Jane has endured hell. Indeed, most of this novel becomes a test of what she can endure. Helen Burns and Miss Temple teach Jane the British stiff upper lip and saintly patience. Then Jane, star pupil that she is, exemplifies the stoicism, while surviving indignity upon indignity. Jane’s soul hunkers down deep inside her body and waits for the shelling to stop. Only at Moor’s End, where she teaches and grows, does her soul come out. She stops enduring and begins living. Jane begins to become an “I” in her 19th year.
In the sentence, “Reader, I married him.” Jane makes clear who is in charge of her life and her marriage; she is. That “I” stands resolutely as the subject of the sentence commanding the verb and attaching itself to the object, “him.” She is no longer passive, waiting and sitting for Rochester’s attention. Rather, she goes out and gets him.
She has gone a long way from the beginning of the novel. At Gateshead, Jane tries to direct her life. Her little “I” scolds Mrs. Reed and chastises John. Like the later Jane, she knows…
The Themes of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
The Themes of Jane Eyre
In the beginning of Jane Eyre, Jane struggles against Bessie, the nurse at Gateshead Hall, and says, I resisted all the way: a new thing for me…”(Chapter 2). This sentence foreshadows what will be an important theme of the rest of the book, that of female independence or rebelliousness. Jane is here resisting her unfair punishment, but throughout the novel she expresses her opinions on the state of women. Tied to this theme is another of class and the resistance of the terms of one’s class. Spiritual and supernatural themes can also be traced throughout the novel.
Soon after Jane is settled at Lowood Institution she finds the enjoyment of expanding her own mind and talents. She forgets the hardships of living at the school and focuses on the work of her own hands. She is not willing to give this up when she is engaged to Rochester. She resists becoming dependent on him and his money. She does not want to be like his mistresses, with their fancy gowns and jewels, but even after she and Rochester are married, she wants to remain as Adele’s governess. She is not willing to give up her independence to Rochester, and tries to seek her own fortune by writing to her uncle. In the end, when she does have her own money, she states, “I am my own mistress” (Chapter 37).
Jane not only shows the reader her beliefs on female independence through her actions, but also through her thoughts. Jane desires to see more of the world and have more interaction with its people. While she appreciates her simple life at Thornfield, she regrets that she does not have the means to travel. She relates her feelings to all women, not just those of her class, saying:
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 restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags (Chapter 12).
It is also important here to talk about Bertha, for she is a female character who is often seen resisting.