A Romantic Ending in an Anti-Romantic Novel:

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This paper discusses the ending of Jane Eyre, discussing whether it is a "good" ending. The paper draws on three criticisms of both the novel and Romantic literature in general to conclude that, yes, it is indeed a good ending because it both fits the prevailing realism of the main character's worldview, and conforms to the predominant literary trends of the period. The climate in which Charlotte Bronte wrote her magnum opus was one that had almost fully recovered from the rationalist excesses of the Enlightenment. The existing climate had replaced ‘scientific' realism with Romanticism of the Byronic sort, drawing on the ancient ideals of chivalry and the new ideals of individual freedom to craft a literature in which suffering does not end with the last romantic sunset. Ultimately, concepts such as happiness cannot be guaranteed to skeptics like Jane Eyre and "hideous" men like Rochester -- only the divine union of passion can be guaranteed. Yet, for Bronte's characters, this is sufficient reward and an appropriate closure for a love story about such atypical characters. Below, I will use characterizations of the Romantic literary school, as well as criticism of Jane Eyre, to explain how the ending of the novel fits perfectly with the rest of the landmark novel.

Jane Eyre ends only after a succession of unlikely (and frankly hideous) circumstances come to pass, transforming the lives and psyches of Jane and Rochester beyond their stoic realism. However, because Jane and Rochester are such believable characters, the events that wrack their mortal lives are taken in stride by both the characters and the reader, although the graphic manner in which the narrator (Jane) tells of these events is intended to shock, and to convey Jane's ultimate stoicism (Penner, 1999:140). This stoicism is also an indicator of control – as stoics are in complete control of their emotions, so too is Jane in complete control of her life at the end of the novel. The survival...
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