View Full Version : What were Jane's intentions on returning to Thornfield after hearing the "voice"?

03-30-2016, 10:13 AM
I'd love to have reader's views on the following question:

What were Jane's intentions when she returned to Thornfield after hearing Rochester's "voice"?

I've had discussions (elsewhere) with those who are convinced that Jane would stay with Rochester even if she found the status quo (ie. Bertha still alive). After careful examination of the text, I haven't found anything to support such a conclusive view.

Ch. 31
Yes; I feel now that I was right when I adhered to principle and law, and scorned and crushed the insane promptings of a frenzied moment.

Ch. 34 (while considering missionary work with St John)
The case is very plain before me. In leaving England, I should leave a loved but empty land — Mr. Rochester is not there; and if he were, what is, what can that ever be to me? My business is to live without him now: nothing so absurd, so weak as to drag on from day to day, as if I were waiting some impossible change in circumstances, which might reunite me to him.

Ch. 35 (while trying to resist St John's will, moments before "the voice")
I was almost as hard beset by him now as I had been once before, in a different way, by another. I was a fool both times. To have yielded then would have been an error of principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgment.

None of this is to say that Jane doesn't struggle with her convictions (just as she did the night she left Rochester). She longs to have knowledge of Rochester's welfare, her letters having gone unanswered. She also has a rather ambiguous exchange with St John earlier the same day:

"God did not give me my life to throw away; and to do as you wish me would, I begin to think, be almost equivalent to committing suicide. Moreover, before I definitively resolve on quitting England, I will know for certain whether I cannot be of greater use by remaining in it than by leaving it."

"What do you mean?"

"It would be fruitless to attempt to explain; but there is a point on which I have long endured painful doubt, and I can go nowhere till by some means that doubt is removed."

"I know where your heart turns and to what it clings. The interest you cherish is lawless and unconsecrated. Long since you ought to have crushed it: now you should blush to allude to it. You think of Mr. Rochester?"

It was true. I confessed it by silence.

"Are you going to seek Mr. Rochester?"

"I must find out what is become of him."

I'm a bit puzzled about what Jane means by "doubts", but I still think she only wants to know that Rochester is alright. Even after hearing the "voice" she muses:

My spirit...is willing to do what is right; and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of Heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. At any rate, it shall be strong enough to search—inquire—to grope an outlet from this cloud of doubt, and find the open day of certainty.

Jane even tells her cousins that she'll return, although her absence would be "at least four days". On the road to Thornfield, she has an internal war between heart and "monitor", with the monitor saying:

Your master himself may be beyond the British Channel, for aught you know: and then, if he is at Thornfield Hall, towards which you hasten, who besides him is there? His lunatic wife: and you have nothing to do with him: you dare not speak to him or seek his presence. You have lost your labour—you had better go no farther....

And yet, as she nears Thornfield:

Could I but see him!—but a moment! Surely, in that case, I should not be so mad as to run to him? I cannot tell—I am not certain. And if I did—what then? God bless him! What then? Who would be hurt by my once more tasting the life his glance can give me?

So, what do you think? Has hearing the "voice" changed Jane's resolve? Does she sense that the situation has now altered?

Sorry if this has been discussed here before!

Danik 2016
03-31-2016, 08:06 AM
Since the discovery of the first wife Jane is living in a conflict of love/desire x principles. One of the interesting aspects IMO about this book written by a woman in Victorian England is that is shows that love in some moments gets the upper hand in the conflict as in the moment when she seeks out Rochester at the end of the novel. Jane is following her heart (and the voice ;))she doesn´t know what she is going to find.
What she actually finds is that the author is entirely on her side. Not only is the obstacle to her marriage removed, but the tables are turned on Rochester. He is not longer confronted with an orphan governess, but with an independent heiress, on whom he is physically dependent.
The Victorian feminism wins all the rounds here!:hurray: But we will never know what might happen if circunstances were different.

mona amon
03-31-2016, 09:36 AM

We'll never know, there's nothing in the text to indicate what might have happened if Bertha was still alive. Jane is just as uncertain as the Dear Reader as to what her reactions will be. I think the voice is all important - comes just in time to rescue Jane from St John's clutches and calls her back to a subdued, chastened and most importantly, widowed, Rochester. So since the universe is conspiring to bring these two together by supernatural means, I guess Jane's potential choices do not really matter. Only Charlotte Bronte could have pulled this off. :)

Danik 2016
03-31-2016, 03:58 PM
Thanks for the warm "agree", Mona.:) It´s good to know that Jane Eyre has fans in countries so far from England as India and Brazil.

mona amon
04-01-2016, 09:08 AM
Cheers, Danik! :) It is really wonderful how we can discuss books or play games with people from all over the world.

Danik 2016
04-01-2016, 11:06 AM
I'm little more than a month here, but I`m delighted to find people that love to read and discuss good literature.:)
What makes me puzzled and sad are this spam raids or worse on LitNet. Why would any one want to infect a Literature site?

04-01-2016, 08:14 PM
Thank you so much for your kind replies, ladies!
It's wonderful that Jane Eyre is so universally loved. I'll discuss it till the cows come home with anyone kind enough to indulge me!

It seems we all agree that there is nothing in the text to suggest that Jane was planning to stay with Rochester had she found Bertha alive. I like to think that Jane's principles were still strong. But she'd been "summoned" and obeyed that summons, placing herself under the direction of Heaven. And Bronte delivers the rather audacious ending that we all want! I've always regretted that Rochester paid such a high price for his deceit, but the role-reversal is deliciously satisfying. Lol.

Hope to speak to you again!

mona amon
04-04-2016, 01:16 AM
Thank you so much for your kind replies, ladies!
It's wonderful that Jane Eyre is so universally loved. I'll discuss it till the cows come home with anyone kind enough to indulge me!

Sure, anytime! I'd love to discuss this beloved book with you. :)

Danik 2016
04-04-2016, 08:24 AM
Me too!