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jane eyre is a piece of autobiographical fiction. it is charlotte. bronte’s first novel published in 1849. the novel creates a female image who is against social pressure with rebellion and independence. it is filled with love, passion and reason, and maintains its unique artistic charm. this thesis analyzes some major characters in the novel and takes a lot of examples to show the author’s meaning and reflect the theme. this kind of description makes the figure a real person with blood and flesh. it also reflects the author’s resistant spirit. the heroine of jane eyre, a plain and little girl, lives under traditional pressure to pursue for independence and love loyalty. this thesis analyzes her personality. under her adamancy and self-respect, she literally has got a fiery heart for her love. furthermore, the thesis tells us the heroine’s love standpoint that the love should rely on the independent economy and should be equal in their spirit for both the lovers.
key words
love; self-respect; rebellion; women consciousness

摘 要
charlotte bronte was born in a priest’s family in york shire in 1816. her mother died when she was five years old, but her father was an intellect, he often taught his children to read books and magazines and told stories to them. charlotte was interest in literature, so when she was very young, she was sent to a boarding school and when she was 15, she went to another school to study. in order to support her family, she became a teacher. in 1847, she published her novel jane eyre, the novel was a great shock at that time and made her successful. she died in 1885.
jane eyre is a great novel that it is an important position in the history of british literature. and it has been translated into various languages and adapted for movie, readers all through the world. the period when jane lived corresponds with the time of queen victoria’s ruling. victoria who ruled over the british empire for more than 60 years was a well known queen in english history. the period has been generals regarded as one of the most glorious in the english history.
jane eyre has the deep romantics color and has also depicted the actual life novel. the novel begins with jane in the uncle’s house pass her childhood, she is packed off to a charitable boarding school and jane sets herself to learn. she becomes a teacher; she is employed as governess of the french daughter of rochester in his country mansion, thornfield. in the place she has her own love. when they come to a marriage, jane has discovered that rochester has a mad wife who is hidden in that house. jane doesn’t want to be rochester’s mistress and leaves thornfield. she is rescued by the rivers family. when jane proposes marriage by john river, jane knows john rivers in order to undertake missionary work, so jane refuses john river’s courting. then jane gains a large amount of inheritance from her uncle who she has never known. she returns to thornfield, but the house has been destroyed by a fire started by the mad wife. she finds rochester, blind and alone. then they marry and find happiness together.
i. jane eyre’s personality
a. jane eyre’s adamancy
1. jane eyre’s life at her aunt’s home
orphaned as an infant, jane eyre lives with at gateshed with her aunt. sarah reed. when she is ten years old. her cousins, georgiana and eliza do not love her. their brother, john, is more blatantly hostile to jane, reminding her that she is a poor dependent of his mother. one day he is angered to find jane reading one of his books, so he takes the book away and throws it at her. finding this treatment intolerable, jane fights back. she is blamed for the conflagration and sent to the red-room, the place where her kind uncle reed died. in this frightening room, jane thinks she sees her uncle’s ghost and begs to be set free. her aunt reed refuses, and remains jane in her prison until she learns complete submissiveness. when the door to the red-room is locked once again, jane passes out. she walks back in her own room, with the kind physician, mr. lloyd, standing over her bed. he advises aunt reed to send jane away to school, because she is obviously unhappy at gateshed.
her aunt agrees it. all things are very smooth, but mrs. reed tells mr.brocklehurst that jane is a lying child. these things do not strike jane down, she is very firm, she knows there is somebody to love her. the author shows her rebellious spirit through her words and deeds.
