Top-Rated Free Essay

Jane Eyre: Temptations to Self

Powerful Essays
Jane Eyre: Temptations against Self
During the mid-nineteenth century, the English writer Charlotte Bronte published Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Jane Eyre is a novel of the bildungsroman genre, meaning that is follows a character through the stages of their life. This novel follows the emotions and experiences of its protagonist as she develops into adulthood. On her journey, she finds love in the master of the fictitious Thornfield Hall as well as her true identity. Jane Eyre’s strong sense of morality and equality become the backbone of her definition of self as well as the fight between love and passion. The introduction of love becomes a temptation and develops into an internal battle. The bildungsroman nature of this novel allows the battle to be broken down into the stages defined by the author. Therefore, the first stage is that of Jane Eyre’s time at Thornfield Hall and her courtship with Mr. Rochester. This is the point in which she must chose between herself and her love. Edward Rochester is Jane’s greatest temptation and the largest obstacle to her identity, the battle is most ardently viewed in three separate stages within her time at Thornfield Hall: the inequality of the courtship between Jane and Mr. Rochester, the lead up to the their nuptials and the moral choice after the revelation of Bertha Mason.
Jane’s story is one of the search for love from another. This love is not just in the romantic sense, but in the sense of belonging and being valued as well. In order to gain love, Jane must learn how to love and be loved without sacrificing her sense of self in the process. Therefore, love is the greatest quest in Jane Eyre as well as the greatest temptation to a life without morality and equality. During Jane’s first few months at Thornfield, her position of governess and her growing love interest for her master become a temptation to her identity and her reverence for equality. Edward Rochester is an established man and Jane’s employer; he naturally designates himself in command. Jane is a passionate young lady, as observed from the beginning of the novel, she therefore has a quick tongue and her intelligence gives sharpness to her words. Her tendency to allow her opinions to fall from her mouth tests the relationship of master and employee between she and Mr. Rochester. In one instance, he claims authority over her and she responds by claiming that he had “no right to command” her and that his “claim to superiority” depends on the use that he made of his “time and experience (JE 114)1.” Her dismissal of his authority demonstrates her adherence to equality between herself and everyone in her life. She wishes to be seen as someone of equal standing though she has no money and is seemingly powerless. This lack of social status and personal wealth unnerves her as she realizes that she will never be an independent woman. The nuptials of Mr. Rochester and Jane presents the new temptation to Jane’s identity, that of marriage and wealth. Rochester showering Jane with gifts and the luxuries that come with the ability to provide makes Jane uncomfortable and worry of what she can bring to the marriage. Though Rochester is her love, her being poor and without wealth of her own presents a personal struggle for Jane in this section of her life. Elements of Jane Eyre are feminist, and her inability to provide money, or even work after her marriage is something that leaves Jane feeling uncomfortable. She asserts herself by making it known that she would still be Adele’s governess after the wedding and earn her keep in the household. This demonstrates Jane’s internal drive for equality and wholehearted reliance on it as a part of her identity. Jane feels that if she obtained personal wealth or an inheritance of her own that she and Mr. Rochester would be an equal match. Therefore, when she is economically equal to her mate she will feel ready to marry him. After she inherits twenty thousand pounds from John Eyre, her lost Uncle, she feels financially independent and eventually marries Mr. Rochester. The morality of Jane Eyre is tested when Mr. Rochester asks her to be his mistress while Bertha Mason is still his wife. Jane must again chose between love and the image she has of herself. Rochester asks her to accompany him to the south of France and live as husband and wife. Jane believes in the “law given by God (JE 270)” and promptly denies him. The themes of conscience and passion seem to echo throughout the entirety of Jane Eyre and the question of which one to follow. The passion of Jane is inescapable and yet she has a seemingly close relationship with God. Jane chooses conscience over passion at this point in the novel, up until now she relied heavily on emotion and forgot reason. She was replacing God with her love of Mr. Rochester, and now she must reject the man that she placed on a heavenly pedestal. At this time, she realizes that “laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this. (JE 270)” She knows that she must leave Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester in order to find the balance within herself once more. She fears the loss of her autonomy, and this fear motivates her to refuse Mr. Rochester’s proposal of “marriage.” By Rochester remaining legally married to Bertha Mason, Jane believed she would be making herself a mistress and therefore would lose her own integrity and morality. Jane’s battle of love reaches its climax as she is challenged by choosing herself or choosing Rochester As Jane readies to leave Thornfield she has an internal conflict, between the love she feels and her own identity. “Soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his (JE 270).” Jane argues with herself eventually challenging her identity with “ Who in the world cares for you? (JE 270)”This is the pinnacle of temptation over identity. Her battle with love comes to its climax, here she must choose between her love for a man who treats her with inequality and immorally asks her to marry him though he has a wife already; or her own strict adherence to herself. Her response to the question of who cares is “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself (JE 270).”Bronte chose for Jane to choose herself over Rochester, by doing so Jane becomes stronger than Rochester. The choice to abandon love and for Jane to find strength in herself is the reason that Jane finds a happy ending. This avoidance of temptation, allows Jane to ultimately reach self-actualization in her eventual marriage of Rochester. The most noteworthy man in Jane Eyre attempts to establish himself as dominant over Jane and therefore unequal. Jane never allows her independence to be compromised, nor does she allow the temptations that plague her to break her understanding of herself. The only time that Jane submits to a man in the novel is once she knows that she is intellectually, financially and emotionally equal. Only after she proves that she has reached self-actualization can she happily marry Mr. Rochester and not be dependent on him as her master. Their marriage could only happen if it was to happen between equals, “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine…To be together is for us to be at once in solitude, as gay as in company…we are precisely suited in character – perfect concord is the result (JE 384).” Jane Eyre is an attempt to deny the patriarchal forces that command and control women and to allow women to find their own voices and their own selves and to follow them. Jane’s self was one of morality and equality, and that was most clearly viewed in her relationship with Edward Rochester, through their courtship, attempted wedding and her eventual decision to leave and find her own way. Jane Eyre’s happy ending is her own doing and her own fight for equality and morality.

