Jane Eyre: Hindsight To fully know ones self and to be able to completely understand and interpret all actions and experiences one goes through is difficult enough. However, analyzing and interpreting the thoughts and feelings of another human being is in itself on an entirely different level. In the novel Jane Eyre, its namesake makes a decision to reject her one true love in favor of moral decency. Certain aspects of the novel discredit the validity of Janes choice. The truthfulness of Janes reason to leave Mr. Rochester can be questioned because Jane Eyre narrates the novel herself. She therefore, can exaggerate or warp any details in regard to her feelings as well as her true intentions or fears. At several points in the book Jane chooses to avoid going into detail because the subject is too painful or would be of no interest to the reader. Such painful memories may have an influence on her development as a child and would give further insight into her personality, weaknesses and strength. Although Jane has a stringent moral Christian upbringing, she has a great deal of pride and cares about the opinions of others around her. When walking from house to house begging for food from strangers, she has a great deal of loathing for herself. She also admits that if she saw someone in a similar situation to herself, she would treat her the exact same way as the people of the hamlet treat her. The pride that Jane carries with her might influence her as she tells her tale. She may change details in order to seem more pious or more proper. Jane has reached a blissful state in finding the love of her employer Mr. Rochester. Unfortunately he has a wife in a deranged woman who lives in the attic, where she is tended by a strange, gin drinking servant. Despite the strange circumstances surrounding the marriage, Jane chooses to end her life at Thornfield Manor and flee through the country side. She claims that the reason she leaves her true love is that their marriage would be one that would go against God. The possibility of him as an acceptable husband is slim. He admits he lied to Jane and attempted to become a “polygamist”, but he appeals to her sense of reason asking how an insane animal could be his wife. Still she rejects his proposal and leaves, but does she leave because of God, or another reason. The novel, narrated by Jane, shows a less than flattering side of organized religion. The two representatives of the Cloth are Mr. Brokelhurst and St. John Rivers. Both are unloving and cold. The school Jane attended was under the iron clad rule of Brokelhurst. He demanded the girls of his school be prepared for a life of hardship and misery. St. John wanted not to be loved by another, but to serve God. He rejected the love of another, and his love for her in favor of serving God as a missionary. He asks if Jane will marry him and go to India, but offers a loveless marriage. He says the only thing he wants is a wife and becomes nearly violent when Jane does not accept his offer. The depiction of these two members of the Church in the novel may show that Jane does not respect the stringent ways of organized religion. Many people she hated held God in high regard and thought themselves to be quite pious and religious, most notably Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed, Janes former guardian, constantly warned Jane about the wrath of God and called her a wicked girl with great frequency. She threatened Jane with promises of Hell and suffering for such an unwholesome girl. Jane may have had her own idea about religion and God. Perhaps she found the marriage acceptable, but would not allow herself to part with the teachings she had become so familiarized with and used to identify herself. When contemplating Mr. Rochesters offer she almost accepts it, but fears her acquiescence would ruin everything she believed in and make the entire union a hollow travesty. She may have even chosen to reject Rochester because she wanted to obey the laws of England. Perhaps the idea of breaking the marriage laws of England would cause her to think of herself as a common thief or criminal. The reason Jane gives for choosing to leave Rochester is not one to be accepted without hesitation. One must remember that a human being is telling the tale. A human being with feelings, weaknesses and opinions. The story of Jane Eyre is not told by an omnipotent impartial observer, but by a woman looking ten years back at what her life was or what she hoped or wished it to be.
Impact of Tone in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre: The Impact of the Tone
The tone of Jane Eyre is direct, perhaps even blunt. There is no prissy little-girl sensibility, but a startlingly independent, even skeptical perspective. At the age of 10, the orphan Jane already sees through the hypocrisy of her self-righteous Christian elders. She tells her bullying Aunt Reed, “People think you a good woman, but you are bad; hard-hearted. You are deceitful!” and “I am glad you are no relative of mine; I will never call you aunt again so 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 that the very thought of you makes me sick.” (In fact, when her aunt is elderly and dying, Jane does return to visit her, and forgives her. But that’s far in the future.) With the logic of a mature philosopher, in fact rather like Friedrich Nietzsche to come, Jane protests the basic admonitions of Christianity as a schoolgirl: “I must resist those who … persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel that it is deserved.” And this bold declaration, which would have struck readers of 1847 (in fact, of 1947) as radical and “infeminine”:
“Restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes … Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer.”
Instead, the novel begins with the seemingly disappointed statement: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that [rainy] day,” and counters almost immediately with, “I was glad of it; I never liked long walks.” When excluded from Christmas revelries in the Reed household, the child Jane says, “To speak the truth, I had not the least wish to go into company.” Jane’s defiance, which doesn’t exclude childlike fears, strikes us as forthright in the way of the adolescent temperaments of other famous literary voices — Jo March of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield and their now-countless younger siblings.