Chapters 11 and 12
Jane arrives at Thornfield Mansion to take up her appointment as Governess,
exhausted after a sixteen-hour trip.
The house is an imposing structure, which looks all the more ominous as the
hour approaches midnight. However, inside, Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, warmly greets Jane.
She informs Jane that the master of the house is Mr. Rochester, but he is usually away, and that Jane has been engaged to teach his ward Ad'le Varens.
In the morning Jane meets with Ad'le who speaks little English, and Sophie
her maid, who speaks only French. They are both thrilled that Jane can converse with them, and Mrs. Fairfax is also relieved, for she has not been able to communicate at all with Sophie.
To date, Ad'le has been largely spoilt, and Jane soon instills some
discipline and sets up a classroom in the house’s library.
Jane is impressed with the house and its luxurious furnishings, and she
loves her bedroom, which is the first feminine room she has occupied in her life.
Now and again Jane hears a distinctive crazed laugh, and Mrs. Fairfax
explains that it is Grace Poole, the eccentric seamstress of the house.
Ad'le soon thrives under Jane’s tutorage, and the pair soon settles into a
routine of work and play.
To help Jane while away her spare hours, she again indulges in
sketching. The only break in the monotony is the occasional glimpse of Grace Poole, often carrying a pitcher of beer or drinking gin. Jane suspects that she may be an alcoholic.
Whilst on an errand to the nearby village of Hay, she encounters a black and
white Newfoundland dog, and then hears the clatter of a horse slipping on the ice.
The rider has been thrown from his steed and Jane goes to his assistance. She describes the man as past his youth, not handsome, and with stern features. The man dismisses Jane, but she will not leave him until she sees him safely remounted on his horse. He is unable to do this without with assistance of Jane’s frail form.
When Jane returns to Thornfield, she discovers that the mysterious horseman
is her employer, Mr. Rochester.
Again, there is the veiled hint of Gothic influences as
Jane arrives at Thornfield at midnight, but this quickly melts away when she is welcomed warmly by Mrs. Fairfax.
However, Bront' deliberately keeps this Gothic tone alive, for when Mrs.
Fairfax gives Jane a tour of the mansion, they encounter one wing, which is uninhabited, and Mrs. Fairfax says that if Thornfield had a ghost, this is where it would reside.
The reader wonders if there is some supernatural force in the house when Jane hears the manic laughing, and Mrs. Fairfax attributes this to one of the staff, but there is that element of mystery and foreboding about these references.
Jane thrives in her newfound position, where for the first time, she is
given respect as Governess and treated as an equal by the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax, who has longed for someone with whom she can converse.
Again the Gothic theme emerges. On Jane’s trip to the village when she
sees the dog (Pilot), she is immediately reminded of the tales told to her by Bessie concerning the forbidding animal spirit called Gytrash that roamed the moors.
Jane is unafraid of the dog, but has problems in controlling Rochester’s horse when helping him to remount.
There is a short dialogue during which Rochester interrogates Jane, not
revealing that he is the master of Thornfield.
Jane makes the interesting comment that had the man been young and handsome, she would have felt awkward at assisting him, but she describes him as not being young and with stern features.
Jane is mortified when she returns to Thornfield and discovers that the
horseman is her employer.
She doesn’t know it yet, but Mr. Rochester will provide a useful distraction
to Jane from her classroom duties.