Chapter summaries 16-27

Chapter 16

Jane is both anxious and excited to see Rochester the next day, but he does not appear. She hears the servants discussing the incident in Rochester’s bedroom and finds Grace Poole sewing new curtains for Rochester’s bed. She asks Grace about the incident, hoping to find a sign of her guilt, but Grace only says what all the servants are saying: Rochester fell asleep with his candle lit and awoke to find the bed in flames. Jane is annoyed that Grace does not admit her guilt and wonders why Rochester did not fire her after the incident. She wonders whether Rochester might be in love with Grace, but rejects the idea, and then wonders whether Rochester’s behavior the previous night might suggest he has feelings for Jane. 

Jane finds out Rochester has left Thornfield for a party at a nearby estate and will not return for several days. She asks Mrs Fairfax about the women who will be at the party and finds out about the beautiful and accomplished Blanche Ingram. Jane scolds herself for believing Rochester might favor someone as plain as her. She draws a homely portrait of herself and one of the beautiful Blanche, to remind herself that Rochester could never love someone like her.

Chapter 17

After Rochester is gone from Thornfield for a week, Mrs Fairfax receives a letter from him. He says to prepare for the arrival of guests in three days. Jane observes the habits of Grace Poole, who does not spend much time with the other servants, mostly retreating to the third floor. One day, Jane hears the other servants talking about Grace, implying that she is getting paid more than them but has a difficult job to do. When they notice Jane, they stop talking.

Rochester’s party arrives and Jane observes their elegance, especially Blanche’s, whom Rochester seems to favor. Rochester calls Jane and Adèle to join him and the guests one evening, but Jane is nervous to be in their presence and mostly hides near the window. Blanche focuses all her attention on Rochester and openly mocks governesses. 

As Jane tries to sneak away, Rochester catches Jane outside the room and observes that she looks sad and about to cry. He allows her to leave but insists that she joins the party for the following days. As he bids her goodbye, he stops himself from adding a term of endearment.

Chapter 18

The guests find different ways to amuse themselves while at Thornfield. Jane watches as Blanche continues to flirt with Rochester, and though she believes Rochester will marry Blanche, she does not think Rochester loves her. 

One day, while Rochester is away on business, an old acquaintance of his, Mr Mason, arrives. Jane dislikes Mason’s appearance and finds out that he and Rochester once lived in the Caribbean. 

A fortune teller arrives at Thornfield and demands to tell the fortunes of all the young and single ladies of the party. While the guests want to send her away, Blanche insists she wants to have her fortune told. However, Blanche returns disappointed at what the woman has told her. The other ladies also visit and appear frightened and surprised at the intimate knowledge of them that the fortune teller possesses. The fortune teller demands to also tell Jane’s fortune.

Chapter 19

Jane joins the fortune teller in the library, feeling skeptical. The woman tells Jane she is lonely but close to happiness if she dares to do something about it. She changes the subject to romance and marriage, though Jane says she is not interested, and talks about Rochester and Blanche. The fortune teller confirms the pair are about to be engaged, but Jane says she wants to hear about her own fortune, not Rochester’s. As the fortune teller continues talking, Jane recognizes it is actually Rochester in disguise. 

Jane is upset at having been fooled, but she tells him about Mason’s arrival. Rochester stumbles in shock and asks Jane what she would...

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