Christmas has arrived and Jane is closing the Morton school. She is happy to
discover that she is beloved by the girls and promises to visit the school for an
hour each week. St. John asks Jane if she wouldn’t like to dedicate her life to
working with the poor, but she wants to enjoy herself, as well as cultivating
others. Jane sets off for Moor House to prepare for the arrival of Diana and Mary.
St. John shows a disappointing lack of interest in the renovations Jane has done
at Moor House, but Diana and Mary ungrudgingly appreciate Jane’s hard work.
The women spend the week in “merry domestic dissipation,” a pleasure St. John
can’t enjoy. He tells them Rosamond Oliver is to be married to a Mr. Granby, but
the news doesn’t seem to upset him. To Jane, St. John seems more distant than
before they knew they were cousins.
One day when Jane sits home with a cold, St. John suddenly asks her to give up
German lessons and learn Hindustani, the language he is studying in preparation
for his missionary work. Slowly, St. John takes more control over Jane, sucking
away her freedom; she doesn’t enjoy her new servitude. She is also stricken with
sadness, because she is unable to discover what has happened to Rochester
since she left him. Then St. John surprises her. In six weeks, St. John will leave
for India, and he wants Jane to accompany him, as his wife. If she goes to India,
Jane knows she’ll die prematurely, but she agrees to go anyway—if she can go
as his sister, not his wife, because they don’t love each other as husband and
wife should. St. John insists on the marriage. After much discussion, they are
unable to overcome the obstacle of the marriage issue, so St. John asks Jane to
think about his proposal for a couple of weeks. He warns her that rejecting his
proposal means rejecting God.
St. John’s absolute, God-sanctioned despotism becomes apparent in this
chapter. Just as Brocklehurst was a “black pillar,” St. John is “a white stone” and
a “cold cumbrous column”; Brocklehurst was evil and St. John is good, but both
men are equally stony. Even St. John’s kisses are “marble” or “ice” kisses: No
warmth or affection warms them.
St. John’s God is an infallible, warrior deity: king, captain, and lawgiver. Similarly,