Jane Eyre

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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes
You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us.
Related Characters: John Reed (speaker), Jane Eyre
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has sought refuge from her aunt and cousins in a book, when her cousin John Reed barges in and insults her. Jane was orphaned several years earlier, and now it's only a few months since her uncle - the only member of the Reed family who was kind to her - also died, and the rest of the family feels free to share their scorn and disdain for Jane. Here John belittles Jane's presumption in taking a book to read from among the family collection, for she could not be further from being a member of the family.

Though John's words are cruel, his actions are those of a child, and he seems to be buoyed and his opinions confirmed by those of his mother. Indeed, he repeats his mother's words in calling Jane a "dependent," and in assuming that this is such a negative term. The family's official line underlines several widespread beliefs at this time: that social classes were to be kept separate for a reason, for instance, and that those who are poor or vulnerable are justifiably so, and should remain in that position.


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Chapter 2 Quotes
Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: … the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Red-Room, Portraits and Pictures
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Locked in the red-room after her outburst against John Reed, Jane Eyre looks into the mirror and thinks about the dire straits in which she finds herself, now that her kindly uncle has died and she is a ward of a family that hates her. Here Jane looks at herself as if at a stranger - and, what's more, as if at a ghost. In some ways, this effect of estrangement, or making the familiar strange, underlines how isolated and alone Jane feels. She cannot feel herself a part of this family, but has nowhere else to turn, no one else to love her; and as a child, she must continue to rely on others.

This passage also sets up an interest in the otherworldly that will characterize the rest of the book. Even the most realistic, bodily characters can slip into and out of a feeling of grounded reality - one that can easily feel not so real when the circumstances become strange enough.

Chapter 4 Quotes
Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

During an interview between Jane, Mrs. Reed, and the headmaster of the Lowood school, Mr. Brocklehurst, Mrs. Reed warns Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane is a compulsive liar. Jane, almost in spite of herself, exclaims that Mrs. Reed is the real liar, and a despicable person besides. Up until this point, Jane has largely retained control of her feelings, keeping her despair and unhappiness inside (except, perhaps, for the one time she lashed out at John). Now she does not feel guilty for letting her feelings override her sense of propriety, but rather relieved and exuberant.

The rest of the book will take a more measured tone on the proper balance between feeling and judgment. Indeed, since Jane is a girl in nineteenth-century England, such shows of passion are to be considered shocking if not dangerous.Here, though, Jane is shown to be so repressed and so unhappy that a rude outburst is really her only chance to express herself, to regain some sense of her own person above and beyond the cruel way she's been treated. Her declaration of the truth about Mrs. Reed is the first time that she senses that things may not always remain as they were, and that she might be able to set her own standards for what is right, outside the confines of the Reed family.

Chapter 8 Quotes
I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be most moderate … I told her all the story of my sad childhood. Exhausted by emotion, my language was more subdued than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful of Helen's warnings against the indulgence of resentment, I infused into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood than ordinary. Thus restrained and simplified, it sounded more credible: I felt as I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Maria Temple, Helen Burns
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane, along with Helen Burns, has been invited into Miss Temple's office, where Jane is prompted to share her life story with her friend and their teacher. No one has ever asked her to do such a thing before, and in a way Jane's tentative narrative serves as a rehearsal for the story she is now sharing with us, a far larger audience of readers. But even as she is eager to share what has happened to her already in her short life, she is wary of offending yet another adult, or of "indulging" in resentment. Miss Temple and Helen are among the few people that have shown Jane kindness and the kind of love that usually comes from family, and she is worried that they may not believe her tale, and thus that she'll lose this cherished connection. It is by keeping track of her feelings, and being careful not to lose her temper, that Jane realizes she has the best chance of keeping these two women in her life.

The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her … [Helen] suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple's—a beauty neither of fine color nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Maria Temple, Helen Burns
Related Symbols: Food
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Helen and Ms. Temple have reacted to Jane's story with grace and goodness, and after the shame of Mr. Brocklehurst's visit, Jane begins to recover. Even the tea and cakes given to her by Miss Temple are a sign of generosity until now largely absent in Jane's life. Now, she begins to feel that this particularly female bond is actually giving her the strength to carry on - a strength that has something mystical or spiritual about it, as Jane connects it to a sense of her budding "powers."

Although Jane has long been an admirer of Miss Temple's beauty, she now starts to realize as well that there can be an even more striking beauty that comes from inner, rather than external, attractiveness. Helen is the most devout person she's ever met, and her religion seems to give her a kind of physical as well as spiritual glow. As she further develops her friendship with both Helen and with Miss Temple, Jane learns certain lessons and chooses certain role models that were simply not available to her in the Reed family's home.

