For days, Jane has little to do with Mr. Rochester. Sometimes they pass each other, and she learns that he has very changeable moods. Then he calls for her company again, along with Adele and Mrs. Fairfax, and thus begins a most extraordinary conversation.
I don't blame Jane for being a bit confused by him, do you? I've read this book and know most of what he's talking about, alluding to, and planning, and I still get dizzy trying to keep up with his "deep and rather sarcastic voice" (p. 155).
So if you've never read this before, and you're a little lost and trying to figure out what he's talking about, don't despair! He's talking to hear himself think, at some points. And Jane may be right -- he may have had a bit more wine with supper than he ought to have, who knows.
But anyway, I'm heartily amused by the early parts of their discussion, when Jane tells him she doesn't think he's handsome, then tries to apologize for her truthfulness, and he won't let her. He obviously likes her so much for being unconventional. This was a great comfort to me when I was an unconventional teen! Maybe I would be stuck with a man whose past was filled with dark secrets, but at least I wouldn't have to be alone forever just because I found so many conventions irksome.
And who can help but love Mr. Rochester for insisting on not treating Jane as his inferior just because he inherited his money and she earns hers? Though he's not especially kind to Adele. Still, it's so decent of him to keep and raise her, even if it is "rather on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sins, great or small, by one good work" (p. 167). As I recall, this is about as close as he comes to accepting paternity of Adele.
But Jane, of course, is correct that an idea is not right and good just because it is attractive. Sigh. Mr. Rochester, you have a lot to learn. Good thing there's lots of book left for you to learn it in!
"Confound these civilities! I continually forget them" (p. 155).
Instead of speaking, I smiled; and not a very complaisant or submissive smile either (p. 159).
"I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence; one, I rather like; the other, nothing free-born would submit to, even for a salary" (p. 161).
"I mentally shake hands with you for your answer" (p. 161).
"Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life" (p. 163).
"Your language is enigmatical, sir; but though I am bewildered, I am certainly not afraid" (p. 165).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Rochester and Jane disagree as to whether repentance or reformation is the cure for remorse. What is your opinion?