Volume 2, Chapter 8 / 23

Synopsis of Volume 2, Chapter 8 / 23

Rochester says that he hopes to be married in a month's time. He has found a family in Ireland who want a Photo by Tim Heaton, available through Creative Commonsgoverness. Jane does not want to leave Thornfield, but she agrees to do so, asserting her right as a free and independent human being. To her amazement and delight, Rochester declares that he loves her and asks her to marry him; she agrees. In the night, there is a huge storm and the large horse-chestnut tree in the grounds is split by lightning.

Commentary on Volume 2, Chapter 8 / 23

day its fervid fires had wasted Thomas Campbell, The Turkish Lady, line 5.

No nook in the grounds more sheltered and more Eden-like This recalls the story of Adam and Eve in both the Book of Genesis and Milton's Paradise Lost.

That was only a lady-clock, child, ‘flying away home' A lady-clock is another name for a ladybird. If one lands on your hand, according to English folklore you are supposed to blow it away gently while saying the rhyme: ‘Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home/Your house is on fire and your children all gone.' The quotation also refers to the eventual fate of Thornfield. See Narrative: Development of the narrative.

Mrs Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternut Lodge This is clearly a fictitious name, invented by Rochester, but the names gall (meaning something painful) and bitternut, are perhaps an indication of how Rochester anticipates Jane would feel if she were to go to Ireland.

that boisterous Channel The Irish Sea.

two hundred miles or so of land Another clue as to the location of Thornfield.

Do you think I am an automaton? At this time, ‘automaton' would have meant someone who lives without feeling or consciousness.

morsel of bread … drop of living water Bread and water are frequently mentioned in the Bible, usually to mean the food and drink of life that God offers to the believer. It is characteristic of Rochester at this stage in the book that he should apply these terms to the love between human beings.

atone … expiate … God's tribunal Rochester murmurs these words to himself and once again runs close to being heretical in applying the Christian concepts of atonement, expiation and God's judgement in a secular context. A Christian reading of the text at this point would argue that both Jane and Rochester have allowed their love for another human being to take priority over their love for God.

Investigating Volume 2, Chapter 8 / 23
  • Think about the reference to the ladybird and the children's rhyme associated with it in this chapter and how it relates to subsequent events in the novel
  • Think about the destruction of the chestnut tree during the storm in this chapter and how it relates to subsequent events in the novel.
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