In this work there will be analyzed Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The book, acritique of social Victorian assumptions about gender and social class, became one of the most succeccful novels of its era, both critically and commercially. The structure of this work is as follows:
– The period of Realism (it’s reflection in Jane Eyre)
– Autobiography of Charlotte Bronte.
– Autobiographical elements in Jane Eyre.
– Characteristic of major characters (Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, St. John Rivers).
– Short characteristic of minor characters.
– Jane Eyre’s life in two different woorlds, her quest for love and independence.
– Religion in Jane Eyre.
– Social class in Jane Eyre.
– Gender relations in Jane Eyre.
– Symbols, metaphors, language in Jane Eyre.
– Consideration about Charlotte Bronte and her work.
– Final conclusion.
The early 19th century was marked by great economic and political changes<.>. The growth of realism was stimulated by a necessity to concentrate attention on the fate on common man and the faithful portrayal of life with all the evils of the cruel industrial system. The realistic novel became the most immportant and popular genre. The great realists of England devoted their genius to striking at various social evils. In their descriptions of the helplessness of the common man and bad conditions of the masses they posed the burning problems of po
So one of the greatest English realists was Charlotte Bronte. She wrote the first English novel about woman’s need to be independent and free in thoughts and feelings. Her novel
Jane Eyre showed that it was possible for a woman in the nineteenth century to achieve independence and success on her own, no matter what odds were against her.
During the 1800’s was the period in which Jane Eyre was written and the setting of the novel, women were stereotyped as being submissive, dependent, beautiful, but ignorant. They were seen as trophies, meant to cling too the arms of men, but never meant to develop a mind of their own or to venture out on their own. This stereotype proved difficult for women to be taken seriously.
Bronte was probably dissatisfied with this interpretation of sex and she attempted to change it by creating a heroine who possessed the antithesis of these traits. Indeed, Jane may be a plain woman, but she is an intelligent one; she is also self-confident, strong-willed, and morally conscious. She not on
Jane Eyre proved to the world of the 1800’s that the idea of a woman beating the odds to become independent and successful on her own was not as far-fetched as it may have seemed. Jane goes against the expected type by “refusing subservience, disagreeing with her superiors, standing up for their rights, and venturing creative thoughts” (McFadden-Gerber 3290). With such determination, she is able to emerge victorious over all that has threatened to stand in her way. She is not only successful in terms of wealth and position, but more importantly, in terms of family and love. These two needs, which have evaded Jane for so long are finally hers; adding to her victory is her ability to enjoy both without losing her hard-won independence. As Jane was a role model for woman in the nineteenth century, she is also a role model for woman today. Her legacy on in the belief that as long as there are hopes and dreams, nothing is impossible (the Internet).
Charlotte Bronte was one of the six ch
Like the most homes of those times, the discipline was strict for girls at Haworth. They were to do needle-work, play the piano, and take part in housekeeping. The latter was considered to be women’s main duty. Charlotte and Emily read such literature as the parsonage afforded (chiefly standard poets and historians) or what the circulating library offered. Most of the contemporary authors, with the exception of Byron, were unavailable to the Bronte children. Byron, with whose works Charlotte was fully acquainted by the time she was thirteen, and later on Thackeray became her best admired writers.
In 1831-32 Emily and Charlotte were sent to another boarding-school. Two of Charlotte’s former friends later remembered her “extraordinary sense of duty”. Both recalled how conscientiously she studied at school, never playing with the other children, ev
Back at Haworth, the two sisters intended to open a school but could find no students. In 1846 a volume of verse written by Charlotte, Emily and Anne under the pen-name of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell appeared. It was received coldly and they turned to novel-writing to become famous. Anne Bronte told the story of a governess in Agnes Grey and described the Yorkshire moors in her second and last novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights depicted a man’s tragedy caused by his unhappy childhood. (G. Kirvaitis, A.Šurnaite, English Literature 1999, 164-165psl.).
Autobiographical elements are recognizable throughout Jane Eyre. Jane’s experience at Lowood School, where her dearest friends dies of tuberculosis, recalls the death of Charlotte’s sisters at Cowan Bridge. The hypocritical religious fervor of the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, is based in part on that of the Reverend Carus Wilson, The Evangelical minister who ran Cowan Bridge. Charlotte took revenge upon the school that treated her so poorly by using it as the basis for the fictional Lowood. Jane’s friend Helen Burn’s tragic death from tuberculosis recalls the deaths of two of Charlotte’s sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who succumbed to the same disease during their time at Cowan Bridge. Additionally, John Reed’s decline into alcoholism and dissolution is most likely modeled upon the life of Charlotte Bronte’s brother Barnwell, who slid into opium and alcohol addictions in the years preceding his death. Finally, Charlotte becomes a governess – a comparatively neutral vantage point from which to observe and describe the oppressive social ideas and practices of nineteenth-century Victorian society (the Internet)
After the success of Jane Eyre, Charlotte revealed her identity to her publisher and went on to write several other novels, most notably Shirley in 1849. In the years that followed, she became a respected member of London’s literary set. But the deaths of siblings Emily and Brandwell in 1948, and of Anne in1949, left her feeling dejected and emotionally isolated. In 1954, she wed the Reverend Arthur Nicholls, despite the fact that she did not love him. She died of pneumonia, while pregnant, the following year (the Internet).
Imagine a girl growing up around the turn of the nineteenth century. An orphan, she has no family or friends, no wealth or position. Misunderstood and mistreated by the relatives she does have, she is sent away to school where the cycle of cruelty continues. All alone in the world, she is doomed to a life or failure. What’s a girl to do? Does she stand passively by and accept her fate, as the common belief of the times would have it? Or does she stand up for the rights and fight for the life of success she deserves? If the girl is Charlotte Bronte’s heroine Jane Eyre, she takes the latter route. Although this may have shocked readers of the time, Jane’s actions would open the door for a new interpretation of women.
