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Perspectives of Marriage in Jane Eyre
Many novels speak of love and indulging in passion, but few speak of the dynamics that actually make a marriage work. Jane Eyre is one of these novels. It doesn't display the fleeing passions of a Romeo and Juliet. This is due entirely to Bronte's views on marriage and love. The first exception to the traditional couple the reader is shown is Rochester's marriage to Bertha. This example shows the consequences of indulging in passion. The opposite side is shown through another unlikely would-be couple, Rosamund and St. John. Through this pair, Bronte reveals the consequences of indulging in duty. Another view of marriage is also present in the book, through the character Jane Eyre and her actions.
The first example of Bronte's view on the role of passion is in Rochester's marriage to Bertha. This marriage is based entirely on passion. Rochester does nothing to either restrain or question his passion. Because of his impulsive passion, he entraps himself in an unfufilling marriage. He thought nothing of his duty and his consequence of this was he becomes the pride owner of a marriage based entirely on duty. Through Rochester's choices and consequences of those choices, the reader can see that Bronte asserts that marriage decisions based on passion and ignoring the role of duty will bring more than the loss of passion, it will bring an abundance of what you failed to factor into the decision, duty. People have to take care of responsibilities if they want to have fun and happiness later.
In case the reader failed to recognize the opportunity the Rochester marriage gives her to see Bronte's views, she puts in the book the could-be St. John marriage. St. John decides not to marry Rosamund Oliver based on his passion for her. He completely shuns his passion, the opposite extreme of Rochester. In doing this and basing his marriage decision on his duty to God, he looses a genuine chance to gain true happiness. Through this example in Jane Eyre, Bronte is trying to show the reader that the opposite end of the spectrum is also wrong in making a marriage decision.
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Bronte is not the only one that has a clear-cut view on passion. Jane has much of the same views as Bronte on the subject. The major difference is that Jane does not think that trying to balance duty with passion is the right thing to do. Instead, she thinks that a person should take care of their duties to a person before they are married but the final decision should be based entirely on passion. This is apparent in the way she comes about her marriage decisions with Rochester. She initially turns down a marriage with Rochester because she knows she needs to take care of her duties. She goes out and proves to herself and later to others, that she does not need Rochester and can survive physically without him. Jane goes out to prove that Rochester has no duty to her. Because she has cleared her conscience of any fear of a marriage based on duty, she decides to marry Rochester. She does this for the sole reason that she can now indulge entirely in her passion with no recourse.
Bronte makes her opinion of marriage known through her characters. Taking into consideration Jane's views, Rochester's mistake in forsaking duty, and St. John's indulgence in it, an overall view of marriage is presented. The main theme pertaining to marriage in Jane Eyre is base marriage on neither duty nor passion exclusively. Instead, marriage should be taken on after each person takes care of duties, allowing them to become a smarter Romeo or Juliet.