This chapter of Jane Eyre is extremely tense and though the levels of tension vary throughout the reader remains apprehensive. As Jane remembers her life at Thornfield the atmosphere is more peaceful, however when she discovers that Thornfield is a ruin the reader shares Jane’s shock and experiences her whirlwind of emotions as she wonders where Rochester is, how it happen and when it happen. The levels lower slightly towards the end but soon rise as Jane begins her journey to Ferndean.
At the beginning of the chapter, when Jane is preparing to leave Moor House, we begin to feel her excitement and apprehension through Bronte’s use of short sentences such as ‘I rose at dawn. ‘ Through this the reader feels more involved and it creates a staccato-like tension as Jane prepares to leave. However at this point the reader has not been directly told that she is going to Thornfield and though we assume that this where she has gone to ‘inquire’ we cannot be certain, thus making the reader curious to read on.
Jane then remembers Rochester’s Call across the moors and describes to us the effect that this has had on her. However this does not make the reader worried or tense, Jane appears to be invigorated and sees it as ‘an inspiration’ rather than an experience to worry her. Through this whole paragraph the reader feels as though they are Jane’s confidante and we share in her excitement but at this point we are not worried or apprehensive.
We later see the physical effect that this has had on Jane as Diana says Jane ‘looked very pale’, and this suffices to make the reader slightly worried as we realise the importance that this quest holds for Jane. Whilst Jane describes the journey there is a slow build up of tension as Jane ‘nears [her] bourne’ and she describes the landscape becoming ‘mild’ and ‘pastoral’. We can see Jane’s excitement and expectation as her ‘heart leapt up’ and ‘fell again’. The tension rises as Jane fights with the hope that the possibility of seeing Rochester gives her.
She is torn between her need to be with him and her knowledge that it is wrong. We see her struggle all over again and we feel that the meeting, under any circumstances, will be dramatic. Bronte creates this feeling through caesuras and the distracted nature of Jane’s thoughts as she exclaims and questions, ‘could I but see! -but a moment’ and we gain a feeling of uncertainty as Jane cannot predict her own reaction ‘I cannot tell -I am not certain. ‘ This tumult of feeling and apprehension all serve to create a tense atmosphere as we wait for the moment when Jane sees Rochester.
The chapter reaches its climax after Jane realises it is a ruin. The reader continues unsuspecting as Jane runs towards Thornfield in her excitement to see the house and Rochester. The atmosphere is more excited that apprehensive and the reader is completely caught off guard, as Jane was, by the state of Thornfield. We begin to feel there is something wrong as Jane ‘protracted a hardy gaze’ on the Hall and the analogy she uses to describe her feelings create an anxiety within the reader.
When she ends this illustration with ‘he finds she is stone dead’ we wonder what on earth she has seen to make such a strong statement and the discovery of Thornfield as ‘a blackened ruin’ causes thousands of questions to arise within the mind of Jane and the reader, enhancing the previous tension. As Jane continues to describe what she sees Bronte uses many exclamation marks and lots of punctuation to create emphasis. This is done further through the fact the line ‘I saw a blackened ruin’ is part of a one sentence paragraph.
The sense of unease and wonder is reinforced through the supernatural reference to Jane’s having ‘seen it in a dream’ and the idea that her dreams predict reality. After Jane is over the initial shock of the sight she begins to ask many questions which the reader reciprocates, thus creating a great deal of suspense and agitation. Jane asks ‘Had life been wrecked’ and the reader sincerely hopes not as they begin to realise the effect that this would have on Jane. It is clear throughout the extract that Jane’s love for Rochester has not disintegrated though separation or the devastation caused through the discovery of Bertha Mason.
Jane continues to sincerely care about Rochester and it obvious she longs to be with him, ‘once more tasting the life his glance can give me’. However Jane’s morals have been strengthened under the influence of St John’s piety and we do not think that she would succumb to Rochester now. The true extent of her worry and agitation can be seen as she questions the old butler and believes Mr Rochester is dead. She describes her reaction as a physical ‘blow’ and the reader shares her tension and fears what Jane will do with this knowledge.
However after this height of tension has been reached Jane is resigned to ‘comparative tranquillity’ after learning Rochester is alive. This provides a respite and the reader relaxes momentarily. However the tension increases as we learn of how other’s viewed Jane and Rochester’s relationship with Rochester being described as ‘bewitched’ referring to how he often called Jane a ‘fairy’ and a ‘sprite’. The reader is tense because of the pain we feel it must cause Jane to hear how Rochester searched for her and ‘grew savage’ and ‘lost his senses’ in her absence.
We then learn of the gothic destruction of Thornfield by Bertha, the ‘cunning… witch’. Though we are now secure in the knowledge that Mr Rochester is safe it still distresses Jane and the reader to hear how Bertha ‘kindled the bed’ in Jane’s room and the danger that the whole house was put in. Readers of the time especially would have loved and at the same time been disgusted with the gothic descriptions of Bertha ‘smashed on the pavement’ with her ‘brains and blood… scattered’.
This builds up the tension as we wonder how Rochester managed to escape. There is another rise in tension as Jane learns that Rochester did not escape unscathed from this incident. We feel Jane’s apprehension as her ‘blood was again running cold’ and she experiences new ‘agony’. However this is met with a slight anti-climax as he is only physically ‘helpless’ as opposed to being ‘mad’. Madness throughout the book is represented by Bronte as being the worst illness a person can have and that the mind is our most important asset.
It is the similarity of Jane’s and Rochester’s mind that causes their love and without his mind Jane’s love for Rochester would be tested in a must cruel way. As the reader breathes a sigh of relief, that Jane has not received any awful news such as his death, we learn that her anxiety to see him and help him in his helplessness is causing her to go ‘instantly’ to Ferndean ‘before dark this day’. The chapter ends extremely tensely as the reader wonders what Jane will do, what sort of state Rochester will be in and whether this will have a happy ending.
This chapter remains tense throughout due to the uncertainty of Jane’s future and what has happened to Rochester. However it reaches its climax when Thornfield is discovered to be a ruin. This tension is emphasised by the long ‘illustration’ that arouses fear and curiosity before Jane finally reveals what has happened. The reader then experiences a rollercoaster of emotions, as fear is created and then dispelled, but the chapter ends with another climax when we wonder what events at Ferndean will bring.