Equality In Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is considered the perfect example of the female heroine in Victorian Literature. Jane’s strength and independence are what make her so admirable amongst other female characters, but she does rely on others at times to facilitate her growth. Jane becomes more independent throughout the novel with positive consequences though she never becomes completely self-sufficient. Jane is able to accomplish this independence mostly through her relationship with Rochester and the help of a few other characters Jane becomes close with, such as Bertha and Helen.

Jane’s relationship with Rochester allows her to achieve a sense of equality in their marriage though Jane is unable to remain equal in the end when Rochester becomes blind. She is able to achieve an elevated status in their relationship by being the one who hears Rochester’s story and it is Jane who travels up to Thornfield to be with Rochester.

Jane’s need for equality in her marriage works because Jane, unlike many heroines of Victorian literature, does not have a humbling experience that brings her down to earth. Jane remains strong and independent throughout the novel and Jane’s strength helps her achieve equality; it is Jane’s commitment to Rochester that allows Jane to maintain equality with Rochester.

Jane Eyre is an autonomous woman that stands up for herself and her principles. Jane did not marry Rochester just because he was rich or powerful— she married him because she knew they were equal partners in marriage. Jane makes it clear to Rochester throughout the novel that their relationship is based on equality of spirit, intellect, and morality.

Jane’s character allows for this equality in which Jane does not feel the need to express unfaltering love for Rochester at all times; instead Jane often expresses anger towards Rochester when he breaks his promises (such as when Jane believes Rochester has betrayed her trust by proposing to Blanche while engaged to Jane). Jane’s independence serves as the foundation upon which Jane establishes equality with Rochester.

Jane tells us that she “never had any other governess” and that she lost her parents “when [she] was little more than a child” Jane is forced to grow up quickly because she must care for herself. Jane takes on the responsibility of being both a mother and father figure to herself, which Jane addresses when Rochester asks Jane if she will give him an heir, Jane tells him: “I am ignorant, sir; but I suppose there is no objection to your marrying again. ” Rochester then responds: “You puzzle me inexpressibly. Is it possible you don’t feel sure of me? ”

Jane Eyre’s independence allows Jane to be secure in her relationship with Rochester because Jane does not promise Rochester eternal love. Jane knows that Rochester loves Jane for Jane’s mind and Jane will not remain with Rochester if she does not want to be there, Jane tells the Rivers family when they ask Jane why she has kept her engagement with Rochester: ” Mr. Rochester was willing to make me his wife -– I, less willing to be made his wife…I am resolved never to give either my heart or my hand without the deep conviction that it is the one thing needful. Jane demonstrates independence when she refuses to marry St John because he is poor. Jane insists on equality of spirit which means Jane cannot emotionally commit herself fully to someone who lacks intelligence or insight into human nature.

This causes Jane troubles in her relationship with Rochester because Jane repeatedly tells Rochester she is not worthy of him, Jane’s self-deprecation demonstrates equality in marriage where Jane does not expect to be treated with veneration. Jane says to Rochester: You think too highly of me. ” Rochester responds: ” To love you as I do, to be justified in acting towards you as I wish to do–as an honourable man who appreciates the sacredness of vows, must justify himself before God and man, then–all difficulty ought not to exist…Why did you give such ready consent? ” Rochester insists Jane is equal when he asks Jane if she is willing to remain Jane Eyre because Jane has connected herself over time with Rochester; Jane is no longer Jane Eyre, Jane is Rochester’s wife.

Jane tells Rochester: ” I have sometimes thought that in the degree in which you suffer, are you noble…I would not now bring a blush to your cheek; but if I loved you less I might…you consent, Jane? Yes or No? ” Rochester reassures Jane that Rochester intends on treating Jane as an equal by phrasing his question of Jane marriage as an “if” statement rather than a “when. ” Jane does not respond with her usual certainty and responds instead with hesitation because Jane is concerned about losing herself within their relationship.

Here we see equality in which Jane expects it will be difficult for them to maintain equal footing while married. Yet Jane is willing to marry Rochester anyway. Jane tells Rochester: ” To become your Jane Eyre, you required that I should be your equal first, as well as your lover…Will Jane the beloved and Jane the wife be less devoted than Jane the girl? ” Despite Jane’s misgivings, Jane chooses to marry Rochester because she understands equality means she has a right to refuse him if she does not love him or he will treat her poorly.

Jane must know that marriage with Rochester allows her self-determination and independence of spirit or else there is no benefit for Jane in becoming Mrs. Edward Rochester. Jane demonstrates equality when she tells St. John: Jane Eyre establishes equality with Rochester through demonstrating independence and by clearly communicating Jane’s love for Rochester to Jane’s aunt makes Jane’s equality clear. Jane does not prostrate herself at Rochester’s feet and he knows Jane will not stay with him if Jane is not happy in their marriage.

Jane insists on equality rather than promise eternal affection because Jane understands that her pain over leaving Rochester may be equal to the happiness she feels in being with him. Jane Eyre is an example of equality in the 19th century became it went against the romantic conventions of the period toward women which held that men would allow themselves to be henpecked by their wives, expected unconditional obedience from women, expected women would constantly defer to male wisdom, etc.

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