How are romance and realism blended in Jane Eyre?

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gracerankin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jane Eyre is a romance that actually portrays the heartache and pain often associated with love in real life.

Romance: Jane Eyre meets a rich gentleman named Edward Rochester. Although not initially attracted to him, she slowly begins to admire and eventually love him. In the end, they marry and she is very happy. It is something of a fairytale romance since she is of a lower class and he is wealthy and in the upper class (see this helpful summary of Jane Eyre).

Realism: Jane does not live a happy life. She grows up in an abusive home, and then lives at a school that is also cruel and unpleasant. When she meets Mr. Rochester, she begins to love him, even though given her status it would be very difficult if not impossible to marry him. This part of love—wanting someone you can’t have—is extremely relevant to people on many different levels. It seems the heart always wants what it can’t have.

Surprisingly for Jane, Mr. Rochester returns her love, and the two decide to marry. But on the wedding day, Jane discovers that Mr. Rochester has deceived her—actually lied to her by hiding the fact he was already married, and leading her to believe he was single. Utterly betrayed by her true love and completely heartbroken, Jane flees.

While living away from Mr. Rochester, Jane receives a proposal of marriage from another man. Even though this is a good opportunity for her (given her status), Jane turns it down, her aching heart still with Mr. Rochester.

This element of the story is vividly true. Even though Mr. Rochester was a liar and completely broke Jane’s heart, she loved him anyway. 

In the end, Mr. Rochester suffered for his choices during a terrible fire, and the story does not end “happily ever after” in the romantic, Disney sense of the phrase. However, they do reunite and eventually marry, even though Mr. Rochester is now blind. But they are happy together at last.

The romance will thrill the heart of true romantics while keeping a realistic feel, as things aren’t perfect, but the two love each other with their actions. And that is the true definition of love anyway.

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Jane Eyre

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