Literature Study GuidesJane EyreChapters 34 35 Summary

Jane Eyre | Study Guide

Charlotte Brontë

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Chapters 34-35

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 34 and 35 of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre | Chapters 34–35 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 34

Before the Christmas holidays, Jane shuts the village school and prepares to move into Moor House with the Rivers siblings. She and Hannah prepare the house for the arrival of Mary and Diana. St. John is critical of the pleasure Jane takes in "domestic endearments and household joys." He expects her to devote her time and talents to higher pursuits. A week later Mary, Jane, and Diana are spending their time studying languages, reading, and drawing. Rosamond has chosen a new suitor; St. John has lost her, due to his self-control. St. John persuades Jane to give up her study of German to help him in his study of Hindostanee, an Asian language. Jane has become closer to the Rivers siblings; at Diana's urging, St. John kisses Jane, as he would a sister.

Jane constantly worries that Rochester might have gone back to a life of pleasure-seeking. She writes letters to Mrs. Fairfax, but there's no response. Six months have passed since Christmas, and Jane sinks into a kind of despair. One day St. John asks her to go for a walk with him. He says he will leave for India in six weeks and wants her to go with him as his wife. Jane objects that she knows nothing about the missionary life, but he assures her he will direct her "from hour to hour." Jane knows he doesn't love her—he loves only his work—and he had loved Rosamond. She doesn't love him either, much as she tries to please him. Jane tells St. John she'll consider going with him as his sister but not as his wife. Their handshake at the end of the chapter reveals his lack of passion and the hurt it causes Jane.

Chapter 35

St. John plans to leave in a week to see friends in Cambridge, and during that time he treats Jane politely but with a certain coldness and distance. She's deeply saddened that he seems so angry with her. The evening before his departure, Jane approaches him in the garden and attempts to patch up their friendship. He questions her refusal of his proposal. Again she offers to go with him as his assistant but not as his wife, an offer St. John rejects "bitterly." Jane realizes that before she can leave England she must know what has become of Rochester.

After dinner Jane and St. John speak again. Jane is on the verge of agreeing to marry him, after receiving encouragement from Diana earlier, almost hypnotized by his religious "sublime moment." Then something extraordinary happens. As the room is bathed in moonlight, she hears the voice of Rochester, calling "Jane! Jane! Jane!" She runs outside shouting, "I am coming! ... Wait for me!" She can't find the source of the sound and concludes that it must have been some quirk of nature. Jane tells St. John she needs to be alone, and in her room she prays and offers thanks.

Analysis

St. John is strict and exacting and holds Jane, as he holds himself, to high standards. Jane begins to feel restricted as St. John exerts more and more influence over her. She wants to please him but knows that if she marries him she will have to give up all of her freedom, much more than she would have had to give up with Rochester. She begins to waver, though, because she thinks perhaps dedicating herself to missionary work will help to fill the void in her life. The proposal scene is also a moving contrast to the one with Rochester: the earlier one was full of talk of love and passion, and the scene with St. John reflects duty and morality.

Jane's experience of Rochester's voice introduces a mystery. Was it a miracle? Jane rejects the notion instantly: "'Down superstition!' I commented, as that spectre rose up black by the black yew at the gate. 'This is not thy deception, nor thy witchcraft: it is the work of nature. She was roused, and did—no miracle—but her best.'" What does a reader believe? Was it indeed a miracle? Was it Jane's subconscious reminding her of the need to be certain of Rochester's fate?

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