Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV

Chapter XXXII

Although Jane assiduously performs her tasks as schoolteacher at the poor school, she still dreams (literally) of Rochester and spending her life by his side.  Rosamond Oliver visits the school and Jane observes the emotionally charged exchanges between her and St John, but the latter’s heart is guarded by his determination and ambition.  She is commission to sketch Miss Rosamond, and one evening when St John sees the portrait by accident, Jane takes the initiative to question him with a startlingly frank audacity.  He admits that while he loves Rosamond, he is convinced that she is not the partner for him and that they would make each other unhappy.  She is not set to be a missionary’s wife, and he refuses Jane’s offer to paint him a copy of the lovely girl.  As he moves to draw a blank sheet of paper over the portrait, he tears a tiny section from it and slips it into this glove.  Jane is puzzled by his actions but soon dismisses and forgets them.

A Young Woman in a Blue Dress Sketching (19th C.)
British (English) School
source ArtUK

Chapter XXXIII

In the midst of days of snowstorms, St John visits Jane at her cottage while she reads his gift to her, Marmion, a recently published poem by Walter Scott.  At first, he behaves with an unusual, almost secretive demeanour, but soon Jane learns his errand.  The paper he ripped from her page previously, was a section where she had doodled her real name, Jane Eyre.  From this, he began inquiries and has now not only learned her story, but aspects of it of which Jane herself was not aware.  Jane, however, is only concerned of his inquiries of Thornfield and asks for news of Mr. Rochester.  Nothing is forthcoming though, and St John informs her that now that her uncle is dead, she has inherited all of his property and is now a rich woman.  Jane is suspicious of his means of discovery and when she presses further, finds out that her uncle was also the uncle of St John, Diana and Mary, and that they are all cousins.  With this in mind, she refuses the large fortune and instead intends to split it equally between the four of them.  She states her intention to remain at the school until a new mistress can be found, and soon the inheritance is divided between them.

Arts, Wealth, Pleasure and Philosophy (1800)
Pierre-Paul Prud’hon
source Wikiart

Chapter XXXIV

As the Christmas season comes, Jane closes Morton school and expresses her desire to clean and do some Christmas baking, for which she earns displeasure from St John and an entreaty not to become slothful.  His dour disapproval of anything easy and entertaining begins to show her his faults and unsuitability as a husband.  Diana and Mary arrive and their gay festive spirit further oppresses St John.  News is given that Rosamond is about to be wed and St John congratulates himself over the conquering of his emotions.  He convinces Jane to learn Hindustani, as a help to him as he prepares for his missionary work and proves himself a stern and unyielding taskmaster.  Jane’s will to please him, begins to hold her in thrall to his desires, but she has not forgotten Rochester, yet her letters to Mrs. Fairfax to inquire about his well-being remain unanswered.

To Jane’s surprise, six weeks before his departure, St John asks her to accompany him as his wife and although Jane agrees to go as a sister, he is implacable in his demands. She begins to see his many, many flaws and thus, is able to deal with him easier as he is brought to her level.  St John continues to punish her with his disapproving silence and even when they try to reconcile, nothing but her complete obedience to his wishes and will would satisfy him:

“As I walked by his side homeward, I read well in his iron silence all he felt towards me: the disappointment of an austere and expected submission — the disapprobation of a cool, inflexible judgement, which has detected in another feelings and views in which it has no power to sympathize: in short, as a man, he would have wished to coerce me into obedience: it was only as a sincere Christian he bore so patiently with my perversity, and allowed so long a space for reflection and repentance ……..

…. He was deeply displeased by what had occurred that day; cordiality would not warm, nor tears move him.  No happy reconciliation was to be had with him — no cheering smile or generous word: but still the Christian was patient and placid; and when I asked him if he forgave me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing the remembrance of vexation; that he had nothing to forgive, not having been offended.

And with that answer he left me.  I would much rather he had knocked me down.”

The Christmas Tree
John Henry Twachtman
source Wikiart

Jane reveals more and more of her character.  I’ve discovered that what she says about herself is much more important than her outward actions.