Jane Eyre, born poor and plain looking, gained love, family, and fortune without sacrificing her principles. This is her story. Orphaned at a very young age she was sent to live with her uncle, who dies shortly after her arrival. Her cruel wealthy step-aunt Mrs. Reed despised her and made her first ten years barren of kindness and love. A servant named Bessie provided Jane with the few kindness she received, telling the stories and singing songs to her. One day, as a punishment for fighting with her bullying cousin John Reed, Jane’s aunt imprisoned Jane in the red-room. It was the room in which her uncle Reed died. While locked in, Jane believed that she sees her uncle’s ghost. She began screaming and fainting. She woke to find herself in the care of Bessie and a doctor Mr. Lloyd, who suggested to Mrs. Reed that Jane should be sent away to school. So Mrs. Reed send her to Lowood School so that she become a governess. She was not unhappy there yet she was not happy either. She won the friendship of everyone there, but her life was difficult because conditions were poor at the school. The school’s headmaster was Mr. Brocklehurst, a cruel and hypocritical man. Mr. Brocklehurst’s stingy ways resulted in the death of many of students, including Jane’s best friend, Helen Burns, because a massive typhus epidemic swept Lowood. He preached a doctrine of poverty and privation to his students while using the school’s funds to provide a wealthy and opulent lifestyles for his own family. The epidemic also resulted in the departure of Mr. Brocklehurst by attracting attention to the poor conditions at Lowood. After a group of more sympathetic gentlemen took Brocklehurst’s place, Jane’s life improved dramatically.
Jane completed her education, by spending eight more years there, six as a student and two as a teacher. Jane advertised in the newspaper and found a position at Thornfield Hall. There she obtained a position as governess. Then Mr. Rochester came into her life. Through him she experienced feelings she has never felt before: playfulness, love and even jealousy. Jane’s student was Adele Varens, loving child of the master of the house Edward Rochester, who was a dark, impassioned man. Jane found herself falling secretary in love with him. Rochester was rarely at home and Jane spend most of her time with Adele and the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax.
When Rochester did come home, he was often moody and imposing. Mr. Rochester made Jane jealous by pretending to love Miss Ingram. What she did know that Edward Rochester already had a wife. He never loved her, and when she succumbed by madness, he hated her. He was quite justified with his opinion.
One night, Jane woke to strange noises and the smell of smoke. Bertha, Rochester’s wife, had set his room on fire, and bit and stabbed her own brother, Richard. The Fault lay in Grace Pool, who was not the most attractive woman in the world especially when she got drunk. Jane found Rochester unconscious in his bed. Other odd things happened in the house also. Jane often heard strange laughter and thuds. She realized that she loves Rochester, but she was proud of herself and refused to confess it. Edward has not informed Jane about Bertha because he was afraid that she would be repulsed by it and refuse to marry him.
One day Rochester invited a group of friends to the house, including Blanche Ingram whom he was expected to marry. Jane, who sank into despondency, was treated as servant by the guests. Jane expected Rochester to propose to Blanche, but Rochester instead proposes to Jane. One of the guests, Mr. Macon, was mysteriously injured. Jane was also troubled when her former guardian, Mrs. Reed, called her to her death bed. She admitted that several years earlier she had received a letter from one of Jane’s distant relatives, John Eyre, a man who lived in Jamaica. Then Mrs. Reed told to John Eyre that Jane had died in the typhus epidemic.
When Jane returned from this visit, Rochester asked her to marry him and Jane joyfully assented. The night before their wedding, she woke to find someone in her room, wearing her wedding veil. She screamed and ran, but Rochester convinced her it was her imagination. At the
wedding, a man interrupted the service, saying Rochester was already married. Rochester admitted it and took the wedding party to the attic. His wife is a Creole, Bertha Manson, who went mad immediately after their wedding fifteen years before. Now she was imprisoned in the attic.
Then Jane decided she must run away. Jane, no matters how much she loved him and longed to stay with him, knew that it was morally wrong. Penniless, she becomes a beggar and was forced to sleep outdoors and beg for food. She arrived at a little town destitute, having lost her money and goods At last, three siblings who live in a manor alternatively called Marsh End and Moor House took her in. Their names were Mary, Diana, and St. John Rivers and Jane quickly became friends with them. The family Rivers was an old and distinguished one. Their father, however, lost the family fortune, and left them poor. St. John was a minister with a goal of going to India. The girls were working as governess in wealthy families. Jane, not wanting to be dependent on them, asked St. John to find her a job. He found her a position as a school mistress at the village where he preached.
There she became acquainted with Rosemond Oliver. She was beautiful, rich, and good-natured. Rosemond loved St. John, and vice versa, and her father approved of the match. What kept them from Holly Matrimony then? St. John wanted a missionary’s wife and Rosemond was not it. So St. John stayed aloof from her, and Rosemond feeling rejected, married someone else. Something of equal importance happed on that small village. Jane’s fore mentioned uncle died and bequeathed everything to her. Jane knew nothing of this. St. John, however, knew that the missing heiress named “Jane Eyre”. And it is really only by accident that she learned simultaneously that John Eyre has died and left her his fortune of 20,000 pounds and that Rivers were her cousins. They shared the fortune into 4 equal parts. St. John decided to travel to India as a missionary and he urged Jane to accompany him – as a wife. Rivers pressed her to marry him and join him. He admitted that she did not love her, but he thought that Jane was smart and useful. Jane felt she must do her duty, but she did not want to marry Rivers.
However, Jane realized that she could not abandon forever the man she truly loves. And this is the climax of the novel. One night Jane hears Rochester’s voice calling to her. She returned to Thornfield and what she found there shocked her. The house was burned to the ground. She heard the horrible tale from an ex-servant. He told her that the place had burned down when Bertha set Jane’s former bed on fire. Then she went onto the roof and jumped to her death Rochester became blinded in his unsuccessful attempt to save her life. Jane was glad that he was still alive and went to him. Edward was extremely happy to see her and asked to marry him again. Jane and Rochester marry. This is the denouement of the novel. He regained limited sight in one eye and was able to see their son born. Diana and Marry both married for love and are happy. St. John went to India without Jane and never married, because he succumbed to illness and was going to die. At the end of the story Jane writes that she has been married for ten blissful years and that she and Rochester enjoy perfect equality in their life together.
