Jane Eyre, a novel about an English woman’s fights told through the writing of Charlotte Brontë, has filled its audience with thoughts of hope, love, and deception for many years. These thoughts surround people, not just
women, everyday, as if an endless cycle from birth to death. As men and women fall further into this spiral of life they begin to find their true beings along with the qualities of others. This spiral then turns into a web of conflicts as the passenger of life proceeds and often these conflicts are caused by those sought out to be guides through the journey of life but merely are spiders building a magnificent web to catch its prey. In Jane Eyre, Brontë uses the literary elements of plot and character to convey the theme that a person often falls in love with a manipulator because she has little experiences of other forms of love and as a result she has to establish her own integrity.
Brontë uses the character element of opinions to show how some people often form conclusions about others and express them in their thoughts as either cruel or friendly. Since Brontë bases Jane Eyre as story told through a young lady the reader is allowed to experience her thoughts and reactions to those around her who make her very personality. As Jane is in her youth she develops these notions about her own family yelling at her cousin John saying, “You are like a murderer–you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman Emperors.” (p. 8) Not only showing that Jane has the intellectual maturity much greater than that of a normal ten-year-old but also that she finds John cruel and sees him becoming a bad man when he grows up. Due to Mrs. Reed’s lack of discipline John did grow as his cousin perceived causing his own demise and the relief of Jane for her cousin no longer could torment those lesser than himself. “Mr. Rochester continued blind for the first two years of our union: perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near – that knit us so very close: for I was then his vision, as I am still his right hand. Literally, I was the apple of his eye.” (p.578) Jane expresses her grief over Rochester’s injuries but emphasizes her constant love as everything that he has lost. Rochester appears completely opposite from the first time they met; he’s helpless just as Jane was when they first met and it is her influence which provokes him to her. All of Jane’s, along with the other characters, opinions cause changes in positions from being blind to walking for the blind, or from being led to doing the leading.
Brontë uses the character element of appearance to show that corrupting people often influence others by their mere charismatic look. This is shown through the description of Edward Rochester as he first meets Jane and begins his moral capture of Jane. “He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted, just now; he was past youth’ but had not reached middle age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him and but little shyness.” (p.142) These words spoken by Jane clearly show that by a slight glance, without even knowing a person, a conclusion is made; Jane’s decision here is that Rochester is her protection, her scapegoat out of her life of solitude. She also mentions how she doesn’t fear him, allowing the audience to sense his commanding aura as if it were a protective wall giving this young shy lady the ability to comfort herself in this strange new acquaintance. Jane continues by saying, “Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will and offering my services unwillingly.” (p.142) This is an example of the theory that women choose to be with men that they feel will ensure them with protection and strong healthy children. Every woman has her vision of that prince charming that will ride in on his steed and woe her off her feet and give her that magical kiss to free her from all previous burdens that she may have had. Jane seems to take notice to Rochester’s age but in change is intrigued by his masculinity, which she experienced in short at Lowood School with Mr. Brocklehurst. All it took was an accidental meeting between Jane and her employer to begin the cycle of love that would eventually overtake then empower a meek woman inexperienced in the art for which she has been a pawn of.
Brontë uses the stylistic character element of speech to induce a thought that the words of some admirable people often influence others and sometimes can even be heard from them. Through the mentoring of Rochester and St. John does the reader see two different men, both in some way bringing them closer to Jane turning her into what they have both become. “Brontë’s authorial strategy is to balance one kind of temptation with its obverse: if Rochester is all romantic passion, urging her to succumb to emotional excess, St. John Rivers is all Christian ambition, urging her to attempt a spiritual asceticism of which she knows herself incapable.” (Joyce Carol Oates) Oates relates these men to their backgrounds and how they both tempt Jane with their own strategies of moral tactics. Because Jane was raised in a strict boarding school it becomes apparent why she can be attracted to St. John and his Christian-like ways, but her inexperience with love due to Lowood always causes her to be attracted to Rochester. Rochester ask Jane, “am I cruel in my love” (p.365) This question provokes Jane to decide whether she truly knows love or not. A young woman from a boarding school having to resolve her love for this man causes a type of confusion in Jane and she is left with the mere thought that she must love this man. Rochester furthermore entangles Jane when he tells her, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near: there is none to help.”(p.377) Rochester gives her assurance that he is her protection and that she has somewhere to go when trouble rises. This is better for Rochester because he knows that this is the first and only secure place that she has known of and if trouble arises she will come to him for help as her guide and mentor. Men realize that they can input their vibes into young woman and often do this in order to either please their own lustful wants or fulfill their needs.
