunnery in Lisle, France. Eliza compliments Jane on her independence and hard work. The older Jane interrupts the narrative, telling Eliza's and Georgiana's futures: Eliza becomes the Mother Superior of a convent while Georgiana marries a wealthy, worn-out man of fashion. Mrs. Fairfax writes to Jane while she is at the Reeds, informing her that the house party has ended and that Rochester has gone to London to buy a new carriage, supposedly in anticipation of his upcoming marriage to Blanche.

Returning to Thornfield feels odd to Jane. She wonders where she'll go after Rochester marries and is impatient to see him again. Unexpectedly, she sees him sitting on a narrow stone stile, with a book and pencil in his hand. He teases her about sneaking up on him, like a "dream or shade." Almost against her will, Jane tells him that her only home is with him. At the house, Jane is warmly greeted by Mrs. Fairfax, Adèle, Sophie, and Leah, declaring there is no happiness like being loved. Over the next two weeks, Jane is surprised that no wedding preparations are being made, nor does Rochester journey to Ingram Park to visit Blanche. Never has she seen Rochester so happy; never has Jane loved him so well.

Analysis

In this chapter, Jane is again described as a magical creature. Indeed, the entire setting has become invested with magic. Walking on the road to Thornfield, Jane notices that the sky seems lit by fire, a spiritual "altar burning behind its screen of marbled vapour." When he sees her coming down the lane, Rochester wonders why she hasn't called a carriage "like a common mortal," but instead, steals home at twilight like a "dream or a shade." Similarly, when she declares she is returning from visiting her dead aunt, Rochester interprets her as saying she comes from the "other world — from the abode of people who are dead." If he had the courage, he would touch her to be sure she isn't "a substance or shadow" or elf. Touching her would be like touching one of the blue ignis fatuus lights in the marsh, a deceptive light that can't be found. In the same way, when she asks him whether he has been to London, Rochester wonders if she "found that out by second sight." Rochester wishes he could be more beautiful for his future bride, and asks fairy Jane for "a charm, or a philter" that would make him handsome, just as he earlier provided Richard Mason with a potion to make him fearless. In her admiration for Rochester, Jane believes a "loving eye is all the charm needed." That evening, Jane sits with Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle in the drawing room, and a "ring of golden peace" surrounds them. Their domestic happiness appears to be controlled by a magical power beyond their control, a magic circle of protection and repose, induced by Jane's prayers that they not be parted.

Jane isn't the only one with special powers. She reminds the reader of Rochester's ability to read her unspoken thoughts with incomprehensible acumen. In addition, his "wealth" of power for communicating happiness also seems magical. As she tries to leave him, an impulse holds her fast, "a force turned me round. I said — or something in me said for me, and in spite of me," wherever he is will be her home — her only home. In this instance, it's as if Rochester is compelling her to confess her feelings for him, and she can't possibly resist. Why is so much emphasis placed on both lover's otherworldly powers? The supernatural elements add to the gothic feel of the tale, and also make their love seem special, magical, like something existing outside of ordinary time and space.

Yet Jane isn't secure in her relationship with Rochester. Despite their obvious closeness, Jane still hears "a voice" warning her of near separation and grief. Her magical, psychic powers don't reveal a painless future. Similarly, she dreams of Miss Ingram closing the gates of Thornfield against her and sending her away, while Rochester smiles sardonically. As Rochester suggests, Jane seems to have a second sight, warning her of impending danger and separation from her beloved.

Glossary

bon soir good evening.

prête à croquer sa petite maman Anglaise ready to devour her little English mother.

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