Jane Eyre – is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. She is an intelligent, honest, plain-featured young girl. Jane has to contend with oppression, inequality and hardship. She meets with the series of individuals who tried to threaten her autonomy, but she didn’t give in asserting herself
and maintains her principles of justice, human dignity and morality. Her strong belief in gender and social equality challenges the Victorian prejudices against women and the poor. The development of Jane Eyre’s character is central to the novel. She possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, also a trust in God and a passionate disposition. Jane must learn to balance the conflicting aspects of herself so as to find contentment.
An orphan since early childhood, Jane feels the cruel treatment, which she receives from her aunt Reed and her cousins. Afraid that she will never find a true sense of home and community, she feels the need to belong somewhere. In her search of freedom, Jane also struggles with the question
of what type of freedom she wants. While Rochester offers Jane a chance to liberate her passions, Jane realizes that such freedom could also mean enslavement – by living as Rochester’s mistress. Rochester also offers another type of freedom. That means the freedom to act unreservedly on her
principles. St. John Rivers opens her a possibility of exercising her talents working and living with him in India. Jane realizes again that this kind of freedom would also constitute a form of imprisonment, because she would be forced to keep her true feelings. In my opinion, Jane’s character and her behavior is really very rare, but strong and undefeatable. She knows her principles and keeps them from the very beginning till the very end.
Charlotte Bronte may have created the character of Jane Eyre as a means of coming to terms with the elements of her own life. Much evidence suggests that Bronte, too, struggled to find a balance between love and freedom and to find others who understood her. At many points in the book, Jane voices the author’s then-radical opinions on religion, social class, and gender (the Internet).
Edward Rochester – is the antagonist of the story. He is Jane’s employer and the master of Thornfield. He is a wealthy and passionate man with a dark secret. And this secret provides much of the novels suspense. He is even ready to set aside his polite manners and consideration of a social class in order to interact with Jane frankly and directly. He is rash and impetuous and has spent much of his adult life roaming about Europe. His problems are partly the result of his own recklessness. I think he is a sympathetic figure who has suffered for so long as a result of his early marriage. But despite his stern manner and not particularly handsome appearance, he wins Jane’s heart. Jane feels that they are kindred spirits, and because Rochester is the first person in the novel offering her lasting love and a real home. In my opinion Jane and Rochester are intellectual equal, although Rochester is Jane’s social and economic superior, and although the men were widely considered to be naturally superior to women in Victorian period. Their marriage is interrupted by the disclosure that Edward Rochester is already married to Bertha Manson. Then Jane is proven to be Rochester’s moral superior. Rochester really has proven himself that he was in many ways weaker than Jane. Jane feels that living with Rochester as his mistress would mean the loss of her dignity. Then I think she would be degraded and dependent upon Rochester for love. Jane will only enter into marriage with Rochester after she is not influenced under her own poverty, loneliness and psychological vulnerability or passion.
Additionally, because Rochester has been blinded by the fire and lost his house at the end of the novel, he has became weaker than Jane has grown in strength. Jane claims that they are equals, but the marriage dynamic has actually tipped in her favor.
St. John Rivers – Along with his sisters, Mary and Diana, St. John serves as Jane’s benefactor after she runs away from Thornfield, giving her food and shelter. The minister at Morton, St. John is cold, reserved and often controlling in his interactions with others. He is a foil to Edward Rochester. Whereas Rochester is passionate, St. John is austere and ambitious. There was a description in which Jane describes Rochester’s eyes as flashing and flaming, whereas she associates St. John with rock, ice and snow. St. John invites her to come to India with him as a missionary. He offers Jane the chance to make a more meaningful contribution to society than she would as a housewife. At the same time, life with St. John would mean life without true love. Truly speaking I understand her, because such woman as she would never prefer to feel as somebody’s personal property. Jane would never marry a man she doesn’t love. After the disclosure of Rochester’s secret she would live sooner alone with her own interests and ambitions ( though loving Rochester), than be with St. John wanting to marry her without love.
Her consideration of St. John’s proposal leads Jane to understand that a large part of one’s personal freedom is found in a relationship of mutual emotional dependence.
All the minor characters who appear in the novel, Jane Eyre, are only sketched in, so to speak. They are “flat”, not developed in the way that the central three characters are developed. I should say they all are conventional. They behave and speak conventionally, and do not develop at all. They tend to be extremes or stereotypes, behaving very predictably and not surprising us with any unexpected reaction. They are as follows:
Mrs. Reed – Mrs. Reed is Jane’s cruel aunt, who raises her at Gateshead Hall until Jane is sent away to school at age ten. Later in her life Jane attempts reconciliation with her aunt, but the old woman continues to resent her because her husband had always loved her more than his own children.
Bessie Lee – the maid at Gateshead. She is the only figure in Jane’s childhood who regularly treats her kindly telling her stories and singling her songs. Bessie later marries Robert Leaven, the Reed’s coachman.
Mr. Lloyd – Mr. Lloyd is the Reeds’ apothecary, who suggests that Jane must be sent away to school. Always kind to Jane, Mr. Lloyd writes a letter to Miss Temple confirming Jane’s story about her childhood and clearing Jane of Mrs. Reed’s charge that she is liar.
Georgiana Reed – Georgiana Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mr. Reed’s two daughters. The beautiful Georgiana treats Jane cruelly when they are children, but later in their lives they become friendly. Georgiana attempts to elope with a man named Lord Edwin Vere, but her sister Eliza alerts Mrs. Reed of the arrangement and sabotages the plan. After Mrs. Reed dies, Georgiana marries a wealthy man.
Eliza Reed – Eliza Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mrs. Reed’s two daughters (along with her sister Georgiana). Not so beautiful as her sister, Eliza devotes herself somewhat self-righteously to the church and eventually goes to a convent in France where she becomes the Mother Superior.
John Reed – John Reed is Jane’s cousin, Mrs. Reed’s son and brother to Eliza and Georgiana. John treats Jane with appalling cruelty during their childhood and later falls into a life of drinking and gambling. John commits suicide midway through the novel when his mother ceases to pay his debts for him.
