by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre Volume 2, Chapter 9 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Volume 2, Chapter 9
- The next morning, Jane is blissfully happy and wonders if this is all a dream. She gives away all the money she has (a few shillings) to some beggars so they can share in her happiness.
- At breakfast, Jane feels a little uncomfortable because Rochester hasn’t explained their engagement to Mrs. Fairfax yet, and Mrs. Fairfax seems a bit sad and upset about what she saw the night before, but Jane knows she’ll just have to wait for Rochester to tell the housekeeper what’s going on.
- When Jane goes to the school-room to teach Adèle, she discovers that Rochester has sent Adèle to the nursery and met her in the school-room himself.
- They embrace, and Rochester tells Jane that they will get married in four weeks. He calls her "Jane Rochester" and "Mrs. Rochester," teasing her a little with what will be her new name.
- Next, Rochester starts telling Jane about all the fancy jewelry and clothes he’s going to give her—he plans to deck her out in the best there is and make everyone think she’s beautiful. This makes Jane very uncomfortable and she tells him not to flatter her, but he keeps going.
- Rochester is also planning an elaborate honeymoon in Europe—Paris, Rome, Naples, Florence, Vienna, and more. Jane’s excited at the prospect of traveling, especially together with the man she loves, but she insists that he shouldn’t think of her as an angel.
- Jane presses Rochester to think about his own inconsistencies; she reminds him that he’s capricious, which means his mood and behavior change frequently, and that she knows he won’t be constant in the way he loves her.
- Rochester insists that he will be constant in his love for Jane, because she’s different from all the other women he’s known. She behaves submissively, but in doing so she actually masters him. Does that sound familiar? Jane thinks it sounds like the legend of Hercules or the story of Samson; we think it sounds a bit like The Taming of the Shrew… with Rochester as the shrew!
- Rochester tells Jane that she has only to ask, and he’ll do any favor she wants. She asks him to answer a question. He seems very nervous at first about what it might be, but then she asks why he made her think he was going to marry Blanche Ingram, and he seems relieved.
- Rochester explains that he pretended to be interested in Blanche so that Jane would be jealous and fall more in love with him—he was already in love with her (Jane).
- Jane asks about Blanche’s feelings, and Rochester says her only feeling is pride, and that needs to be trampled on. He reminds Jane that he circulated a rumor that his fortune was actually very small, and then Blanche and her mother stopped being interested in him—so they’re just gold-diggers anyway.
- Jane asks Rochester for another favor: tell Mrs. Fairfax about their engagement. Rochester sends Jane upstairs to put on her bonnet so they can go into town, and while she’s gone he talks to Mrs. Fairfax.
- Jane comes back downstairs and, when she hears Mr. Rochester leave Mrs. Fairfax’s room, she goes in. Mrs. Fairfax is shocked; she’s not upset, exactly, but really confused about why someone like Rochester—wealthy and nearly forty—would be interested in Jane, who is poor, plain, and young. Mrs. Fairfax cautions Jane about some of the problems that might turn up in her relationship with Rochester, but Jane is insulted by her suggestions.
- Adèle interrupts and insists on going with Jane and Rochester in the carriage. At first Rochester refuses, because he wants to be alone with Jane, but when he sees how upset she is that he’s still ordering her around, he agrees.
- Adèle asks questions about what will happen now that Jane and Rochester are going to get married; Rochester says that Adèle will go to school on her own, and he and Jane will fly to the moon and live in a cave together, alone.
- Adèle doesn’t believe Rochester’s silly claims about living on the moon, eating manna, and wearing clouds and rainbows, so he tells her a story instead. The "story" is his version of the moment when Jane found him sitting on the stile writing—and in his version, Jane is a fairy, who offers him a golden ring that can make him fly to another world.
- Adèle’s too old for these fairy stories, and laughs at Rochester.
- In Millcote, Rochester wants to buy Jane six new gowns in bright colors to replace her plain Lowood-style wardrobe of grey and black. Jane manages to argue him down to two new gowns, black satin and grey silk. Then Rochester starts buying her fancy jewelry, but Jane feels degraded.
- Suddenly, Jane remembers her uncle, John Eyre, who wanted to leave her his fortune. Even if it’s not very much, Jane thinks it would be nice to have a little financial independence; that way Rochester can’t dress her like a doll all the time. She regains her composure, looks him in the eye, and tells him that, if he keeps decking her out in expensive clothes and jewelry and behaving so badly about it, she’ll never wear anything he buys her.
- Rochester laughs, and says that Jane is better than a whole harem. Jane tells him that, if he wants a harem, he should go east and start buying slave girls, because she’s certainly not going to be one for him.
- Rochester asks what she would do if he did, and she says she’d become a missionary and go and preach to his slaves and foment a rebellion. They’re teasing each other, but something serious is going on here, too.
- Rochester asks what terms Jane wants in their relationship, and she tells him that she’s not going to be like his previous mistress, Céline Varens—a kept woman who is given lots of expensive presents by her lover.
- She wants to keep being Adèle’s governess, earning her wages, and not getting any extra presents until she is actually Rochester’s wife. She even refuses to have dinner with him—as governess, she never had dinner with the master before, and she won’t start now.
- Rochester tells Jane that she can make her terms now, but once they’re married, he’ll run the show. Again, he’s teasing… but he’s also serious.
- Jane knows how to manage Rochester. They arrive home in the carriage, and Jane puts Adèle to bed. They dine separately, as they have done in the past, and then Rochester sends for Jane after dinner. But Jane’s got a plan to keep him occupied and prevent him from behaving seductively.
- Jane teases Rochester into playing the piano and singing a song. At first he doesn’t want to, but when she plays and sings herself, he can’t help but push her aside and do better.
- Rochester sings a love song that pretty much summarizes his relationship with Jane; at the end of it, they’re both feeling pretty lovey-dovey, but Jane forces herself to keep teasing him and keeping him at a distance; she doesn’t want another inappropriate show of affection, like when Mr. Rochester kissed her in the hallway in front of Mrs. Fairfax.
- When Rochester tries to get Jane to be all sentimental with him, she argues with him and makes him angry and irritated instead. She’d rather they were verbally sparring than being nauseatingly mushy.
- Jane can tell that this is the right approach for Rochester—if she let him make their relationship into a smoochy Hallmark cuddle-fest, he’d get bored with it really fast, and so would she.
- Jane also notices that Mrs. Fairfax approves of her keeping Rochester at arm’s length.
- It’s difficult for Jane to keep this up, though, because she’s falling so deeply in love with him—even idolizing him and putting him between herself and God. Uh-oh.
READ THE BOOK: Volume 2, Chapter 9