Jane Eyre Chapter 18 Summary

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson provides a summary of Chapter 18 of ''Jane Eyre'', in which Jane continues to love Mr. Rochester despite his obvious focus on Miss Ingram. Two unexpected visitors arrive at Thornfield.

Mr. Rochester and Miss Ingram Up in a Tree...

It is clear in this chapter that Mr. Rochester and Miss Ingram definitely have something going on. Jane observes them constantly seeking one another out and leaning toward each other in conversation. One evening, the guests decide to play charades. In choosing teams, Mr. Rochester says 'Miss Ingram is mine, of course.' During the game, Mr. Rochester and Miss Ingram together pantomime a marriage wherein Miss Ingram is the bride and Mr. Rochester the bridegroom. Afterward, Mr. Rochester flirtatiously tells Miss Ingram, 'remember, you are my wife.'

Bride and Groom

Jane Keeps Loving Him

The reader might expect Jane's affection to cool as she observes Mr. Rochester's attentions so obviously focused elsewhere, but, alas, she tells us, 'I could not unlove him now merely because I had found that he had ceased to notice me.' This behavior doesn't necessarily fit with the spicy assertiveness we have seen from Jane earlier in the novel, and it is difficult to tell if it is romance or weakness which keeps her pining after him. What do you think?

Jane Observes Miss Ingram

Even though Jane is watching Mr. Rochester and Miss Ingram move closer and closer to marriage, she manages to not feel jealous. She tells us, 'Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling.' That's a rather unexpected reason, given Miss Ingram's high social standing in comparison with Jane's dependent status. Jane explains further: 'her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature.' Miss Ingram seems largely incapable of original thought. She is not kind and is even downright nasty to little Adele, calling her, 'you tiresome monkey!' In short, Miss Ingram is socially elite and pretty but has not much else to recommend her.

Jane Observes Mr. Rochester

Jane tells us that she can't understand why anyone would marry for anything other than love, but she does not condemn Mr. Rochester for seeming to be about to do just that. At this point, she is so blind with love that she can't even see his faults anymore. She tells us Mr. Rochester's negatives worked 'like keen condiments in a choice dish,' serving only to add flavor to his positives. Really, Jane?! That's what she claims, as she goes on loving him while he ignores her and showers affection on another.

Visitors

On a day when Mr. Rochester must leave home to do some business in town, two different people arrive at Thornfield. The first is a Mr. Mason, who has come from the West Indies. He claims to be a good friend of Mr. Rochester's and insists on waiting for him to return. The second visitor is a surly gypsy woman whom the servants would like to send away. She offers to tell fortunes to the assembled gentry, who decide it would be a fun rainy day activity. They therefore invite her in.

Fortunetelling

The gypsy is installed in the library and requests only the young, single women be allowed to see her. Miss Ingram goes first. No one can hear or see what passes between her and the fortuneteller, but when she returns, Miss Ingram refuses to tell anyone what her fortune contained. She sits down sulkily on the sofa with a book and stares unseeingly at it without ever turning a page. Jane observes that her face becomes 'momently darker, more dissatisfied, and more sourly expressive of disappointment.'

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