Volume 1, Chapter 15

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 15

Rochester tells Jane about Adèle's mother, a Parisian dancer called Céline who was once his mistress. Some years later, after Céline has run away with another lover, Rochester takes responsibility for the abandoned Adèle and brings her to Thornfield. Jane is fascinated rather than shocked by his story. She enjoys her employer's company, but is puzzled by his belief that it is his destiny is to be unhappy, even when he is at home at Thornfield.

Rochester's bed on fireLater that night, Jane is awoken by a noise. She goes to investigate and again hears the strange laugh she has heard in the house on many earlier occasions. She then smells smoke and realises that it comes from Mr Rochester's bedroom; the curtains enclosing his bed are on fire. She puts out the fire with water from his washing bowl. This wakens Rochester, who investigates the incident and gives the impression that Grace Poole was responsible for the fire.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 15

Apollo Belvedere photo by Wknight94 available through Creative Commonsthe Apollo Belvedere This statue of the Greek god Apollo stands in the Belvedere gallery of the Vatican in Rome. Apollo was regarded as the model of perfect male beauty.

hotel A town house.

Dentelles Lacework.

a hag … the heath at Forres In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the central character consults three witches about his destiny.

lifting a finger … wrote in the air Rochester here Belshazzar's Feast by Rembrantechoes the story of Belshazzar, who was one of the kings of Babylon during the time when the Jewish people were exiled there. While he was holding a great feast, a mysterious hand appeared and wrote on the wall of his palace predictions (which were fulfilled) of the fall of his kingdom to the Persians. The predictions were interpreted by the prophet Daniel and Belshazzar was killed the same night. See Daniel 5:24-31. From this is derived the modern phrase ‘the writing's on the wall' to describe something that is about to fail.

Job's leviathan Leviathan is the biblical name for a huge sea-monster, probably a whale, against which weapons, such as spears and arrows, are futile. See Job 41:26.

Bois de Boulogne A park in Paris, traditionally the location of duels of honour.

my thin-crescent destiny Jane often associates her experiences with the moon: see Imagery, metaphor and symbolism in Jane Eyre: Nature.

Is she possessed with a devil? Jane senses something evil about the laugh she hears. In the New Testament, when Christ cures a lunatic, he is said to have cast out a devil. See Matthew 17:14-18.

all the elves in Christendom … witch, sorceress Another example of the way in which this largely realistic narrative constantly makes reference to the supernatural. See Narrative techniques: realism and the supernatural.

sweet as the hills of Beulah See Isaiah 62:4, where Beulah is a kind of garden-paradise. Christians used the word to symbolise the marriage of Christ and his church, and it often carries erotic overtones.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 15
  • ‘No, reader', begins a paragraph in this chapter. As you read through the novel, note the passages in which Jane addresses the reader directly
    • Do these passages have anything in common?
  • Why, in the passages in which Jane addresses the reader directly, might Jane wish to signal that she is about to take the reader into her confidence?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.