2. jane eyre’s school life
jane is sent to lowood school, a charity institution for orphan girls, run by mr. brocklehurst. a stingy and mean-hearted minister, brocklehurst provides the girls with starvation levels of food, freezing rooms, and poorly made clothing and shoes. he justifies his poor treatment of them by saying that they need to learn humility and by comparing them to christian martyrs, who also endured great hardships. despite the difficult conditions at lowood, jane prefers school to life with the reeds. from miss temple, jane learns proper ladylike behavior and compassion, from helen she gains a more spiritual focus. the school’s damp condition, combined with the girls’ near-starvation diet, produces a typhus epidemic, in which nearly half the students die, including helen, who dies in jane’s arms. following this tragedy, brocklehurst is deposed from his position as manager of lowood, and conditions become more acceptable. jane quickly becomes a star student. and after six years of hard work, she becomes an effective teacher. following two years of teaching at lowood, jane is ready for new challenges.
at lowood school is full with fresh and curious, at the same time she worries it very much .in here jane has a best friend that she is helen. when helen is punished to stand up in people’s centre in room, jane feels the thing makes helen lose face, but helen says “yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it, it is weak and silly to be required to bear.”① but jane is not understood and endured, helen thinks “love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate your and despitefully use you.”② the thing explains helen’s weakness, she does not dare compose out to self unfair thing resisting, is able to go to endure.
jane’s worrying that it has finally appeared, mr. brocklehurst comes to school, that he says jane is a lying child, she is punished to stand on the stool at the head, do not allow anybody speak to her. jane is crying, but she does not give up, she believes that somebody believes that she is innocent. she wins ultimately everybody’s respect and love.
at school, jane’s personality is more pronounced resistance, and contrast to her friend’s patient compliance. as the novel progresses, she grows in strength. she distinguishes herself at lowood school because of her hard work and strong intellectual abilities. life in lowood orphanage may be much more courage and determination to struggle for her right.
3. jane eyre looking for a job in the town
jane leaves thornfield hall. she has been rescued by st. john. she speaks: “i will be a dressmaker; i will be a plain-workman; i will be a servant, a nurse-girl, if i can be no better,” mr. st. john says: “right, if such is your spirit, i promise to aid you, in my own time and way.” ③  st. john offers jane a humble job as the schoolmistress for the poor girls in his parish at morton. jane works in this very joyful place and she likes there.
“i felt i became a favourite in the neighbourhood. whenever i went out, i heard on all sides cordial salutations, and was welcomed with friendly smiles. to live amidst general regard, thought it be but the regard of working people, is like sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet, serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray. at this period of my life, my heart far oftener swelled with thankfulness than sank with dejection.”④ all this things show jane’s personality, self-improvement.
b. jane eyre’s self-respect
1. jane eyre meeting with mr. rochester
at thornfield, a comfortable three-story country estate, jane is warmly welcomed. she likes both her new pupil, adèle varens, and mrs. fairfax, the housekeeper at thornfield, but is soon restless. one january afternoon, while walking to millcote to mail a letter, jane helps a horseman whose horse has slipped on a patch of ice and fallen. returning to thornfield, jane discovers that this man is edward fairfax rochester, the owner of thornfield and her employer. he is a dark-haired, moody man in his late thirties. although he is often taciturn, jane grows fond of his mysterious, passionate nature.
from the first meeting with him, we can see jane’s position as a helper in mr. rochester’s mind. when one afternoon she is on her way to the post office, jane meets with mr. rochester unexpectedly. and after, she offers him help several times since he falls from his horse, mr. rochester still ‘had hardly turned his eyes in jane’s direction before’. from this sentence we can see that mr. rochester is very haughty, he is not a man who is amiable and easy to approach. in my opinion, as an ordinary person, we should express our good manners to a stranger if others offers us help, but mr. rochester shows his ideas quite different. from their first meeting unexpectedly, mr. rochester knows the girl who helps him out of the trouble on his way to his home thornfield is his governess. however, let’s see how our hero- rochester’s attitude to jane at his own home as a master. one evening when she is told at last by mrs. fairfax to have tea with mr. rochester in the drawing-room, jane regards his first invitation as a ceremony and prepares it stately.

from these statements above, it’s not difficult to see mr. rochester is a haughty and indifferent man either to his servant or to a person he does not know much perhaps as far as he is concerned, he has nothing to say to his employees except giving them orders because he does not think his employees have the same languages to talk with. as we know, he is a bachelor and he has traveled many nations of the world. not only the knowledge but also the experiences can make him superior to them. so he seems to look down upon any persons in his home.
take one meeting as an example. they talk about gift and jane’s answer is that: “sir, you have now given me my ‘cadeau’; i am obliged to you ‘it is the meed teachers most covet-praise of their pupils’ progress.” ⑤ here shows jane’s self-respect.
