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Jane Eyre | Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

The following morning, Jane speaks with Grace Poole and is amazed the woman hasn't been dismissed or punished for setting the fire. Rochester has told everyone that he accidentally set the fire. At her dinner with Mrs. Fairfax, Jane wonders what hold Poole has over Rochester. At tea Jane is disappointed to learn from Mrs. Fairfax that he has left for a party at a neighbor's estate and will likely be away for "a week or more." Mrs. Fairfax chats about the ladies who will be at the party, especially the "beautiful and accomplished" Blanche Ingram. Jane immediately begins to worry about a possible match between Rochester and Miss Ingram. She realizes she has fallen in love with Rochester, with whom she has no hope of marriage. In an attempt to rein in her emotions, Jane draws a harsh self-portrait, labeling it "Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain." Then, using her imagination, she draws a portrait of the lovely Blanche Ingram, labeled "Blanche, an accomplished lady of rank."

Analysis

The continued presence of Grace Poole is unnerving to Jane. In asking Jane not to reveal what really happened, Rochester has involved her in a deception that she doesn't understand. What information is he keeping from her? Why is he covering up for an apparently dangerous woman?

Rochester's absence and the thought of the beautiful Blanche Ingram make Jane realize that she has been lulled into dreaming of a possible future with a man who would not be likely to marry a poor, plain-looking governess. She decides she must rid herself of all such thoughts and vows that in the future, should she ever "chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of [her]," she will "take out these two pictures and compare them." Jane controls her emotions by limiting her expectations, demonstrating the discipline she has achieved and reflecting the themes of religion and self-control.

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