THEMES IN JANE EYRE Several major themes are found in the text, but these tend to overlap each other.
ROMANCE The main story is of the love between Jane and Rochester…boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy and girl are reunited after some hardships and they live happily after that. This plot recurs again and again in many cultures.
Jane and Rochester both passionate with an enormous capacity to love.
Both well-suited, but are made to part to experience an individual time of character development before they can finally find peace together.
Jane needs to become an equal in independence and maturity.
Her physical struggle and emotional torment strengthen her character and develop the woman in her.
Rochester realizes his past faults and wants to make amends.
He needs her as much as she needs him.
It is IRONIC….but he is a better man without his sight and arm and Jane loves him better in this state.
Love and relationships are reflected in other relationships also…….
Aunt Reed’s refusal to keep the promise made to her dead husband.
The scornful description of cousin Georgiana’s ‘advantageous match’.
Union between Rochester and Blanche Ingram – financial and social reasons and not true love.
St. John River’s love for Rosamund Oliver…possibly surface attraction….’While something in me is ….acutely sensible to her charms, something else is as deeply impressed with her defects.’
Marriage between Jane and John Rivers….rejected by the former….’I scorn your idea of love, I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offer.’
Nature of Christianity deeply explored.
Jane’s value system is based on strict moral codes. This is seen as follows:
putting others before herself and not being judgemental.
Valuing good character more than surface appearance.
Working hard to be viewed favorably by others.
There are many differently religious people in the novel. Jane admires some and condemns others but sticks to her own system of beliefs.
Helen Burns, who displays the doctrine of ‘turning the other cheek’ constantly. She suffers constantly but never complains, even when treated unfairly.
Mr. Brocklehurst, fearsome and tyrannical, uses religion as a justification for duty and neglect.
Eliza Reed, a cold and fervent woman who gives her life to God y joining a nunnery. Jane is cynical about this and says, ‘You are not without sense, cousin Elisa; but what you have, I suppose in another year will walled up alive in a French Convent.’
St. John wants to devote his life in the best possible manner to God.
In the end, Jane believes that she is entitled to happiness and at the same time she can serve God. ‘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. To be your wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth.’
Here we have a woman alone in charge of her own life and making her own decisions
Jane could be described as a feminist
She rejects the man she loves till she can be his equal. She had rather be alone than with him on his terms.
Miss Temple, Diana, Mary Rivers all possess the qualities which Jane admires – their financial independence, they all marry for love and not financial security.
Throughout the novel, Jane is placed in situations where she is dependent on others.
She never bursts out unless driven to an extreme….her outburst towards Mrs. Reed, her refusal of Rochester (Ch.27) and her refusal of St. John (Ch. 34-35)
Her confidence and assertiveness is exhibited in her dialogues with Rochester
She rather keep quiet than speaks her mind unguardedly.
She is honest about her opinions.
OTHER STRONG FEMALES IN THE NOVEL;;;;;
Bertha Rochester – reference can be made to Wide Sargasso Sea wherein Bertha is defended.
Rochester views her as a malignant presence.
She never attempts to harm anyone except Rochester even though she has many opportunities to harm Jane.
Her brother speaks of her with tenderness…’Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be.’
There seems to be a rigid and fixed caste system wherein money is the deciding factor to where one fits in the social ladder.
Respect is earned due to one’s bank balance and not deserved.
All characters are divided into 2 categories; the rich class and the dependent classes who have to earn money.
Jane attaches very little importance to wealth and does not see it as a means to gain happiness
Jane is not rich but she is cultured and ladylike and very different to the working class farming people she is in contact with at Marsh End.
Social status was fixed and people of one class rarely mixed with the people of another. Jane did not believe in this….’Some of them are unmannered, rough, intractable, as well as ignorant;…I must not forget that these coarsely clad little peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy.’
Another example of rigidity of social class was the marriage of her parents; her mother was cast aside for marrying someone from a class inferior to hers.