The Conquest of External Obstacles through Character Development in Jane Eyre
Thesis: As an unwed governess in the Victorian era, Jane Eyre experiences both psychological growth and socioeconomic advancement as she strives to preserve her identity, attain autonomy, and fulfill her desire for true intimacy in the context of the gender-restrictive Victorian culture.
I. When Jane’s childhood misconceptions about her identity are transformed by external forces that threaten her fledgeling sense of selfhood, she strengthens her resolve and asserts her identity with confidence.
A. While the Reeds reluctantly accommodate young Jane at Gateshead, she misconstrues the concept of love as dependent on servitude and emotional restraint.
1. Two maids scold Jane for attacking John Reed and tell her that she is worth less than a servant, a question that drives the thematic premise of the novel and represents the beginning of Jane’s character arc.
2. Bessie assures Jane that if she exhibits more desirable traits and suppresses her passionate nature, then the Reed family will accept her.
3. Jane can’t unable to overcome this obstacle and achieve her desires until she dismisses the notion that achieving her goals requires complete submission.
B. The Reeds emphasize social status and financial independence as indicative of identity, disparaging Jane’s sense of self-worth and cultivating an aversion to poverty within her.
1. Jane justifies the neglect and abuse she suffers in the Reed household with her father’s lack of socioeconomic standing, and she therefore determines she has no intrinsic value as a person.
2. Jane’s dependency establishes a fear of poverty that she correlates with degradation, so she c...
... middle of paper ...
... Jane believes that God intended for love to be the essential component of marriage.
3. Jane refuses to sacrifice her principles and autonomy for Rochester because he could easily discard her if he were to grow bored and desire a new mistress.
4. Relationships should be built on mutual affection and interdependence, not on Victorian customs that ruin relationships.
B. Jane and Rochester eventually resolve their interpersonal conflicts when they reconnect after both having experienced significant physical and emotional transformations in their time apart.
1. Jane holds a greater affection for Rochester because his physical impairments redirect his focus from male posturing to the cultivation of their emotional connection.
2. Jane’s morals no longer conflict with her love for Rochester because he respects bother her individuality and the principles she advocates.
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