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Jane Eyre | Chapter 33 | Summary

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Summary

The following day, in the midst of a whirling snowstorm, St. John returns to Jane's cottage. He tells her a story about a rich man's daughter who married a poor curate and was disowned by her family. Less than two years later, both were dead. Their infant daughter was taken in by rich relations and raised by Mrs. Reed. He goes on to tell Jane's own story, up to her flight from Thornfield. St. John explains that the scrap of paper he had taken from Jane's cottage the previous day contained the signature "Jane Eyre," and he had recently received a letter from Mr. Briggs inquiring about Jane Eyre. Briggs wants to inform Jane that her uncle John Eyre has died in Madeira and left his fortune of 20,000 pounds to her. Her first reaction is to lament the loss of the possibility of a relationship with a relative—she had hoped to get to know her uncle. Her second is to recognize the benefit of such a sum: "independence would be glorious," she thinks. Jane asks St. John why Briggs had thought to write to him about Jane. After some persuasion St. John tells Jane that "[his] mother's name was Eyre, and she had two brothers." One brother married Jane Reed (Jane's mother), and the other was John Eyre of Madeira, a merchant. Jane is overjoyed to learn that the Rivers siblings are her cousins. She immediately decides that she will divide her inheritance four ways and share it with them and plans to stop teaching.

Analysis

St. John chides Jane about having misplaced priorities because when she learned about inheriting a fortune, she was serious, but when she learned about her newfound cousins, she was excited. The desire for family and human connection has always been more important to Jane than the desire for wealth. She tells St. John, "I never had a home, I never had brothers or sisters; I must and will have them now." Jane now imagines a new future for herself. She sees herself living at Moor House enjoying her cousins' company and free to pursue her own interests, a vision underscored by her pleasure in "independence."

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