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Jane Eyre - How has the character changed throughout the novel?

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Introduction

Jane Eyre Essay How has the character changed throughout the novel? The character of Jane Eyre evolves and changes even as an actual woman would throughout the course of her life. Jane Eyre becomes self-sufficient; firstly as a governess, and then as the headmistress of her school and lastly as a wealthy woman by her inheritance. She has also formed her own values, and gained her own set of morals, by learning from the people she met and the adversities she endured. Lastly, she has matured, and become content with herself and her position, become what she views as an equal to Mr. Rochester. Jane Eyre grows more self-sufficient as the book progresses. She needs to do this, as it is a part of her becoming an adult, and because her own self-sufficiency is something she feels she needs to achieve before she gains self-assurance, and a clear sense of her own worth. At first, in the novel, she is obviously completely reliant on others, as a child. She thinks "Speak I must: I had been trodden on severely, and must turn: but how? What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist?". These thoughts were just before Jane Eyre's outburst to her aunt about how cruelly she feels she has been treated, and how much she hates her aunt. The words are very reminiscent of the literature of the time; too grand and righteous for a child, but successfully expressing the anger the author feels the child should feel. Jane Eyre, here, obviously thinks that by being put down by her aunt to the headmaster of the school she is to enrol in, she has been wronged more severely than before, and has an ideal opportunity to reply to her aunt with criticisms of her aunt's behaviour. The fact that she does reply is a step forward for her ability to support herself; she has the confidence in herself she needs to defend herself, an important part of her self-sufficiency. ...read more.

Middle

The second main incident is much more significant to the storyline: as Jane discovers that Mr. Rochester is already married, and chooses to leave him. This is a very hard decision, and Jane has obviously matured and grown out of the passionate idealism she had as a child, to decide that she must leave, and Mr. Rochester should settle his affairs himself - "Sir, your wife is living; that is a fact acknowledged this morning by yourself. If I lived with you as you desire - I should then be your mistress. To say otherwise is sophistical - is false." She says clearly to Mr. Rochester, though it pains her. She is very formal, and though the novel states her distress, as is fitting in that time, she attempts to be as proper and unemotional as she can. Jane Eyre has been placed in a position where she has a clear opportunity to do what her society views as right; or what they view as wrong. It takes much strength and character for her to overcome her personal wishes to follow her conscience, and shows her great personal strength. The third and last main stage of Jane's life is when she lives with her cousins as a schoolmistress. In this stage, she is learning to live without Mr. Rochester, having resigned herself to a life without him. There is only one main incident here which she must learn from; her proposal of marriage from St. John Rivers, which she finds quite an unpleasant surprise. St. John Rivers is Jane Eyre's cousin, and she views him as family, after she finds out that he and the sisters Diana and Mary are her cousins. He has expressed previously an intent to go to India as a missionary, and that Jane might accompany him in going there. She does not refuse; in fact, she agrees to be his assistant, and help him, but he wishes her to marry him, in order for him to decently be with a young woman alone, or 'only among savages'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although not the most pleasant way for Jane and Mr. Rochester to become equals, Jane's departure and the experiences she gains are really the best way for them to be balanced partners. Jane's development in becoming, in both her and Mr. Rochester's eyes, an equal to him, has been vitally important to her growth in life. She could not live happily with him without removing the barrier of superiority; even if she had not returned to Mr. Rochester, she would have always been discomforted by her view that she was somehow not as important, or equal to, a noble, or rich person. That view would have encumbered her, and made her less strong and sure of a person. To conclude, Jane Eyre's evolution throughout the novel has been a very necessary part of the story; the way in which she views herself in relation to others, the development of her morals, her personal strength and her self-reliance. It has decided her actions, and is an inherent part of the direction of the storyline. Jane Eyre has become self-sufficient, formed her own values and morals by life's lessons, and matured into her finishing role as the wife of Mr. Rochester. She has grown strong and secure in herself, and it is very unlikely that she will ever lose this. Her knowledge, and her morals and values can never be taken from her; her money, and thus her self-sufficiency and some of her self-reliance may disappear, but she cannot lose her skills as a governess, and thus will always have some means of finding employment and re-establishing self-sufficiency. Her belief in her equality to others cannot be taken from her, because it is an inherent part of her knowledge and values. Overall, she has grown from an impassioned, undisciplined, and hasty child, into a mature, strong, careful woman, secure in her belief in herself. NB: Page numbers for quotations are not mentioned because I wrote this essay using a different edition of the book to the one used in class. ...read more.

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