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Jane Eyre Essay: Following the Moral Compass in Jane Eyre

Following the Moral Compass in Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is the perfect novel about maturing: a child who is treated cruelly holds herself together and learns to steer her life forward with a driving conscience that keeps her life within personally felt moral bounds. I found Jane as a child to be quite adult-like: she battles it out conversationally with Mrs. Reed on an adult level right from the beginning of the book. The hardship in her childhood makes her extreme need for moral correctness believable. For instance, knowing her righteous stubborness as a child, we can believe that she would later leave Rochester altogether rather than living a life of love and luxury simply by overlooking a legal technicality concerning his previous marriage to a mad woman. Her childhood and her adult life are harmonious which gives the reader the sense of a complete and believable character.

Actually, well into this book I was afraid it was going to be another one of those English countryside, woman-gets-married novels. I was reminded of a friend’s comment a few years back to “avoid the Brontes like the plague.” But of course there is a little more than courting going on here. For example, if you compare Jane with one of Jane Austen’s young women coming into society, you have a bit more adventure, roughness, and connection to nature. I don’t think a Jane Austen character would wander around the forest, sleeping without cover in the wilds of the night to prove a moral point. Jane Eyre can get dirt under her fingernails–that’s the difference. You also get more emotion in Jane Eyre, you feel with her, deep hate (for Mrs. Reed), religious conviction (with …

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…somewhat cryptic language. He simply had his mind elsewhere, which is probably why he ended up in India.

In fact, I am glad the book ended with the focus on the character of St. John instead of with Jane or Rochester, as it hints to us that the importance of the book is not about finding the right person, falling in love, and living happily ever after. The theme of this book is about following your conscience. In this regard, Jane and St. John both did the same thing in this story: They both had strong, driving consciences; they both were tempted but pursued their course; and they both found a satisfying life in the end. This book is not about developing a relationship with a romantic partner, but about developing a relationship and learning to follow and live in tune with your own moral conscience.

Bronte’s Jane Eyre Essay: Importance of Nature Imagery

Importance of Nature Imagery in Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte makes extensive use of nature imagery in her novel, Jane Eyre, commenting on both the human relationship with the outdoors and with human nature. The Oxford Reference Dictionary defines “nature” as “1. the phenomena of the physical world as a whole . . . 2. a thing’s essential qualities; a person’s or animal’s innate character . . . 4. vital force, functions, or needs.” Bronte speaks to each of these definitions throughout Jane Eyre.

Several natural themes run throughout the novel, one of which is the image of a stormy sea. After Jane saves Rochester’s life, she gives the following metaphor of their relationship:

Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea . . . I thought sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore . . . now and then a freshening gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but . . . a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back.

The gale represents all the forces that prevent Jane’s union with Rochester. Later, Brontë conjures up the image of a buoyant sea when Rochester says of Jane: “Your habitual expression in those days, Jane, was . . . not buoyant.” In fact, it is this buoyancy of Jane’s relationship with Rochester that keeps Jane afloat at her time of crisis in the heath: “Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life? Because I know, or believe, Mr. Rochester is living.”

Another recurrent image is Brontë’s treatment of Birds. We first witness Jane’s fascination with them as she reads Bewick’s History of British Birds as a child. She reads of “death-white realms” and “‘the solitary rocks and promontories'” of sea-fowl. We quickly see how Jane ide…

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…illiam Hurt, Charlotte Gainsborough, and Anna Paquin. 1996

Jane Eyre. Dir. Julian Aymes. Perf. Timothy Dalton, Zelah Clarke. 1983

Kadish, Doris. The Literature of Images: Narrative Landscape from Julie to Jane Eyre. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1986.

Linder, Cynthia A. Romantic Imagery in the Novels of Charlotte Bronte. London: MacMillan, 1978.

McLaughlin, M.B. “Past or Future Mindscapes: Pictures in Jane Eyre.” Victorian Newsletter 41 (1972): 22-24.

Peters, Joan D. “Finding a Voice: Towards a Woman’s Discourse in Dialogue in the Narration of Jane Eyre.” Studies in the Novel. 23 no 2. (1991): 217-36.

Zonana, Joyce. “The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of Jane Eyre.” Signs. 18 no 3. (1993): 592-617



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