Jane in Jane Eyre

Jane as a young girl

From the beginning of the novel, Brontë describes Jane as a strong-willed, passionate and outspoken young girl. Jane regularly speaks out against the cruel treatment of her cousin, John and her aunt, Mrs Reed. This results in Jane becoming isolated and alienated in the house, as she endures her punishments alone. When Jane moves to Lowood School, her life appears to be similar, as she has to endure horrible taunts and punishments from Mr Brocklehurst. However, it is at Lowood Jane finds true friendship and love. Here, Jane is very loyal and kind towards Helen Burns, her best friend. When Helen dies, she is heartbroken and lost.

Jane as a young woman

As the novel progresses, the reader sees Jane blossoming into adulthood. Jane is always described to be plain and doesn't see herself as a beauty. Nonetheless, she manages to fall in love with Rochester, and eventually Rochester confesses his love for Jane. They plan to marry but their plans are thwarted when it is revealed Rochester already has a wife. Jane suffers more heartbreak and vows to leave Thornfield, as she cannot sacrifice her integrity and principles to live with a man she loves but cannot marry. She leaves, sacrificing her chance of happiness. Jane becomes homeless and finds refuge at the Rivers' home. When it is revealed they are Jane's cousins, she offers them a portion of her newly inherited fortune, thus ensuring their happiness. The novel ends with Jane finding happiness, as she marries Rochester as a confident, independent, young woman.

How is Jane like this?Evidence from the textAnalysis
PassionateJane is shown to be a passionate child when she tells Helen Burns that she cannot forgive Mrs Reed and refuses to."Then I should love Mrs Reed, which I cannot do; I should bless her son John, which is impossible."This shows that Jane is passionate and headstrong as she will not forgive Mrs Reed and John for their past actions. This also illustrates that Jane's emotions govern her decisions. The use of the adjective 'impossible' highlights how absurd Jane thinks the idea of blessing John is, highlighting how she will never do it.
KindJane shows kindess towards Adele. When Jane believes Rochester is to marry Blanche Ingram, she asks Rochester to look after Adele and ensure she has a good education. Jane truly cares for Adele and wishes the best for her."Adele ought to go to school: I am sure you will perceive the necessity of it."This request is unusual, as Jane is asking her master, Rochester, to think about Adele's future. In the Victorian era, women and particularly governesses would not comment on their master's decisions. The fact that Jane does highlights how she cares about Adele and is willing to request something from her master.
SelflessDespite Jane's feelings for Rochester and her chance of true happiness, she is prepared to sacrifice it in order to follow her principles.The house cleared, I shut myself in, fastened the bolt that none might intrude, and proceeded - not to weep, not to mourn, I was yet too calm for that, but - mechanically to take off the wedding dress and replace it by the stuff gown I had worn yesterday, as I thought, for the last time.Jane is quite calm and reflective when Rochester's marriage to Bertha is revealed and her happiness has unravelled. Brontë describes Jane shutting herself in - this is a metaphor and illustrates how she is willingly shutting her emotions down, as she is afraid of getting hurt. The use of the word 'mechanically' illustrates this point further, as Jane has become a machine, devoid of any emotions.

Analysing the evidence

To be privileged to put my arms round what I value - to press my lips to what I love - to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice.Jane, reunited with Rochester

In this quotation, Jane has found Rochester again at his new home. Looking at the evidence below, what does this quotation suggest about Jane's personality?

'To be privileged to put my arms round what I value - to press my lips to what I love - to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice.'

  • This quotation illustrates how much Jane loves Rochester - she emphasises her love for him and reassures him that he is the key to her happiness.
  • Jane is openly declaring her love for Rochester. As a Victorian woman, this would have been unheard of, as women tended not to marry for love, and in these situations, it was expected that men would take charge. Jane's declaration illustrates her confidence and independence.
  • 'privileged' - the use of the verb 'privileged' highlights how Jane feels when she is with Rochester - she believes she is lucky to be with someone she loves dearly.
  • 'I' - the repetition of 'I' highlights how passionate she is when she is talking about her love - it is coming from the heart.
  • 'value, love and trust' - these words have similarities, as they are all elements of true love. The use of these words illustrates how Jane feels about Rochester and how her feelings are pure and true.