Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre chronicles the growth of her titular character from girlhood to maturity, focusing on her journey from dependence on negative authority figures to both monetary and psychological independence, from confusion to a clear understanding of self, and from inequality to equality with those to whom she was formerly subject. Originally dependent on her Aunt Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and Mr. Rochester, she gains independence through her inheritance and teaching positions. Over the course of the novel, she awakens towards self-understanding, resulting in contentment and eventual happiness. She also achieves equality with the important masculine figures in her life, such as St. John Rivers and Mr. Rochester, gaining self-fulfillment as an independent, fully developed equal.
Through the course of the novel, Jane Eyre is dependent on first her Aunt Reed, then Mr. Brocklehurst, and, subsequently, Mr. Rochester. As John Reed, her cousin, taunts her, she is “a dependent… [has] no money’” (Bronte 4), highlighting the complete control her Aunt Reed has of her life at this point. Her Aunt Reed chooses to send her to the frightful Lowood School and leads her Uncle John Eyre to believe her “’dead of typhus fever at Lowood.”’ (Bronte 217) While at Lowood, she is dependent on the dreadful Mr. Brocklehurst, a “personification of the Victorian superego,” (Gilbert and Gubar 343) who is the “absolute ruler of this little world.” (Rich 466) He uses “religion, charity, and morality to keep the poor in their place,” (Rich 466) rendering the students psychologically dependent on him. Finally, as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Jane Eyre is dependent on Mr. Rochester as his employee, required to acquiesce to his whims and to ask his...

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