Jane Eyre


Chapter 21 to Chapter 25

Chapter 21

Bessie’s husband, Mr. Leaven, arrives from Gateshead to urge Jane to return: Mrs. Reed is on her deathbed and keeps calling for Jane. From Mr. Leaven Jane learns that her cousin John Reed has died, apparently from suicide, after gambling away most of the family fortune. Mrs. Reed has collapsed under the strain and is not expected to live much longer. Jane states that she will return to see Mrs. Reed. All that remains is to clear it with Mr. Rochester.

She approaches Mr. Rochester instantly; he and the guests are playing billiards. Blanche reacts with haughty scorn when Jane approaches, which causes Rochester to make a face as though he were grimacing. It is apparent that he suffers Blanche only out of neighborliness. He confers with Jane in private, and the two share a witty exchange in which he tries to give her more money than she has earned, to which she objects, which is followed by his playfully trying to get money from her (once he realizes that she might stay gone quite a while), to which she again objects. The hint of marriage remains in the air—and so too does Jane’s apprehension. She assumes that Rochester will marry Blanche and that she will have to look for work elsewhere. Rochester allows her to think as she wishes, but obliges Jane to promise that she will not advertise and will allow him to find new dwellings for her.

Jane leaves the next morning for Gateshead, and upon arrival is greeted warmly by Bessie and coldly by her two cousins Eliza and Georgiana. Neither cousin wishes to show Jane to Mrs. Reed, so Jane enlists the aid of Bessie.

Mrs. Reed has lost much of her sense. She talks about John as though he were still alive, and she speaks of Jane as though she were still a girl. It is late, however, and she is typically out of sorts at night. Although Jane shows tenderness and forgiveness to Mrs. Reed, her aunt still shrinks at the thought of Jane and draws her hand away and turns her head from her niece. Clearly she retains her old antipathies.

It is...

Sign up to continue reading Chapter 21 to Chapter 25 >

Essays About Jane Eyre