Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 3, Chapter 7

By Charlotte Brontë

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Volume 3, Chapter 7

  • The next day, Jane sits in her cottage reading the book St. John brought her; it snowed all night and there are huge snowdrifts everywhere.
  • St. John arrives, even though he had to struggle through the snow. He won’t tell her why he’s there, and he’s behaving really strangely. She starts to worry that he might be a little bit insane.
  • After a while, Jane goes back to reading, because St. John still won’t tell her what’s going on.
  • Jane chats to St. John about various different things going on at the village school, but he isn’t really paying attention.
  • Suddenly, St. John asks Jane to listen as he tells her a story that he’s discovered:
  • Twenty years before, a poor clergyman married a rich man’s daughter and her family disowned her. Two years later they were both dead and left an orphan daughter.
  • The orphan was adopted by Mrs. Reed of Gateshead and lived there for ten years.
  • After ten years, the orphan went to Lowood Institute, and was a student and then a teacher there.
  • After eight years at Lowood, the orphan became a governess for the ward of a man named Mr. Rochester.
  • Rochester proposed to the girl, but at the altar it was revealed that his wife was alive and insane.
  • The governess left in the middle of the night and nobody knows where she is, although they’ve been looking for her to tell her something important.
  • Jane asks St. John how Mr. Rochester is, and he says he doesn’t know—he just knows all the details that Mason’s lawyer, Mr. Briggs, told him in a letter some time ago.
  • St. John suggests that Mr. Rochester must have been "a bad man," but Jane denies this.
  • St. John then shows Jane the thing he got so excited about the day before—her name, written on the piece of paper he tore off.
  • Jane learns from St. John that Mr. Briggs is looking for her so that he can give her the fortune she inherited from her uncle, Mr. Eyre, who finally died out in Madeira. Jane can’t quite wrap her head around all this. She finds out that she has inherited twenty thousand pounds.
  • Before St. John leaves, Jane asks why Mr. Briggs wrote to him about her. He’s reluctant to tell her, but finally he admits that his name is St. John Eyre Rivers—his mother was the sister of Jane’s father. Diana, Mary, and St. John are all Jane’s cousins!
  • Jane’s much more excited about finding out that she has such great relatives than about the money. She realizes that she has the power to bring the Rivers family back together now that she has wealth: Diana and Mary won’t have to be governesses anymore.
  • St. John tries to talk Jane out of it, but she insists on splitting the twenty thousand pounds four ways so that she, St. John, Diana, and Mary each have five thousand.
  • St. John also agrees to treat Jane as a sister, although he tells her that she doesn’t have to feel like she’s buying her family: she could keep the money. Jane still insists on splitting it.
  • Jane agrees to stay at the village school until St. John finds a substitute, despite her newfound wealth.

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