Chapters 35 and 36
St. John continues to be cold to Jane, and still makes hints concerning his
proposal of marriage. She explains that she could not enter into a loveless marriage. This would kill her spirit.
St. John tries to manipulate Jane – almost blackmailing her into agreeing to his proposal.
Diana advises Jane not to go to India under any circumstances, as a life of
servitude in that country would bring her to an early death.
St. John has many good attributes, but he is misguided. No one can
deny that he is devoted to his flock and his fellow man. He is also an inspired reader from the Bible, and at evening prayers he reads from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, “He that overcometh shall inherit
all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But, the fearful and unbelieving '' shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Jane had a sudden ‘revelation’ of what life would be like for her in India
with St. John, and it appalled her.
Jane was alone with St. John when she was startled, and St. John asked her
what she had heard. She responded by saying, “I heard a voice somewhere cry, Jane, Jane, Jane.
It did not seem in the room, nor in the house, nor in the garden; it did not come out of the air, nor from under the earth, '' it was the voice of Edward Fairfax Rochester.”
Jane ran out into the garden. She told St. John that she must go on a
personal errand before she can decide what to do with her future.
The next day, Jane left for Thornfield only to find it a blackened ruin.
Now she knows why her letters went unanswered.
The Innkeeper who worked as old Mr. Rochester’s butler relates the story of
how Thornfield was destroyed.
Young Rochester’s mad wife, Bertha, had set fire to her room and Jane’s room. Rochester managed to evacuate the house and then went back inside to try and rescue Bertha, who was on the roof. She fell to her death. He lost an eye and his left hand had to be amputated. The other eye became inflamed, and he is totally blind. He now lives at Ferndean with two old servants.
Jane engages a carriage, and hopes to be there before dark.
Jane will have recalled the fire and brimstone text from Mr. Brocklehurst.
He used the quotation as a direct threat to Jane unjustly. St. John uses the same text to manipulate Jane to join him in India as a missionary, but she realizes she would be his drudge. If St. John had wished to alienate Jane, he couldn’t have picked a better Bible passage.
Bront' stresses the fact that God moves in mysterious ways, and makes His
views known to the reader.
When Rochester proposed to Jane we observe that soon after there is a violent thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning strikes the old horse-chestnut tree splitting into two. In response to St. John’s proposal, there is a supernatural experience for Jane when she hears Rochester’s voice, the man she loves, calling to her over the many miles that separate them. Those characters in the book that show God to be a vengeful and all-powerful being are flawed in themselves. Bront' is trying to stress that God is love.
We also note Bront'’s writing style in that she likes to have no loose ends
regarding the storylines of the book, and intentionally or not, in doing this she creates suspense for the reader through Chapter 36. We have the Innkeeper’s long account of the happenings at Thornfield, and
this account is not based on rumor.
It comes from a trusted ex-member of staff at Thornfield, who witnessed the final destruction of Thornfield, and who brings together all the relevant facts of the past right up to the present day.
Eventually Jane learns of Rochester’s whereabouts and makes haste to join
We also obtain an insight into Bertha, who up until now has just been
categorized as a mad woman, but she clearly had some inkling as to the goings-on within Thornfield. It is evident that she was able to slip away from Grace Poole on numerous occasions, for it is clear that
she planned to kill Jane through jealousy when she became more than just a governess in her husband’s eyes.