Chapter 10 Quotes
I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: "Then," I cried, half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude!"
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has graduated first in her class at school, and has decided to stay on in order to become a teacher herself. Soon, though, Miss Temple leaves for a distant land. For a long time, Jane has felt somewhat restless, trapped in an oppressive school because she is without family, poor, and female, and thus opportunities to support herself are scarce. Until now, Jane has not rebelled against these strictures: instead, she has chosen to work within them, carving out a place for herself that is tolerable mainly because of her adoration of Miss Temple. With her mentor gone, though, suddenly Jane sees no reason to continue at the school.

However, even in the midst of "gasping" for freedom, Jane is both realistic and humble enough to recognize that she cannot yearn for an entirely different lifestyle. She does pray to God, but little by little adapts her prayer so as to fit her circumstances. As she does so, nonetheless, she recognizes that because of her social position, and because of her current circumstances, there are few things she could do that would actually give her greater liberty. Finally, she accepts that she may continue to feel oppressed wherever she may goes - but she insists that even that would be preferable to staying in the same place, where she knows all too well the exact outlines of her "servitude."

Chapter 11 Quotes
While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a curious laugh; distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped: the sound ceased, only for an instant; it began again, louder: for at first, though distinct, it was very low. It passed off in a clamorous peal that seemed to wake an echo in every lonely chamber; though it originated but in one, and I could have pointed out the door whence the accents issued.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Bertha Mason
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane is attempting to settle into her new life at Thornfield, but as Mrs. Fairfax finishes up her tour, Jane hears something entirely unexpected in such a quiet, gloomy house: laughter. Here the supernatural quality of the scene is, paradoxically, described in careful, measured detail. Jane attempts to determine the exact qualities of the laugh, the exact properties of its pitch and location. Indeed, she is soon able to fix her judgment on the exact spot from which the sound is coming.

For now, Brontë keeps the reader, as well as Jane, in the dark regarding this mysterious element of Thornfield. Rather than showing the laugh to be a figment of Jane's imagination, this passage stresses her careful capacity of judgment, underlining the book's understanding of the supernatural and the real as not opposites but as mutually productive.

Chapter 12 Quotes
I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line—that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen—that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Jane has found things to enjoy about her new life in Thornfield, and in her occupation as Adèle's tutor, she has not entirely shaken off the restlessness that encouraged her to leave her former school in the first place. Here, as Jane climbs to the highest point in the mansion, her physical steps mimic her more emotional desire to float up and away from the day-to-day duties and humdrum life to which she is condemned, largely because of her social class and gender, of course.

Jane is portrayed as eager, curious, and fascinated about the wide world around her. She is clear-headed in that she recognizes how little she knows about this world, despite feeling naturally attracted to it. Indeed, Jane is deeply frustrated by the disconnect between her desire to see more and learn more, and her understanding that such knowledge lies beyond her grasp. As her eyes survey the vast landscape before her, this vision serves as her only and partial means of truly experiencing something beyond her small reality.

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do … It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

As Jane continues to muse on the subject of her own position in society, she broadens her perspective to consider the lot of oppressed and marginalized groups in general. Jane recognizes that many other people are in worse situations than herself, but for her this fact only underlines the unfairness and despair to which an entire segment of the population is subjected. Indeed, Jane makes an analogy between those who are oppressed and rebel through political revolution, and those who struggle in more individual ways, through family and community structures that are smaller than those of a nation.

Jane also points to a paradox about the way that women's roles are defined at the time. In some ways, they are considered weak and fragile, and therefore unable to support themselves or to take on the same kinds of responsibilities or to show the same kind of independence as men. They would let their feelings overwhelm them, the argument goes. Yet at the same time, women are expected to curb outbursts of feeling - something they can only do if they use their full capacities of rational judgment. This paradox is one that Jane increasingly seeks to condemn, and that Bronte more broadly points out in this very prescient passage.

Chapter 14 Quotes
I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Over the course of the first long conversation between Jane and Rochester, Jane's feelings towards the man quickly become complicated. On the one hand, she does feel a real connection to him, and admires the fact that he is largely willing to chat with her as an equal. Here, though, Jane uses the opportunity that Rochester has given to her to stress that, for her, equality is not just something that can be parceled out here and there, as a sign of good will. If Rochester really wants to treat Jane as an equal, he will have to hear what she has to say on the subject of anything that comes up - including, here, gender relations themselves.

