CHARLOTTE BRONTE (Jane Eyre)
JANE EYRE, a slim, quiet, pale-faced girl of medium Jieight
about eighteen years of age and very simply dressed.
EDWARD ROCHESTER, dark, stern-faced, and heavy-broioed. Of
medium height and broad-chested about thirty-five years of age.
RICHARD MASON, a tall, sallow man of betiveen thirty and forty
years of age.
THE MADWOMAN, heavily cloaked and veiled.
PERIOD . . About 1840.
SCENE. A glade in Thornfield Park. There is a low
fence at back separating it from the fields which stretch
far away into the distance. C. there is a giant
chestnut-tree, circled at the base by a rustic seat.
Shubberies R. and L. The time is sunset on a
brilliant summer evening, and the stage is filled with
a rosy glow, which gradually gives place to bright
moonlight as the scene progresses.
Enter JANE EYRE from shrubbery R. She walks slowly
across stage, but pauses C. as she hears the sound
of a nightingale warbling among the distant trees.
She stands thus a moment, quite lost to all her
20 ROCHESTER’S WOOING
surroundings, but starts as she hears the sound of
footsteps approaching L., and then slips into the
shadow of a tree R.
Enter MR ROCHESTER L. He is smoking a cigar. He
also pauses as he catches the sound of the bird’s song.
It abruptly ceases. He sighs, and seats himself C.
JANE EYRE slips out from the shadow and begins to
steal quietly away into the shrubbery.
ROCHESTER (quietly and without turning). Jane.
(She starts with surprise at being discovered, and stops.
The nightingale’s song recommences.)
ROCHESTER. Come here, Jane.
(She approaches him slowly.)
ROCHESTER. Where were you going ?
JANE. Home, sir.
ROCHESTER. Home! Why, on so lovely a night,
with the nightingale singing in the wood, and while
sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise surely it is
a shame to sit in the house.
(He looks at her as if expecting an answer, but she
gives him none.)
ROCHESTER (after a pause). Jane, Thornfield is a
pleasant place in summer, isn’t it ?
JANE (in a low voice). Yes, sir.
ROCHESTER. You seem to have become in some
degree attached to it, Jane.
JANE. I have, indeed, sir.
ROCHESTER. And though I don’t comprehend it, I
perceive you have acquired an affection for your foolish
little charge the child Adele.
ROCHESTER’S WOOING 21
JANE. Yes, sir, I love her dearly.
ROCHESTEE. And would be sorry to part with them
JANE. Yes, indeed,
ROCHESTER. Ah ! a pity !
JANE (surprised). Why, sir, what do you mean ?
ROCHESTER. Jane, it is always the way of events in
this life : no sooner does one get settled in a pleasant
resting-place than a voice calls out to one to rise and
move on, for the hour of repose is expired.
JANE. Must I then move on, sir ? Must I leave
ROCHESTER. Yes, Jane. I am sorry, but I believe
JANE (sadly). Well, sir, I shall be ready when the
order to march comes.
ROCHESTER. It is come now. I must give it to-night.
JANE. To – night ? (She pauses, looking at him
steadfastly.) Then you are going to be married, sir ?
ROCHESTER (looking at her with great deliberation).
Yes, Jane, I believe I am. (He rises and walks slowly
across stage. He throws away his cigar and turns.) With
your usual acuteness, Jane, you have hit the right
nail upon the head.
JANE (rather brokenly). I hope you will be very
ROCHESTER. Thank you, Jane ; I believe I shall.
JANE (slowly). She is very beautiful.
ROCHESTER. She ? To whom do you refer, Jane ?
JANE. Why, to your bride, sir, to Miss Ingram.
ROCHESTER. Oh, yes of course! And so, Jane,
now I must remind you that the first time I or
Rumour plainly intimated to you that it was my
intention to put my old bachelor’s neck into the sacred
22 ROCHESTER’S WOOING
noose and to take Miss Ingram to my bosom (Jane
turns away her head) but why do you turn away;
are you not listening to me ?
JANE (lifting her eyes till they meet his). Oh, yes,
I am listening.
ROCHESTER. Very well, Jane, for I only wish to
remind you that you yourself said to me, with that
foresight and humility which so well befit your re-
sponsible and dependent position, that in case I married
Miss Ingram both you and little Adele had better trot
forthwith. Therefore, Jane, you will perceive that I
am only acting upon your wisdom. So Adele must go
to school, and you, Miss Eyre, must find a new
JANE (rising and turning away from him). Yes, sir.
