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Jane Eyre Chapter 34 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 34 of Jane Eyre in which we see Jane, St. John, Mary, and Diana all embarking on their next phase of life after their unexpected inheritance.

Another New Beginning

The chapter opens as Jane is closing Morton School for the Christmas holiday. She will not return to the school as its mistress after the holiday. Instead, she will begin her new life with Diana, Mary, and St. John, whom she has recently discovered are her cousins. They all share a substantial inheritance from their uncle. Jane looks forward to cleaning and restoring Moor House and to enjoying the holidays with her cousins. For the first time in her life, Jane finally has family she loves.

St. John Still the Grinch

St. John, who has previously shown himself to be rather hard and cold, expresses some scorn for Jane's domestic holiday ambitions. He tells her, 'I hope you will begin to look beyond Moor House and Morton, and sisterly society, and the selfish calm and sensual comfort of civilised affluence.' This is unfair, as Jane has just given St. John and his sisters each a large sum of money. Additionally, Jane is proposing to restore and improve his family home--hardly warranting the label 'selfish calm' or 'sensual comfort.' St. John remains resolute in his disdain, and when Jane eagerly shows him the fruits of her industrious cleaning, arranging, and decorating, he is completely dismissive and unappreciative.

Fortunately, Diana and Mary are pleasanter company than St. John. They are both rapturous over Jane's improvements to their home. The three young women are very merry together in their newfound leisure. St. John can barely stand all this enjoyment, however, and he is restless and discontent for the entire week of the Christmas holiday. He spends as much time out and away as he can, and the time he does spend in the house with the ladies is a considerable strain on his patience.

Mr. Rochester Still On Jane's Mind

In the midst of the joy of becoming financially independent and the greater joy of discovering she has a family, Jane does not forget Mr. Rochester. The idea of him runs as a sub-current through this chapter. Jane writes letters to him and to Mrs. Fairfax seeking news of his well-being. She worries about him and loves him still. When six months elapse with no answer to her letters, she is very concerned and disappointed. Still, she soldiers on with day-to-day life.

St. John the Dictator

In addition to being crabby about Christmas celebrations, St. John takes to bossing Jane around in a rather unsavory way. For instance, if Jane were scheduled to visit the school on a certain day and the weather turned out to be bad, Mary and Diana would suggest she put the visit off until the weather improved. St. John, however, would dismiss his sisters' concerns and practically insist Jane should still go.

St. John also commands Jane to give up her study of German and instead spend her time learning 'Hindostanee' which was most likely a different spelling of 'Hindustani,' the language of parts of India and Pakistan. It looks like this:

Hindustani Writing

It is still used today in some places but has largely been replaced by Urdu or Hindi. St. John is learning this language to prepare for his career as a missionary and insists Jane learn it too. Jane tells us that she wanted very much to please St. John in these things, but in order to do so she says 'I felt...that I must disown half my nature.' She is not happy under St. John's commands.

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