Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 19

Synopsis of Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 19

Jane goes to see the old woman, who questions her about Rochester and his apparent plan to marry Blanche Ingram. She asks Jane about her own feelings and ‘reads' her face. Gradually, it becomes apparent that the ‘old woman' is Rochester in disguise. Jane tells him about Mr Mason's arrival, news which disturbs Rochester deeply, and he asks Jane to tell Mason to come and speak to him in private.

Commentary on Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 19

‘nichered' Sniggered. The word is in inverted commas to indicate that it is a dialect or colloquial term.

Gypsy Fortune Tellershow me your palm Fortune-tellers claim to be able to read a person's future by the shape and length of the lines on the palm of the hand. Note also the reference to Sybil at the end of the previous chapter.

The passions … things See Psalms 2:1.

Strong winds … voice See 1 Kings 19:11-12.

‘the play is played out' Brontë echoes the end of William Thackeray's Vanity Fair, an author still greatly admired (see preface). 'Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.'

Did I wake or sleep? An echo of the last line of Ode to a Nightingale (1819) by John Keats (1795-1821): ‘Fled is that music … Do I wake or sleep?'

‘Off, ye lendings!' ‘Off, off, you lendings!': Shakespeare, King Lear (1605). The words are spoken during a storm when the King is deeply distressed. ‘Lendings' here means ‘clothes' and Lear feels that by tearing off his clothes he is stripping himself down to his ‘real' or ‘natural' state. Rochester uses Lear's words more light-heartedly, as he removes his audacious disguise.

Investigating Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 19
  • What is achieved by Mr Rochester using the disguise of a gypsy in chapter 19?
  • Think why Brontë juxtaposes the gypsy scene with the appearance of Mr Mason at Thornfield?
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