Summer at Thornfield is incredibly beautiful this year, with bright sunlight and incredible colors in the wood and fields. Adèle gathers wild strawberries, Jane strolls in the garden, and everything seems perfect…a little TOO perfect.
While strolling in the woods, Jane smells Rochester’s cigar. She tries to sneak away from him, but he notices her at the moment that their shadows cross. Creepy.
Rochester asks Jane to walk with him, and she can’t think up an excuse not to. As they walk, he asks if she’s become attached to Thornfield and its residents, and she admits that she has. He tells her that she’ll have to leave soon and that he’s marrying Blanche Ingram. He reminds Jane that it was her idea that, if he married Blanche, Adèle should go to school and Jane should get a new job.
However, Mr. Rochester tells Jane not to advertise for a new position as a governess; he says he’ll find a position for her himself. He has one in mind, he says, in Ireland.
Jane is so upset at the idea of being in Ireland, far away from Thornfield and Mr. Rochester, that she starts crying. Rochester soothes her a little and says that, since they’ve been such good friends, they should spend a little time together before she has to leave in a few weeks.
Jane and Rochester sit on the bench under the chestnut tree. Rochester describes his attachment to Jane; he feels, he says, as if there is a cord tied to each of their hearts that connects them, and he’s worried that if she goes too far away it will snap. Jane can’t say very much to this, because she’s sobbing.
Notice that there’s a nightingale singing in the background; nightingales are usually Significant with a capital S. (See Shmoop’s coverage of Keats’ "Ode to a Nightingale," coming soon, and this article on Philomela.)
Jane finally stops crying long enough to explain what she loves about Thornfield – mostly, her intellectual and spiritual connection with Mr. Rochester. Needing to leave him, she says, feels like death.
The conversation gets confused; Rochester asks Jane why she has to leave, and she says that it’s because of his bride, Blanche Ingram. Rochester says he doesn’t have a bride; Jane says he will. Rochester says, yes, he WILL, and Jane is going to stay.
Jane can’t take this; she’s hurt and angry, and she lectures Rochester on how cruel it would be to make her stay in the house and watch his marriage to someone else. Even though he’s a gentleman of property and she’s a governess, she still feels like he does – they’re equal in that way.
Rochester says they are indeed equal – and kisses her.
Jane struggles and insists that she’s going to leave him and go to Ireland.
Rochester asks her to marry him.
Jane thinks he’s making fun of her.
Rochester asks her to sit back down. They listen to that Significant Nightingale and try to calm down.
After a bit of wrangling, Rochester convinces Jane that she’s the only woman he wants to marry, and that he never cared about Blanche Ingram. Jane scrutinizes his face before deciding she believes him – remember how important faces were in Volume I, Chapter Fourteen and Volume II, Chapter Four? Yep, they’re still important here.
Jane and Rochester embrace…and Rochester asks God to pardon him. For what, we wonder?
They sit on the bench together for a long time, but the night is dark and a thunderstorm begins. They hurry back into the house before they get too wet in the rain; once they’re inside, Rochester kisses Jane good night…a few times. They don’t notice at first that Mrs. Fairfax is watching them.
Everyone goes to bed, separately, of course. Mr. Rochester knocks on Jane’s bedroom door several times in the night to ask if she’s OK – the storm is raging crazily outside. Jane is fine, but, BAD OMEN ALERT, the chestnut tree gets splintered in half by lightning.