Course Hero. "Jane Eyre Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 18 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Jane-Eyre/>.
Course Hero. (2016, July 28). Jane Eyre Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Jane-Eyre/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Jane Eyre Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Jane-Eyre/.
Course Hero, "Jane Eyre Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed May 18, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Jane-Eyre/.
Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 20 of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre.
As the light of the full moon shines into Jane's room in the middle of the night, awakening her, a frightening shriek rings out from the third floor. Jane hears a struggle in the room above hers and a call for help, followed by a call for Rochester. Rochester calms his frightened guests by telling them that "a servant has had a nightmare." In fact it is another incident that may be related to Grace Poole. Rochester asks Jane to come to the third floor and stay with Mason, who is bleeding, while Rochester fetches a surgeon. Before he goes Jane hears snarling behind a hidden door that she assumes is Grace Poole. Jane tends Mason's knife and bite wounds. After Rochester returns with the surgeon and Mason is patched up, Rochester arranges for him to leave with the surgeon before the guests awaken.
Rochester walks in the garden with Jane and assures her that the danger is past and she doesn't need to be afraid of Grace Poole. He tells Jane a story about a young man who makes a serious mistake in a foreign land that now casts a shadow on his life. After years of trying to find happiness in the pursuit of pleasure, the man goes home. There he meets someone who can help him redeem himself and lead a moral life. Rochester asks Jane if she thinks the man is justified in ignoring a moral "obstacle of custom" and convention in order to be with this person, who can reform him. Jane responds that true reformation should depend on a higher power, not on a mortal person. Then Rochester admits that he himself is in this situation and he believes he has found "the instrument" of his redemption. He asks Jane if she doesn't think Miss Ingram, if he marries her, "would regenerate [him] with a vengeance." Before they return to the house, he asks Jane to sit watch with him the night before his marriage.
There are several unresolved mysteries in this chapter. What connection does Mason have to whoever attacked him in the third-floor room? Is Grace Poole the attacker? Might it be someone else? When Rochester instructs Mason to keep quiet, he refers to an unnamed woman. Who is she? Why is Rochester so desperately determined to keep the occupant of that room out of sight? Why does Rochester insist that Jane and Mason not talk to one another while he gets the surgeon? What mistake did Rochester make in a foreign land? What is the obstacle that is preventing him from moving forward with his life?
Rochester realizes, from Jane's response to his hypothetical story, that the importance with which she regards a higher power will not allow her to ignore the obstacle that is blocking his hope of redemption and regeneration. He stops himself from naming Jane as the person who can help him regenerate his life and revives the idea that he will marry Blanche Ingram.