Chapters 20-24: Changes for the Better
Chapter 20: In the middle of the night, Jane hears a scream and the sound of struggling from the upper rooms. Then Mr. Mason calls out for Rochester’s help. Everyone runs out into the hall to see what the matter is. Rochester says that a servant had a nightmare and sends everyone to bed except for Jane, whom he asks to help him. They go up to the attics and Jane hears Grace’s laugh again.
Rochester brings Jane to Mason, who has been stabbed. While Rochester rides for the doctor, Jane tends to the wounded man. When Rochester returns, he and Mason discuss the “she" who stabbed and bit Mason, drinking his blood. Jane speculates but does not comment or ask questions. Rochester rushes Mason out of the house and asks Jane to walk in the garden with him. He gives her a rose, talks to her of his hopes and fears, calls her “my little friend," and asks her to sit up with him the night before his wedding to Blanche. Jane is miserable and confused.
Chapter 21: A week later, a messenger from Gateshead arrives at Thornfield with bad news. Jane's cousin John has killed himself, and her aunt lies dying. Jane leaves immediately for Gateshead. When she sees her aunt, she forgives her past wrongdoings. Mrs. Reed, however, still hates her. She gives Jane a letter dated three years ago. It is from Jane’s uncle Eyre, who came into money and wanted to adopt her. Mrs. Reed, resenting Jane, concealed the letter and wrote her uncle that Jane was dead. Later that night, Mrs. Reed dies.
Chapter 22: Jane returns to Thornfield Hall, though she is afraid of what reception awaits her. As she is walking along the road to Thornfield, she meets Rochester. All her feelings for him are revived, and he seems glad to see her as well.
Chapter 23: Jane is walking in the garden one night when she comes across Rochester smoking. They walk together while Rochester talks about his coming marriage to Blanche and the changes he will have to make — including sending Adele to school and Jane leaving Thornfield. He says he has found her a position in Ireland. Jane begins to cry, but Rochester seems oblivious. When he finally asks her why she is upset, she bursts out, “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?" and confesses she loves him. Rochester kisses her, proposes marriage, and explains that he only pretended affection for Blanche because he wanted to make Jane jealous to see if she loved him.
Chapter 24: The next morning, Rochester greets Jane with a kiss and tells her that they will be married in a month. He lays out plans to deck her in jewels and fine clothes, to which Jane objects. She laughs at his plans to make her beautiful, then expresses the fear that his love will fade with time. Rochester assures her of his faithfulness, and Jane asks him to assure Mrs. Fairfax of his honorable intentions.
Mrs. Fairfax approaches Jane about the marriage later, unable to believe it. She expresses her doubts about the difference in their station and age, and advises Jane to be on her guard. Jane leaves her and goes to town with Rochester and Adele, where they buy new clothes and Jane resists Rochester’s attempts to dress her up. She does not want him to make her into something she is not. Heeding Mrs. Fairfax’s advice, she keeps Rochester’s advances at bay with repartee.