How is the theme of dignity, independence and religion presented in Jane Eyre?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jane has a strong sense of dignity and independence even as a child.  She is taken from her aunt’ home as a child for being too strong willed.  When she says her aunt treats her like a servant, her aunt says that she is worse than a servant because she does nothing to earn her keep.

At school, Jane is introduced to the hypocrisy of religion.  The school expects her to act in a Christian manner while treating her in the most unchristian ways.  Children die and no one cares.  No one listens to her when they are told she is a liar.  It is a lonely life for Jane, but she remains independent and practices her own form of piety.

As an adult, Jane’s first position as a governess is in the home of Mr. Rochester, a wealthy man with a young charge.  Jane enjoys the job and even comes to appreciate the banter she has with her new boss.  Even as a governess she continues to be independent and strong-willed.  Fortunately for her, he is attracted to this.

“And will you consent to dispense with a great many conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the omission arises from insolence?”

“I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence, one I rather like, the other nothing free-born would submit to, even for a salary.” (ch 14)

Jane's independence is one of her strongest traits.  It helps her survive a world that keeps throwing hurdles at her.  She is not driven by religion, even though she is religious.  Instead, she is driven by an inner core of values that is based on sustaining her dignity.