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The night before the wedding, Jane becomes uneasy because of a dream she has had. As Mr. Rochester is away on business, Jane is not able to communicate the episode to him. While anxiously waiting for him, she wanders about in the orchard, unprotected from the wind and the rain. Then she sets off down the road for a walk. She comes back with Mr. Rochester on Mesrour, his horse. After supper she keeps her promise of sitting awake with him the night before their wedding and narrates the two disturbing dreams she has had.
The first was highly tragic. She saw herself carrying a weak, crying child in her arms. She was trying to keep pace with Mr. Rochester, who was speeding away on horseback. In the second part of the same dream, she saw the crumbling walls of Thornfield Hall. She was frantically trying to get a last glimpse of Mr. Rochester, who was disappearing. She dropped the child she was carrying, fell from a ledge and then woke up.
Jane also tells him that on waking she saw a ghastly woman, trying on her (Jane's) bridal veil in front of the mirror. The woman tore the veil in two and "trampled" over the pieces. Jane had been too shocked to speak, and eventually, when the woman held up a candle to Jane's face, she fell unconscious. Now Jane wants Mr. Rochester to tell her who this mysterious woman is.
Mr. Rochester tries to dismiss the incident as a figment of Jane's imagination. However, Jane mentions that she found the torn veil in the morning. Mr. Rochester then shudders and suggests that it must have been Grace Poole. He promises that a year and a day after their marriage, he will tell Jane the reason for keeping Grace at Thornfield. Jane shares Adèle's bed that night but is unable to sleep. She huddles close to the little girl, who reminds her of her own miserable and lonely childhood.
Jane's dream reveals her emotional distress. Jane is a witness to the partial destruction of the chestnut tree. The trunk, split through the center, gapes in a ghastly manner. "The clover halves were not broken from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unscendered below." The two halves are thus connected at the roots. The symbolism hints at the prospective reunion, after a painful separation, of Jane and Mr. Rochester. But it is going to be a reunion tinged with melancholy. It hints in advance that when that reunion does take place, Mr. Rochester will have been "charred and scorched" by the fire of Thornfield. Life will be as cruel to the separated Jane and Rochester as the winter storms are now to the damaged tree.
If Jane's emotional state is expressed through her response to the weather, her concern for Mr. Rochester is expressed through the symbolism of fire. Jane knows that on a gloomy evening Mr. Rochester would like to see a cheerful hearth when he comes in. She keeps the fire burning for him.
Jane articulates the details of her dreams, including her experience of the apparition of Bertha. Perhaps she dreads becoming another Céline Varens, for, in both the dreams, she sees herself "burdened with the charge of a little child" and Mr. Rochester becoming "like a speck on a white track, lessening every moment." The second dream merges with reality. On waking she sees the real barrier between Mr. Rochester and herself in the form of Bertha, whom she describes in terrifying terms: "fearful and ghastly," "savage," "the foul German spectre--the Vampyre." Bertha's tearing the wedding veil into two foreshadows the unfinished wedding ceremony that will occur between Jane and Rochester. Jane's dream of the ruin of Thornfield Hall is another very fine example of foreshadowing in this novel. In Jane's dream, coming events cast their shadows in advance. It is very interesting to compare the description of the ruin in the dream, as described in this chapter, with the description of the actual ruin at the novel's end.