2. jane eyre falling in love with mr. rochester
mr. rochester and jane fall in love concerns and have revealed a lot of problem of united kingdom society and tell to reader: what is the amatory basis? how gain happy marriage? what position should the woman have in the family?
love is the most beautiful characteristic of human beings’ life and love can not be measured by one’s status, power or property. in most individuals’ life, people like to seek a meaningful, romantic relationship resulting in love, commitment, companionship and happiness. in my opinion, it is most important that a man and a woman have heart and feelings that find a perfect response, and also have mutual affinity. shakespeare says: “the course of true love never runs smooth.” jane and rochester get true love after a lot of sufferings. jane loves rochester deeply always-from the beginning to the end. there should be no distinction of property, rank or age in true love. jane falls in love with mr. rochester. he who has rich experience and wisdom is softhearted, wealthy and in high rank as well as having pride and rudeness. jane loves him, but not for his wealth and high rank, because he treats her equally and in a friendly manner, although she is poor and in low position. she is such an excellent girl, good, intelligent, considerate that rochester is attracted by her. it is jane but not someone else who rochester loves.
in order to lead a life of independence, jane works as a governess at thornfield hall. she is looked down upon by the rich ladies of the fashionable society, but she never despises herself, she never feels herself inferior. she is satisfied with, and even proud of her honest, independence work. rochester is attracted to her qualification of mind, courage, independence, and strong personality, and falls in love with her. but it is jane eyre who declares her love to rochester before he makes his sentiment clear to her,“do you think, because i am poor, obscure, plain, and little, i am soulless and heartless?” she cries, “you think wrong!- i have as much soul as you,- and full as much heart! and if god had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, i should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. i am not talking to you through the medium of custom, conversation, nor even of mortal flesh;-it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed though the grave, and we stood at god’s feet, equal,-as we are!”⑥  here, “equal” is the word, she loves rochester just because he regards her as a human being, or more importantly, as an equal person. equality is what she strives for, and in him she finds what she strives for. it shows that jane is not very mature in mind. without rochester, her material life can’t be affected, but she can’t part from rochester in spirit and emotion. rochester wins jane’s heart, because she feels they are kindred spirits, and because he is the first person in the novel to offer jane lasting love and a real home.
jane is honest, noble, pure, intelligent not to accept contaminating of common customs society, she has accepted his love just now, and has agreed to get married with rochester.
3. jane eyre deviating from mr. rochester
finally, they can get married, but it is not smooth. at this time mason appears to wedding, he speaks mr. rochester has a wife and she lives in the thornfield hall, (this women is that the crazy woman frequently appears to look like ghost).when jane knows all things, she feels embarrassed very much, but she decides to leave there.
if she leaves, she can retain her self-respect; if she stays, she will become rochester’s mistress. finally, she decides to leave thornfield hall. because living with rochester as his mistress means the loss of her dignity.
rochester’s oppression does not come from the fact that rochester wants to marry jane without telling her his mad wife’s story. here the point is that rochester’s love oppresses jane and jeopardizes her independence. jane knows, facing rochester, she is no longer as independent as before. jane’s heart is always in a state of intense struggle. her willing devotes herself to rochester, but she still tries to grasp her own soul. when the secret is discovered, rochester hopes that jane can go with her in the name of love. jane is nearly shaken. after all, she keeps her individual soul.

why does jane leave? in my opinion, when he meets jane, rochester is planning to change his lifestyle. giving up his wild, dissipated life on the continent, he’s searching for freshness and freedom. rochester’s goal is self-transformation, a reformation to be enacted through his relationships with women. longing for innocence and purity, he wants jane to be the good angel in his life, creating new harmony. despite these desires for a new life, rochester is still caught in a web of lies and immorality: he attempts bigamy and then tries to convince jane to be his mistress. he also tries to objectify jane by clothing her in expensive satins and laces, leaving her feeling like a “performing ape.” although rochester has critiqued blanche ingram and céline varens for their materialism and superficiality, here he seems to be mimicking them. rochester’s passions and materialism need to be disciplined before he can be the proper husband for jane.