Works Cited
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. RIchard J. Davis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. , 2001.

Cited: Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. RIchard J. Davis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. , 2001.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre tells the story of Jane’s growth and development as she searches for a meaningful existence in society. Author Faith McKay said, “No matter what your family happens to be like…it affects who you are. It matters.” Jane is an orphan, forced to battle a cruel guardian, a patriarchal society, and a rigid social order. (Anderson, “Identity and Independence in Jane Eyre”) Jane has concrete beliefs in what women deserve, as well as obtainable goals for how she imagines her place in society as a woman (Lewkowicz, “The Experience of Womanhood in Jane Eyre”) and with self-growth, Jane Eyre was able to define herself as well as equip herself with wisdom and…

    • 116 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Jane Eyre Essay

    • 3572 Words
    • 15 Pages

    Compare and contrast the ways in which Bronte and Rhys construct the adult selves of Jane and Antoinette and consider how this shapes their relationship with Rochester.…

    • 3572 Words
    • 15 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyra Banks, modern-day renowned television celebrities, are examples of strong, independent women who influence and inspire many people. In Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, the main character of Jane is an orphaned girl who feels abused and neglected living with the Reed family. As the story progresses and she gets older, she makes friends such as Helen Burns, the girl she met at Lowood, and sheds her feelings of loneliness. As she befriends more people, she overcomes her hesitant tendencies and expresses herself openly. In the same way as the aforementioned celebrities, Jane develops into a strong and confidant woman who ends up falling in love with Mr. Rochester. Jane is initially lonely and doubtful but throughout the book her personality blossoms into one of confidence as she learns to stands up for herself. As a result, she becomes a strong and assertive woman who expresses her opinions candidly and grows to love Mr. Rochester.…

    • 1301 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Gender Roles in Jane Eyre

    • 1153 Words
    • 5 Pages

    To varying degrees, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre addresses the expectations of gender roles presently common in Victorian novels during the nineteenth century. Even in modern day society, the view of man tends to be aggressive, dominative, and ambitious, while women are portrayed as emotional, subservient, and sometimes passive. Bronte's depiction of the stereotypical male and female roles are accurate, but she also displays how one's gender can be altered. Jane, the novel's protagonist, is a cookie-cutout of what was expected of women in Victorian times. She dresses simply, is submissive, and longs for a male counterpart. As the story progresses, Jane shys away from conformities, but her willfulness to remain abnormal is tested when she endures heart-wrenching situations.…

    • 1153 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The novel Jane Eyre is a story about a stoic woman who fights her entire life through many trials and tribulations until she finds true love and achieves an almost nirvana-like state of being. The manner, in which Charlotte Bronte writes, her tone and diction especially, lends its self to the many purposes of the novel. The diction of Bronte usually had characteristics of gothic culture and showed the usually negative and angry inner thoughts of Jane. The tone of the novel was there sympathetic towards Jane and displayed her as an intelligent and kind person who has been given a terrible lot in life. This allows the audience to feel connected with Jane because most people have gone through times in their life where they have felt similar emotions to that of Jane. This common thread between Jane and the audience allowed Bronte to better explain the internal struggles of Jane Eyre.…

    • 968 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre

    • 652 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Jane Eyre’s excursion throughout Charlotte Bronte’s novel encompasses of a sequence of exploits in which Jane is challenged with variations of entrapment followed by escape which serves as an act of overcoming. In the course of the novel, Jane finds herself imprisoned in Victorian England’s strict and complicated social hierarchy, one of Bronte’s most important themes, and her struggle against prejudice prevails throughout. Jane’s quest to be loved, too, embodies deviations of entrapment and escape as Jane searches continually in order to gain love without surrendering herself in the process. In addition, Jane’s brushes with different models of religion lead her to form her own morals and philosophies, unlike those of society.…

