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Jane Eyre and the Search for Independence

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre presents a woman’s struggle for freedom in early 19th century England. Male suppression, societal conceptions, religious authority, and even self-inhibition threaten Jane’s independence. But probably the greatest impediment to her autonomy is her query of self. All through the novel, as Jane grows into adulthood and becomes increasingly self-conscious, her concept of independence evolves with her to encompass a worldview that is neither traditional nor unrivaled.

As a kid at Gateshead, Jane is completely dependant on the Reeds (Brontë 13). In numerous techniques she is a prisoner. Indeed, Jane’s imprisonment in the red space is the full physical manifestation of her forced submission (13). Reduce than the servants, for she does “nothing for [her] keep,” Jane is beaten by her cousin and begrudged by her aunt (ten, 12). Jane scoffs at the term “benefactress” for Mrs. Reed given that her aunt’s help comes with the hefty cost of subjugation (31). Jane is told that she “ought not to consider [her]self on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed . . . it is [her] location to be humble, and to try to make [her]self agreeable to them,” (13). Yet, as considerably as she tries, Jane can not manage to make this take place (15):

“All John Reed’s violent tyrannies, all his sister’s proud indifference, all his mother’s aversion, all the servants’ partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, constantly brow-beaten, often accused, for ever condemned? Why could I never ever please? Why was it useless to try to win any one’s favour? . . . I dared commit no fault: strove to fulfill each duty and I was termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking” (14-five).

Jane confesses that she is not prone to rebellion at the beginning of her story (12). It seems fitting, then, that the novel begins as Jane’s 1st purchased of mutiny comes to pass when she tackles John for his mistreatment (ten-two). This a single immediate of revolt seems to open the floodgates for Jane as she becomes far more discontent with her position with the Reeds (22). When the final blowout happens when Mrs. Reed deems Jane a liar in front of Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane’s passionate nature gets the far better of her (35-6). Jane expresses her need for love: “You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one particular bit of adore or kindness but I can't reside so: and you have no pity” (35). Her want for enjoy frequently hinders her opportunity for freedom and vice versa the Reeds present the initial instance exactly where Jane achieves 1 although the other is absent. Jane’s rebuke to her aunt is at as soon as truthful and liberating (34-five). Upon relieving her pent up frustration, Jane declares that “my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty” (35).

The result of Jane’s ten years at Gateshead is the revelation that obedience, when it goes against one’s own moral understanding, is a betrayal of oneself. “I should dislike these who, what ever I do to please them, persist in disliking me I should resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as all-natural as that I must enjoy these who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved” (54-five).

In the second stretch of Jane’s life, her education gained at Lowood offers her with the chance to break away from her relatives (39). The severing of this dependence allows for Jane to foster an education that will give her with her livelihood for years to come—a necessity to acquire her independence (80). In addition, Jane is lastly recognized as an person through her budding friendships with Helen Burns and then Ms. Temple, attributing to a greater sense of self (70, 80). She gains intellectual freedom at the institution, one thing that she had not gotten with the Reeds, but she finds the monotony of her existence stifling right after the eight years she spends there (81). At this point, Jane does not even contemplate complete freedom as an choice, “a new servitude . . . does not sound as well sweet it is not like such words as Liberty, Excitement, Enjoyment: delightful sounds truly but no much more than sounds for me” (81-two). She remains realistic in what she can anticipate to receive in a hierarchal society.

With her new servitude, Jane finds an intellectual equal in Mr. Rochester, but their different social standings remain an obstacle to their union (124, 143). In very first entertaining the prospect of her and Rochester together, Jane says “a freshening gale wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but I could not attain it, even in fancy—a counteracting breeze blew off the land, and continually drove me back. Sense would resist delirium: judgment would warn passion” (143). Jane nevertheless remains realistic in what she can anticipate in life.

Rochester’s proposed marriage threatens to rid Jane of her independence. At this point in time, due to the fact of Rochester’s superior economic status, Jane would constantly be his inferior, and he, her “master” (252). Jane is fully aware of this she knows by accepting Rochester’s proposal she probabilities sacrificing her autonomy for enjoy if she can not relieve the financial distinction between them (252). Jane believes “if I had but a prospect of one particular day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, I could far better endure to be kept by him now” (252). This is why Jane makes the effort to write to her uncle Eyre ahead of her wedding in hopes of acquiring even the smallest of fortunes (252). Without her own financial liberty, Jane is reluctant to accept any of the wealth Rochester desires to give her because she feels she has no correct to it (252). In his effort to bestow her with jewels, Jane proclaims “never thoughts jewels! I don’t like to hear them spoken of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange” (243). Jane is adamant in not altering for any person, Rochester included. Upon their engagement, Jane has no notion of becoming an sophisticated lady of a larger class she maintains to be but herself: plain, without having magnificent beauty or absolute compliance (244). By not becoming the classic lady of wealth, Jane exerts that correct independence comes with getting no one but oneself.

