Jane Eyre


Chapter 26 to Chapter 30

Chapter 26

Sophie comes to dress Jane and when Jane finally appears below, wearing the humble veil she originally intended to wear, she sees that Mr. Rochester is impatient to be off. In fact, he is more than impatient: It is as though the slightest delay might prove enough to thwart the whole thing. Jane observes that he is hurrying her along intensely and resolutely and that she can hardly keep up with his pace as they proceed to the church: “I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did—so bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute; or who, under such steadfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes.”

Jane also recalls that she could not tell whether the day was “fair or foul,” which illustrates the rush with which they proceed and recalls the scene from Macbeth, wherein Macbeth meets the witches who bring about his downfall: “So fair and foul a day, I have not seen,” Macbeth says.

The wedding does not go according to plan, for just as Mr. Wood, the minister, asks the gathering whether it knows of any impediment to the marriage, a Mr. Briggs, a lawyer from London, speaks up, stating that he knows of an impediment. He reads a letter written by Mr. Mason which asserts that Rochester is already married to Mason’s sister Bertha.

Jane is struck dumb by this pronouncement. Rochester attempts to bulldoze his way through the announcement, looking straight ahead and insisting that the minister proceed. The minister in conscience cannot and Rochester, after confronting Mason, who affirms that Bertha lives at Thornfield still, smiles grimly and acknowledges the fact before all.

Rochester leads the party to Thornfield, dismissing the celebratory plans that await him, and reveals the existence of Bertha in the attic, with whom Grace Poole sits as a kind of caretaker. Bertha assaults Rochester and tries to choke him. Rochester will not strike his wife to defend himself. He simply wrestles with her until she can be secured and tied to a...

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