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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre Volume 2, Chapter 1 Summary

  • Jane is convinced that Rochester will come and visit her and Adèle in the schoolroom the next day, but he doesn’t.
  • She overhears the other servants talking – they are under the impression that Rochester was sleeping with a lit candle beside his bed, woke up with the bed on fire, and put it out himself. None of them know about Jane’s involvement or about the strange visit from someone on the third floor.
  • When she passes Rochester’s bedroom, Jane sees Grace Poole sitting beside the bed, sewing new curtains. She can’t believe that Grace is just sitting there, behaving normally, and she questions the servant about the incident to trick her into betraying her guilt.
  • Grace doesn’t seem guilty, but she does seem to know something, and asks if Jane heard anything last night.
  • Jane tells Grace about the eerie laugh, insisting that she wasn’t dreaming. Grace asks if she saw anything, and Jane tells her that instead of looking outside, she locked her door – which is true, although she went outside a little later.
  • Grace advises Jane to keep her door locked every night – which Jane takes as either hypocrisy about safety, or a weird threat.
  • Jane tries to figure out why Rochester has insisted that she keep the events of the night a secret, and what power Grace Poole could have over him to prevent him from having her arrested, or at least firing her, after she tried to murder him in his bed.
  • She briefly speculates that perhaps Grace is Mr. Rochester’s ex-lover, and that he has to do what she says so that she doesn’t expose him, but she can’t quite believe this – Grace is so plain-looking and matronly, almost ugly, and they just don’t seem to be a match. Of course, Rochester seems to like Jane, and she’s no looker, so maybe it could be true.
  • Jane reminds herself that even if she’s not pretty, she is ladylike, which Grace isn’t, and then she trembles, remembering Rochester’s behavior the night before. She’s teaching Adèle at the moment, and the girl notices her daydreaming.
  • That evening, Jane expects Rochester to send for her so that they can talk further about the murder attempt, but when she goes downstairs to have tea with Mrs. Fairfax, she discovers that Rochester left right after breakfast to stay with some friends ten miles away at a house called "the Leas." Mrs. Fairfax thinks he will stay there for a week.
  • Jane’s first question is whether there are any ladies at the Leas – and there are several, including the local beauty, Blanche Ingram. Blanche, according to Mrs. Fairfax, is gorgeous and accomplished and sang duets with Mr. Rochester.
  • Jane suggests to Mrs. Fairfax that Rochester might be interested in marrying Blanche Ingram. Mrs. Fairfax thinks the age difference is too much – Blanche is only twenty-five. Jane’s about to push the issue, but Adèle comes in and they have to start talking about something else.
  • Later, alone in her room, Jane kicks herself for being such an idiot and thinking that Rochester would actually be interested in her.
  • Jane decides that, the next day, she will make two sketches, one of herself with all her flaws, and one of a beautiful woman who fits the description Mrs. Fairfax gave of Blanche Ingram. Whenever she starts to think of Mr. Rochester fondly, she’ll compare these two portraits, and remind herself that she can’t compete with women like Blanche. Doesn’t that sound healthy?
  • The next morning, she spends an hour or two drawing her own portrait, and two weeks making one of her imagined version of Blanche.

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