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What contrasts are there with the rebellious character of Jane Eyre as she appears in...

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cute20039 | Student | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:33 PM via web

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What contrasts are there with the rebellious character of Jane Eyre as she appears in the beginning with her at the end of the novel Jane Eyre?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2013 at 8:18 PM (Answer #1)

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Whereas it is a frightened, insecure child who battles the cruel repression of self that is presented in the beginning of Jane Eyre, it is a young lady with a sense of self and assuredness that refuses to be exploited and repressed at the end. And yet, Jane is much the same in essence throughout the novel.

In Chapter 2, Jane, "a discord in Gateshead Hall" is accused of causing problems when it is her cousin John has hit her. Mrs. Reed, her aunt, throws Jane into the Red Room where her uncle died. In reality, Jane has done nothing more than try to defend herself. Intrinsically, Jane refuses to compromise her principles; for instance, in Chapter 4, when Mrs. Reed tells her son John that Jane is not worthy of his and his sisters' company, Jane bursts out, "They are not fit to associate with me." This is an outburst that Jane cannot control, she narrates; for, her abhorrence for hypocrisy forces this remark. 

From beginning to end, Jane calls on her inner strength to overcome adversity. While she is at Lowood, Jane rails against the hypocrisy there, as well. Then, at Thornfield Hall, Jane is a match for Mr. Rochester, who comes to admire her integrity.  And, after she leaves Thornfield disillusioned, Jane again calls upon her inner strength to face poverty and hunger. Then after she is united with her relatives and St. John Rivers tries to coerce her into marrying him and working with him as a missionary, Jane is as resolute as she has been all her life, refusing his proposal because she would be subjugated to her husband's desires.  When she suggests that she join him independently, unmarried, St. John refuses.

In the end, Jane returns to Mr. Rochester, feeling that she is called back to Thornfield. There she is united to the grateful, injured Mr. Rochester, who declares his love for her. Jane supports him as they walk together after she has told him that she is now independently wealthy and feels herself blessed as her life is fulfilled with him as she is no longer repressed. For, with Mr. Rochester, Jane can truly be herself.

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