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Free Barron's Booknotes-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER 24

The next morning, the sky is clear and all seems calm and beautiful again. "Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy," Jane tells herself.

Mr. Rochester, meanwhile, is filled with plans for their approaching marriage. He tells Jane he wants to take her traveling in Europe after the wedding, and he urges her to come into town with him and let him buy her some expensive new dresses, which she will need when she is elevated to the position of a rich man's wife.

In this chapter, Rochester tries to tell Jane that, despite their unequal social status, she has the upper hand emotionally. "You please me, and you master me-you seem to submit.... [yet] I am conquered," he tells Jane.

Jane is not quite so confident. She is troubled by her total financial dependence on the man she loves. She won't take the fancy dresses he wants to buy her and accepts only two modest ones in their place. She tells him that she doesn't want to be in the position of a kept woman or mistress, and she insists on continuing to behave as a governess until after the wedding.

NOTE:

How do you feel about Jane's decision? Is she being foolish to refuse to accept presents from her own fiance? Or do you think she has sound reasons for holding on to at least a facade of independence? Perhaps she thinks too little of herself to be able to accept presents lavished on her?

CHAPTER 25

A month has gone by and it's now the day before the wedding.

Mr. Rochester has been away overnight on business, visiting some farms he owns in a nearby district. On his return, he tells Jane that they will be leaving on their wedding trip one hour after the ceremony.

Jane has something more troubling on her mind. She tells Rochester that on the previous night she suffered a terrible nightmare. Thornfield Hall was in ruins, and she was running away from it carrying a baby in her arms.

NOTE:

Remember, from Chapter 21, that Jane believes this dream foretells trouble in the family.

But the worst was yet to come that night. Jane awakened to find a strange woman in her room. The woman was large and tall, with dishevelled black hair and a horrible, discolored face-blotchy skin, swollen lips, and bloodshot eyes. As Jane watched in fear, this strange woman placed Jane's wedding veil over her own head, studied herself in the mirror, and then angrily ripped the veil in two parts and trampled them underfoot. Then she came to Jane's bed and leaned over to stare at her.

Jane swears that she never saw this horrible-looking woman before. It wasn't Grace Poole. The woman reminded her of something unreal-of "that foul German spectre-the Vampyre."

Rochester tells Jane that she must be imagining things. Of course it was Grace Poole! Who else could it be? He promises that after he and Jane have been married for a year and a day he will explain why he continues to keep "such a woman" in his house. In the meantime, he urges Jane to spend her last night at Thornfield on the couch in Adele's room.

NOTE:

Would you be satisfied with this explanation? Probably not. Rochester sounds a little bit like one of those ladies' men who is always urging naive young girls to "trust me." On the other hand, his promise that he will answer Jane's questions after "a year and a day" of marriage sounds like a fairy tale, not real life. If you're willing to see Jane Eyre as a real-life fairy tale-at least in part,- then you may understand why Jane doesn't insist on getting the answers about Grace Poole before the wedding. And yet, in real life, most people take an awful lot on faith when they fall in love and decide to get married. This is especially true for a girl like Jane who has no experience with sex and romantic love.

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