Jane Eyre Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

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Analysis & Themes

That night, a scream rips through the midnight silence at Thornfield. All the guests run into the hallway, but Rochester calms everyone by saying that the noise came from a servant having a nightmare.
Secrets cannot be contained forever. The secrets of Rochester's past break out violently after being repressed for so long.
Once everyone has returned to bed, Rochester taps on Jane's bedroom door and asks for her help. They go up to Grace Poole's third floor room, where Mr. Mason lies bleeding from knife and bite wounds in his arm. They bandage him up and Rochester leaves to fetch a doctor, demanding that Jane and Mr. Mason not speak to each other while he's gone.
Jane is earning Rochester's confidence. But, by demanding silence, Rochester still tries to silence his past secrets. His late-night visit to Jane's bedroom would have been considered risqué in Brontë's time.
Jane is left alone in the dark with Mason. From Grace Poole's locked room down the hall emerge "canine" snarling sounds and human groans. Before dawn, Rochester returns with the surgeon. They sew up Mason and send him away before any of the guests wake.
Jane is kept in the dark about Rochester's secret, which seems more grave than ever. Since Mason could reveal Rochester's secrets, he must be silenced and removed from Thornfield.
Rochester takes Jane for a walk in the garden. He tells her about an obviously autobiographical story of a young man who got himself into serious trouble as a youth and then, to escape from that error, went on to lead a life of luxury and sinful excess. He asks, What if that man now wants to find redemption by living a good and moral life with a wife but is blocked from marrying her by the rules of society? Should he ignore those rules? Jane responds that the person should look not to any other person for redemption, but to God. Rochester then says that he will marry Blanche for his "regeneration," and changes the subject.
To gain redemption ("regeneration") from his secret sin, Rochester wants to ignore particular rules of society. He wants to take a short cut to redemption by marrying Blanche and living virtuously from here on out, without ever revealing his secret past. Jane's answer makes it clear that such shortcuts never work and are themselves immoral, but Rochester is not yet ready to hear it.

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