Jane eases into the habits of life at Thornfield. She is comfortable and likes the bright but spoiled Adèle, but she soon starts to feel discontented, confined, and restless. She thinks that people are wrongfully constrained by their roles in society, especially women, and that all humans need stimulation. Jane finds some comfort in occasionally strolling along the third-floor passageway and allowing her imagination to wander.
Jane is a restless and curious soul who wants a purpose in life. Yet at the same time she still lets her imagination wander, and daydreams fantastical stories. Jane's thoughts about women and confinement foreshadow the appearance of Bertha, a woman who really is imprisoned.
Jane frequently hears the strange laughter on the third floor, and observes Grace Poole coming and going with her servant work. Jane is puzzled by Grace Poole, whose plain curt personality doesn't seem to match the bizarre sounds she hears from the third floor.
The scapegoating of Grace Poole reflects Brontë's belief that false appearances must be scrutinized to uncover hidden truths—the same view that Brontë presents in her Preface.
As Jane carries a letter to the post one winter evening, she hears a horse approaching. The dreary scene and the noise make her think of Bessie's ghost stories about "Gytrash," a spirit creature, sometimes horse and sometimes dog, which pursues travelers at night. Sure enough, out comes a huge intimidating dog, but it is immediately followed by a horse and rider that dispel Jane's worries about ghosts.
Here Brontë blends the Gothic style with realism. She makes it seem as if something supernatural is happening and then explains the causes behind those events. This approach is sometimes called the "explained supernatural."
The horse then slips and falls on a sheet of ice. Jane helps up the rider, a dark and stern-faced man, who questions Jane about her position at Thornfield before riding away. On returning to Thornfield, Jane discovers from the servants that the gentleman was Edward Rochester, who has returned home.
Jane and Rochester's first encounter sets the tone for much of their future relationship. Jane helps Rochester, her "master," while Rochester stays in disguise with Jane, hiding his real identity and history from her.