Jane dismisses typical assumptions made about the reasons why men should be considered superior to women. Of course Rochester has seen more of the world than she has, Jane says - she would never, as a woman, be permitted to travel around the world by herself, and even if she could, her financial circumstances would prevent her. Independence, for Jane, is thus not necessarily only a personal character attribute: it is also a function of luck and circumstance, and it has little bearing on true moral equality.

Chapter 17 Quotes
"He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him … I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered:—and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him."
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has been relegated to a corner of the room at the party, where she can observe all that is going on between Rochester and his guests. Jane feels alienated from the wealthy, privileged women at the event. But as she observes Rochester with them, she realizes that she does in fact feel a profound kinship with Rochester, so profound that she believes he belongs with her far more than with people of his own class and social strata.

Jane's affinity with Rochester is not one of rational, detached judgment, in which similarities and differences, appropriate distinctions and parallels, might be carefully considered. Instead it is something she feels emotionally. At the same time, Jane herself is careful to study and identify this blossoming feeling of love for Rochester; she doesn't get carried away by her feelings but rather respects their reality as she tries to figure out what it is that she feels, and what must be the result.

Chapter 18 Quotes
I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester, Blanche Ingram
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

As a member of the servants, Jane is considered largely invisible by many of the guests to Thornfield, including Blanche Ingram, which gives her the opportunity to observe the woman and Rochester from a distance. Jane isn't certain why Rochester is going to marry Blanche. The reasons she imagines are vague and uncertain: this is too distant a reality for Jane for her be able to understand the motivations driving the upper classes. What she does know, however - and what surely is the one known factor that she can take solace in, now that she herself is in love with Rochester - is that he does not truly love Blanche, nor will he ever. Here Jane resigns herself to losing Rochester based on the social norms of upper-class marriage, but she does not resign herself to failing to win his heart.

Chapter 20 Quotes
What crime was this that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner?—what mystery, that broke out now in fire and now in blood, at the deadest hours of night? What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman's face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Bertha Mason
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has accompanied Rochester to Grace Poole's upper-floor room, where they have found Mr. Mason bleeding and writhing. While Rochester goes to fetch a doctor, Jane is left alone with Mr. Mason and with her own thoughts. This chapter had begun with a frightening scream that had echoed through the mansion, and Jane now wildly begins to wonder what might be the source of such a cry.

In a series of questions, posed far more out of anxiety and fear than out of a scientific desire to get to the bottom of the mystery, Jane becomes progressively more eloquent and descriptive, even if morbidly so. She calls the source of the scream a "mystery," "creature," and "voice," thus underlining how she has only the vaguest sense of what has taken place. The book leaves us, too, in suspense: will the novel now turn even more to the assumptions of Gothic fiction, and embrace the supernatural, or will it remain within the realm of realistic prose?

Chapter 22 Quotes
I am strangely glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is my home—my only home.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane is on her way back to Thornfield after remaining at her aunt's deathbed, and she happens to cross paths with Rochester, who has bought a carriage, presumably for himself and Blanche. However, Jane is relieved to be leaving the still-oppressive walls of her childhood home with the Reeds, and she admits to Rochester that she is happy to return to Thornfield. Jane's statement would have been considered quite frank, even perhaps a little shocking, to readers at the time. To permit herself to share her own opinions, especially ones of a vulnerable nature, Jane pushes aside the notions of gender and social roles that require a female servant to remain meek and quiet, not speaking unless spoken to. For Jane, though, the realization that Thornfield has, strangely, become a kind of home for her is so remarkable that she feels the need to share that development with someone she cares about.

Chapter 23 Quotes
I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
Related Characters: Edward Fairfax Rochester (speaker), Jane Eyre
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

Rochester has told Jane that he is to marry Blanche, and that he has found a governess job for her in Ireland. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Rochester's motivations in telling this to Jane are different. He seems to be attempting to determine what her feelings for him are, before he shares his own. If Jane doesn't share them, he has a ready-made solution and can send her away - thus ensuring that his social superiority over her escapes unscathed. Here, though, Rochester does make tentative steps towards suggesting that he loves Jane.

Though not exactly eloquently, he tries to do justice to the feeling he has around Jane, a feeling that proves to be almost too difficult for words. In general, this sentiment is one of profound unity between two people: Rochester feels such so closely tied to Jane that it is as if a truly physical bond united them. The book accepts that such unity can exist, and indeed describes it in terms of spiritual communion, which gives Rochester and Jane a religious analogy for the love they feel for each other.