Helen Burns – Helen Burns is Jane’s close friend at the Lowood School. Like Jane, Helen is an orphan who logs for home, but Helen believes that she will find this home in Heaven rather than Northern England. And while Helen is not obvious to the injustices the girls suffer at Lowood, she believes that justice will be found in God’s ultimate judgment – God will reward the good and punish the evil. She endures her miserable life there with a passive dignity that Jane cannot understand. Jane’s quest is for love and happiness in this world. Nevertheless, Helen counts on God for support and guidance in her search. Helen dies of consumption in Jane’s arms.
Mr. Brocklehurst – The cruel, hypocritical master of the Lowood School. Mr. Brocklehurst preaches a doctrine of privation, while stealing from the school to support his luxurious lifestyle. After a typhus epidemic sweeps Lowood, Brocklehurst shifty and dishonest practices are brought to light and he is publicly discredited.
Maria Temple – Maria Temple is a kind teacher at Lowood who treats Jane and Helen with respect and compassion.
Along with Bessie Lee, she serves as one of Jane’s first positive female role models. Miss Temple helps clear Jane of Mrs. Reed’s accusations against her.
Miss Scatcherd – Jane’s sour and vicious teacher at Lowood. She behaves with particular cruelty toward Helen.
Alice Fairfax – Alice Fairfax is the housekeeper at Thornfield Hall. She is the first to tell Jane that the mysterious laughter often heard echoing trough the halls. In fact, this is the laughter of Grace Pool – a liar that Rochester himself often repeats.
Bertha Mason – Rochester’s clandestine wife. Bertha Mason is a formerly beautiful and wealthy Creole woman who has become insane and violent. She lives locked in a secret room on the third story of Thornfield and is guarded by Grace Pool. Bertha eventually burns down Thornfield, plunging to her death in the flames.
Grace Pool – Grace Pool is Bertha Manson’s keeper at Thornfield, whose drunken carelessness frequently allows Bertha to escape. When Jane first arrives at Thornfield, Mrs. Fairfax attributes to Grace all evidence of Bertha’s misdeeds.
Adele Varens – Jane’s pupil at Thornfield. She is a lively though somewhat spoiled child from France. Rochester brought her to Thornfield after she was abandoned by her mother Celine. Although Celine was once Rochester’s mistress, he does not believe himself to be Adele’s father.
Celine Varens – Celine Varens is a French opera dancer with whom Rochester once had an affair. Although Rochester does not believe Celine’s claims that he is Adele’s father, he brought the girl to England when Celine abandoned her. Rochester had broken off his relationship with Celine after learning that Celine was unfaithful to him and interested only in his money.
Sophie – Sophie is Adele’s French nurse at Thornfield.
Richard Mason – Richard Mason is Bertha’s brother. During a visit to Thornfield, he is injured by his mad sister.
After learning of Rochester’s intent to marry Jane, Mason arrives with the solicitor Briggs in order to thwart the wedding and reveal the truth of Rochester’s marriage.
Mr. Briggs – John Eyre’s attorney. He helps Richard Mason prevent Jane’s wedding to Rochester when he learns of the existence of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s wife. After John Eyre’s death, Briggs searches for Jane in order to give her her inheritance.
Blanche Ingram – Blanch Ingram is a beautiful socialite who despises Jane and hopes to marry Rochester for his money.
Diana Rivers – Diana Rivers is Jane’s cousin and the sister of St. John and Mary. Diana is a kind and intelligent person and she urges Jane not to go to India with St. John. She serves as a model for Jane of an intellectually gifted and independent woman.
Mary Rivers – Mary Rives is Jane’s cousin, the sister of St. John and Diana. Mary is a kind intelligent young woman who is forced to work as a governess after her father loses his fortune. Like her sister, she serves as a model for Jane of an independent woman who is also able to maintain close relationships with others and a sense of meaning in her life.
Rosamond Oliver – Rosamond is the beautiful daughter of Mr. Oliver, Morton’s wealthiest inhabitant. Rosamond gives money to the school in Morton where Jane works. Although she is in love with St. John, she becomes engaged to the wealthy Mr. Granby.
John Eyre – John Eyre is Jane’s uncle, who leaves her his vast fortune of 20,000 pounds.
Uncle Reed – Uncle Reed is Mrs. Reed’s late husband. In her childhood, Jane believes that she feels the presence of his ghost. Because he was always fond of Jane and her mother (his sister), Uncle Reed made his wife a promise that she would raise Jane as her own child. It is a promise that Mrs. Reed does not keep.
Some of the minor characters, who parallel aspects of Jane’s character, like Maria Temple and Helen Burns, I think are idealized and made to seem like saint.
Others, for example Georgiana Reed and Blanche Ingram are grotesque in order to emphasis the difference between them and her. Blanche Ingram is a woman without scruples or morality. And though she is very beautiful, she is very proud of herself.
Helen Burns is also idealized I think. She is saint-like Christian child who teaches Jane the philosophy of submission and endurance. Her religious conviction of Christ as a father and a loving friend is an important facet of the novel. This, together with Helen’s insistence that trials and sufferings are to be endured and their perpetrators forgiven, is the essence of the Christian message. Jane rejects it at the time, but is impressed by it. She does not live her life in the idealized way that Helen does.
Mr. Broklehurst becomes a very controversial character in the story. He feels that his depiction of what is good and evil is the same as God’s. He thinks he knows exactly what god knows. He limits the girls appearance and he is very selective on what the girls should and should not eat for religions and spiritual purposes.
He had Julia Severn, a girl of natural curls, cut her hair off. When Miss Temple had tried to rationalize with Mr. Brocklehurst and tell him that her hair is natural he replies and says, “Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature: I wish these girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl’s hair must be cut off entirely; I will send a barber to-morrow: and I see others who have far too much of the excrescence- that tall girl, tell her to turn round. Tell all the first form to rise up and direct their faces to the wall.” (Bronte, 66 psl.)
I think everyone who believes in God, wouldn’t think a person as bad due to his hair. The most ironic thing about this scene is that Mr. Brocklehurst sees this girl with red curly hair as a bad person who is in his eyes being disobedient to God.
