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Jane and Rochester Belong Together
The overriding theme of Jane Eyre is Jane's continual quest for love. Jane searches for love and acceptance throughout the book. The intelligent, honest, plain-featured girl is forced to contend with oppression, inequality, and hardship. Jane's meets with a series of individuals who threaten her autonomy, but she maintains her principles of justice, human dignity, and morality, as well as her values of intellectual and emotional fulfillment. As a governess though, she is subject to economic and gender enslavement. Maturation and self-recognition become evident to the reader as Jane's journey pursues. However, it is not until Jane spends time at Moor House that her maturation is complete. Jane and Rochester, without a doubt, belong together. Jane needs only to discover this for herself. St. John emerges as the crucial character that helps Jane realize her destiny to be with Rochester. When Jane returns to Rochester, she is an independent woman, fully aware of her desire to love, as well as be loved.
From their first meeting in Hay Lane, where Jane "bewitches" Rochester's horse, there is, between Jane and Rochester, an unspoken bond that slowly blossoms into true love and devotion. After what appears to be a brief engagement to the "honorable" Miss Blanche Ingram, whom everyone expects to marry Rochester, he mysteriously calls off the marriage plans and proposes to Jane. In his proposal to Jane, he bares his soul to her, allowing her to look, not into his eyes, but into his soul, where he reveals not the worldly exterior and miseries with which life has saddled him, but the true, pure being beneath. Rochester believes Jane to be his best earthly companion and the only woman who is his equal. Rochester's declaration of love and marriage proposal makes Jane exceedingly happy. Their relationship is alive with passion and the fiery union of two tormented souls imprisoned by Fate and the morals of their time. However, Jane worries about her financial inferiority.
Jane hates the thought of marrying "above her station", as she does not want to feel that she somehow "owes" Rochester something. Her feelings and desires for Rochester are tightly bound with her feelings about her social position as well as her position as a woman. Jane tries to swallow her insecurities and continue with the plan to marry, but on their wedding day, Jane discovers Rochester is already married to a mad woman.
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St. John is a crucial figure, providing Jane with a powerful and dangerous alternate to Rochester. Whereas Rochester is passionate and impetuous, St. John is cold, harsh, and ambitious. As a potential husband to Jane, St. John offers a foil to the character or Rochester. Jane often describes Rochester's eyes as flashing and flaming, whereas she constantly associates St. John with rock, ice, and snow. St. John is a dangerous and threatening influence on Jane because his forceful personality compels her to obedience against her own internal feelings. Jane refuses to marry St. John because she does not love him. In declining St. John's proposal, Jane escapes a threat to her freedom and her sense of self.
Jane remains true to herself only with great difficulty and with the help of the preternatural experience of hearing Rochester call out her name. Jane's stay at the Moor House helps her realize something of key importance. Part of the reason she fled Thornfield is that she feared becoming a slave to her passion and sacrificing her principles. By coming so close to marrying St. John, she demonstrates her ability to do the opposite: to sacrifice passion altogether and devote herself wholly to principle. Now Jane knows that returning to Rochester would not signify a weakness on her part. Moreover, she now appreciates more than ever what Rochester has to offer her. Having found herself on the threshold of a loveless marriage, she understands fully the importance of following not only her mind, but also her heart. At this point, Jane has come to know her own strength, learned that she is no longer alone in the world, has come into her own inheritance, and has received a competing marriage proposal. These experiences prepare the ground for Jane to return to Rochester, and Jane can now enter into marriage without feeling herself beholden to her husband.
Jane returns to Thornfield to find it in burnt ruins. At Ferndean, she reunites with Rochester who has lost almost complete eyesight along with his left hand. No longer under the burden of Rochester's wife, Bertha, Jane and Rochester are engaged for a second time. Jane now finds herself Rochester's equal, not because of the decline he has suffered but because of the autonomy the she has achieved by coming to know herself more fully. In Rochester, Jane has found someone she truly cares for and someone who gives her a true sense of belonging, something she has always lacked. Jane comes to the realization that part of being true to whom she is means being true to her emotions and passions. Jane writes:
"No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together."
Part of what makes Jane herself is manifested in her relationships with others and in the giving of herself to other human beings. By entering marriage, Jane does indeed enter into a "bond, but in many ways this "bond" is also the "escape" that Jane has sought all along. Jane Eyre truly symbolizes that a women who refuses to bend to class and gender prejudices, or to accept domination or oppression, might still find kindred hearts and a sense of spiritual community. Brontë seems to suggest a way in which a woman's quest for love and a feeling of belonging need not restrict her intellectual, spiritual, and emotional independence. Brontë also suggests that it be only after coming to know oneself and one's own strength that one can enter wholly into a well rounded and loving relationship with another. There is no question that the personalities of Jane and Rochester complement each other and that they belong together.