This section is nothing short of surprising. Rochester and company begin a game of charades. They ask Jane to play, but she declines, content just to watch. The scenes acted out are wedding scenes, which makes Jane uncomfortable. She takes them as an indicator that Rochester is going to marry someone else, most likely Miss Ingram, one of his guests.
Jane seems to be a bit naïve here. Yes, Rochester is acting out wedding scenes with Ingram, but that does not imply that they have anything between them that will result in marriage. But Jane is understandably hurt anyway, especially when Rochester mentions that he will marry Ingram.
I didn’t believe Rochester was sincere, not for a second. If anything, his relationship with Ingram was merely casual. There was nothing between them that hinted at anything more to their relationship.
Later in the evening, an unexpected guest arrives at the party. He gives his name as Mason, explaining that he knows Mr. Rochester from the West Indies. He asks to see Rochester, but no one knows where he is. A little while later, Rochester rejoins the party, delighted at the sight of his old friend. He insists that Mason stay for a time, offering him one of Thornfield’s spare bedrooms.
In the middle of the night, Jane is startled awake by a piercing cry. Climbing out of bed and heading in the direction the scream came from, she finds some of the guests in a room, crowded around Mason. A few minutes later, Rochester himself arrives, sending Jane to fetch a sponge and other supplies to clean Mason’s wounds. Jane is convinced Grace Poole is behind this attack. I can’t say I blame her; Grace is no where to be seen during the party, and she seems to isolate herself from the rest of the household. Rochester sends for the surgeon, and after a few days of recovery, Mason is healthy enough to make his journey home.
As if that hasn’t provided nearly enough excitement for a while, a few days later, Jane receives word that her aunt, Mrs. Reed, has fallen ill, and her cousin, John, is dead. Her aunt has requested to see her. After receiving permission to leave from Rochester, Jane sets out for Gateshead at once.
Upon her arrival at the place she called home so many years ago, Jane receives a warm welcome from Bessie and her family. When she enters the house, she barely recognizes her surviving cousins, Eliza and Georgiana. When she inquires about her aunt, the girls say that she doesn’t like to be disturbed in the evening. Bessie lets Jane see her aunt anyway.
Taking in the sight of her aunt after so many years apart, Jane can see that she is not in good health. When Mrs. Reed is aware that Jane is in the room she beckons her niece close to her beside. Given the current situation, it seems logical to any reader that Mrs. Reed would want to apologize for the way she treated Jane during her childhood. But no. Jane’s encounter with her aunt on the latter’s death bed ends up being more like this: “Jane, I wish you hadn’t been such a bad kid so that we could have had a relationship”.
I was really disappointed. I thought Jane was finally going to make peace with her family. It seemed like that was going to happen, and I was really hoping it would. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way. I would say that my prediction was wrong, but I did not see that scene coming.
After nearly a month, Jane returns to Thornfield. When the carriage pulls up in front of the hall, she is surprised to see Rochester sitting on the porch. This also makes her nervous because Rochester had technically only allowed her a week off, and she was afraid of what he would say to her being gone so long.
Rochester’s reaction to Jane’s return surprised both of us. That is, he surprised me as well as Jane. As she approaches the house, he greets her warmly and invites her to take a walk with him. During their walk Rochester drops the bomb: He never intended to marry Miss Ingram. He only acted the way he did with her to try and make Jane jealous. He loves Jane, and he has always wanted to marry her, but before he made his move, he had to make sure Jane felt the same way, so he used Ingram.
Again, I do not understand where these feelings are coming from. Brontë does not give us insight into what Jane and Rochester actually think of each other, nor has either character gone out of their way to show their feelings. Yes, they eventually become friends, but the story never hints at anything more between them.