Volume 3, Chapter 5 / 31

Synopsis of Volume 3, Chapter 5 / 31

Jane is settled in her school cottage and is visited by St John, who tells her that he plans to work as a missionary in the East. They are joined by the beautiful Rosamund Oliver, a local heiress, who is the patron of the school. Jane realises that St John is in love with Rosamond, but is repressing his feelings because of his faith and his missionary vocation.

Commentary on Volume 3, Chapter 5 / 31

Photo by Jondresner, available through Creative CommonsA set of tea-things in delf Delf in Holland is famous for its blue and white china, which was very popular in England in the nineteenth century.

‘The air was mild, the dew was balm' Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 3.14.3-4.

the vacillating fears of Lot's wife God warned Lot and his wife not to look back as he destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the wife could not resist doing so and was turned into a pillar of salt. See Genesis 19:26.

curate's surplice A curate acts as assistant to a parish priest. A surplice is a white linen garment, worm over the priest's black cassock or gown when taking services.

call from heaven… spread wings and mount St John describes, in elevated terms, his discovery of a true religious vocation after a period of doubt and restlessness. The last phrase is an echo of Isaiah 40:31:

‘they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles'.

Albion An ancient name for Britain.

earthly angel Jane describes Rosamond as being of heavenly beauty.

Peri In Persian mythology, a beautiful and benevolent fairy.

the riots … knife grinders and scissor-merchants This reference suggests that the town referred to as S----, twenty miles away, might be Sheffield, known for the manufacture of cutlery and the scene of Chartist unrest in 1839-40.

Investigating Volume 3, Chapter 5 / 31
  • Re-read the passage ‘Was I very gleeful, settled, content … I thank his providence for the guidance'
    • What does it tell us about Jane's state of mind?
    • What do St John's feelings about Rosamond suggest about his personality? See Characterisation: St John Rivers.
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