    • 652 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    In this book, the author, Charlotte Bronte, has chosen to take an almost autobiographical approach to the plot. At many points in the novel, comparisons can be drawn between both Eyre and Bronte's life.…

    • 3680 Words
    • 15 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    The novel Jane Eyre is predominantly a bildungsroman, Jane’s development throughout the novel is one of the most important aspects of the narrative. During Jane’s time at Thornfield she makes huge emotional progress through her relationship with Rochester and the discovery of Bertha Mason, eventually resulting in her departure from Thornfield.…

    • 1336 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Before the dramatic encounter,Bronte confronts the divide between the sexes in 19th century through Jane's maturing attitudes towards her role as a young woman within society; she challenges the idea that “Woman are supposed to be very calm generally;” Instead, Jane believes that women should be taken seriously “if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex”. These thoughts of Jane’s, combined with her obvious restlessness, indicate an immanent change in her position within Thornfield, thus building tension before her encounter with Mr Rochester.…

    • 1133 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, has many meanings that can be found by reading it through different lenses. By looking through Jane Eyre with a biographical lenses, it gives the impression that Charlotte Brontë mirrored her own life and added her dreams into Jane’s life. This interpretation is significant through the fact that it gives more depth into the characters that she is writing about.…

    • 240 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    Archetype Research Project

    • 1916 Words
    • 8 Pages

    “Jane Eyre” was written in 1847 by Charlotte Brontë. The novel follows Jane Eyre from her childhood as the family scapegoat, through her schooling at a poorly managed charity school, and later when she becomes a governess and falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Jane’s journey is in search of the love and acceptance of others, she goes through many trials before reaching her goal. The theme that Brontë creates using the archetype of the journey is: In times of hardship you must persevere and not lose sight of yourself and your morals while striving to find happiness. This is one of the most important messages that she is sending to her readers through Jane Eyre. She does this by giving multiple examples of Jane’s strength.…

    • 1916 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Love, morality, and determination are tested to its farthest limits in Charlotte Brontë’s classic Victorian novel, Jane Eyre, due to several situations and characters. One character in particular, Bertha Mason, is an eminently unrealistic character yet she can be considered one of the more capital characters that influences other much more plausible elements and actions in the story, especially those of Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. Bertha Mason, an insane and overly aggressive wife that Rochester had hidden away for many years in his attic, was just one of the boundaries Jane Eyre and Rochester had to overpass, but possibly the most important. She creates many awkward and unrealistic actions in the story that consequently make her, as a whole, an unrealistic character.…

    • 906 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Jane Eyre is a novel that represents critique of Victorian age assumptions about social classes and gender issues. In the nineteenth-century there was a belief that women and men belong in "separate spheres," each with its own responsibilities. The women were expected to devote her self to the repetitive tasks of domestic labor and to minister to the needs of others while the men work and brought money.…

    • 567 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Published in 1847, under the pseudonym Currer Bell, Jane Eyre, is “ one of the most widely read of English novels.” Written by Charlotte Bronte, this novel made a major impact on the Victorian reading public, as well as today’s viewing public. With about thirteen television and film adaptations, it is not surprising that Jane Eyre is one of the most filmed novels. Unlike most books of its time, Jane Eyre took its readers on a journey into the restricted life of women living in the nineteenth century. For certain, these nineteenth century women were dominated by the overbearing men of their time. Thought to be submissive and unreasoning, women were expected to allow the men in their lives to make all decisions. In this novel, Jane Eyre, an orphan, applies the education and tools she gained throughout her life of struggle to become a strong, independent woman. Along the way, Jane repeatedly faces alienation from society, yet works to find happiness for herself. Through this, it is evident that Bronte conveys an alienation theme by exhibiting Jane’s isolation from society, and Jane’s struggle to find a place in the social hierarchy.…

    • 836 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Throughout Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë uses the character Jane as a tool to comment on the oppression that women were forced to endure at the time. Jane can be seen as representative of the women who suffered from repression during the Victorian period, a time when patriarchy was commonplace. Brontë herself was affected by the time period, because according to Wolfe, she was deprived “experience and intercourse and travel.” (70) Thus Jane offers a unique perspective as a woman who is both keenly aware of her position and yet trapped by it despite repeated attempts to elevate herself and escape the burden placed on by her different suitors. Although superficially it seems that Jane wants to break away from the relationships that further suppress her, in actuality she is content to remain subservient. Rather the main conflict of the novel is Jane’s repeated attempts to reconcile her moral code with her societal obligations.…

    • 1588 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays

Related Topics