Jane Eyre

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Eyes Symbol Icon
The eyes are the windows to the soul in Jane Eyre. Jane is especially attracted to Mr. Rochester's black and brilliant eyes, which symbolize his temper and power. After Mr. Rochester loses his eyesight in the fire, Jane becomes his eyes: metaphorically, Jane now holds the position of mastery. Bertha has bloodshot eyes that match her violent nature. The novel also emphasizes the mind's eye—an active imagination.

Eyes Quotes in Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre quotes below all refer to the symbol of Eyes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre published in 2006.
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.

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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.

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Eyes Symbol Timeline in Jane Eyre

The timeline below shows where the symbol Eyes appears in Jane Eyre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Feeling vs. Judgment Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...if Jane thinks he's handsome. Jane bluntly says no, even though she secretly admires his eyes. They converse about each other's personalities, about treating people directly and on equal terms. It... (full context)
Chapter 36
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
Social Class and Social Rules Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Spiritual and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...In the collapsing building, Rochester was badly injured: he lost a hand and lost his sight. He lives nearby in a modest house called Ferndean. (full context)
Chapter 38
Religion Theme Icon
Two years into their marriage, Rochester partially regains sight in one eye in time to see the birth of their first baby: a son... (full context)