by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre Volume 1, Chapter 13 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Volume 1, Chapter 13
- Jane doesn’t see Mr. Rochester again that evening—he’s in bed with his sprained ankle. She and Adèle continue their lessons in a new upstairs room instead of the library, where Mr. Rochester is conducting business.
- Jane’s excited about all the new activity in the household, all the people coming and going to see Mr. Rochester. The place is coming alive, and she prefers it that way.
- Adèle is having a lot of trouble concentrating when she knows Mr. Rochester is downstairs—she keeps trying to sneak downstairs to see him or to guess what presents he might have brought her. Adèle tells Jane that Mr. Rochester has been asking about her: especially what she looks like.
- In the early evening, Mr. Rochester invites Jane and Adèle to have tea with him. Jane changes into her second-best dress, which is almost as plain as her regular dress, and puts on her only piece of jewelry, a simple pearl pin.
- As soon as she comes into the dining room, Jane recognizes Mr. Rochester as, of course, the stranger whom she helped after his horse slipped on the ice.
- Mr. Rochester is once again somewhat rude to Jane, or at least abrupt and preoccupied, but she prefers that to flattery and polished manners. Jane thinks it’s more interesting this way.
- As Jane gives Rochester his teacup (he’s lying down on a couch because of his sprained ankle), Adèle asks him if he has a present for Jane.
- He starts asking Jane whether she likes presents, and her subtle but saucy replies draw his interest. When he compliments her on how much she’s taught Adèle, she claims that that’s the best gift she could have. Aww, how sweet.
- Mr. Rochester asks Jane about her past history; when he hears that she was at Lowood for eight years, he says that must be why she looks so eerie and unworldly.
- He compares her to the fairies and sprites of the wood, and suggests that she bewitched his horse to make it fall the day before.
- Mrs. Fairfax, who doesn’t get the joke, is confused, but we’re sure that you know just how serious Rochester actually is.
- Rochester keeps quizzing Jane about her background: she has no immediate family, came to Thornfield by answering Mrs. Fairfax’s ad, has never lived in a town or known many people, and has only read the few books that were available to her here and there. She sounds pretty green, really.
- Once again Jane surprises Rochester, this time by being harsh and honest about Mr. Brocklehurst.
- Next Rochester examines Jane’s various achievements, listening to her play the piano and examining her sketches. He, like Jane, is harsh and honest about the merits of her work; her piano playing, he says, is okay, but some of her sketches and paintings seem to really impress him—three of them in particular.
- The three of Jane’s watercolors that Rochester finds really fascinating are each of landscapes that she painted from her imagination; one is of a stormy sea and a shipwreck with a corpse, one is of a grassy hill with the Evening Star personified as a shadowy woman, and one is of an icy arctic scene with a strange, pale, despairing figure in the foreground.
- Jane admits to Rochester that she enjoyed painting these images, but that she was "tormented by the contrast" (1.13.115) between what she was actually able to paint and what she saw in her head.
- Rochester tells Jane that her paintings are intriguing and strange, but that she’s not an artistic master. He keeps getting drawn in by the images, though, and seems to think that she’s managed to paint real places without knowing it.
- Suddenly, Rochester sends Jane off to put Adèle to bed, and retires for the night himself.
- Jane talks with Mrs. Fairfax about Rochester, who is far stranger than the housekeeper previously implied. Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane that they should make allowances for him because of his family problems: his elder brother died nine years before, and then he inherited the estate.
- Apparently, there was some sort of problem between the current Mr. Rochester, whose name is Edward; his brother, Rowland Rochester; and his father, Old Mr. Rochester. Old Mr. Rochester and Rowland put Edward in a bad position so that he would make money, but it’s unclear what exactly happened.
- Now that his father and brother are gone, Mr. Edward Rochester tends to stay away from Thornfield and only visit it for short periods, perhaps because of bad memories. A mystery!
READ THE BOOK: Volume 1, Chapter 13