Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 21

My goodness, this chapter has a lot going on, huh?  First off, it sets up Jane's ability to Hear Things.  She says, "Sympathies, I believe, exist (for instance, between far-distant, long-absent, wholly estranged relatives; asserting, notwithstanding their alienation, the unity of the source to which each traces his origin), whose workings baffle mortal comprehension" (p. 259).  This will come up again very late in the book, and I like that Bronte sets up that ability here so that it's not quiiiiiiiiite so far-fetched and out-of-the-blue later on.  Here, Jane knows somehow that her Aunt Reed is ill even before Bessie's husband Robert comes to fetch her.

And lots has happened at Gateshead, huh?  John Reed committed suicide over all his debts, and Aunt Reed is dying.  Not just dying, but actually wants to see Jane!  Shocking.

The scene where Jane gets money from Mr. Rochester is one of my most favorite scenes.  It's right up there with the Gypsy Scene for m.  Though it begins seriously enough, with Rochester seeming to be suspicious of Jane's heretofore unmentioned relatives (does he think she's heard The Truth and is running away from him?), they are soon sparring verbally in a friendly, cute manner.  Rochester clearly wants her to be safe on her journey, inquiring about the trustability of Robert and how she will travel.  Their bickering over the money, his growling -- it's all adorable.  Jane's "No, sir; you are not to be trusted" (p. 264) is one of my favorite lines.

But you'll notice that, all through that scene, Mr. Rochester has his back against the door, shutting Jane in.  Once again, she's imprisoned by someone with power over her.  He lets her go at last, but for a few minutes, she is caged.  At the same time, she has him backed into a corner, in a way, since they both know he owes her money, and he knows he will do almost anything for her.  It's an interesting give-and-take of power, I think.

So off Jane goes to Gateshead, where her cousins turn out to be harmless and her aunt is indeed dying.  And at the end of the chapter, we get that shocking news that Jane is not so alone in the world as she had thought, nor need she work for her money if her uncle, John Eyre, does adopt her.  Then Aunt Reed dies, and that's the end of that.

Favorite Lines:

I still felt as a wanderer on the face of the earth; but I experienced firmer trust in myself and my own powers, and less withering dread of oppression.  The gaping wound of my wrongs, too, was now quite healed, and the flame of resentment extinguished (p. 267).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane has recurring dreams of a baby at the beginning of this chapter.  Do your dreams ever have recurring themes or images or patterns?


  1. Oh, good grief, I'm still limping along but am behind at chapter XIV. I have some time off now, so hopefully I can catch up!

    1. Cleopatra, don't worry about it! My summer has been unexpectedly busy, and I'm going through JE much more slowly than I'd expected. But I think a lot of participants are having the same problem, so the much slower pace is working out okay and letting people catch up when they have time :-)

  2. Haha, if only Jane knew how much Mr. Rochester was not to be trusted! :D

    1. Natalie, I know! It's such a prescient bit of dialog, in its way.

  3. How inquisitive you are, Hamlette! I love to really, truly read a book. Mr. Rochester and Jane's relationship is very complex and I feel as if they are real.

    Miranda Jo

    1. Thanks, Miranda Jo. If I love something, I want to know and understand it as thoroughly as possible :-)


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