Jane Eyre - Analysing the extract

The question

Starting with this extract, analyse:

  • How Brontë presents Jane's principles in this extract, focusing on how she adheres to the bible's word about marriage. What does this suggest about Jane's character?
  • How Brontë presents Jane and her principles in the text as a whole.

For the first part of the essay question, you must analyse how Brontë presents Jane's character and her principles in this extract. Look at the highlighted points below with some that you could write about in your answer. Remember to focus on Jane's character, her decisions and her principles.

The extract

Rochester has just revealed to Jane the truth about his marriage to Bertha. He has also shared his desire to live with Jane and declared his love for her.

As he said this, he released me from his clutch, and only looked at me. The look was far worse to resist than the frantic strain: (1) only an idiot, however, would have succumbed now. I had (2) dared and baffled his fury; I must elude his sorrow. I retired to the door.

"You are going, Jane?"

"I am going, sir."

"You are leaving me?"

(3) "Yes."

"You will not come. You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?"

What unutterable pathos was in his voice! How hard it was to reiterate (4) firmly, "I am going."


(5) "Mr Rochester!"

"Withdraw, then, - I consent; but remember, you leave me here in anguish. Go up to your own room; think over all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings - think of me."

He turned away; he threw himself on the sofa. "Oh Jane! My hope - my love - my life!" broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob.

I had already gained the door; but, reader, (6) I walked back - walked back as determinedly as I had retreated. I knelt down by him; I turned his face from the cushion to me; I kissed his cheek; I smoothed his hair with my hand.

(7) "God bless you, my dear master!" I said.

  • (1) Only an idiot, however, would have succumbed now - this shows that Jane does not believe she is an idiot, and will not sacrifice her principles to be with Rochester. She has self-worth and she values her independence.
  • (2) dared and baffled his fury - this shows that Jane is willing to stand up against Rochester, the man she loves and her employer. The use of the verb 'dared' illustrates that Jane is willing to be assertive while others may not.
  • (3) "Yes." - this reply to Rochester illustrates how decisive and strong-minded Jane is. She is not willing to ease Rochester's worries in this situation, as she is frightened of the consequences and will not sacrifice her principles.
  • (4) Firmly - Jane admits it was hard to walk away from Rochester whilst he was sobbing. This shows that she truly loves Rochester. Jane manages to say 'firmly' that she is going, which reveals her inner strength
  • (5) "Mr Rochester!" - the use of the exclamation mark illustrates Jane's mixed emotions - she wants to be with Rochester but knows she cannot, so she wishes he would leave her alone and allow her to 'mourn' for the life they could have had.
  • (6) I walked back - this illustrates how much she loves Rochester, as she wants to comfort him in his despair. It could also suggest how Jane is not sure about her decision to leave Rochester, thus showing her confused and mixed emotions.
  • (7) "God bless you, my dear master!" - Jane believes Rochester needs to be blessed, as she loves him dearly and he has also committed a sin. The use of 'dear' illustrates Jane's true feelings for Rochester and the fact that she calls him 'master' also shows how she has resorted back to their old relationship of governess and master.