Jane Eyre Chapter 29 Summary

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

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

This lesson provides an overview of Chapter 29 of Charlotte Bronte's ''Jane Eyre,'' in which Jane begins to recover from her shock and hardship in the care of strangers.

In a Stupor

After being homeless for several days and finally finding refuge with a brother and two sisters, Jane lies in her borrowed bed for three days and three nights, unable to move or talk. During this time, the housekeeper, Hannah, attends Jane, but her actions are laced with distrust. Diana and Mary, the two sisters, often look in on Jane with kindness and concern. Their brother, St. John, comes in only once and remains aloof and cold.


On the fourth day, Jane finds she can finally sit up, talk, and eat. Hannah brings her a meal, and she feels strong enough to get out of bed afterward. Jane sees all of her clothing carefully cleaned, dried, pressed, and laid out ready for her. With some effort and a break to rest every five minutes, Jane succeeds in washing and dressing herself. Her clothes hang on her much thinner frame, and she has to support herself on the stair rail as she descends. After this arduous labor, Jane finds Hannah in the kitchen who offers her a chair by the fire.

Conquering Hannah

While Hannah seems to like Jane a little better now that she is clean and presentable, she is still very mistrustful of the newcomer. She opens conversation by asking Jane how long she has been a beggar. Jane asserts that she is not a beggar at all but a lady who has fallen on hard times. Hannah is surprised and a little chagrined to learn that Jane spent eight years at a boarding school and is well educated and capable.

Jane offers to help Hannah prepare gooseberries for pies and proceeds to take her to task over the way she has treated her. Jane says, 'you wished to turn me from the door, on a night when you should not have shut out a dog.' Gradually, Jane extracts an apology from Hannah, they shake hands, and Jane tells us, 'From that moment, we were friends.'

Gooseberries for Pies

Moor House and Its Residents

As Jane prepares berries in the kitchen with Hannah, she asks her about the house and the people who live there. The building, Hannah explains, is called Moor House by most, but it is also sometimes known as Marsh End. The Rivers family has lived there for nearly 200 years. St. John, Diana, and Mary are there now because their father died three weeks before. Their mother passed away several years before that. Hannah has lived and served in the home for nearly thirty years.

The late Mr. Rivers and his family before him were of the wealthy landed gentry. Jane learns that Mr. Rivers lost his fortune somehow in connection with a business deal gone wrong between friends. Consequently, the three children are obliged to work to support themselves. St. John is a parson at a church in a nearby town--the very church, it turns out, where Jane appealed for aid in her homeless wanderings. Diana and Mary are both governesses in fine homes at greater distances. Each will return to his or her position after the mourning period has elapsed for their father.

St. John's Inquiries

Diana, Mary, and St. John return from their walk. Diana insists Jane behave as their guest and join them in the parlor for tea. St. John retains something of the cold aloofness Jane observed in him during her illness. He stares fixedly at his book without speaking while his sisters are kind to Jane and solicitous of her wellbeing.

Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea

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