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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 19

Summary

Jane speaks to the gypsy with the utmost caution. At any rate she does not reveal her feelings for Mr. Rochester. The gypsy tells her strange things. She seems to know the most personal things about her and is even able to guess that Jane "(has) some secret hope to buoy (her) and please (her) with whispers of the future." This disclosure shocks Jane very much, but she replies casually that she wishes only to save enough money to start her own school.

The seemingly clever gypsy then goes on to remark how she thwarted the hopes of Blanche Ingram. She instructs Jane to kneel before her and attempts to study her character. She tells Jane that she has won the gratitude of her master and is in love with him, but reason prevails over passion in her. Gradually, during the conversation, Jane recognizes Mr. Rochester's familiar voice. He removes his disguise in front of her and asks Jane to forgive him. Jane replies that she had suspected it to be none other than Grace Poole. Mr. Rochester is eager to know his guests' reactions to the gypsy's predictions.


As it is nearing midnight, Jane asks to be excused and informs Rochester about the arrival of Mr. Mason. This news appears to cause him great distress. However, he receives Mason and talks to him in the library quite cheerfully. Consequently, Jane's mind is set at ease.

Notes

Mr. Rochester, disguised as a gypsy, makes an indirect declaration of his love under the pretext of predicting Jane's fortune. In this guise Mr. Rochester likewise admits that Blanche is more interested in his affluence than in himself as a person. It is clear that he has not been persuaded by her flirtatious advances. Mr. Rochester urges Jane to listen to "that still small voice which interprets the dictates of conscience." In many respects, the statement concerning the "still small voice" of Jane's conscience is the essence of the entire book. Mr. Rochester has not yet realized how powerful his words will be.

Jane is at first bewildered by the whole episode, but she realizes after some reflection that she has never been totally deceived or off her guard. Even while the victim of deception, she continues to be protected by her own unswerving honesty. She hopes that she has not been tempted into saying anything rash or immodest. However, she does protest that the trick has been "scarcely fair." She forgives Mr. Rochester but condemns his action.

The symbolic significance of fire in this chapter is very important. The image of light is associated with the idea of "truth." It is the glancing light of the fire, illuminating a strong masculine hand and a ring, that gives Mr. Rochester's own game away. Jane's distance from the fire in the drawing room is an indication of her underprivileged social position. Mr. Rochester's association of the passions with elemental disturbance is also significant. In this chapter, a distinction is made between passion and reason, feeling and judgment, impulse and conscience. Finally, Mr. Rochester's reading of Jane's face by the firelight is a truthful one.

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