Free research paper sample on Jane Eyre:
Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre, tells the story of Jane’s journey into adulthood. Bronte artfully paints a portrait of a lowly orphan’s rise into life as an independent woman. Many themes throughout the novel make Jane Eyre one of the most captivating, and timeless pieces of literature read today. One such theme is the ongoing battle between conventionality and morality. Many characters in Bronte’s novel often make the mistake of thinking the two are one in the same. Mrs. Reed’s treatment of Jane is a prime example of a character following conventionality in order to meet her perception of morality. From outward appearances, Mrs. Reed seems to be a generous aunt to, Jane, her difficult ward; thus, she meets the standards and expectations of conventionality. In reality, Mrs. Reed’s behavior towards Jane is deplorable and morally unjust. Instead of treating Jane like “one of her own,” Mrs.
Reed acts as though Jane is inferior to her precious children. While the Reed children live lives of luxury and privilege, Jane is treated more like a servant. She must clean the nursery and perform other menial tasks, and she often remains separated from the children. To Mrs. Reed, Jane is merely a difficult thorn left by her husband. On his deathbed, Jane’s uncle Reed had implored his wife to raise and maintain Jane as her own child. Mrs. Reed follows the letter, if not the spirit, of his request. Although she provides Jane with physical necessities she deprives her of affection and emotional security. During the episode with the “Red Room,” Jane finally rebels against years of torment and bullying at the hands of her aunt and cousins. Mrs. Reed seizes this opportunity as an excuse to send Jane to a charity school. For the paltry sum of fifteen pounds a year, Jane is fed, clothed, and educated while Mrs. Reed is relived of her duty. One of Jane Eyre’s most perplexing plot twists is Rochester’s difficult dilemma of coping with his marriage to an insane woman. Rochester tries to meet societal conventions by staying married to Bertha Mason. However, he also follows his sense of morality by making sure his sick wife receives optimum care. Although Rochester fully intends to follow morals in regard to his wife, he gradually becomes more and more selfish. Rochester impetuously copes with his hopeless marriage by locking his wife away out of the world’s sight and participating in numerous extramarital affairs. He finally steps over both lines of conventionality and morality when he makes the conscious decision to hide his wife from Jane. From the very beginning of his relationship with Jane, Rochester goes to great lengths to hide Bertha’s identity. Beginning with the cover-up of the bedroom fire and culminating with his willingness to allow her to unknowingly enter a bigamous marriage, Rochester takes from Jane the important right of choice. Because of her unawareness of Rochester’s marital situation, Jane was unable to make an informed decision. Rochester’s prolonged duplicity was not only morally wrong, but was a violation of all societal conventions in regard to marriage. However, although she understands that Rochester’s deceptions were unjust, Jane ultimately realizes his imprudent decisions were based out of his weakened state of love for her. Bronte presents another moral dilemma to Jane in the form of St. John Rivers. St. John plays three important roles in Jane’s life. First, he acts as a good Samaritan of sorts when he rescues Jane from the streets. Then, upon learning of their blood relationship, he acts as a cousin or brother figure. Finally, and most importantly, he acts as a suitor to Jane. St. John is a pious and deeply religious man. He believes his life is meant to be lived only to serve God’s will with a strict morale code. He proposes marriage to Jane not because he loves her, but because he feels she would make a suitable missionary wife. In Chapter thirty-four, St. John pleads with Jane, “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s wife.
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