4. jane eyre refusing mr. st. john river’s courting
st. john rivers is cold, hard-hearted, and repressed. his handsome appearance indicates moral and intellectual superiority-he has “a straight, classic nose; quite an athenian mouth and chin”- and contrasts with rochester’s more rugged features. although st. john initially appears perfect, jane soon detects a restlessness or 
hardness under his seemingly placid features. he is “no longer flesh, but marble” and his heart seems made of “stone or metal.” his reserve and brooding suggest a troubled nature, and his zealous christianity offers him neither serenity nor solace. st. john’s feelings about christianity are revealed in his sermons, which have a “strictly restrained zeal” that shows his bitterness and hardness. while rochester vents his passions, st. john represses his. the iciness of st. john’s character is most pronounced in his relationship with rosamond oliver. although he “flushes” and “kindles” at the sight of her, st. john would rather turn himself into “an automaton” than succumb to rosamond’s beauty or fortune. his ambition cuts st. john off from all deep human emotions. st. john would like to have been a politician, a poet, or anything that could have offered him glory, fame, and power. his solution is to become a missionary, a position that will require all of these skills.
in jane’s point of view, john is selfish and cold-blooded. john decides to travel to india as a missionary and he asks jane to go with him as his wife. jane agrees to go to india but refuses to marry her cousin because she does not love him. or we could say st. john plans to become a missionary in india. he tries to convince jane to accompany him, as his wife. realizing that st. john doesn’t love her but just wants to use her to accomplish his goals, jane refuses his request, but suggests a compromise by agreeing to follow him to india as a comrade, but not as a wife. she has finally refused st. john. river’s courting.
 women are not acting a role that society appoint to them, women should throw their own endeavor, pursue to equal in the economy, marriage, character and society position.
ii. jane eyre’s love and its reflection
a. jane eyre’s love
the oppressor jane has is mr. rochester, most writers agree that the theme of jane eyre is the search for love. lawerence has said,” the novel is revolutionary in its treatment of love.”
true love is very important to jane. jane immediately leaves moor house to search for her true love, rochester. she discovers thornfield a burned wreck, just as predicted in her dreams. from a local innkeeper, she learns that bertha mason burned the house down one night and that rochester lost an eye and a hand while trying to save her and the servants. he now lives in seclusion at ferndean.jane immediately drives to ferndean. there she discovers a powerless, unhappy rochester. jane carries a tray to him and reveals her identity. the two lovers are joyfully reunited and soon marry.
in my opinion, the following words show her inner mind: “do you believe i am one automation machine? does not one have the affection machine? can let my mouth a piece of bread comply with me; splash away in the cup let my drop of water comply with me? you think because of i am poor, low and unbeautiful, i do not have soul? you have mistake! --- my soul and you are the same; my heart completeness also with you is the same! if god give me a little beautiful and wealth, i will let you feel being difficult to leave me, you are same as like i am difficult to leave. i am really not to pass convention, even not by the human body of ordinary person with talk about you--- but my spirit is speaking in the spirit with you; like two people go through grave that we stand is equal before god's foot, because of we are equal!”⑦

 here is a dialogue: “ah! jane, but i want a wife” “do you, sir “yes; is it news to you?” “of course: you said nothing about it before” “is it unwelcome news?” “that depends on circumstances, sir-on your choice.” “which you shall make for me, jane. i will abide by your decision.” “choose then, sir-her who loves you best.” i will at least choose –her i love best. jane, will you marry me?” “yes, sir.” “a poor blind man, whom you will have to lead about by the hand?” “yes, sir.” “a crippled man, twenty years older than you, whom you will have to wait on?” “yes, sir.” “truly, jane?” “most truly, sir.” “oh! my darling! god bless you and reward you!”⑧  here shows their love is happiness.