Chapter 24 Quotes
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

At first, Jane is thrilled by the prospect of marrying Rochester, with whom she is so in love. But little by little, the gaps between their social stations and their assumptions about proper gender roles begin to grow clearer. Here, another problem arises: the fact that Jane so adores Rochester that he begins to take on the nature of an idol, someone to be worshipped instead of God.

As narrator, Jane is looking back on her earlier self, and in passages like this, narrator-Jane shows a disapproval and even regret towards character-Jane. According to her Christian beliefs, only God can be worshipped and idolized: idolizing anyone else, indeed, is a great sin. In addition, putting Rochester on such a pedestal will prevent Jane from embracing her own independence, a value that she has held dear for so long. This disconnect between what narrator-Jane knows to be true and what character-Jane cannot help from doing and thinking will inevitably have to be resolved.

Chapter 25 Quotes
I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down the centre, gaped ghastly … their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree—a ruin, but an entire ruin.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire and Ice
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

On the day of the wedding, Jane wanders outside and sees a chestnut tree that has been struck by lightning. Turning all her powers of observation on the tree, Jane finds it to be a powerful image, though at the same time ominous and troubling. The tree is in a vulnerable, delicate state at the moment: its many boughs are dead, but have not yet fallen to earth, though it is inevitable that they will do so. Trees struck by lightning are sometimes used in the Bible as a sign for the power and will of God. Jane, cognizant of this history, most likely is troubled by the thought that, on a day that should be joyful and carefree, there is such a frightening symbol of what may lie ahead. The "ruin" of the tree, for a reader who has finished Jane Eyre, also foreshadows the ruin of the place that she and Rochester call home. Although the novel ends up revealing certain supernatural-seeming elements as based in reality (though still disturbing), in other ways it continues to stress the possibility of connecting natural, supernatural, and social affairs symbolically.

Chapter 26 Quotes
What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Bertha Mason
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:

Finally, for the first time, Jane lays eyes on the source of all the strange happenings and mysterious sounds that have seemed to haunt Thornfield. But this first sight fails to substantially clarify the situation, or help Jane understand who this person is - even though she knows intellectually that it must be Bertha Mason, Rochester's legal wife.

Bertha is described not in human but in animal terms. Indeed, it is the inability to describe her as a woman that locates the source of her insanity. Jane may have pressed at the borders of what is permitted and is not among women, especially of a particular social class, but she now witnesses someone who has thrown all those strictures out entirely. As Bertha fails to act as a proper woman, as a proper wife to her husband, the book has no way left to describe her other than by considering her non-human, making an analogy to the animal world.

Chapter 27 Quotes
"Who in the world cares for you? Or who will be injured by what you do?" Still indomitable was the reply—"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 365
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has learned the truth about Rochester and his existing wife, and she realizes that she must leave Thornfield. The prospect is daunting, even terrifying: Jane does not know where she'll go or what she'll do, and of course she is still in love with Rochester despite his deceit. Here, she mounts an internal debate between the part of herself that would despair about her lack of ties to the world, and the part of herself that - rather than insisting that those ties do exist - embraces her isolation. Jane comes to recognize that her independence is a virtue rather than a fault. It ensures that she answers only to the laws of God, rather than to the more transient desires of other people, or even of herself.

Chapter 28 Quotes
This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering—a throe of true despair—rent and heaved my heart. Worn out, indeed, I was; not another step could I stir. I sank on the wet doorstep: I groaned—I wrung my hands—I wept in utter anguish. Oh, this spectre of death! Oh, this last hour, approaching in such horror! Alas, this isolation—this banishment from my kind!
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker)
Page Number: 385
Explanation and Analysis:

After wandering in the wilderness, weak from exhaustion and hunger, Jane finally follows a distant light to its source: but when she arrives at the door of the home, the servant refuses to let her in, and locks her out. Although Jane has tried to remain stoic until now, this show of unkindness is the last straw. She breaks down, finally allowing her feelings to overwhelm her careful poise and judgment as she weeps and groans.

The wanderer in the wilderness is a trope - an often-repeated literary device - that can be found in both Old and New Testaments of the Bible: both Job and Jesus are sent into the wilderness at one point to battle temptation. Jane's time in the wilderness is similarly her moment of greatest struggle, when her embrace of independence no longer is characterized by an exhilarating sense of freedom but actually threatens to destroy her. As Jane, narrating, recalls her thoughts at her darkest moment, the use of repeated exclamations and dashes highlights the tone of acute despair.

