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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre, a conscientious young governess, tells her master, Mr. Rochester, that she dislikes speaking nonsense. Mr. Rochester tells her quite frankly, "If you did, it would be in such a grave, quiet manner, I should mistake it for sense...I see you laugh rarely; but you can laugh very merrily: believe me, you are not naturally austere" (141). In this way is the inner struggle between feelings and judgment recognized and revealed. In Charlotte Brontë's novel, Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, St. John Rivers, and Jane Eyre all struggle with feelings versus judgment.
Mr. Rochester is irresistibly driven by his feelings. He carries a long history of ignoring sound judgment, including his hasty and unwise marriage to Bertha Mason because he "was dazzled, stimulated...[he] thought [he] loved her"(310), and his ensuing licentious, wandering life in search of pleasure. He has grown so accustomed to burying good sense, that he is able to completely disregard the fact that he still has a living wife with a clear conscience. Swept away by his feelings, he ignores the law, and tries to justify marriage to Jane. His passion often exceeds his control, like when Jane tells him she must leave Thornfield. "‘Jane! Will you hear reason? Because, if you won't, I'll try violence'" (307), he tells Jane desperately. Mr. Rochester deludes himself into the belief that he listens to sound judgment, but in reality, what he calls reason is simply folly born from his uncontrolled passions.
St. John Rivers buries his feelings and gives complete preference to judgment. Jane notes his strict self-discipline the first time she sees him with the beautiful Miss Oliver: "His chest heaved once, as if his large heart, weary of despotic constriction, had expanded, despi...

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...o a harmonious blend by Jane's complete happiness. She describes this harmony in marriage: "I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest--blest beyond what language can express...All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me...perfect concord is the result"(459).
Mr. Rochester, St. John Rivers, and Jane Eyre are all marked by their internal struggle between succumbing to feelings and relying on sound judgment. Each character approaches the issue differently, as Mr. Rochester follows his feelings, St. John acts only on judgment, and Jane tries to find a healthy and harmonious blend. In this way the struggle between feelings and judgment is contrasted and highlighted by each character's differences.

Works Cited

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Signet Classic, 1997. Print.
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