Jane Eyre | Study Guide

Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre | Chapters 18–19 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 18

The guests pursue various amusements at Thornfield, including a game of charades. When Rochester and a male guest invite Jane to join the game, Jane declines, and Miss Ingram's mother declares that Jane "looks too stupid" to play. During the game Rochester and Miss Ingram pantomime a marriage ceremony. Jane notices that Miss Ingram seems to be pursuing Mr. Rochester, and, although he seems somewhat receptive, he doesn't seem captivated by her. Miss Ingram seems unkind, small-minded, and cold. Jane doesn't feel jealous because she knows that Miss Ingram will never have the kind of connection with Rochester that Jane has, or could have, with him.

One evening while Rochester is away on business, Mr. Mason arrives and explains that he knew Rochester in the West Indies. Jane takes an instant dislike to the man, seeing something weak or unstable in him. Then an old gypsy woman arrives and insists on telling the guests their fortunes in the library. Miss Ingram goes first. When she returns she is subdued and withdrawn. After the other young women in the party have their fortunes told, the gypsy insists on telling Jane's fortune. Curious, Jane agrees.

Chapter 19

Jane tells the gypsy that she doesn't believe in fortune-telling, but she'll agree to listen. She says she wants to "save" and "set up a school." The gypsy presses Jane to find out what she thinks of the talk of marriage between Rochester and Miss Ingram. Jane asks if the marriage is planned, and the gypsy says it is. But she says she's told Miss Ingram that she'll be disappointed that Rochester's wealth is not as vast as she has hoped. Eventually Jane realizes that the gypsy is Rochester in disguise. Jane tells him about the arrival of Mr. Mason, and he's startled by the news, saying he'd like to be with her away from "trouble, and danger, and hideous recollections." At Jane's request, Rochester has her aid him by observing Mason and the other guests. He speaks with Mr. Mason in the library before everyone retires for the night.

Analysis

In Chapter 18 Jane comes to terms with the probability that Rochester will marry Miss Ingram. She doesn't detect anything like the bond that she and Rochester share, so she takes some comfort from that. On the other hand, she cannot forget her own feelings: addressing the reader once again, she says, "I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I could not unlove him now."

In his disguise as the gypsy, Rochester's message to Miss Ingram about the fortune she hopes to gain indicates that his assessment of her character is similar to Jane's assessment. He knows that she is shallow, interested only in money, and will soon lose interest in him. Why, then, does he want Jane to think he plans to marry Miss Ingram? Is he trying to prod Jane to reveal her true feelings for him?

Adding to the mystery is Rochester's reaction to Mason. He seems to feel that Mason could somehow threaten his reputation. What secret does Mason hold over Rochester?

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