Jane Eyre Chapter 22 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 ''Jane Eyre's'' Chapter 22, where we see Jane wrapping up her stay at Gateshead. Jane's return to Thornfield and to Mr. Rochester is fraught with emotion and uncertainty.

The Despicable Cousins

Jane, displaying indefatigable forbearance, prolongs her stay at Gateshead past the death of her aunt to help her cousins Georgiana and Eliza with their individual preparations. Georgiana is leaving for London, and Jane tells us she 'bore with her feeble-minded quailings, and selfish lamentations' while helping her pack and prepare for this journey. The definition of 'helping' here is open for interpretation, however, as Jane admits, 'It is true, that while I worked, she would idle.'

Eliza was easier to tolerate, as she locked herself in her room to perform her own preparations and simply ordered Jane to take care of the house and manage callers and correspondence. At parting, she was even so gracious as to pay Jane the compliment of, 'Good-bye cousin Jane Eyre; I wish you well: you have some sense.'

After departing for London, Georgiana makes an advantageous marriage, which was always her fondest desire. Eliza, as per her carefully laid plans, travels to France, becomes a nun in a Roman Catholic convent, and progresses admirably in her chosen vocation. Thus summing up her cousins' lives, Jane tells her readers that they will not be mentioned again in this story, and so we leave them for good. What a shame.

Eliza Becomes a Nun
Eliza becomes a nun.

Returning 'Home'

Recalling her unfortunate history to the reader's mind, as Jane prepares to return to Thornfield she tells us, 'How people feel when they are returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know.' She had never looked forward to returning to Gateshead or to Lowood, but in returning to Thornfield, she feels differently. She knows it is not truly her 'home,' and indeed, she expects to leave it soon, as Mr. Rochester seems likely to marry Miss Ingram. Still, she decides, 'it was pleasure enough to have the privilege of again looking on Mr. Rochester, whether he looked on me or not.' And so it is that Jane looks forward to returning to Thornfield.

Reunited with Mr. Rochester

Jane doesn't tell Mrs. Fairfax or anyone at Thornfield when she will arrive, as she prefers to walk there from Millcote rather than be fetched in a carriage. Mr. Rochester happens to be outside when she arrives, and thus she encounters him somewhat unexpectedly. 'I did not think I should tremble in this way when I saw him,' she tells us.

Mr. Rochester also seems quite happy to see Jane. He talks with her and teases her in their old, affectionate way. 'Absent from me a whole month: and forgetting me quite, I'll be sworn!' he chides her. The thought that Mr. Rochester would care whether or not she forgot him brings Jane considerable pleasure.

Jane Makes Some Bold Moves

The reader must remember that 'bold moves' are to be judged relative to the extreme discretion which characterized Victorian era novels. 'Bold' Victorian moves would be considered very restrained today! Therefore, when Mr. Rochester talks to Jane of wishing he were more attractive and she replies, 'a loving eye is all the charm needed: to such you are handsome enough; or rather, your sternness has a power beyond beauty,' this is really quite forward, indeed--especially coming from a woman.

Even bolder are Jane's words as she leaves Mr. Rochester to head toward the house: 'I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home--my only home.' The reader is reminded of the words of the gypsy (who was actually Mr. Rochester in disguise) who told Jane that 'Chance has meted you a measure of happiness...it depends on yourself to stretch out your hand and take it up.' Is she stretching out her hand? Will she be able to 'take it up'?

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