What are some major points about the theme of family in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre?  

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sherhazade eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jane is an orphan, so one theme in the novel is her desire and efforts to find or create a family. You might consider dividing your approach into sections based on the major settings in the novel: Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moore House, and Ferndean and focus on Jane's efforts to create a family in each place.

At Gateshead, she is unloved and mistreated by the Reeds although she finds a mother figure in the servant, Bessie Lee.

At Lowood, she finds characters from whom she learns important lessons and with whom she forms emotional bonds (Miss Temple, who is another mother figure for Jane, and Helen Burns, Jane's first real friend, who becomes an important spiritual guide for her).

At Thornfield, she meets Mr. Rochester, Mrs. Fairfax (his housekeeper), and Adele (his ward, an orphan like Jane). Jane seems to have found a family and has plans to marry Mr. Rochester until it is revealed Mr. Rochester already has a wife. Although Mr. Rochester proposes that he and Jane leave and pretend to be married, Jane does not want this "fake" family. Devastated but unwilling to become Mr. Rochester's mistress, Jane flees Thornfield and is taken in at Moore House by the Rivers family.

At Moore House, Jane learns she does have an uncle, who dies before they can meet but makes Jane his heir. She also learns that the Rivers family are related to her, too, and she shares the inheritance with them. St. John Rivers wants to marry Jane, but he is not in love with her. He thinks she would make a good missionary's wife. Jane still has a deep connection to Mr. Rochester, and when she seems to hear him calling her, she sets out to find him.

Jane does find Mr. Rochester at Ferndean, and he is now free to marry her, so she is able to have the family she really wants, including the child she has with Mr. Rochester.