At the Moor house, Jane lastly finds herself among equals in terms of each society and thoughts (327). “The more I knew of the inmates of Moor Home, the better I liked them . . . I could join Diana and Mary in all their occupations… There was a reviving pleasure in the intercourse, of a type now tasted by me for the first time— the pleasure arising from excellent congeniality of tastes, sentiments, and principles.” (327). To be confident, Jane’s time with the Rivers gifts her with the familial sort of enjoy that she has sought for so extended (360). “I had located a brother: 1 I could be proud of, — 1 I could really like and two sisters whose qualities were such that… they had inspired me with genuine affection and admiration… This was a blessing… not like the ponderous present of gold: rich and welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight” (360). This love grants Jane a kind of emotional nurturing that she demands to additional herself as an independent. She has finally been in a position to uncover adore with no sacrificing her autonomy.

Although teaching at the village school St. John tasked her with, Jane provides herself with a livelihood solely of her personal creating (336). “It was really hard work at very first. Some time elapsed before, with all my efforts, I could comprehend my scholars and their nature” (343). Jane, in spite of becoming a bit out of her element in terms of her new students’ coarseness, preservers in teaching them (343). Jane admits that “the rapidity of their progress, in some instances, was even surprising and an honest and content pride I took in it” (343). The nature of her work bargains with a rank that she has never ever encountered prior to (336). Her students are not as intelligent as the girls she taught at Lowood, or even as intelligent as Adéle (336). She has been placed in a predicament that is of a sort of difficult operating poverty. However, this challenge enriches her self-government in the way that she now knows that she is fully able to take care of and provide for herself.

Jane is then able to acquire comprehensive monetary independence upon inheriting her uncle’s massive sum with it, she gains societal freedom (357). With the fortune bestowed upon her, Jane has the freedom to no longer rely on any individual for her physical wellbeing (436). Her inheritance raising her to an equal level with Rochester, Jane is able to discover what she has been looking for all along: a balance between adore and independence (421). “No lady was ever nearer to her mate than I am… I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine… consequently, we are ever together. To be with each other is for us to be at when as totally free as in solitude… we are precisely suited in character — excellent concord is the result” (421). In truth, Rochester’s injuries in some approaches make Jane his superior because he comes to rely on her for his vision and appropriate hand (421).

Jane’s choice to return to Rochester exhibits perhaps the most noteworthy facet of her understanding of freedom. The freedom of option follows Jane all through the novel. Even though Jane can't, and knows that she can not, handle all elements of her life, she does know that she has the will and the freedom to modify her life when the need arises. First at Gateshead, it is Jane’s answer to the apothecary, “‘I should certainly like to go to school,’” that sets her entire story into motion (24). She knows “school would be a total alter: it implied a lengthy journey, an complete separation from Gateshead, an entrance into a new life” (24). Jane once more enters into a new life by selection when she requires the initiative to promote and go to Thornfield (82-four).

At Thornfield, Jane makes her opinions of independence most clear. With heartbreak over Rochester’s faux wedding to Blanche Ingram, Jane asserts “I am no bird and no net ensnares me I am a cost-free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you” (238).When she eventually does select to leave him, Rochester seems to acknowledge her statement, saying that “‘never was anything at when so frail and so indomitable [as Jane]… consider the resolute, wild, totally free thing… defying me, with more than courage — with a stern triumph!” (297). Despite her love’s pleading, Jane is resolute in her morals and makes the decision to leave him, when again altering her life irreversibly (299).

Just as she decides to leave Rochester, Jane turns down St. John’s proposal (378). Regardless of her own morality, and Rochester’s lack thereof, Jane finds St. John’s to be harsh, overwhelming, and, as a outcome, threatening (379). She knows that as St. John’s wife, she would be sacrificing any chance at romantic really like the same way that by accepting to be with Rochester she would be sacrificing her principles (296, 377-78). For her independence, she must strike a balance between them. When she chooses to go back to Rochester when she is financially independent, she achieves that balance.

To be particular, the initial sentence of the last chapter, “reader I married him,” exhibits both Jane’s equality with Rochester and her value of option (419). Brontë could have just as simply put “reader, he married me,” but by expressly stating that Jane married Rochester, it expresses that it was her choice and with her totally free energy that she did so.

Brontë demonstrates in Jane that all types of liberation, be it monetary, social, religious, or otherwise, all boil down to selection by way of freedom of will. Jane has it right:

“Women really feel just as men feel they need to have exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as a lot as their brothers do they suffer from as well rigid a restraint, also absolute a stagnation, precisely as males would suffer and it is narrow-minded in their much more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to generating puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or discover more than custom has pronounced needed for their sex” (104).
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