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How do Jane, Mr. Rochester, Mrs. Reed, St. john, and other characters display passion...

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kikoisflip | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 1, 2009 at 12:35 PM via web

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How do Jane, Mr. Rochester, Mrs. Reed, St. john, and other characters display passion and responsibility in Jane Eyre?

Topic: passion versus responsibility

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neneta | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted December 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM (Answer #1)

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Those characters have different attitudes concerning passion and responsibility. Mrs. Reed, who had promised her husband to treat Jane as a member of the family, regards Jane as a burden. At Gateshead, Jane’s social status is low. To understand better the social classes in the Victorian era, one may consider that Jane is a poor orphan. Thus, his cousins and auntie look down on her, as her cousin John reminds her:

“You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma 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…” chapter 1.

By sending Jane to Loowod, Mrs. Reed gets rid of her. Both she and Mr.Brockelehurst, display hypocrisy in order to assure that Jane is a bad child and deserves to be punished. Mrs. Reed is not a passionate woman, except when she spoils her favorite son, John. Furthermore, Mrs. Reed is selfish and resentful. Several years after, she would convince Jane´s rich uncle that Jane had died at school.

Mr. Rochester exhibits a passionate character. Both his turbulent past and his passion for Jane indicate his intense emotions. However, he is a righteous character in that he decides to raise Adele, even though he knows that Adele is not his daughter. His attachment to Jane emphasizes his restless nature, since he is capable to commit bigamy in order to establish an order in his life. Nonetheless, his attitude is highly irresponsible, since he lies and betrays the woman he loves. In addition, he cares less for his insane first wife by hiding her in the attic.

St. John Reeds is a serious and responsible character. His main goal is to become a missionary in India. He wishes Jane to follow him as his wife. Nevertheless, Jane refuses because she cannot bear a passionless man whose fervor is mainly religious. On the other side, St. John Reeds is the character that displays more responsibility in the novel, by taking care of Jane, finding her a job and giving her moral support.  However, his religiousness is important since he seems cold and emotionless.

Jane is a character who exhibits both passion and responsibility. Loowood institution taught her to control her fiercest emotions. As a young woman, she reveals uncontrollable passions when she falls in love with her master. Nonetheless, she has a strong self-control and morals by refusing to become Mr. Rochester’s mistress.

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