Among other themes, religion also comes up top as a major influencing factor that goes on to shape the protagonist in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ and the lessons learned to stay with her for the rest of her life – often serving as a curb to her immoderations and moral excesses.
Jane Eyre Themes
Spirituality makes a major part of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ – and goes on to have a massive influence on several of the book’s characters, especially on Jane, the protagonist. Because the book’s time setting is centered around Victorian English society, from the early 1800s, Christianity became the prevalent religion that gets the most influence on the people.
Jane certainly has a few people in her life – like Helen and St. John Rivers- that help sharpen her spirituality and build a moral life. Although, like these characters whose views are extreme, she finds a middle ground that works well with her personality.
Independence and Self Love
Charlotte Brontë succeeded in building Jane into a strong, independent woman who develops a sort of iron-clad mentality on her selfhood and integrity. She discovers the kind of woman she wants to be from early on, and It’s not life and actions are dictated by men or society. She works towards this goal without compromises, even though she has no close family, home, or social security to make the decision easier.
Social class is another such theme dealt with heavily by Charlotte Brontë in her book, ‘Jane Eyre,’ and readers get to see this being called into action throughout the book. As is normal with the class system, the people at the low end of the class tend to suffer the most, and Jane finds herself in this position – having lost her parents at a tender age and left to stay with her mean aunt who, despite her affluent status, is unable to lift Jane the social ladder instead causes more troubles for her by horribly treating her.
Key Moments in Jane Eyre
- At Gateshead, ten years old, Jane endures the most horrible treatment living with Mrs. Reed, a wealthy but cruel widow and mother of three, and also Jane’s aunt.
- Aside from putting up with her mean aunt, Jane also has to manage her mean cousins – especially John Reed, who often bullies her at the slightest chance.
- Jane soon gets into trouble with Mrs. Reed for challenging John and is put into a chamber called the ‘red room,’ the same place where Mrs. Reed’s husband and Jane’s uncle had spent his final hours.
- Jane is traumatized by a possible ghostly presence and reacts to it by crying and fainting.
- After her release, she is tended to by two persons, Bessie – a servant who is the only one in the house that feeds and truly cares for her; and Mr. Lloyd, a pharmacist who has come to treat her.
- After examining Jane and feeling pity for her, Mr. Lloyd advises Mrs. Reed that allowing Jane to go to a distant school may be the only way to get rid of her troubles.
- Jane is sent to a highly disciplinary Lowood School where she meets some nice people, but also deplorable ones. One of the latter is her headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, who is later fired for his hypocrisy, extravagance, and poor management skill.
- At Lowood, Jane also meets the kind and virtuous Helen Burn – who sadly dies prematurely, and a caring mother figure-like Miss Temple – who replaces Mr. Brocklehurst.
- Jane stays at Lowood for eight years and leaves afterward – seeking new experiences from the outer world. She finds a job as a home tutor at Thornfield, where she attends to the young and vibrant Adéle, an illegitimate stepdaughter of the shrewd and aggressive Mr. Rochester, Jane’s boss and owner of the Thornfield mansion.
- Shortly after, Jane begins falling for her boss, and one time saves him from a fire set by Mr. Rochester’s mentally sick wife, Bertha Mason, although Jane doesn’t know about this as housekeeper Grace Poole takes the blame instead.
- Mr. Rochester, who secretly now has feelings for Jane, intends to make her jealous and brings home Blanche Ingram, a beautiful woman, as his mistress. Jane is devastated by this and doesn’t say anything.
- Suddenly and unexpectedly, Mr. Rochester proposes to Jane. Astonished and dumbfounded, Jane accepts, but the wedding is not about to stand Richard Mason, Mr. Rochester’s in-law, flies into town with a lawyer to disrupt the marriage.
- Jane learns that Mr. Rochester has a living wife after he takes them to the attic where she’s kept. This is too much for Jane to handle, so she leaves Thornfield.
- Depressed and without any clear destination, Jane wanders the street for three days – sleeping outside and begging for bread.
- On the third day, and to Jane’s luck, a clergyman, St. John Rivers, and his two sisters find Jane around their residence, the Moor House, and bring her in. He helps Jane secure a teaching job in Morton and helps Jane claim an inheritance of 20,000 pounds left by her John Eyre, which Jane knows nothing about.
- St. John also tells Jane that John Eyre was also their uncle – this makes Jane and the Rivers siblings cousins.
- St. John plans a missionary trip to India and asks Jane to marry and accompany him. Jane wants to travel but doesn’t love him enough to marry him. She continues to ponder about it until one, and in what feels like a dream, Mr. Rochester calls out to her to come home to him.
- She leaves for Thornfield the next morning only to find the house is burnt to ashes by Bertha – who died in the fire, leaving Mr. Rochester with an arm and blind after he managed to rescue the servants.
- Jane locates Mr. Rochester at his new home in Ferndean and marries him.
- After one decade of marriage, the couple stays very happy with their children. Jane shares that her husband regained half of his sight early enough to see his first son being born.
Style and Tone
In ‘Jane Eyre,’ Charlotte Brontë utilizes a descriptive first-person perspective – allowing her protagonist, Jane, to share her deeply touching story with her readers for a chance to fully understand her plight and the pains she passed through on her way to becoming an independent, well-respected wife and society woman.
Charlotte’s tone for ‘Jane Eyre’ is warm and welcoming, thanks to the personality of the book’s protagonist. However, the book is by designation a gothic romance and so is characteristically imbued with plot mysteriousness, occasional dread, and horror.
Charlotte Brontë brings to play a wide range of figurative languages in her masterwork, ‘Jane Eyre,’ and except for a good few, quotes therein are typically stretchered using sentence joiners like commas, semicolons et cetera. For the figurative language, readers should expect to find a bulk of metaphors, similes, and personification being used throughout the pages of the book.
Analysis of Symbols in Jane Eyre
Fire is portrayed on several occasions in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ and outside of its literal meaning, concerning Jane, it’s a clear motif for her drive, delicateness, and passion towards achieving her goals.
Ice and Chills
These hold a motif of loneliness, personal pains, and suffering Jane faces at different points in her life – from Gateshead, under her cruel aunt and her children – to Lowood school, then to sleeping three days in the streets. Ice and chills are a representation of the harsh conditions Jane faces throughout the book.
Restrictive, repressive, and scary, the red room symbolizes how society represses Jane’s shine and ability to become an independent, self-sustaining woman of her time, seeing as that is nearly impossible for any woman to achieve in such a society.
What is a frontal theme in ‘Jane Eyre’?
Search for one’s voice, freedom and independence prove a prevalent theme in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ however, there are also the themes of love, religion and spirituality, and social class.
What does the red room signify in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’?
One important sign of the red room is its restrictive and scary nature, and this is similar to the limitations and challenges Jane would later face in the outer society.
In Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre,’ how does Jane become the woman she always wanted to be?
Jane becomes the best version of herself because she sets a goal for herself, follows through on it, and in the end, becomes an independent woman with her voice and obtains respect and equality for her gender.