I will advertise immediately.
(N.B. The stage is by this time in full moonlight.)
ROCHESTER. In about a month’s time I hope to
be a bridegroom, and in the meantime I shall look
for employment for you.
JANE. Thank you, sir, but I
ROCHESTER. Oh, no need to apologise, Jane, for
when a dependent does her duty as well as you have
done yours, I consider that she has a claim upon her
employer for any little assistance he can conveniently
render her. Indeed, Jane, I think I know of a place
in Ireland that will suit. You will like Ireland, Jane,
JANE. It is a long way off, sir.
ROCHESTER. No matter a girl of your sense will
not object to the voyage or the distance.
JANE. Not the voyage, but the distance; for the
sea will be a barrier (She pauses.)
ROCHESTER’S WOOING 23
ROCHESTER. From what, Jane ?
JANE (slowly}. From England and from Thornfield
and (She pauses again.)
ROCHESTER. Well ?
JANE. From you, sir.
(She covers her face with her hands, and hastens away
R. as if to leave him.)
ROCHESTER. Stop, Jane !
JANE. No, no ; let me go !
ROCHESTER (crossing to her and taking her gently by
the arm). We have been very good friends, Jane, have
we not ?
JANE (in a low voice). Yes, indeed.
ROCHESTER. And when friends are on the eve of a
separation they like to spend the little time that remains
to them close to each other. So come ! (He leads her
gently towards the chestnut – tree C.) See, Jane, while
the stars enter into their shining life up yonder, let us
sit here quietly in peace together. (They sit down.)
ROCHESTER (after a short pause, looking at her intently).
Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane ?
(She does not answer.)
ROCHESTER. Because, do you know, Jane, that I
sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you
especially when you are near me, as you are now.
It is as if I had a string somewhere under my left
rib, tightly knotted to a similar string situated in a
corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if
that boisterous Channel come broad between us, I
am afraid that cord communion will be snapped ; and
then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding
inwardly. And as for you, Jane, why, you’d forget me.
2 4 ROCHESTER’S WOOING
JANE. That I never should, sir, you know (She
breaks off and sobs convulsively.)
(N.B. From now onward the light becomes by degrees
more fitful as clouds pass over the moon. The wind,
also, begins to rise, very gently at first, increasing in
ROCHESTER. Why, little Jane, what is it ?
JANE (bursting into passionate weeping). Oh, I wish
I had never been born, and had never come to
ROCHESTER. Why, Jane, do you like Thornfield so
JANE. I love it ! I love it because I have lived in
it a delightful life. I have not been trampled upon.
I have not been buried with inferior minds. I have
talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what
I delight in with an original, expanded mind. I have
known you, Mr Rochester, and it strikes me with terror
and anguish to feel I must be torn from you for ever.
Oh, yes, yes; I see the necessity of departure, and it
is like looking on the necessity of death.
ROCHESTER. Where do you see the necessity ?
JANE. In the shape of Miss Ingram your bride.
ROCHESTER. My bride ! I have no bride.
JANE. But you will have.
ROCHESTER (looking very earnestly at her). Yes I
will I will.
JANE (rising). Then I must go you have said it
ROCHESTER (also rising). No, no ; you must stay.
JANE (turning passionately upon him and speaking
with extreme intensity). I tell you I must go ! Do you
think I can stay to become nothing to you ? Do you
ROCHESTER’S WOOING 25
think I am an automaton a mere machine without
feelings ? Do you think, because I am poor, plain, and
little, I am soulless and heartless ? You are wrong
I have as much heart and soul as you, and, if God
had gifted me with beauty, I should have made it as
hard for you to leave me as it is for me to leave you.
I am not talking to you now through the medium of
custom, conventionalities, or even of mortal flesh it
is my spirit that addresses your spirit, just as if both
had passed through the grave and we stood at God’s
feet, equal as we are !
ROCHESTER. As we are ! (He takes her in his arms
and kisses her.) So, Jane.
(A distant peal of thunder is faintly heard.)
JANE. No, no, sir ; let me go, I beg you !
ROCHESTER. Where to, my little Jane ? To Ireland ?
JANE. Yes, yes, to Ireland ; or to anywhere. (She
struggles to be free.)