And here also I really don’t believe that god would condemn you if you had an extra piece of bread. It was more than cruel how he managed to treat those girls! Mr. Brocklehurst shared his image, based on gods supposedly, about what they should eat when he says, “Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. Should any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish, the incident ought not to be neutralized by replacing with something more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and obviating the aim of this institution;
it ought to be improved to the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince fortitude under the temporary privation.”(Bronte, 65 psl.)
Mr. Brocklehurst tries to make Jane look evil not only in his eyes but in the eyes of the Lord as well and tries to make that evident to her just because she isn’t as interested in psalms as much as he.
In Jane Eyre, Jane grows up and explores the limits of woman’s social and moral psychological possibilities living in two different worlds.
The world of Thornfield with its atmosphere of mysterious gloom and the demoniac laughter reminds of romantic novels. The dialogue of the members of the country sometimes is pompous and unconvincing. In these surroundings Jane acquires a look “of another world” because of her honesty, ideal purity and severe morality (G. Kirvaitis, A. Šurnaitė, English Literature, 167-168 psl.).
Jane Eyre is very much the story of a quest to be loved. In my opinion, Jane searches not just for romantic love, but also for a sense of being valued, of belonging. Thus Jane says to Helen Burns:
“to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest” (Bronte, 71 psl.).
Throughout the whole story, Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing and harming herself. Jane searches for love and acceptance through the settings in which she lives: Gateshead, Thornfield, Moor House, and Ferndean.
In the novel, we see the world through the eyes of Jane. She is a strong character who wishes to overcome her birth rite as an orphan in Victorian times. And from this viewpoint, we are able to trace how Jane progresses in her struggle for individuality and for love. An example of this is when Jane stands up to her aunt saying:
“You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love, but I cannot live so: and you have no pity” (Bronte, 38 psl.).
Here, Jane makes her first declaration of independence, contending that she will no longer be a secondary member in the Reed household.
At Lowood, Jane is repulsed by Mr. Brocklehurst’s two-faced character and cruelty. While being at Lowood, Jane finds her first true friend in the form of Helen Burns, another student at the school. Helen teaches Jane of love in the form of religion.
When Jane is punished in front of the whole school, she tries to accept it as though it has some higher purpose. However, Jane still desires human affection and is deeply hurt when she is scorned. Jane says:
“If others don’t love me, I would rather die than live”(Bronte, 71 psl.). When Helen is dying of Typhus later on in the story, she reminds Jane, “I believe: I have faith: I am going to God” (Bronte, 83 psl.).
When Jane finally leaves Lowood for Thornfield, she is both older and wiser for the experiences. Pursuing a new position as governess, Jane hopes that her new life will fill that void. At first we see that Jane is bored at her work that she wants something more out of life. Jane’s life is transformed as she meets Rochester. Jane feels that his presence is filling her void. At the first time a man pays attention to Jane and is interested in her opinions. Jane falls in love with him, but she cannot bring herself to tell him. I think this is because she knows that they are not equal due to physical and social shortcomings. When Rochester finally proposes marriage to Jane, it totally takes her by surprise. What is even more astonishing to Jane, is that he is the one who actually cites their equality when he says:
“It is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed though the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal as we are!” (Bronte, 251 psl.).
Jane is afraid to loose her autonomy and this motivates when she refuses Rochester’s marriage proposal. Jane believes that “marrying” Rochester while he is legally tied with Bertha would mean rendering herself a mistress. On the other hand Jane is tested in the opposite manner when she lived at Moor House. There, she enjoys economic independence, engages in useful and worthwhile work teaching the poor. But we feel that she lacks emotional sustenance. Although St. John proposes marriage, offering her a partnership built around a common purpose, Jane knows that their marriage would remain loveless. Jane has a difficult time refusing this proposal as she did Rochester’s, saying:
“Religion called-Angels beckoned God commanded- life rolled together like a scroll-death’s gate’s opening, showed eternity beyond: it seemed, that for safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a second. The dim room was full of visions.” (Bronte, 414 psl.)
By accepting this proposal and going to work as missionary, Jane would have done right in God’s eyes and yet, would still not have been happy. Jane is now called to do what pleases her as a liberated woman. At Moor House Jane’s maturation to womanhood is complete. At this point, Jane is able finally return to Rochester as an independent woman fully aware of her desire to love, as well as to be loved.
She is able to take advantage of circumstances (death of Bertha) and marry Rochester.
As we know, Jane did not have physical beauty. And she could win Rochester’s love only by her mental beauty. Jane Eyre rejects her own physical beauty in favor of her mental intelligence and humility. Her choice becomes her greatest benefit by allowing her to win the hand of the man of her desires.
Jane values her knowledge and thinking before any of her physical appearances because of her desire as a child to read. During the course of the novel she lives at five homes. In each of these places, the idea of inner beauty conquering exterior appearance becomes a lesson, and in her last home she gains a reward, a man who loves her solely for her mind. She reads against her cousins wishes as a child at Gateshead, learns to value her intelligence as a child at the Lowood Institution, her mind and humility win the heart of Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Manor, she earns St. John’s marriage proposal at Marsh’s End, and in the end she wins her prize of Mr. Rochester’s hand in marriage at Ferndean Manor.
Jane Eyre spent the beginning of her childhood at her Aunt’s house. There she struggles to become more intelligent by reading books. Jane wants to read, though her cousin insists:
“You have no business to read our books, you are dependent” (Bronte, 12 psl.).
Shortly after being struck for reading, she lays in bed and requests:
“Gulliver’s Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused with delight” (Bronte, 23 psl.).
The family she lives with treats her as an outcast, but she continues to reject their criticism of her and to improve herself by reading whatever she can get her hands on.
Jane Eyre’s next home emerges as Lowood institution where she spends six years of her life learning to become more intelligent. But she still remains visibly plain. At Lowood Jane must confront inhuman system of education represented by Mr. Brocklehurst. This main institution’s benefactor is hiding his greed, selfishness and vanity under religious principles and love of God. He makes the schoolgirls suffer from hunger, cold and long hours of prayers and Bible-reading. Upon seeing a girl with natural curls in her hair, he proclaims:
“My mission is to mortify in these girls the lust of the flesh, to teach them to cloth themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety” (Bronte, 66 psl.).
