Volume 3, Chapter 9 / 35

Synopsis of Volume 3, Chapter 9 / 35

Jane repeats her refusal to marry St John, but before he departs for a farewell visit to Cambridge, they talk again and he is so persuasive that eventually she tells him that she would marry him and accompany him to India if she were convinced that it is God's will. She promises him a decision soon, but that evening she hears in the wind Rochester's voice calling her.

Commentary on Volume 3, Chapter 9 / 35

No ruth met my ruth Ruth means pity and Jane refers to St John's sternness and apparent lack of suffering and sympathy arising from their quarrel.

the duty … times St John quotes Jesus' command to keep forgiving others in Matthew 18:21-22 yet ironically is struggling to do so in the face of Jane's refusal to do what he asks.

What struggle … between Nature and Grace See Charlotte Brontë and childhood and Characterisation: St John Rivers.

become a castaway See 1 Corinthians 9:27: ‘But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I should myself be a castaway'. Once again St John refers to the words of St Paul, and in reproving Jane for her determination to find out what has happened to Rochester, demonstrates how the struggle between Nature and Grace must be fought in the individual.

one of the chosen St John thinks that he has seen in Jane a religious commitment similar to his own; this is, again, an expression of his Calvinistic beliefs.

God sees not as man sees See 1 Samuel 16:7: ‘the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart'.

Barrackpore near Calcutta, 19th Centurygrilled alive in Calcutta The death rate among the British who went to India, particularly among women, was extremely high. As Diana suggests, some succumbed to the heat, but most were stricken by one of the many endemic intestinal diseases against which Europeans had no immunity.

invoked the help of the Holy Spirit Jane assumes that St John has prayed to the Holy Spirit, one person of the Trinity, to help him subdue his anger towards her.

the twenty-first chapter of Revelation … no more death As the text goes on to explain, this chapter concerns the new world when God will live among men. Jane interprets St John's choice of text as an implicit reproof to her for being too concerned with worldly matters and a warning as to her likely fate.

‘He that overcometh … which is the second death' Revelation 21:7: see Religious / philosophical context. This verse describes the sufferings of Hell, to which St John believes Jane is in danger of being consigned when she dies.

name written in the Lamb's book of life The Lamb stands for Christ and, according to St John's Christian belief, those who God saves are listed in the book of life

He supplicated … a brand snatched from the burning St John's prayer seems to be very directly aimed at Jane, whom he sees as being tempted by the pleasures of earthly life from the true and difficult path of faith. He hopes even at the last moment to rescue Jane from this fate. The phrase ‘brand snatched from the burning' occurs twice in the Old Testament, both times in Prophetic books: see Amos 4:11 and Zechariah 3:2. It refers to a branch that is taken from the fire (associated with Hell and damnation) before it can be destroyed by the flames.

give you up to perdition as a vessel of wrath Perdition means damnation and everlasting misery after death. Romans 9:22 speaks of the damned as ‘vessels of wrath fitted to destruction' – they are the victims of God's wrath.

‘bid to work … no man shall work' See John 9:4, where Jesus says ‘I must work the work of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work'. The day refers to life, night to death. St John is continuing his attempts to persuade Jane to do the work of God while she has time.

lover … pastor … guardian angel Jane observes St John's impersonality and otherworldliness in his behaviour towards her; but she wants his love rather than his care for her soul.

‘the fate of Dives … this life' This alludes to the parable told by Jesus about the temporary nature of worldly riches and how they should be used: see Luke 16:9-31.

‘that better part which shall not be taken from you' See Luke 10:42. The better part is the soul or spirit as opposed to the body; another of St John's warnings about the unimportance of the earthly life.

I felt veneration for St John Note the references to Jane's well developed organ of veneration and the note on Phrenology in Volume 1, Chapter 5. See also Characterisation: Phrenology - a note.

My hierophant's touch A hierophant is someone who reveals and interprets sacred things such as texts.

Life rolled together like a scroll An allusion to Isaiah 34:4: ‘and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll'. Part of Isaiah's apocalyptic vision of judgement, suggesting that Jane feels that St John's words have revealed to her the end of her old life and the beginning of a new.

‘Down superstition' … eager but for the daylight Just as Jane is weakening in the face of St John's persuasions, she hears the voice of Rochester. She is quick to dismiss this phenomenon as superstition or witchcraft, instead attributing it at first to Nature, then to God – referred to here as a Mighty Spirit, whose power and presence inspire her to her own kind of praying. This is an example of the kind of passage that angered some of the novel's first readers. See Critical approaches to Jane Eyre: Jane Eyre: The critical tradition

Investigating Volume 3, Chapter 9 / 35
  • This chapter is full of biblical quotations and allusions and ends with Jane hearing Rochester's voice calling to her
    • Does this tell us anything about the struggle between nature and grace, mentioned at the beginning of the chapter?
  • What do you make of the sound of Rochester's voice coming to Jane just as she begins to reconsider her reply to St John's offer of marriage?
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