Themes and Symbolism in the Book, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
In the book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, recurring themes and symbols serve to unify the plot and story.
A major theme in the book is Jane Eyre’s quest to be loved. Throughout the story Jane searches not just for romantic love, but also for a sense of belonging. Thus Jane says to Helen Burns, her first friend at Lowood School: “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” (Jane Eyre, Chapter 8). Yet over the course of the story, Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing and harming herself in the process.
Fear of losing her purity motivates her to refuse her beloved master’s second marriage proposal. Jane believes that “marrying” Mr. Rochester while he is legally married to Bertha, his insane wife, would mean degrading herself to a mistress and sacrificing her own integrity for the sake of emotional gratification. On the other hand, her life at Moor House tests her in the opposite manner with St. John Rivers, her cousin. At Moor House, she enjoys economic independence and engages in worthwhile and useful work teaching the poor; yet she lacks emotional sustenance. Although St John proposes and offers her a partnership built around the common purpose of being a missionary, Jane knows that their marriage would remain loveless.
The events of Jane’s stay at Moor House are necessary tests of her independence. Only after proving her self-sufficiency can she marry Mr. Rochester and not be dependent on him as her “master.” The marriage can be one of equals (www.bookwolf.com). As Jane says: “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine…To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company…We are precisely suited in character-perfect concord is the...
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