At such an early age it takes a strong influence on Jane and this greatly persuades her opinion of her own physical image. In spending six years of her most impressionable years of her life at such repressive institution, she learns a great deal of humility.
Lowood also teaches Jane a great deal by living her one of the greatest benefits to her life: a good education. Jane spends eight years of her life at Lowood where she, “had the means of her excellent education placed within my reach; a fondness for some time of my studies, and the desire to excel in all” (Bronte, 85 psl.). Her education means more to her than her simple appearance. She remains in a school that stifles any sign of beauty, but gives her a chance to better herself intellectually.
Jane’s first job after Lowood places her at Thornfield manor as a governess, and Jane quickly falls in love with her master, Mr. Rochester. His own appearance seems ugly to most of people, such as Georgiana, who describes his portrait as, “an ugly man” (Bronte, 232 psl.). Yet Jane falls in love with him because of his mental capabilities and the feeling of simpatico she feels with him. Her feelings remain a secret with her for a long time, and the struggles to display her true heart because as she says:
“You are not beautiful either, and perhaps Mr. Rochester approves you: at any rate you have often felt as if he did” (Bronte, 156 psl.).
Neither Jane nor Rochester are physically attractive, but their minds and hearts feel unified, as Rochester explains later in the novel: “my equal is here, and my likeness” (Bronte, 252 psl.). Physical appearance seem to mean nothing to them, I should say they only desire to have a mental attraction.
However, Jane’s apparent opponent in winning Mr. Rochester’s heart becomes Mrs. Blanche Ingram. In a personal comparison herself and Mrs. Ingram, Jane draws a portrait of Mrs. Ingram with:
“the august yet harmonious lineament, the Grecian neck and bust; let the round and dazzling arm be visible, and the delicate hand” (Bronte, 161 psl.).
Yet, even with all the magnificence of her exterior appearance, Mrs. Ingram fails to win the heart of Mr. Rochester. So, I think it is a perfect example for women wishing to win a man’s heart. You must not be extremely beautiful, aristocratic and rich. If you are sincere, generous, kind and an ordinary girl, your chances to win a man’s heart will be doubled. And in the novel Mr. Rochester seems to desire more from the character of the woman he will marry than from her physical appearance. Mr. Rochester’s actions reinforce Jan’s belief than mental beauty surpasses physical beauty. He could not have wanted a more visually appealing woman, yet he does not want her. Instead, he seeks a woman with inner splendor.
Mr. Rochester apparent lack of interest in Mrs. Ingram gives hope to Jane. Mr. Rochester chooses Jane to be his next wife, and proposes to he by saying:
“You strange, you almost unearthly thing! – I love you as my own flesh. You – pine and obscure, and small and plain as you are – I entreat to accept me as a husband” (Bronte, 253 psl.).
Words such as plain, strange, obscure normally portray something undesirable in exterior appearances. Yet, Mr. Rochester using even such austere words, still desires to marry Jane. He really sees something special in her, attracting him much more than anything visible to the eye. She holds something unique and special deep in her soul and personality, hidden from the outside. He does not want to lavish and beautiful Mrs. Ingram, but instead seeks the “plain” Jane who has something that in my opinion exterior appearances can not convene. Jane’s struggle as a child to gain a good education in spite of being beautiful proves to be her wisest decision.
Jane has a tragic experience at Thornfield that forces her to leave without any money or immediate means of getting a job. And fortunately, her unknown cousins take her into her family. She helps the two children in their education, and she befriends St. John Rivers. St. John as I have mentioned before, wishes to be a missionary, but at the same time he pursues beautiful Miss Oliver. In chatting one day, Jane asks St. John if he will marry Miss Oliver, and St. John response becomes:
“she would not make me a good wife; that she is not the partner suited to me; that I should discover within a year after marriage” (Bronte, 369 psl.).
Although this passage does not relate to Jane directly, it reinforces to Jane the thought that inner beauty and virtues mean more than outward appearance. Miss Oliver attracts St. John, but him refuses to marry her on account of her lack of moral fiber.
St. John instead decides that he wishes to marry Jane because:
“he though I should make a suitable missionary’s wife” (Bronte, 438 psl.).
She rejects his offer, because I think he can not give her the love and simpatico that she desires from a husband, like Rochester can give her. Yet, she fonds it flattering that such an intelligent, moral man would ask her for hand in marriage. And I can finally draw a conclusion once again, that virtuous inner morality conquers physical splendor.
At the end of the novel, Jane returns to Mr. Rochester at Ferndean manor. Unfortunately, she discovers that he has fallen blind, and the fire that took his vision, also gave him a deep scar along his face. Jane wants to take care of him in spite of his appearance, but he wants her to marry her instead: “Jane will you marry me (Bronte, 439 psl.)?
This proves Mr. Rochester’s desires for Jane stem not from her physical appearance because he can’t see her. Instead he can listen to her voice, which allows him to only see into her mind. His proposal demonstrates his longing for Jane originates in her intellect and personality, not in the beauty and physical comforts she might provide him with if he could see her.
Finally, Jane accepts, “Yes, sir” (Bronte, 439 psl.) even though he appears as a crippled, old blind man. Jane returns his acts of love for her when she was just a plain governess. He did not desire her face or her figure and now she marries him even though he has become even uglier. No longer can he offer his physical prowess or material wealth. She wants to remain with Mr. Rochester because of the mental compatibility, love, and intellectual stimulation that he can afford her.
Her joy in marrying him emerges in the following passage: “if ever I thought a good thought – if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer – if ever I wished a righteous wish – I am rewarded now” (Bronte, 440 psl.). Jane finds herself in marrying a man that loves her only for her mind and not for her physical beauty. She finds that the man of her dreams does not care about her exterior, he only cares about the person on the inside.
