Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 3, Chapter 8

By Charlotte Brontë

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Volume 3, Chapter 8

  • At Christmastime, Jane closes up the school. St. John asks her if she feels good about the work she’s been doing, and when she admits that she does he asks if she would devote her entire life to charitable works. She says that she couldn’t do that; she wants to enjoy her own life, too.
  • Jane begins preparing Moor House for Diana and Mary’s return. St. John objects to her keeping her talents and abilities for her private domestic life and argues that she has larger duties in the world.
  • Jane ignores St. John and spends a few days getting Moor House ready, cleaning and decorating.
  • On the Thursday when Diana and Mary are supposed to arrive, Jane is waiting at the house for them. St. John arrives first; she shows him everything she’s done in the house, but he doesn’t care about any of it and starts reading a book.
  • Jane realizes that St. John is right about his calling—he really doesn’t care about leading a pleasant, comfortable life, only about huge, glorious projects and challenges and sacrifices.
  • Diana and Mary arrive and are delighted with all Jane’s work in the house.
  • A poor boy comes and asks St. John to go and see his dying mother. St. John does and comes back tired but happier.
  • Diana, Mary, and Jane spend Christmas week hanging out together and chatting; St. John gets away from them to do different clergyman-type duties as much as possible.
  • Diana and Mary ask St. John about his plans; he has arranged to go to India next year, and he’s heard that Rosamond Oliver is about to be married to someone else. Nobody really knows how to react to this, but St. John seems to be calm about it now.
  • For a few weeks, things settle into a pattern; each of the women has something she’s reading or studying, and Jane also makes weekly visits to the school. St. John is really excited about these weekly visits and encourages Jane to make them in all types of weather.
  • One day, St. John asks Jane to stop learning German and start learning Hindustani, because he needs a study-buddy and he thinks she would be better than either of his sisters. She agrees.
  • Jane makes progress studying Hindustani, but somehow her teacher-student relationship with St. John makes her feel like she’s very much under his control. She starts to be extremely obedient to him whenever he asks her to do anything.
  • One evening, when St. John is kissing his sisters goodnight, Diana convinces him to kiss Jane, too, because she’s sort of like a sister to them. He does, and the kiss is super-weird.
  • More and more frequently, Jane wants to please St. John, but she feels like she has to suppress her real personality to do it.
  • Jane writes to Mrs. Fairfax, but doesn’t hear anything back from her.
  • One day, St. John asks Jane to go for a walk with him. They go out onto the moor and sit beside some large rocks. St. John tells Jane about his plans to leave England for India in six weeks.
  • St. John asks Jane to marry him and go with him to India; he says that God intended her to be a missionary’s wife.
  • Jane objects, saying that she doesn’t have the right calling to be a missionary. St. John says that he’s watched her for ten months (that’s how long she’s been in Morton) and he can tell she has all the right qualities.
  • Jane asks for time to think, and they sit in silence. She realizes that she could do the work, but is worried that living in India would kill her. She also realizes that St. John might approve of her, but he’ll never love her.
  • Jane offers to go with St. John to India as his fellow-missionary, but refuses to marry him.
  • St. John tries to persuade her that there’s no way for her to go to India if she’s not married to him; going alone together, both of them single, just wouldn’t be right in his opinion.
  • Jane sticks to her guns again. She’ll go with him, but not as his wife. They can continue to be like brother and sister, since they are, after all, cousins, or even act just like co-workers.
  • St. John refuses this arrangement again… they seem to be stuck in a loop here.
  • St. John tells Jane that he’s going to Cambridge for two weeks to say goodbye to various friends and that he wants her to think bout it while he’s gone.
  • That evening, they shake hands before going to bed; St. John is angry with her, although he thinks that he’s forgiven her.

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