Chapters 23–25 Summary and Analysis
A few weeks after Jane’s return, she encounters Mr. Rochester while walking through the orchard at sunset. He invites her to sit with him and begins discussing his upcoming wedding to Miss Ingram. He informs Jane that he has found her a new position at a house in Ireland, and Jane expresses her dismay at being so far from Thornfield and from him. Mr. Rochester admits that he feels a cord of communion connecting his heart to Jane’s. He says if they were to be separated, this cord would snap and cause him great pain. Jane tells him of her grief over leaving him and Thornfield behind but declares that he has given her no choice by selecting a bride. Mr. Rochester replies, “I have no bride!” Jane then passionately tells him off, asserting that as a person possessing a heart and soul, she cannot possibly be expected to stay at Thornfield and become nothing to him. To her surprise, Mr. Rochester then asks her to marry him. Jane initially rejects him, thinking that he is speaking in jest. Once Mr. Rochester takes the time to explain to her the depth of his regard, Jane is convinced of his sincerity and accepts his proposal. Mr. Rochester also explains that he never intended to marry Blanche Ingram. Recognizing the lady’s superficiality, he planted a rumor that he lost his fortune. Upon discovering this, Blanche quickly lost interest in him. Mr. Rochester explains that it has always been Jane he intended to marry. The pair hurry back to the hall as it begins to rain, and Mrs. Fairfax is astonished to see Mr. Rochester kiss Jane goodnight. In the night, a bolt of lightning strikes the tree under which Mr. Rochester proposed, splitting it into two pieces.
The next morning, Jane feels a mixture of bliss and anxiety, believing the events of the previous night nearly too good to be true. Mrs. Fairfax—who does not realize that Jane and Mr. Rochester are engaged—is cool and distant toward Jane, believing her to have entered into an immoral affair with him. Even after Jane makes Mr. Rochester explain their engagement, Mrs. Fairfax remains disapproving and skeptical of the match. She warns Jane to distrust herself and remain on her guard until the wedding. Meanwhile, Mr. Rochester attempts to shower Jane in fine gifts—requesting that his family jewels be removed from storage and insisting on taking her to town for new dresses. She protests these gifts as it makes her extremely uncomfortable to feel “dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester.” Remembering her uncle’s letter, Jane decides to write to him in the hopes that he will make her his heir. She thinks that having even a small fortune of her own might make her feel less at a disadvantage to her fiance. Plagued by uneasiness and the feeling that her life is becoming too much like a fairytale, Jane takes Mrs. Fairfax’s advice and insists on creating some distance between herself and Mr. Rochester until the wedding.
The day before the wedding, Jane feels very restless. Mr. Rochester has been away, and Jane, anxious, walks into the orchard to wait for his return, passing the lightning-struck tree on her way. When Mr. Rochester arrives, he senses that something has upset Jane. She reveals that the previous night, her wedding dress had arrived, accompanied by an expensive veil. That night, she dreamt she was carrying an infant and fruitlessly chasing Mr. Rochester down a winding path. He dismisses her dream, but she then tells him that it was followed by another dream in which she carried an infant up to the ruins of Thornfield Hall and glimpsed Mr. Rochester riding away on the horizon just before the ruins crumbled, waking her up. Once awake, she saw that there was a strange woman in her room. The woman, who Jane describes as dark-haired with a “fearful and ghastly” face, savagely ripped Jane’s wedding veil into pieces, causing Jane to faint from fear. Mr. Rochester tries to dismiss this as merely another bad dream, but Jane tells him that...
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