Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte Essay Example
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre shows the journey of a victorian woman faced with obstacles regarding self-control and self-expression. The novel shows how for middle or upper class women to be uncomposed in their actions was regarded as dangerous and immature. Jane Eyre, as portrayed in her childhood, is a naturally short tempered character who has a difficult time suppressing her beliefs. However, Jane grows throughout the novel and becomes a successful part of the middle class by keeping a neutral perspective in her endeavors. As Sandra Gilbert has established, Bronte introduces a symbolic double for Jane’s feelings in Bertha; meanwhile Jane, herself, maintains a composed front as she navigates her relationships with St. John and Rochester himself.
Sandra Gilbert’s “Plain Jane’s Progress” first introduces the idea of Bertha being used as a metaphor for Jane by introducing Bertha as, “Rochester’s secret wife and in a sense her own secret self,” (Gilbert 482). Throughout the novel, when Jane is upset, strange events seem to coincidentally occur. For example, Jane is angry when Mr. Rochester tells her about his previous relationship with Celine Verens, but then a fire mysteriously sparks in Mr. Rochester’s bedroom. It is revealed later in the story that Bertha is the person responsible for this fire. A seemingly small amount of anger in Jane is projected in such a drastic action through Bertha, “Tongues of flame darted round the bed… Mr. Rochester lay stretched motionless, in deep sleep,” (216). Another example of a sequence of events that takes place when Jane is feeling upset is the aftermath of the gypsy scene. Here, Mr. Rochester disguises himself as a gypsy to find out Jane’s opinions of him, which leaves Jane feeling angry. Immediately after this happens, Bertha stabs her brother Mr. Mason, “... the stranger, Mason… was almost soaked in blood,” (300). When Mr. Rochester reveals to Jane that he was already married, she has a mild reaction instead of losing her temper, but meanwhile Bertha attempts to throttle Rochester, “... the lunatic sprang and grappled his throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek…” (417). Upon learning about Mr. Rochester’s secret wife, Jane impulsively flees Thornfield.
After leaving Mr. Rochester, Jane conveniently finds her distant cousins’ house and starts building relationships with Diana, Mary, and St. John, carefully using an alias to hide her past with Rochester. Although at first he is very cold towards Jane, St. John reveals that he has been studying her to see if she is capable of being his wife, and to see if she could accompany him to India on his missionary journey. St. John proposes to Jane, “‘God and nature intended you to be a missionary’s wife… you are formed for labour, not for love… You shall be mine, not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service,’” (571). Jane’s response is a simple refusal, “‘I am not fit for it: I have no vocation,” (571). Rather than getting offended, that St. John implied Jane could never be loved, and expressing her opinions, by telling him that she was loved by Mr. Rochester, Jane chooses to deny St. John’s offer. When St. John figures out Jane’s past and mentions her beloved Rochester, Jane hears his voice calling her and instinctively returns to be with him.
Jane meets an innkeeper who tells her the story of what happened at Thornfield after she left, “... [Bertha] made her way to the chamber that had been the governess’s… and she kindled the bed there…” (606). The innkeeper also mentions that Rochester acted heroically although it was too late for him to save his wife, “... and he went up to the attics when all was burning above and below, and got the servants out of their beds and helped them down himself, and went back to get his mad wife out of her cell… she was on the roof… she yelled and gave a spring, and the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement,” (607). Bertha ending her life is a symbol for Jane’s anger and problems dissipating. Now that Bertha is gone, Jane finally feels comfortable living the rest of her life with Rochester.
Sandra Gilbert presents this idea that by introducing a symbolic double for Jane’s anger, Charlotte Bronte provides closure that Jane is still the same short-tempered person that she was when she was a child. Jane did not lose a part of herself when she grew up because, as Bertha expresses, she has internal outburst as opposed to external ones. Therefore, she is able to maintain minimal reactions in her relationships with Rochester and St. John and be considered a respectable part of the middle class, as well as still having feelings that are similar to those that women today are allowed to express.