Charlotte Bronte presents various universal and fundamental ideas in her story, Jane Eyre. It is a story that shows a womans need to be loved and not just the romantic love but also the desire by Jane to feel appreciated and gain a sense of belonging. Therefore one of the main themes in the story is love and autonomy. Evidence of Janes desire for love comes out clearly. She says to Helen Burns To gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willing 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 139). Despite her need for love, the author develops the story in a way that needs Jane to identify how she will gain love without harming or sacrificing herself.
Jane works hard to ensure that she does not lose her autonomy as the author demonstrates in the story. Her refusal of the proposal of Rochester who is still legally tied to Bertha shows the desire for Jane to keep her dignity and demonstrate her ability in making decisions that portray her self-worth. She would rather remain single than sacrifice her integrity through becoming a mistress just for emotional gratification. Despite her efforts for autonomy and the desire for love, her stay at Moors house presents a test for her which is opposite of her overall desires. She lacks emotional sustenance at the house but at the same time engages in teaching the poor enjoys economic independence and can participate in work that is useful and worthwhile.
Another theme that is significantly visible in the story is religion where Jane goes through the struggle of finding the appropriate harmony between earthly pleasure and her moral duty. The obligation between her body and spirit also present a fight for her. Throughout the story, Bronte gives three primary religious figures who Jane encounters, and they include St. John Rivers, Helen Burns and Mr. Brocklehurst. All the three figures come with a representation of their models of religion, but Jane rejects all while she tries to identify and develop personal ideas concerning faith and principle and the consequences that accompany them.
Bronte presents Mr. Brocklehurst as the epitome of the hypocrisies that take place in evangelism during the nineteenth century. His demands of what a Christian should be, seem backward and he mainly focuses on his wealthy family at the expense of other members of society especially students from Lowood. Helen, on the other hand, is forbearing and meek and Jane finds it too passive for her to adopt. St. John also presents a type of Christianity that is on extreme self-importance, glory, and ambition. Jane does not agree with all these perspectives of Christianity but still finds a middle ground. She maintains a belief in the Christian God, morality, and spiritualism. It is also evident when her marriage to Mr. Brocklehurst goes through resistance, and she is feeling hurt while remembering her dreams of the previous day which were now hard to fulfill. Even at this moment, Jane remembers her God. She says One idea only still throbbed life-like within me a remembrance of God (Bronte 13).
Another theme in the story is that of gender relations. Jane has a significant struggle with trying to overcome oppression and achieve equality. She has the intensive task of fighting against patriarchal domination. She has to stand firm against those who view women to be inferior to men and treat them at a secondary level and with decreased respect compared to men. In the story, Jane faces a threat to her fight for equality and dignity from three central individuals who include St. John Rivers, Edward Rochester and Mr. Brocklehurst. All three people appear to me misogynistic to a given extent.
All three men try to force Jane into submission and in a position where she cannot express her thoughts and feelings at one point in time. She goes through various trying moments just t ensure she gains self-knowledge and independence. One is that she must escape Brocklehurst, reject St. John Rivers and only accept marriage to Rochester if they would be as equals. Therefore she gets some time alone from all these conditions and stays at Moor House where she lives in a community and interacts with friends. The person she evolves into at the Moor House helps her overcome and stand-up to the various individuals that were trying to push her into submission. In the end, Jane gains the confidence to be financially independent and not depend on Rochester fully for love and compassion. Her self-confident is still evident even as the story ends because Rochester becomes blind and he now solely depends on Jane for assistance in almost all activities.
Eyre, Jane. "Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte." (1-868)
Bronte, Charlotte. "Jane Eyre. 1847." Ed. Richard J. Dunn. New York: WW Norton & Company (2001): 1995-2000. (1-20)
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