Chapters 1–4

Jane fights with her cousin John, and as punishment her aunt, Mrs. Reed, sends her to the “red-room,” where she is struck with the sense that her uncle’s ghost is near, causing her to faint. After Jane awakens in her own bedroom, it is decided that Jane will leave to attend Lowood, a boarding school for girls. Mrs. Reed insults Jane’s character to the school’s headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, and Jane fiercely defends herself.

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Chapters 5–10

Conditions at the school are harsh; Jane is humiliated when Mr. Brocklehurst informs the whole school of her “deceitful” character, although her classmate Helen sticks by her, and the kindly Miss Temple declares her innocent. In the spring, many girls fall ill, including Helen, who dies of consumption. Jane excels in her studies over the next six years and eventually gets a job as a governess at a manor called Thornfield Hall.

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Chapters 11–16

One evening a few months after her arrival at Thornfield, where she tutors the eight-year-old Adèle, Jane meets the brooding Mr. Rochester. Jane later hears an eerie laugh in the hallway, and upon finding Mr. Rochester’s bed curtains on fire, Jane saves his life. The next morning, she is shocked to learn that neither the servants nor Rochester are troubled by the previous night’s events, and is disappointed that Rochester will be away from Thornfield for several days in the company of the beautiful Blanche Ingram.

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Chapters 17–21

Rochester returns to Thornfield with several guests, including Blanche Ingram, to whom Jane guesses Rochester will soon be married. One night a fortuneteller visits the manor, and while she is reading Jane her fortune, Jane realizes the old woman is Rochester in disguise and reproaches him; later that night, he asks Jane for help when a man named Mr. Mason is stabbed in the arm. Jane returns to Gateshead when she learns her cousin John has committed suicide, and Mrs. Reed has had a stroke.

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Chapters 22–25

Upon returning to Thornfield, Jane finally confesses her love to Rochester, who, to her surprise, asks her to be his wife. Preparations for the wedding do not go smoothly, and Jane writes to her uncle, John Eyre, hoping he’ll make her his heir and put her on more equal footing with Rochester. Jane tells Rochester a mysterious woman entered her room and tore her wedding veil in the night; Rochester says he’ll explain everything after they’ve been married for a year and one day.

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Chapter 26

On the day of Rochester and Jane’s wedding, it’s revealed that Rochester is already married to a woman named Bertha Mason. Rochester confirms that his wife is alive, and has been locked away in a room on the third floor under the care of the servant Grace Poole due to her madness. He brings the wedding crowd to see Bertha, who attempts to strangle Rochester, and Jane is both shocked and devastated.

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Chapters 27 & 28

Rochester asks Jane for forgiveness, explaining his past and why he doesn’t consider his marriage to Bertha legitimate, then proposes they leave together and live as husband and wife in France. Jane is torn, but ultimately leaves Thornfield on her own, realizing she would never be more than his mistress. She ends up at the doorstep of three siblings—Mary, Diana, and St. John Rivers—who provide her with food and shelter, and she tells them her name is Jane Elliott.

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Chapters 29–32

Jane learns the siblings’ father lost most of the family fortune in a bad business deal, led astray by their uncle who recently died and left them nothing. St. John finds Jane a job running a girls’ charity school, which she comes to enjoy, though she is having dreams about Rochester. She believes St. John is going to marry the wealthy heiress Rosamond Oliver, but St. John admits Rosamond would not take to being the wife of a missionary.

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Chapters 33–35

Jane reveals her true identity to St. John when he informs her that John Eyre has died, leaving Jane a vast fortune of 20,000 pounds, and that John was his uncle, too, making them family. Jane decides to split the inheritance with her newfound cousins to atone for their uncle having led the River family to ruin. St. John pressures Jane to accompany him to India as a missionary, and to be his wife, but Jane refuses, believing she can hear Rochester’s voice calling to her.

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Chapters 36–38

Jane travels to Thornfield only to find it in ruins, and learns that Bertha Mason set the house ablaze; Rochester, who saved the servants and attempted to save Bertha, lost a hand and went blind. When Jane reunites with Rochester, he asks her to marry him. Jane explains she’s narrating her story after ten years of marriage to Rochester, who regained vision in one of his eyes, allowing him to see their son, and Jane concludes the narrative by relaying the fates of Diana, Mary, and St. John.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 36–38