Longing for Love Charlotte Bronte created the novel “Jane Eyre,” withan overriding theme of love. The emotional agony that the main characterexperiences throughout the novel stem from the treatment received as a child,loss of loved ones, and economic hardships.
To fill these voids, Jane longs forlove. Ironically, Jane rejects affection at some point throughout the novelthough it is that which she seeks. Her painful childhood experiences create anemotional center derived from this pain. Thus, she views love as consuming andit is not a high priority in Jane’s life.
She accepts the fact that she willprobably live her life in loneliness. From the onset of the novel we view theworld through the eyes of Jane, a young, penniless, orphan. At the beginning ofthe story she is under the care of her widowed aunt, Mrs. Reed.
At the Reedhousehold, Jane is neglected and mistreated with favoritism being given only tothe three obnoxious Reed children. Jane begins her struggle for love here atGateshead. Her temper and self-will become apparent there. She stands up forherself not only to her cousins, but to Mrs.
Reed as well. “You think IBurkhart 2 have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love orkindness, but I cannot live so: and you have no pity” (Bronte, 45). Herearly life at Gateshead proved to be a rather traumatic period in Jane’s life. Jane “dared commit no fault: strove to fulfill every duty; wastermed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaky, from morning to noon, and fromnoon to night” (Bronte, 22). Trying to act in accordance with Mrs.
Reed andthe Reed children, never purposely committing a fault, Jane was continuously”naughty” in Mrs. Reed’s eye. Living a childhood such as Jane’s, onewould expect a self-willed and rebellious personality to emerge. “I was adiscord at Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there. .
. If they did not love me, infact, as little did I love them” (Bronte 23). Treated with disrespect andlack of love Jane began her journey, her quest for love. Her rebellion towardsthe family that hated her fueled an inner subconscious conflict dealing withlove and trust. Mrs.
Reed eventually sends Jane to a boarding school calledLowood Institution. Lowood is a charitable school and has the worst conditionsimaginable. It is here, where Jane meets her first true friend Helen Burns. Atthe orphanage, Jane forms a passionate attachment to Helen.
Burkhart 3 Helenassumes a sisterly like role and teaches Jane love in the form of religion. “Read the New Testament,” Helen instructed Jane, “love yourenemies” (Bronte 69). “Then I should love Mrs. Reed, which I cannotdo; I should bless her son John, which is impossible”(Bronte 69). Jane doesnot comprehend the act of loving thy enemies.
Her lack of comprehension stemsfrom her childhood and the lack of love she received. Never in her childhood didshe get the attention and love that a child deserves. How could anyone expectsomeone to be able to love when she has had no example to follow? In Jane’s eyesher self-worth would severely diminish if she were to love someone who did notlove her. Helen explains to Jane how Miss Scatcherd dislikes Helen’s “castof character” (Bronte 65) and the deep impression the injustice of an enemymakes on your heart. Jane is able to gain strength from Helen’s faith.
It isthis faith that she attains that guides Jane through her life and ultimatelyleads to her happiness. Another character that has a significant influence inJane’s life at Lowood is Miss Evans, the superintendent. Miss Evans is primarilythe first person in Jane’s life that treats Jane with justice and confidence inher ability to “make good. ” In her dealings with Miss Evans and theBurkhart 4 scolding she receives from Miss Evans, Jane puts Helen’s lessons touse.
She tries to accept her scolding as if it had some higher purpose, thoughshe is hurt inside when she is scolded. Her experiences at Lowood make her amuch stronger self-willed person, though they also contribute to her decrease inrebelliousness. Jane eventually leaves Lowood and ventures to Thornfield Manorwhere she gains the position of governess under Mr. Edward Rochester, hermaster. Meeting Mr. Rochester completely changes Jane’s life.
The attention shereceives, the interest, and the affection all fill voids in Jane’s life. Foronce a person of the opposite sex cites a level of equality among male andfemale, he and Jane. He states, “we stood at God’s feet, equal-as weare” showing his dedication to Jane. This was very uncommon in theVictorian era. Despite Mr. Rochester’s somber looks and brusque manner Janegrows to like him and he more than approves of Jane as well.