b.jane eyre’s rebellion
jane is such a self-respecting, impendence and decisive woman. although artistic and educational pursuits are essential elements of jane’s personality, she also feels a need to assert her identity through rebellion. in the opening chapters of the novel, jane refers to herself as a “rebelling slave,” and throughout the story she opposes the forces that prevent her from finding happiness: mrs. reed’s unfair accusations, rochester’s attempt to make her his mistress, and st. john’s desire to transform her into a missionary wife. by falling in love with rochester, she implicitly mutinies against the dictates of class boundaries that relegate her, as a governess, to a lower status than her “master.” besides rejecting traditional views of class, she also denigrates society’s attempts to restrict women’s activities. women, she argues, need active pursuits and intellectual stimulation, just as men do. most of jane’s rebellions target the inequities of society, but much of her personality is fairly conventional. in fact, she often seems to provide a model of proper english womanhood: frank, sincere, and lacking in personal vanity.
jane’s personality balances social awareness with spiritual power. throughout the novel, jane is referred to as an imp, a fairy, a relative of the “men in green.” as fairy, jane identifies herself as a special, magical creature. connecting herself with the mythical beings in bessie’s stories, jane is affiliated with the realms of imagination, with the fantastic. jane’s psychical abilities aren’t merely imaginary: her dreams and visions have a real impact on her life. for example, supernatural experiences, heralds of visions “from another world,” foreshadow drastic changes in jane’s life, such as her move from gateshead to lowood, or her rediscovery of rochester after their time apart. thus, jane’s spirituality isn’t a pure christian one—in fact, she rejects many of the christian characters in the novel, such as st. john rivers, eliza reed, and mr. brocklehurst—but a mixture of christian and pagan ideas. like nature, jane’s god is filled with bounty, compassion, and forgiveness—qualities lacking in many of the spiritual leaders she criticizes in the novel.
c.jane eyre’s women consciousness
jane eyre’s women consciousness is far beyond victorian times. in 19th century, women did not have any status. they were discriminated against and conceived of as a people inferior to men. that was why jane eyre was criticized by some people. lionel stevenson said, “jane eyre was an intolerable renegade from all the standards of behavior expected of respectable girls.”
in jane’s life, she never stops struggling against miserable life and misfortune. she has not noble position, an illustrious background, wealth or a beautiful appearance. the only proud thing for her is her self-respect which is supported by her self-confidence and her staunch independence. she never expects that rochester can love her because she thinks there is a big gap between them forever. when they fall in love, jane has to keep her self-respect and impendence in case of losing herself. what she can give to rochester is only her love, her infatuation, her spiritual support and nothing else. however, what rochester gives her is more than hers. he can also improve jane eyre’s social status and increase her wealth. this situation makes her feel that they are not quite equal and her independence is also threatened.
jane’s women consciousness and her struggling experience set a brilliant example for the female worldwide. her spirit encourages women to fight for liberation. jane eyre tells not only what an independent woman is like but also what a successful woman should do.

jane eyre is a powerful narrative with profound themes concerning genders, family, passion, and identity. it is unambiguously one of the most celebrated novels in british literature. the novel is written in the first person, and thus magnifies the central character the reader enters the world of jane eyre. this makes the work meaningful, especially since we know that charlottes bronte’s own life and experiences were so closely interwoven with the heroine’s.

jane eyre is poor but aspiring, small in body but huge in soul, obscure but self-respecting girl. after we close the covers of the book, after having a long journey of the spirit, jane eyre, a marvelous figure, has left us so much to recall and to think: we remember her striving for life, her toughness and her confidence… when we think of this girl, what she gives us is not a pretty face or a transcendent temperament that make us admire deeply, but a huge charm of her personality. the story can be interpreted as a symbol of the independent spirit. as we refer to the novel jane eyre, it is not surprising to find some differences because of its being filmized and retold in a new way, but the spirit of the novel remains to be an independent person, physically and mentally.
①. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p51.
②. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p53.
③. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p345.
④. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p362.
⑤. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p117.
⑥. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, pp249-250.
⑦. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, pp249-250.
⑧. bronte, charlotte. jane eyre. 北京:当代中国出版社, 2002, p441.

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