I feel very sad that Jane has been betrayed for free times in her life. At Gateshead, the only family that she ever known shunned, humiliated, and did not care for Jane. At Lowood, the faculty had to be the surrogate parents for Jane, however, parents would not treat their kids like the children were treated at Lowood. Jane was also betrayed by the only man that she had ever loved or even cared about. Having been betrayed by her surrogate family, surrogate parents, and her fiancé, I’m surprised that Jane was not driven to madness. It would have been a fitting ending to the novel. Jane’s actions are certainly justifiable in leaving Thornfield, and starting a new life for herself. Also, spending all the money that she earned working for Rochester in order to get away from him. I really appreciate Jane’s personality. She does not wish to be Rochester’s “angel”. She tells him not to “spend for the jewels”. We learn that she still wants to be treated with respect as a person. This portrays her as being admirable. Obviously, many women would jump at the chance to be lavished with gifts and presents. When Rochester answers Jane about his wishes to marry Blanche, he tells her he was just trying to make her jealous. Jane acts in a way that many other women again would not act. She fears for the feeling of Blanche, and does not even think of her own discomforts during his courtship to Miss Ingram.
Religion – Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to find the right balance between moral duty and earthy pleasure, between obligation to her spirit and attention to her body. She encounters three main religious figures: Mr. Brocklehurst, Helen Burns, and St. John Rivers.
Each represents a model of religion that Jane ultimately rejects as she forms her own ideas about faith and principle, and their practical consequences. Mr. Brocklehurst illustrates the dangers and hypocrisies that Charlotte Bronte perceived in the nineteenth-century Evangelical movement. Mr. Brocklehurst adopts the rhetoric of Evangelicalism when he claims to be purging his students of pride, but his method of subjecting them to various privations and humiliations, like when he orders that the naturally curly hair one of Jane’s classmates be cut so as to lie straight, is entirely un-Christian. Of course, Brocklehurst’s proscriptions are difficult to follow, and his hypocritical support of his own luxuriously wealthy family at the expense of the Lowood students show Bronte’s wariness of the Evangelical movement. Helen Burns’s meek and forbearing mode of Christianity, on the other hand, is too passive for Jane to adopt as her own, although she loves and admires Helen for it (from the Internet).
Many chapters later, St. John Rivers provides another model of Christian behavior. His is a Christianity of ambition, glory, and extreme self-importance. St. John urges Jane to sacrifice her to be disloyal to her own self. Although Jane ends up rejecting all three models of religion, she does not abandon morality, spiritualism, or belief in a Christian God. When her wedding is interrupted, she prays to God for solace. As she wanders the health, poor and starving, she puts her survival in her hands of God. She strongly objects to Rochester’s lustful immorality, and she refuses to consider living with him while church and state still deem him married to another woman. Even so, Jane can barely bring herself to leave the only love she has ever known. She credits God with helping her to escape what she knows would have been an immoral life. For Jane, religion helps curb immoderate passions, and it spurs one on to worldly efforts and achievements. These achievements include full self-knowledge and complete faith in God (the Internet).
Social Class – Jane Eyre is a critical of Victorian England’s strict social hierarchy. Bronte’s exploration of the complicated social position of governesses is perhaps the novel’s the most important treatment of this theme. Like Bearthcliff in Wuthering Heights, Jane is a figure of ambiguous class standing and, a source of extreme tension for the characters around her. Jane’s manners, sophistication, and education are those of an aristocrat, because Victorian governesses, who tutored children in etiquette as well as academics, were expected to possess the “culture” of the aristocracy. Yet, as paid employees, they were more or less treated as servants; thus, Jane remains penniless and powerless while at Thornfield. Jane’s understanding of the double standard crystallizes when she becomes aware of her feelings for Rochester;
she is his intellectual, but not his social, equal. Even before the crisis surrounding Bertha Manson, Jane is hesitant to marry Rochester because she senses that she would feel indebted to him for “condescending” to marry her. Jane’s distress (manifested most strongly in Chapter 17) seems to be Bronte’s judgment on the injustice of the Victorian class attitudes (the Internet).
Jane herself speaks out against class prejudice at certain moments in the book. For example, in Chapter 23 she chastises Rochester: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!- I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart! And if God have gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.” However, it is also important to note that the nowhere in Jane Eyre are society’s boundaries bent. Ultimately, Jane is only able to marry Rochester as his equal because she has almost magically come into her own inheritance from her uncle (the Internet).
A very important thing I should say is Gender Relations. Jane struggles continually to achieve equality and to overcome oppression. During the novel Jane was threatened by three central male figures: Mr. Brocklehurst, Edward Rochester, and St. John Rivers. All three tries to keep Jane in a submissive position, where she is unable to express her own thoughts and feelings. In her quest for independence and self-knowledge, Jane must escape Mr. Brocklehurst, reject St. John, and come to Rochester only after ensuring that they may marry as equals. This last condition is met once Jane proves herself able to function, through the time she spends at Moor House, in a community and in a family. He will not depend solely on Rochester for love and she can be financially independent. Furthermore, Rochester is blind at the novel’s end and thus dependent upon Jane to be his “prop and guide.”
In Chapter 12, Jane articulates what was for her time a radically feminist philosophy:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restrain, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to play piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex (the Internet).
Bertha Mason (Symbol) – Bertha Mason is a complex presence in Jane Eyre. She impedes Jane’s happiness, but she also catalyses the growth of Jane’s self-understanding. The mystery surrounding Bertha establishes suspense and terror to the plot and the atmosphere. Further, Bertha serves as a remnant and remainder of Rochester’s youthful libertinism.
Yet Bertha can also be interpreted as a symbol. Some critics have read her as a statement about the way Britain feared psychologically “locked away” the other cultures it encountered at the height of its imperialism. Others have seen her as a symbolic representation of the “trapped” Victorian wife, who is never expected to travel or work outside the house and becomes ever more frenzied as she finds no outlet for her frustration and anxiety. Within the story, then, Bertha’s insanity could serve as a warning to Jane of what compete surrender to Rochester could bring about.
