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Jane Eyre | Study Guide

Charlotte Brontë

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Chapter 31

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 31 of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre | Chapter 31 | Summary



Jane describes her home, using the present tense. After her first day of teaching at the village school, she feels depressed about the task ahead of her. Her students have so much to learn, and some are rough and undisciplined. She resolves to focus on the satisfaction she'll feel when her students make progress. St. John visits and, detecting her sorrowful mood, tells her that there was a time when he was unhappy with his ministry duties and craved a more exciting career. Heaven, he says, sent him a solution—he decided to find action by going to Asia on a godly "errand" as a missionary. While Jane and St. John talk, the beautiful young Rosamond Oliver appears at the gate. She is the benefactress who funds Jane's school. Rosamond invites St. John to come with her to visit her father right away, but he declines, "Not to-night." Jane detects a romantic tension between them. St. John, however, seems to be trying to resist Rosamond.


In this chapter readers see Jane beginning an independent life, the kind of life suitable to her position in society as one who needs to work but above the station of a servant. As the sole schoolteacher, she has autonomy. As someone living alone in her cottage, she has, for the first time in her life, the opportunity to set up her home as she wants it. That this passage is described in the present tense might indicate how alive and empowered Jane felt at this time—and how vivid and real the memory remains for her.

For someone who has known poverty, Jane initially has little empathy for her students, although she then resolves to help them with their manners as well as their education. St. John is revealed to be like Jane in this chapter in his resolve to help and improve those whom he considers beneath him. And, like Jane, he suppresses his passion in order to maintain his sense of morality.

The relationship of St. John and Rosamond provides a parallel to that of Rochester and Blanche Ingram. Rosamund, like Blanche, has her eye set on an eligible bachelor, although in this case Rosamond already has money—she is not a fortune seeker. Her regard for him helps establish him as a worthy character.

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