Chapter 32 Quotes
St. John, no doubt, would have given the world to follow, recall, retain her, when she thus left him; but he would not give one chance of heaven, nor relinquish, for the elysium of her love, one hope of the true, eternal Paradise.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), St. John Rivers, Rosamond Oliver
Page Number: 424
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane and St. John have begun to speak frankly about St. John's feelings for Rosamond Oliver. Jane has guessed that St. John is in love with her, and he admits that this is true. However, he cannot imagine Rosamond accompanying him far away as the wife of a missionary. St. John's faith is such that he cannot consider giving up his livelihood as missionary even on account of his love for another human being: for him this kind of love is not as significant as the love he finds in serving God. At the same time, St. John's admission reflects his assumptions about the proper role of women in marriage: Rosamond's role would be to serve him as he is serving God, and he cannot imagine any other way.

Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He had not imagined that a woman would dare to speak so to a man. For me, I felt at home in this sort of discourse. I could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or female, till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and won a place by their heart's very hearthstone.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), St. John Rivers
Page Number: 432
Explanation and Analysis:

As Jane and St. John speak of the latter's love for Rosamond, St. John grows surprised that Jane would presume to speak to him so frankly of such private matters. St. John is not used to women speaking to him in such a manner: indeed, propriety and social custom make it nearly certain that very few women will broach such private topics with a man, even one with whom they are close. While Jane has acted somewhat ashamed of her propensity for frankness and openness before, here she wholeheartedly embraces this attitude, and in addition claims that there is little she can do about it: it is just part of her nature. Jane even claims a positive ethical status for such openness, arguing that convention can often mask what is real and true, while speaking frankly honors each person much more.

Chapter 33 Quotes
I looked at the blank wall: it seemed a sky thick with ascending stars,—every one lit me to a purpose or delight. Those who had saved my life, whom, till this hour, I had loved barrenly, I could now benefit. They were under a yoke,—I could free them: they were scattered,—I could reunite them: the independence, the affluence which was mine, might be theirs too.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), St. John Rivers, Diana and Mary Rivers
Page Number: 445
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has learned that she is heir to an enormous fortune, and in addition that the Rivers are her cousins, so that she now has a larger family than she ever realized. Jane has long sought independence by choosing her own way in life and by insisting on her own rights and her own, individual life, apart from all others. Now she realizes that independence need not entail isolation. Indeed, her financial independence is wrapped up in the revelation of a true family.

As a result, Jane comes to consider independence as a value that can take place within the structure of a family, and even within the limitations and responsibilities that being part of a family entails. By helping her new cousins with her inheritance, Jane will be able to ensure that they escape the kind of "yoke" under which she herself struggled; but she also will tie their life to her own in a way that she had scarcely thought possible earlier in her life.

Chapter 37 Quotes
I will be your neighbor, your nurse, your housekeeper. I find you lonely: I will be your companion—to read to you, to walk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to be eyes and hands to you. Cease to look so melancholy, my dear master; you shall not be left desolate, so long as I live.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 502
Explanation and Analysis:

As Jane reunites with Rochester, she exhibits a complex and nuanced, if not ambivalent, understanding of the relationship between love and independence - one that has been affected by her time at Thornfield but also by the revelation that she is now financially independent. Here, Jane calls Rochester her master, as she was accustomed to do when she served as his daughter's governess. As she vows to be his "nurse" and "housekeeper," she also seems to accede to proper gender roles and even embrace this role of subservience.

However, other ways that Jane characterizes this relationship transform her vow into one of a relationship between equals. To be Rochester's neighbor or companion is not to submit to him as a woman to a man, but rather to consider each person as mutually necessary and mutually fulfilling. Jane continues to rely on some of the assumptions of her time in terms of family and gender roles, but she also carves out a more unique, progressive place for herself and Rochester based on her own beliefs and desires.

Chapter 38 Quotes
Reader, I married him.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 517
Explanation and Analysis:

The last chapter of the novel begins with this famous line. Of course, the most significant aspect of the passage is that it underlines how, after so many difficulties and one frustrated attempt, Jane and Rochester finally end up together. By making "I" the subject of the sentence, however, Jane underlines her agency in choosing to marry Rochester, and makes the act one of independence rather than of choosing to submit herself to a "master" in another way. The acknowledgement of the reader also reminds us that an older Jane has been narrating this story all along, looking back on her earlier self and using that opportunity to pass judgment and to point out her own self-development.

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