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Deceit and Dishonesty in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre: The Theme of Deceit and Dishonesty

“‘The marriage can not go on: I declare the existence of an impediment'” (306). Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is the story of an orphaned girl who is sent to live at Gateshead Hall with Mrs. Reed and her three cousins, whom Jane doesn’t get along with. At the age of ten, Mrs. Reed sends Jane away to Lowood Institution, an all girls’ school, where she spends the next eight years of her life. At the age of eighteen, Jane leaves Lowood and accepts the position as governess at Thornfield Hall. Mr. Rochester, the owner of Thornfield Hall, and Jane fall madly in love and plan to get married, but little does Jane know, Mr. Rochester has a terrible secret that could ruin Jane’s life. Throughout the novel, the theme of deceit and dishonesty results in unhappiness and suffering not only to those being lied to, but also to those people perpetuating the untruths.

In the beginning of Jane Eyre, Mrs. Reed tells the owner of Lowood Institution, Mr. Brocklehurst, that Jane has, “‘a bad character, a deceitful disposition; and to let everybody at Lowood know what [she] is, and what [she] has done'” (34). Jane already despises Mrs. Reed for treating her so poorly, but now she is infuriated. If Mr. Brocklehurst describes Jane as Mrs. Reed instructs him to do, Jane will never make friends at Lowood because all of the children will fear her. Jane battles back by saying to her aunt, “‘I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty'” (33). Jane…

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…ugh in the end Jane and Mr. Rochester do get married, Jane is an emotionally battered character who has to look deep inside of herself to do what is best for her. This happens to people every day. They are hurt by dishonesty and deceitfulness. It can ruin their lives unless they make the commitment to be honest with themselves and those around them.


Fraser, Rebecca. The Brontes. 1st ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1988.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 3rd ed. New York: The Modern Library.

Bronte, Charlotte. “Charlotte Bronte’s Letters”. New York: W. W. Norton

Submission or Revolt in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre: Submission or Revolt

The single greatest conflict of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is Jane’s struggle between submission and revolt. At times it is difficult for her to know which of those two actions to choose– she is a spirited woman who cannot accept oppression but sometimes has no choice but to submit. As a little girl she had no knowledge that there was a medium between the two. Eventually she learns moderation and she doesn’t need to choose submission or revolt; she comes into her own money by the end and escapes from the oppression she suffered as a child.

Jane’s oppression begins at Gateshead Hall while living with her Aunt Reed and cousins. For most of her time there, she chooses submission to all their cruelties because she has no choice really. She is a little child with no money and not living relatives that she knows about. John Reed is terrible to her; he teases Jane cruelly and tries to harm her. Jane sees “in him a tyrant: a murderer” in the instance when he yells at her for reading his books and then throws the book at her, drawing blood (13). This is when Jane decides not to remain passive and submit to these cruelties, but to revolt fully against him. She insults him back and physically fights with him. As a result of this, however, Jane is forced to submit to even greater oppression by Mrs. Reed; she is locked in the red-room like an animal. She tries to revolt, but she is unable to accomplish anything at all while locked in the room, except for becoming ill with fear of the room.

Before Jane leaves Gateshead for Lowood Institution, she chooses to verbally revolt against Mrs. Reed, as she was unable to before. She tells Mrs. Reed that she is “bad, hard-hearted” and “deceitful” and renounces her as a relation (39). Soon after, Jane is off to Lowood school where more adults tell her what to do.

Jane is not as oppressed at Lowood school, but she still is not allowed to do as she pleases, especially not at first. The teachers treat her well, especially Miss Temple, one of her closest friends there. However, after she has been there a few weeks, Mr. Brocklehurst puts her in front of the class and denounces her as a liar. Helen Burns entreats Jane not to let it get her down because Brocklehurst “is not a god” and is disliked by everyone (71).

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