Rochester tries towin Jane’s affection by making her jealous of the beautiful Miss Blanche Ingramwith whom Jane believes he is involved. Eventually Jane and Rochester mutuallyfall in love and become engaged. The night before Jane’s wedding, the mad womankept on the Burkhart 5 third floor appears in Jane’s room and tears her weddingveil. When Jane asks Mr. Rochester about the nighttime encounter, he tells herthat the woman is Grace Poole, an insane household seamstress. At the churchmoments before Jane and Mr.
Rochester are to be married, it is revealed thatThornfield’s mad woman is Bertha Mason, whom Rochester had married in the WestIndies 15 years prior. It seems that shortly after their marriage, Bertha hadgone mad. Mr. Rochester pleaded with Jane to stay.
However, how could she notlive as his seamstress in good moral conscience? Rochester’s dedicationdevastates Jane when she finds out about Bertha Mason. Marrying Mr. Rochesterwould mean compromising her faith in God as well as her self-worth. Jane is notwilling to love without marriage and become his mistress.
Her rejection poses amoral victory; a good woman could not survive a loss of virtue nor live withoutself-respect. She never thought that love would be a part of her life, butrather loneliness and work thus her rejection of love became her victory. Shewas able to take that which she sought, and never fathomed attaining andovercome it. Jane was faced with the reality of love that had so long beendenied to her, but had to continue her journey when she found his loveunacceptable. Burkhart 6 “I have known you, Mr.
Rochester; and it strikesme with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you forever. Isee the necessity of departure; and it is looking at the necessity ofdeath. ” She is able to withstand Rochester’s pleading, “Oh,Jane,” and move on. Moving on deeply hurt Jane. Finding love and having toleave it never knowing if she would find it again was devastating. Referring herlife back to that of what her dear friend Helen had taught her, Jane forgivesMr.
Rochester. “I forgave him at that moment, and on the spot. . . I forgavehim all; yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core”(Bronte336).
She felt superiority over her “master” at this point, a feelingof which she never knew before. She asks Rochester if he thinks she is”soulless and heartless. ” She reigns superiorly over Rochester in aspiritual triumph. God had gifted her with a heart and though she had littleexperience of being loved before Rochester she was blessed with a heart as well. She knew how to use it and her personal faith was her means to use it. Janemoves on destitute and with out any money or friends.
“Jane Eyre, who hadbeen an ardent, expectant Burkhart 7 woman-almost a bride-was a cold, solitarygirl again: her life pale; her prospects were desolate” (Bronte 330) istaken in by Mr. St. John Rivers and his sisters. She becomes a teacher and triesto forget about her love for Mr. Rochester. St.
John proposes marriage to Janeoffering not love, but a place by his side in a missionary post. His offer isthe total opposite of Rochester’s. Though a difficult decision, Jane does notaccept the proposal. Marrying St.
John out of love would be the right thing todo in the eyes of God, but it would not make her happy. And it is that lovewhich she seeks that would make her happy, thus continuing on her journey. Janeis then called to do what would please her. She returns to Thornfield and findsit burned to the ground. Jane discovers Mr. Rochester is living at a small farmcalled Ferndean with two of his servants from Thornfield.
She is reunited withher true love Mr. Rochester. Jane is able to go back to Rochester due to thefact that Bertha had died in the fire. Mr. Rochester had lost his sight and oneof his hands due to the burning of Thornfield. Jane does what pleasures her andgets married to Rochester.
She ends her journey finding what she longed for herwhole life: true love and happiness. Burkhart 8 Growing up in the Victorian era,Jane’s views were very conventional. Her childhood particularly influenced thisconventionality. Living under her strict Aunt in her early years inevitablystarted Jane off to a “bad” start in her life. Not having love andpeople who cared created a wall prohibiting Jane’s climbing of it. If it werenot for her experiences at Lowood, the Moor house, and Thornfield Manor Janewould not have been able to carry out the act of love, though it was what shewas seeking.
She sought love because she was not loved and every “humanmust and love something” in order to live a fulfilling life. Jane originally rejects Rochester’s love because it violated her moralstandards, but in the end she ends up happily in love with him. Bronte does notallow the brutality of the environment diminish Jane’s ability to experiencelove. Her quest for love was turbulent, but in the end Jane found the love ofwhich she set out for.