Volume 3, Chapter 1 / 27

Synopsis of Volume 3, Chapter 1 / 27

Jane is determined to leave Thornfield and Mr Rochester. The next morning Rochester tells her the full story of his early life and how in Jamaica he was tricked into marrying Bertha Mason. When she became insane, he decided to make a fresh start in Europe, keeping his wife incarcerated at Thornfield. He hoped that he would be able to keep his first marriage secret and to find a new wife. He begs Jane to live with him, unmarried, as if she were his wife, but Jane refuses to do so. Early the next morning, she leaves Thornfield.

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Commentary on Volume 3, Chapter 1 / 27

pluck it out … transfix it From the Sermon on the Mount, in the verses where Jesus talks about adultery, Matthew 5:28-30. He uses an extreme metaphor that it is better to blind oneself rather than be led into sin because of what one can see. Jane has somehow to ignore or set aside her love for Rochester, now that she knows that marrying him would involve both adultery and bigamy.

one little … bosom See 2 Samuel 12:3. ‘But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom and was unto him as a daughter'. The lamb is killed Achan is stonedand cooked for a rich man. It is a parable told to David by the prophet Nathan after David's adultery with Bathsheba.

tent of Achan After his victory in the Battle of Jericho, Achan hid looted goods in his tent, as a result of which God ordered that he and his family should be stoned to death (see Joshua chapter 7). Stoning was also a punishment for adultery.

narrow stone hell Rochester sees Thornfield as the grave of his hopes and a place where both he and his wife suffer torments similar to those of Hell.

Ferndean Manor Charlotte Brontë may have based this house on Wycoller Hall, near Colne in Lancashire.

upas-tree A tree believed to have the power to poison anything that grows nearby.

the keeper at Grimsby Retreat A fictional asylum whose name is based on the York Retreat.

her familiar This suggests that Bertha Rochester is a witch, since a familiar is a kind of spirit or demon in the service of a witch.

a fraction of Samson's strength See Judges 16:9, referring to an incident when Samson escapes from captivity by the Philistines.

Native American canoethe Indian … his canoe A reference to native Americans, known in the nineteenth century as Indians or Red Indians. The image evoked both remoteness and danger.

wanderings … through all its lands Rochester's description of his decade of travelling recall the restless journeys made by the central characters in poems by Byron, especially Childe Harold and Don Juan.

had struck me into syncope Fainting.

357 inmate .. heaven … clay dwelling place This is a rather complex sexual metaphor suggesting that if Rochester were to force himself upon Jane she would die and thus he would lose her in both body and spirit. The image of humans being made of clay is used several times in the Bible.

Investigating Volume 3, Chapter 1 / 27
  • List Jane's reasons for refusing to live with Rochester without marrying him.
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