Chapters 28–29 Summary and Analysis
Jane spends all of her money catching a ride in a passing coach. After accidentally leaving her parcel of provisions in the coach, Jane is forced to wander through the moors and sleep outdoors without food. Eventually, Jane reaches a small town and attempts to find work. Unsuccessful, Jane resorts to begging for food, an experience she finds utterly painful and degrading. Nearly everyone Jane approaches refuses to help her, though she does not blame them for being suspicious of a beggar dressed in such fine clothes. At one point, she tries to sell her gloves and handkerchief for bread, but the woman at the shop will not accept them. Jane approaches several houses, but none need servants. Exhausted and nearly starved, Jane stumbles across the moors until she sees a light in the distance. She follows the light to its source and sees a house. Spying through the window, Jane sees two young women reading what appears to be German. Listening to their conversation, Jane surmises that the two young ladies are named Mary and Diana and that the old woman sitting with them is their servant, Hannah. They appear to be waiting for their brother St. John to arrive. Jane knocks on the door and asks Hannah whether she may speak with the mistresses. Thinking her a beggar, Hannah rebuffs her, though Jane proclaims, “But I must die if I am turned away.” All hope lost, Jane sinks on the doorstep and begins to cry. Prepared to die, she announces her faith in God’s will. Suddenly, the young ladies’ brother, St. John, appears, having overheard her proclamation. Suspecting that she is no ordinary beggar, he allows Jane to enter the house. Jane, too weak to explain her story, merely tells them that her name is “Jane Elliott.” She is fed and quickly shown to a room to rest. She thanks God before falling into a deep sleep.
For three days, Jane is too exhausted and weak to rise from bed. She is cared for by Hannah and the two sisters. Though she is too weak to speak, Jane hears them talk about her fine clothes and educated speech. St. John suspects that she is a lady who has become separated from her friends. He remarks that she appears “sensible, but not at all handsome.” When Jane finally rises, she goes downstairs to sit with the servant, Hannah. Jane informs Hannah that she is not a beggar but an educated woman. Hannah attempts to apologize for mistaking Jane for a beggar, but Jane admonishes her for her uncharitable attitude toward the poor. Hannah admits she is in the wrong, and the two reconcile. From Hannah, Jane learns that the house is called “Moor House” and belongs to the Rivers family. After their father lost most of his money on a bad business deal, the Rivers children set out to find work. Hannah reveals that St. John Rivers is a parson, while both Diana and Mary Rivers are governesses. The three of them are only staying at the house temporarily because it was their father’s and he has recently died. When Jane finally has the chance to speak with the sisters and St. John, she refuses to tell them where she has come from and admits that “Jane Elliot” is not her real name. She tells them that she is highly educated but is willing to do any sort of work. St. John promises to help her find a position. He asks whether she is married, and Jane, remembering the events at Thornfield, blushes uncomfortably before admitting that she is not.
Jane endures great suffering during her flight from Thornfield. As she wanders through the moors, Jane acknowledges her utter isolation from mankind: “Not a tie holds me to human society at this moment—not a charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are—none that saw me would have a kind thought or a good wish for me.” In her solitude and desperation, Jane turns to God for salvation. Jane’s choice to follow the light that takes her to the Rivers’ house has spiritual connotations, symbolizing Jane’s decision to “walk in the light” by...
(The entire section is 1,231 words.)