Jane Eyre Essay: Following the Moral Compass in Jane Eyre
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Following the Moral Compass in Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the perfect novel about maturing: a child who is treated cruelly holds herself together and learns to steer her life forward with a driving conscience that keeps her life within personally felt moral bounds. I found Jane as a child to be quite adult-like: she battles it out conversationally with Mrs. Reed on an adult level right from the beginning of the book. The hardship in her childhood makes her extreme need for moral correctness believable. For instance, knowing her righteous stubborness as a child, we can believe that she would later leave Rochester altogether rather than living a life of love and luxury simply by overlooking a legal technicality concerning his previous marriage to a mad woman. Her childhood and her adult life are harmonious which gives the reader the sense of a complete and believable character.
Actually, well into this book I was afraid it was going to be another one of those English countryside, woman-gets-married novels. I was reminded of a friend's comment a few years back to "avoid the Brontes like the plague." But of course there is a little more than courting going on here. For example, if you compare Jane with one of Jane Austen's young women coming into society, you have a bit more adventure, roughness, and connection to nature. I don't think a Jane Austen character would wander around the forest, sleeping without cover in the wilds of the night to prove a moral point. Jane Eyre can get dirt under her fingernails--that's the difference. You also get more emotion in Jane Eyre, you feel with her, deep hate (for Mrs. Reed), religious conviction (with ...
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...somewhat cryptic language. He simply had his mind elsewhere, which is probably why he ended up in India.
In fact, I am glad the book ended with the focus on the character of St. John instead of with Jane or Rochester, as it hints to us that the importance of the book is not about finding the right person, falling in love, and living happily ever after. The theme of this book is about following your conscience. In this regard, Jane and St. John both did the same thing in this story: They both had strong, driving consciences; they both were tempted but pursued their course; and they both found a satisfying life in the end. This book is not about developing a relationship with a romantic partner, but about developing a relationship and learning to follow and live in tune with your own moral conscience.