ROCHESTER. Be still, Jane, be still you struggle
like a wild, frantic bird.
JANE. I am no bird and no net ensnares me. I am
a free human being with an independent will, which
I now exert to leave you. (She frees herself from him.)
ROCHESTER (quickly). Come to my side, Jane, and
let us explain and understand each other.
JANE. I can never come to your side again I am
torn away and can never return.
ROCHESTER. But, Jane, I summon you to come.
JANE. No, no ; your bride stands between us.
ROCHESTER (crossing to her and taking her in his arms).
My bride is here.
Jane. No, no ; you mock me ! I do not believe you !
ROCHESTER. You shall be convinced. What love
26 ROCHESTER’S WOOING
have I for Miss Ingram ? None. None. None. All
my love is for you, you strange, almost unearthly thing,
and I entreat you to accept me as your husband.
(N.B. The stage becomes very much darker during the
ensuing, and the wind gathers greatly in volume.)
JANE (incredulously). You mean you love me and
not her ?
ROCHESTER. Yes, Jane, I do mean it. I love you
with all my heart and soul.
JANE. You truly love me and wish me to be your
ROCHESTER. Yes, Jane, I do. I swear it.
JANE. Then I will marry you !
ROCHESTER (drawing her to him). My little wife.
JANE. Edward my husband.
(They embrace one another as another clap of thunder,
this time nearer, is heard.)
ROCHESTER. Jane, Jane, you are mine entirely now.
JANE. Yes, yours for always you have made my
happiness, and I will try to make yours.
(The stage now is in almost complete darkness. Enter
RICHARD MASON. He leads by the hand the closely
veiled and heavily cloaked figure of a woman.)
MASON. Stop ! (ROCHESTER and JANE start apart.)
This thing cannot proceed.
ROCHESTER (furiously). Who are you, and how dare
you come here ?
MASON. Look in my face and you will know.
(ROCHESTER strides up to him and peers into his
face. There is a vivid flash of lightning.)
ROCHESTER’S WOOING 27
ROCHESTER. My God ! Richard Mason !
JANE (wildly, to ROCHESTER), Oh, what does all this
mean speak, I beg you.
MASON. It means, young lady, that this man can
never marry you, for he has a wife now living my
JANE. It’s not true it can’t be true ; I’ll not believe
it. (To ROCHESTER.) Oh, why don’t you speak ?
(ROCHESTER remains immovable.)
MASON. He cannot, because he knows it is true, and
that fifteen years ago he was married to this woman.
(He throws back the veil from his companion’s face, and
discloses the wild, distorted countenance of a madwoman,
who breaks into high, demoniacal laughter.)
JANE (shrinking back in horror, to ROCHESTER). Oh,
for God’s sake, say this is not true, and that this
woman (she shudders) is not your wife.
ROCHESTER. No, my poor little Jane, for it is true.
In the sight of man this creature is my wife.
(JANE buries her face in her hands and moans.}
ROCHESTER (fiercely to MASON.) Go, curse you ! You
have done your mischief. Take her (indicating the
MADWOMAN) away before I do you both an injury.
(Exeunt MASON and the MADWOMAN, whose crazy laughter
is heard dying away in the trees.)
ROCHESTER (turning upon JANE). Well have you
nothing to say to me nothing bitter nothing poignant ?
JANE (brokenly). Nothing, nothing. Leave me, I
ROCHESTER (wildly). Jane, little Jane forgive me.
28 ROCHESTER’S WOOING
I loved you so that is my defence. God knows I
would have made you a good husband, but that fate
has out – manoeuvred me. When, years ago, I was
inveigled into marrying that that woman, I did not
know she came of a family of drunkards and maniacs.
Oh, Jane, can’t you imagine through what I have lived ?
You have seen the sort of being she has become, and
judge whether I had a right to break the compact
and seek sympathy with something human. Believe
me, Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. Can
you ever forgive me ?
JANE (sobbing). Yes, I forgive you.
( He takes her hand and presses it to his lips.)
ROCHESTER. Farewell ! (He hurries off.)
(JANE, left alone, takes two or three faltering steps after
him with outstretched hands.)
JANE. Edward ! Oh, my love !
(She falls fainting to the ground. The crazy laughter is
again heard away in the distance. There is a vivid
flash of lightning, followed immediately by a crack