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Chapters 30–31 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 30:

Once she fully recovers, Jane is delighted to realize that she has much in common with Diana and Mary. All three of them are enchanted by nature, especially the moors that surround their tiny house. Jane finds that the sisters are even more well-read and talented than she is, and they delight in giving her new books to read. Diana—who Jane describes as the “superior” and “leader” of their trio—begins to teach Jane German, and Jane observes that she is a superb teacher. Meanwhile, Jane instructs Mary in drawing (the only occupation at which Jane is more skilled than the two sisters). The girls pass several enjoyable weeks in this manner. Though Jane is closely acquainted with the Rivers sisters, that close bond of friendship does not extend to their brother, St. John. Zealous in his work, St. John is rarely at home, and Jane observes that his reserved and “brooding nature” makes him difficult to befriend. To Jane, St. John appears rather depressed, and when she hears his sermon, she senses that he has not yet found the “peace of God.” After a month has passed, Diana and Mary begin preparations to return to their governess posts. Jane asks St. John whether he has found any employment for her, and he admits that he has had a position in mind for several weeks. St. John explains that he has opened a village school for boys and intends to open one for girls as well. Miss Oliver—a wealthy benefactress—has donated funds so that the mistress of this new school may have her own furnished cottage and earn thirty pounds a year. Jane immediately accepts his offer, though St. John warns her that it is a humble position. Diana and Mary are sad to leave their brother—who they fear will soon be traveling overseas as a missionary. Just before they leave, word arrives that their uncle John has died. Though the Rivers children did not know their uncle well due to a quarrel between him and their father, they are disappointed to learn that he has left nearly the entirety of his fortune to an unknown relative.

Chapter 31:

Jane moves into the modest cottage and holds her first day of class. To her disappointment, she does not enjoy teaching the students, most of whom cannot even read. Jane admits that she feels dismayed by the poverty and ignorance surrounding her and is ashamed to realize that she feels “degraded” in her new position. Reflecting on what her life could have been like if she had consented to become Mr. Rochester’s mistress, Jane realizes that she would rather be living “free and honest” in her current position than be a “slave in fool’s paradise” in the south of France. Confident that she has made the correct choice, she thanks God for his guidance. Jane’s reverie is interrupted by the arrival of St. John, who has come to deliver a package from his sisters. He talks with Jane and counsels her to resist the temptation to dwell on her old life, advising she focus instead on the present. St. John reveals that he was extremely miserable a year ago when he thought he had made a mistake in entering the ministry. Bored by his work, he longed for a more exciting occupation until he heard a “call from heaven” that told him to be a missionary. While they are talking, a young woman approaches and addresses St. John. Jane describes this woman as “the ideal of beauty” and observes that St. John visibly starts at the sound of her voice. The woman is revealed to be Miss Oliver, the wealthy benefactress of the school. She entreats St. John to come visit her father, but he refuses. Though St. John tries desperately to appear remote and unaffected, Jane suspects that the pair have feelings for one another.

Analysis:

While Jane is able to find satisfaction in the company of the Rivers sisters, her feelings for their brother, St. John, are more complex. Jane sees in him a deep inner sadness and disappointment. When St. John delivers his sermon, Jane recognizes that the “strictly...

(The entire section is 1,037 words.)