The man has a lot to learn. But I've said that already, haven't I?
So anyway, here we learn the long, detailed story of how Mr. Rochester's grande passion for Celine Varens died when he found her in the arms of another man. And then he casually mentions he fought a duel with the other guy and wounded him in the arm, la la la. That part goes by much too quickly for my taste, whereas we have to spend absolute pages on him hanging out on the balcony smoking and eating chocolate (mmm, chocolate) and eavesdropping. So I always have to spend a bit of time imagining out the duel, complete with hazy dawn mists and lots of stoic resolve on Mr. Rochester's face.
Anyway. I had totally forgotten that by the time Mr. Rochester broke with Celine, Adele was six months old! Huh. Though he denies his paternity of her, I do still like him for pitying her and taking her in, though it seems he did it out of stern English conviction that France is slimy and England is pure. Hmm.
But enough of all that! Because the second half of the chapter is so much more interesting. Creepy, demonic laughing in the night, a candle left unattended in the hallway, and then Mr. Rochester in Deadly Peril! And Jane having the great presence of mind to douse the fire herself! Movie versions always seem to have Mr. Rochester wake up and finish putting out the fire, but nope, Jane does it all in the book. And then I have to grin and chuckle over how Mr. Rochester just doesn't want her to leave. He almost confesses he loves her there, that he has loved her since he first beheld her, but instead he says she "strike[s] delight to my very inmost heart" (p. 180), which I think is one of the sweetest, most romantic things he could have said anyway.
Lastly, I love it when Jane muses that she "grieved for his grief, whatever it was, and would have given much to assuage it" (p. 176). That's a lot of what draws me to Byronic Heroes -- their sadness makes me sad, and I want to cheer them up.
Okay, not really lastly. Jane has that dream at the end that is full of Portents of Things to Come. She floats on a sea "where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy" (p. 181), and she can't quite get where she wants to go. How Very Prophetic.
My thin-crescent-destiny seemed to enlarge; the blanks of existence were filled up; my bodily health improved; I gathered flesh and strength (p. 175).
Gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see. His presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire (p. 175).
"My cherished preserver, good-night!" (p. 180).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Mr. Rochester says that his ideas, no matter how twisted or wrong, cannot harm Jane's pure and healthy mind, that in fact, "while I cannot blight you, you may refresh me" (p. 172). Do you think he's right?
It seems fairly obvious that Jane is falling in love with Mr. Rochester, and he with her. Do you think Mrs. Fairfax has noticed yet?