Ambitions of Jane Eyre: Character Analysis Essay

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  • Published: 17 April 2021
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In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Bronte discusses the ambitions of Jane Eyre and St. John. Ambition can be defined as having the desire to accomplish a specific goal or intention. Bronte’s message throughout the book is that too much ambition can make you lose part of yourself without considering the consequences. St. John’s goal was to fulfill the tasks God has laid on his hands as a missionary. Meanwhile, Jane’s goal was to seek happiness and simple life. Bronte portrays St. John as overly ambitious as he suppresses his emotions, Rosamund Oliver, and Jane while trying to satisfy his missionary duties. Though Jane and St. John have ambitions, St. John loses himself unconsciously through his desperation as he allows his ambition to have control over his life and himself. 

Jane describes how St. John looks at Rosamund Oliver as she enters the room. “...with a sad and resolute look, with his lips ‘If I offered my heart… But that heart is already laid on a sacred altar: the fire is arranged round it’” (p. 669). St. John’s ambition in pursuing his missionary duties cost him his happiness - a possible marriage with Rosamund Oliver as it was evident they both love each other given the exchange of looks. But he can’t because he has already devoted his attention and heart to God. He was willing to sacrifice his life for God, no one else. Expresses his immense passion for God. 

“...rain or fair… he would, when his hours of morning study were over, go out on his mission of love or unity” (p. 678). St. John shows his commitment to the works of God. He never gets tired of it and makes no excuses. 

“‘My heart is mute…’ I answered, struck and thrilled. ‘Then I must speak for it,’ continued the deep relentless voice… ‘comes as my helpmeet and fellow-laborer’” (p. 732). He speaks for her and chooses what he thinks will benefit him, not her. He is being selfish and heartless as he has no regard for Jane’s feelings. He goes on to say, “‘A missionary’s wife you must be. I claim you - not for my pleasure, but my sovereign’s service’” (p. 733). St. John commands Jane to be his wife and he goes out of his way to choose for her. He allowed his ambitions to take over him by trying to manipulate Jane into being his wife. 

St. John pressures Jane into saying yes by the time he returns from saying farewell to his friends in Cambridge. “... ‘take that space of time to reconsider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God’” (p. 744). He is demanding, manipulative. He is trying to trap her into his idea and make her say yes leaving her no other option but to say yes. Interestingly, this goes against religious morals as you should never use the Lord’s name in vain which is one of the Ten Commandments. St. John is threatening Jane to scare her and make her say yes as being called a sinner and scorned by a missionary is not pleasant. Moreover, St. John says this because he is desperate to have Jane embark on this journey with him so that he can satisfy the works of God. However, the way he is approaching it is not very moral. He doesn’t even realize he is using the Lord’s name in vain since he is obsessed with the idea of claiming Jane as his wife to accompany him to India for service. Contradicts the idea of marriage. Marriage is one of the seven sacraments which seals eternal love between two people who love each other. The seven sacraments are divided into 3 categories. One category is service which is what St. John is doing by devoting his time and help to others. Marriage is also a part of the service category. So St. John is being overambitious when he asks for Jane’s hand in marriage only to satisfy religious duties and not for love. 

“‘God did not give me my life to throw away and to do as you wish me would be almost equivalent to committing suicide’” (p. 754). Her ambition of freedom and fortitude has allowed her to become conscientious. She knows he doesn’t love her and she seeks affection. She takes time to evaluate the situation and what she will benefit from the situation. 

In the ending: “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely of his bone and flesh of his flesh” (p. 821). She has found everlasting happiness and allowed her passion to guide her. She was patient as she didn’t easily leave St. John but tried to reason with him. Purity and intensity of her happiness. She has found happiness within another, her life is now complete. Synecdoche or Big part of a small part. 

“‘My master has forewarned me. ‘Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond, - ‘Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!’” (p. 824). He is ready to be taken upon the lord.  However, his ambition leads him to death. Though it seems St. John is content with his service and devotion to God, he never got to experience the things he wanted for himself, such as marrying Rosamund Oliver. He allowed his ambition to take over his life. His whole life revolved around his missionary duties, he thought of others and not himself which is part of service.

 

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