The chapter starts off a little tongue- in-cheek as Jane refers to the fortune-teller as ‘the Sybil’. Jane is thoroughly doubtful of the woman’s powers, and she enters the room thinking that she cannot be fooled, feeling superior and a little smug. Ironically, whilst she feels she is the clever one, she does not notice the trick being played on her. Jane is a very independent character; ‘the utmost I hope is, to save money enough out of my earnings to set up a school some day in a little house rented by myself.
She does not want to be dependant on anyone, and her solitary existence is not a problem for her. Jane is very guarded against the fortune-teller and her questions, for example when she talks about her sitting in the window-seat and comments that she knows her habits, Jane replies ‘You have learned them from the servants’. She is resolute that she will not be taken in by anything that the gipsy says, and she recognises this: ‘Ah, you think yourself sharp! ‘ The fortune-teller then tries to throw her off guard by mentioning Grace Poole, as she knows that this is a weakness.
It works in alarming Jane: ‘I started to my feet when I heard the name’. The fortune-teller then tries to weaken her even further, trying to push her into talking about Rochester. Jane stands up to it, deflecting her questions so the fortune-teller digs even deeper, talking about the relationship between Rochester and Blanche Ingram. The fortune-teller’s continued questioning about Rochester makes it fairly obvious to the reader that he has some part in this, and I think that Bronte intends the reader to know that he is behind it somehow.
Jane is so preoccupied in her love for Rochester than she fails to realise what is going on, despite thinking that she knows what is going on. Rochester seems quite desperate to know what Jane feel about him, he is insecure and immature. The reader is one step ahead of Jane, knowing the true nature of the fortune-teller ploy. When the “woman” throws off her disguise and reveals her true identity, Jane reflects to herself that she did suspect something, but her mind had drawn her not to Rochester, but again to the mysterious figure of Grace Poole – ‘that living enigma, that mystery of mysteries, as I considered her.
I had never thought of Mr Rochester. ‘ Rochester apologises for the trick he has played on Jane, and everything seems to be fine, until Jane mentions the new arrival. Rochester is curious at first, but when he finds out that the stranger’s name is Mason, it has a strange effect on him. ‘… he gave my wrist a convulsive grip; the smile on his lips froze: apparently a spasm caught his breath. ‘ Without any explanation, Rochester’s mood completely changes, adding even more mystery to his character.
He then goes on to question Jane on what she would do if all his quests rejected him; ‘If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what would you do, Jane? ‘ This is another thing that makes the reader ask questions about Rochester – what has he done, or what is he going to do that would make people reject him like that, and is it related to Mason, Grace Poole, and the fire? The Gothic language that Bronte uses only makes the mystery more intense, as the reader wonders whether the supernatural is involved in some way; monsters and ‘unnatural beings’ lurking somewhere within the lonely Thornfield castle.