One could also see Bertha as a manifestation of Jane’s subconscious feelings-specifically, of her rage against oppressive social and gender norms. Jane declares her love for Rochester, but she also secretly fears marriage to him and feels the need to rage against the imprisonment it could become for her. Jane never manifests this fear or anger, but Bertha does. Thus Bertha tears up the bridal veil, and it is Bertha’s existence that indeed stops the wedding from going forth. And, when Thornfield comes to represent a state of servitude and submission for Jane, Bertha burns it to the ground. Throughout the novel, Jane describes her inner spirit as fiery, her inner landscape as a “ridge of lighted hearth” (Chapter 4). Bertha seems to be the outward manifestation of Jane’s interior fire. Bertha expresses the feelings that Jane must keep in check (the Internet).
The Red-room – The Red-room can be viewed as a symbol of what Jane must overcome in her struggles to find freedom, happiness, and sense of belonging. In the red-room, Jane’s position of exile and imprisonment first becomes clear. Although Jane is eventually freed from the room, she continues to be socially ostracized, financially trapped, and excluded from love; her sense of independence and her freedom of self-expression are constantly threatened.
The Red-room’s importance as a symbol continues throughout the novel. It reappears as a memory whenever Jane makes a connection between her current situation and that first feeling of being ridiculed. Thus she recalls the room when she is to convince her to become an undignified mistress. Her destitute condition upon her departure from Thornfield also threatens emotional and intellectual imprisonment, as does St. John’s marriage proposal. Only after Jane has asserted herself, gained financial independence, and found a spiritual family – which turns out to be her real family – can she wed Rochester and find freedom in and through marriage (from the Internet).
While reading the novel we can find some metaphors. For example I should mention the Moon. In my opinion the moon in Jane Eyre is a metaphor for change. The moon is either described or looked at many times throughout the novel when Jane’s life will take on a new direction. Just a few examples are when Jane leaves Gateshead, when she first meets Rochester and right before Rochester proposes to her.
For instance the food is used throughout the novel to represent want. One example of this is when Jane is at Lowood School. Mr. Brocklehurst makes the school girls suffer not even from cold, long hours of Bible-reading, but also from hunger:
“Breakfast-time came at last, and this morning the porridge was not burnt; the quality was eatable, the quantity small; how small my portion seemed! I wish it had been doubled” (Bronte, 55 psl.).
Here the food is scant, and older girls often take it from Jane in the beginning. Examples such as the burnt porridge is given. However, I think, the hunger Jane feels is not just a physical desire for food, but for personal growth as well. And when she is accepted at the school and begins to accomplish things for herself in drawing class, she is no longer focuses on her hunger. She says:
“That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper, of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings. I feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark all the work of my own hands. (Bronte, 76 psl.).
A similar case can be seen in Jane’s hunger before she is welcomed to Moor House. She has not eaten much, has had to beg for food, and is physically weak for hunger. She is not hungry for food I think. For instance when she arrives at the house and is welcomed there, Jane is really more satisfied with the friendship she finds than the food she is offered. In my opinion she might had been hungry for companionship that she lacked, and she finds it with Diana and Mary.(the Internet)
Fire and Burning : Fire is used throughout the novel to represent passion as an uncontrollable force. When it first becomes truly obvious that Rochester has feelings for Jane, she just saved him from the fire in his bed. When Rochester tries to keep Jane with him after this incident, she says, “strange energy was in his voice, strange fire in his look” (Chapter 15). Another example is when Rochester suggests that he and Jane remain together even though they cannot be married. Jane writes, a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved. (Chapter 27). Jane is tempted to succumb to her and Rochester’s passions, but she does not. (the Internet)
The Chestnut Tree – This tree that had been struck by lighting during a storm is a symbol for the relationship between Jane and Rochester. When Jane is running in the rain toward Rochester, she sees the tree and writes that it had not been split in half, but that while there was a hole in it and it was separated much, the roots held it together. Jane says, “You did right to hold fast to each other”
At the end of the novel when Rochester compares himself to this ruined tree, Jane says that he is not ruined, but that plants will grow around him and take delight in him. (the Internet).
The language I think is very convincing in Jane Eyre. There are a lot of accusing and wondering going on. I think Jane is very sure that Grace Pool is the person who tried to kill Mr. Rochester. It is very powerful in the way things are expressed. Jane is a very passionate person and once she thinks that something occurred then no one would change her mind.
In the scenes, drawn from her own experience, Bronte is an entirely high realist. The world dominates by money and high connections is depicted according to her creed: truth is better than art. Her passionate voice sounds completely convincing when she tells about this world ever hostile to intellectually gifted, humane and proud people. Wintry weather, cold and wind are often present here to intensify that sense of hostility. She is a great painter of scenery which is always in harmony with Jane’s inner life. Most often storm and Jane are like two loveless outcasts when others are indoors and loved.
Jane Eyre was the first English novel to tell about the woman’s need to be free in expressing her thoughts and feelings, and to claim being no less human than man. It proved economic and social status to be minimal conditions of the equality of sexes. Charlotte Bronte said more openly than anyone what she felt. Showing a respectable and deeply moral woman take the initiative in an affair of heart Jane Eyre shocked the conservative circles of 19th – century English society. But then, the penetrative analysis of the female mind and heart, the emotional tension of the novel, gained Charlotte Bronte’s the stature of the greatest writer of pure passion. (G. Kirvaitis, A. Šurnaitė, English Literature, 168psl.)
After reading the book I was very pleased. I’ve read it two times, and still it remains highly attractive and interesting. I was impressed by the structure of the novel, which is not traditional. Usually heroines in the novels are presented though not rich but beautiful. And the author’s intention was to present an entirely new heroine in her novel, not making her a traditional beautiful heroine, but as plain and small who would be not less interesting as others.
Also I greatly preferred the heroine’s behavior, who always maintained her belief and confidence; who desired to be independent and loved; who never lose hope and from the very beginning till the very end was able to remain extremely strong in her inner world. And though she was hurted by many people she seems to be never fractured. Sometimes I think it is possible to be so strong and invincible as Jane? And in our days we could really hardly find such a woman, sooner they would go mad! Jane keeps the most bright purity in her heart which is improbable, indeed.