Brontë uses the plot element of general events to show that as corrupters advance with those easily manipulated they change, not only themselves, but also those they try to manipulate. Jane initially meets Mr. Rochester as a governess to Ad?le, but their conversations lead to mysterious times of revealing each others past so Rochester decided to dress as a fortune-teller. Fortune-tellers are seen as mysterious and able to unlock truths, which apparently Rochester attempts to do; find the truths about Jane’s emotions, especially anything about him. When Rochester reveals his identity Jane realizes the traps she’s fallen in and the entrapment that Rochester causes for his own wants to know about Jane. As Rochester remain handicapped before their marriage he ask Jane if she would marry a, “crippled man, twenty years older than [her], whom [she] will have to wait on.” (p.570) This particular event is Jane’s deciding moment where she picks to stay with the man that she supposedly loves or to go out and adventure like the one she somewhat had love for in St. John. Jane chooses to stay with Rochester and start a beautiful life together as she had always planned to do. As she is married to Rochester Jane sends Ad?le off to school in order to get rid of her French heritage. This is exactly what Jane didn’t want to happen when Blanche Ingram was supposedly going to marry Rochester. The reader can find this her ultimate change from an innocent woman to the one manipulating others in place of her crippled husband. When Jane finally ends as a manipulator the reader sees that corruption can be passed and characters undergo changes due the actions of those around them.
Brontë uses the plot element of a specific event to reveal that some people have dark past which cause them to seem mysterious and sometimes very intriguing, this is seen in the discussion between Jane and Rochester for the fir time in the house. Rochester begins his insightful conversation by telling Mrs. Fairfax that Jane is the reason for his sprained ankle. The reader immediately catches this as distaste for Jane and sees Rochester as a resentful man full of hatred. The men Jane had known in her life were all full of hate; from little John Reed to the schoolmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst. Rochester then brought up her former schoolmaster, asking about conditions at Lowood and what all she had the privilege to learn while attending. Rochester becomes more involved asking these type questions and allows Jane to find her security in him for he is her employer and must know her background if she wishes to teach his Ad?le. The thought of Lowood has significance because of the low, which symbolizes her lowest point of existence and if she is able to just talk about it he will know where it is that haunts her most. They end with comments on Jane’s artwork and how imaginative it is. This partially is due to her over-imaginative youth with books and troubling family. Rochester hit every point of the childhood Jane wanted to forget so that he would know a little about the new lady sleeping in his home. In order for someone to come accustomed to their surroundings they must make peace with their past; Rochester guides Jane into accepting her past.
Brontë uses the plot element of digression to express that individual questioning and talking between two people can provoke one, such as Jane when she gets her fortune told, to express all their feelings and find themselves in the process. Rochester, imposing as a gypsy, begins by asking Jane about now she is feeling and why she’s not nervous. This type of introduction gives Jane a sense of self-determination knowing that she feels fine and controls her own destiny no matter what the fortune-teller may say. This type of confidence is found through self-examination and allows its seekers the will to continue no matter what the outcome may be. Though Jane replied to the fortune-teller as being fine the fortune-teller told her “You are cold, because you are alone; no contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. You are sick, because the best of feelings, the highest and the sweetest given to man, keeps far away from you. You are silly, because, suffer as you may, you will not beckon it to approach, nor will you stir one step to meet it where it waits for you.” (p.248) Rochester notices her fault and clearly points them out to her. Allowing a person to hear their own faults causes them to examine whether or not these accusations are true or not. In Jane’s case Rochester pinned out Jane’s faults and he’s doing his part to help her become more like him instead of being a shy, little, shrewd Quaker. The fortune-teller finally mentions Jane’s love for Rochester, but unknown to Jane the fortune-teller is Edward Fairfax Rochester. Jane hints toward this love but has clearly been manipulated by Rochester into his entanglement of love, which Blanche was thought to be in the center of. The main point of Rochester’s deception is to encourage Jane to except her love and express is to someone other than Rochester and to feel love for the first time if at all possible.
As Brontë’s novel is read over through the generations, the theme that a person can be manipulated into love and often times has to find her own integrity is passed on. By using many different elements of plot and characters she creates a novel forever found to be part of American Literature and English History.