Comment on the ending of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre. 

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The ending of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre poses several interesting questions for readers. The basic plot structure is that Jane leaves Mr. Rochester after discovering that he is married and refuses to become his mistress. She is living with St. John Rivers and his sisters, who are revealed to be her cousins. St. John offers to marry her so that they can work together as missionaries in India, but she refuses because it would be a loveless marriage. She telepathically hears Mr. Rochester's voice calling her and returns to his house, Thornfield. His insane wife Bertha has set the house on fire. Bertha has died and Rochester been blinded in the fire. Jane agrees to marry Rochester.

One of the factors that makes the ending problematic is the telepathic voice of Rochester calling Jane just as she is beginning to consider accepting St. John's proposal of marriage. To most readers, this appears a rather awkward plot contrivance, and is rather jarring in a book without other explicit supernatural elements. 

Another interesting element of the ending is the role reversal. When Rochester and Jane first meet, he is wealthy and handsome and she a poor, orphaned, and somewhat unattractive governess. By the end of the book, Rochester is scarred and blind and Jane has become an heiress, reversing the power dynamics of the relationship. 

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appletrees's profile pic

appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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"Reader, I married him." This famous line encapsulates the ending of Jane Eyre as a culmination of all the many tribulations the character has endured. In Rochester she finds her equal and her soulmate, a love that intensifies after a brief period of infatuation and courtship. But Jane feels forced to leave him because her sense of propriety makes her reject the idea of being in love with a married man.

The odd vision (or auditory hallucination) Jane has of Rochester calling to her when she is with St. John makes it clear that she is deeply devoted to him and knows it is her destiny to be with him, as well as suggesting there is a mystical connection between them.

When Rochester is finally freed of his marriage vows, left injured and somewhat helpless, Jane, who now has financial independence and the freedom that comes with it, knows it is an act of pure love to remain with him. She recognizes his strength of character for what it truly is, arising from a place of love and kindness, instead of the brash and arrogant man Rochester was when he still possessed his wealth and vigor. She marries him, knowing it is her destiny and her dearest wish.

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