She acts with firm resolution in drawing people out of themselves, a unique trait for a woman of her time.

“For me, I felt at home in this sort of discourse.  I could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or female, till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and won a place by their heart’s very hearth-stone.”

Her “gift” is instrumental in helping the person to know himself better and this quality of hers is invaluable to those around her.

The character of St John is well-crafted.  I had always thought that his Christianity was the catalyst for his dour character and stringent and unyielding expectations, but Jane often alludes to these characteristics as being outside of his faith and, in fact, it’s his faith that holds them in check.  It’s not because of his faith that he is this way, rather he uses his faith simply as a vehicle to act out his convictions.  Very interesting.

0 thoughts on “Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV

  1. "The character of St John is well-crafted" – he is, isn't he? He is no fun, but completely convincing.

    I have wondered why all of the female cousins are kept in the background with such vague characters. Maybe they would just get in the way of the story.

  2. Just started following your blogger account.
    How do you do the prep work for a post like this? I'm planning on doing a chapter by chapter updates with Don Q but I don't know that I have enough words inside me to write this much every couple of days. I guess I'll have to figure it out as I go 🙂

  3. Bronte truly made some complex characters.

    On the one hand I think St. John: What a waste of good looks. But he seems to have a genuine zeal in evangelizing the lost in India and he realistically knows that, even though he is strongly attracted to Rosamond, she is simply not missionary material.

    The carnal in me says, hang India, St.John! Live happily as a country squire and marry that pretty girl! But his personality is too intense for such parochial ambitions. I don't think he could ever be content in such a complacent occupation.

    Yet at the same time, he is being most biblical for wanting to marry Jane for pragmatic reasons. That is NOT what God designed marriage for.

    I admire Jane so much. She is this tiny little elf of a woman but with a giant's strength because she knows that she is in the moral right.

  4. I'm a few chapters further now, and I'd like to throttle him. How anyone could stand him is beyond me.

    Yes, I think because of the possible comparisons between St John & Rochester, and St John and Jane, etc. the sisters would simply get in the way. In some ways I prefer that Brontë has stuck to simple cast of characters. She's certainly not a Trollope in this respect!

  5. Glad to see you here, Book Stooge! 🙂

    One word: "practice". I've done Wuthering Heights, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, Metamorphoses (yikes), and some others in this format and it gets easier as it goes. Honestly with this one I read a chapter and type up a summary quite easily. Thinking more deeply about it takes a little more time, but I also haven't tried to go to deeply with his one. Now, on the other hand, I'm reading The Faerie Queene and trying to post like this and it takes a HUGE amount of time. So it depends on the book. DQ shouldn't be too hard to post in this format but again, it does take time. I've always felt that it's been worth it though, and that I've drawn much more from the book.

  6. At this point, Jane admires St John's zeal and dedication to his beliefs and cause but I think his behaviour is beginning to erode her admiration. She also feels a debt to him for her life, so I imagine that plays into her feelings as well.

    Honestly, I don't find his type of evangelizing very palatable. Too much condemnation and manipulation is surfacing in his character. In fact, he's starting to quite disturb me.

    No worries …… I knew that you meant "unbiblical"! I can tend to leave out key words too ….. let's hope that people can read my mind! 😉

  7. I cannot honestly say I like Bonte's men….they are all..I guess I am saying that she held her women to have far better characters, while all her men, left much to be desired. I wonder if it was some kind of reverse superiority complex….ok; I am really going down a path, I have no idea over, so I will stop and say that i like the novel because of Jane and do not read it that often because of Rochesters and St. Johns!

  8. I thought that St John was a little over-the-top. She made him too stern and implacable without very many nuances. Rochester was certainly more real to me. Would I like his character to have a few more good qualities? Certainly, but I don't think it would be very realistic.

  9. i don't believe the Bronte sisters had much experience with kindly, broad hearted males; the father and brother weren't, anyway… those qualities, in my limited reading, were not very prevalent in those times…

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