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Jane Eyre | Chapters 24–25 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 24

The next day, Rochester is full of plans for their life together. He wants to shower Jane with jewels and expensive clothing, but she objects. She has a short discussion with Mrs. Fairfax, who doesn't seem pleased with the news of the impending marriage and warns her off, even though she clearly likes Jane. While Jane is out shopping with Rochester and Adèle, he once again compares her to a fairy, building a fanciful story around the idea. Jane feels uncomfortable about making purchases using Rochester's money and, suddenly recalling her uncle's letter, thinks how much more at ease she would feel if she had an independent fortune. She tells Rochester that she wants to continue as Adèle's governess and she'll use her pay to purchase her own clothing.

Much as Jane loves Rochester, she doesn't want to fall into a sentimental type of relationship with him, which, she thinks, will soon become boring. "Lamb-like submission and turtle-dove sensibility" don't suit her personality. Both Jane and Rochester enjoy the element of teasing banter that marks much of their conversation. The chapter closes with Jane observing irreverently that Rochester "stood between me and every thought of religion," adding "I could not, in those days, see God for this creature: of whom I had made an idol."

Chapter 25

Two nights before the wedding, a disturbing incident occurs while Rochester is away from home. Before Jane relates what took place, she provides another incident. The following night, troubled by what she had seen, she walked in the garden, in the moonlight, drawn to the lightning-split tree, where she reflects on how, though the tree is dead, the two sundered sections still cling to each other. The moon appears again, but this time it is red.

When Rochester returns, Jane tells him about the incident that had troubled her. Jane had awakened from a disturbing dream only to see a candle on her dressing table and hear someone in her closet. The figure that emerges from the closet was a tall woman with a "savage" and "discolored" face. She was wearing the exquisite veil Rochester had ordered for Jane for her wedding day. The figure removed the veil, ripped it in half, and stomped on it. Before leaving Jane's room, the woman came close to her bed, glaring at her with bloodshot eyes and blowing out her candle. Terrified, Jane passed out. Rochester offers an explanation for the mysterious events. The woman, he says, must have been Grace Poole. She wasn't recognizable because Jane was experiencing a mixture of fevered dreams and actual events. He tells Jane that "when [they] have been married a year and a day" he'll explain why he keeps Grace Poole in his house. At Rochester's suggestion, Jane sleeps in Adèle's room that night.

Analysis

After accepting Rochester's proposal, Jane begins to realize that the self-sufficient, independent life she has been leading will change. When she is no longer earning her keep as governess, she will be dependent on her husband. The shopping trip makes her uncomfortable because she "never can bear being dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester." Then she remembers the letter from her uncle and resolves to write to him at once. Her desire for independence prompts both this resolve and her determination to continue as Adèle's governess. Jane Eyre is one resolute young lady.

Jane's reflection on the blackened, dead tree adds to the foreshadowing introduced at its destruction. The tree is dead, she says—"the sap could flow no more" and it will "never have green leaves more." Yet the two sundered sections still cling to each other, at least until the powerful gales of the following winter will prevail and make the separation complete. The image—a sign to the reader, if not to Jane—suggests that the end to happiness foreshadowed by the tree's destruction will soon be complete. That the moon shining on the scene is "blood-red" and gives Jane a "bewildered, dreary glance" only adds to the gloomy prospects.

Jane has disturbing dreams about carrying a small child, trying but being unable to reach Rochester and seeing "that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin"; these dreams foreshadow an obstacle they will encounter. The baby might represent Jane's hopes and aspirations, which she is trying to protect and carry forward to the future. When she thinks about becoming Mrs. Rochester, she refers to her new identity as an unborn child: Speaking of "Mrs. Rochester," Jane reflects, "She did not exist: she would not be born till tomorrow, sometime after eight o'clock a.m.; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive." Until the hour of the wedding, Jane cannot be sure that she will live as Mrs. Rochester..

Why does Rochester put off telling Jane his secret until they have been married "a year and a day"? He may hope that by then, no matter what Jane learns, the bond between them will be secure. He may simply want a year of happiness before revealing a potentially dangerous secret.

The incident in Jane's room foreshadows what happens on the wedding day. Just as the mysterious woman shredded Jane's veil, so will the marriage—and her hopes of happiness—soon be shredded.

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