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It is evening by the time Jane arrives at Ferndean. She sees Mr. Rochester groping his way out into the twilight and then returning to the house. She finds him of the same physical aspect as before, except that his face wears a "brooding" look. She announces herself to Mary and John who are taking care of Mr. Rochester. She carries his tray into the parlor for him and gives him a chance to recognize her voice. He wonders if he is awake or just dreaming. Jane embraces him and assures him of her physical presence. She informs him of her newly gained independence and claims that she has returned for him. She also promises that she will never leave him. Mr. Rochester declares that because of his invalid condition, they may have to be more like a father and daughter than a husband and wife. When he expresses his fear that she will leave him owing to his ugly scars, she points out in a light manner that he was always "hideous." He is obviously pleased to have her back.
They spend the next day together. She narrates to him her experiences of the previous year. She deliberately mentions St. John Rivers to provoke his jealousy and in the process, to lighten his sorrow. However, she quickly reassures him of her undivided love. She goes on to compare what the two men in her life mean to her: she concludes that while she respects St. John, she loves Mr. Rochester. As there is no barrier to their marriage now, Rochester loses no time in asking her to marry him. Jane learns that at the very time that she had seemed to hear his voice, he had actually cried out her name after begging God for his help. Mr. Rochester feels that Jane has come in response to his anguished call. He also reveals how he has come to trust God as never before.
The mood of this section at Ferndean is that of reconciliation. There are overtones of temporizing and of lessons learned, that give this chapter a quiet, autumnal quality. It is difficult to believe that the Jane of this chapter is still only nineteen years old, perhaps because her attitudes have matured and become those of the older Jane, who is the real narrator of the novel. There is little of the youthful, lyric quality of the scene of the proposal in the garden at Thornfield. Both Jane and Mr. Rochester have learned to face life directly without illusions and to make happiness out of a human lot that is less than ideal. To Rochester's question, "you are altogether a human being, Jane!," she answers, "I conscientiously believe so, Mr. Rochester."
Mr. Rochester is also a completely changed man. He has been "charred and scorched" by the fire of Thornfield. He has also been disfigured and blinded. His character has undergone a major change. The readers see him in a penitent mood at the end of the chapter. His "stiff-necked rebellion" has been chastened and subdued. His arrogance has given way, yielding to humility. His pride in his
strength has been softened. In his own words he has turned to his Creator. He humbly entreats his redeemer to give him the "strength to lead henceforth a purer life" than he has led so far.
However, the teasing humor of the conversation between Jane and Mr. Rochester shows how they are restored to their loving sympathy. She is born to serve and to give. She can now give ungrudgingly to the man she loves. His consuming need for her will provide her with a completely fulfilling job. In many ways she is now happier than she ever was during the summer of their first, guilt-haunted courtship.