Has the author offered moral dilemmas in their full complexity ?  

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rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Jane Eyre is an extremely complex book, especially in the moral themes Jane faces. There are many moral delimmas in Jane Eyre, but the main one is Jane coming to terms with her own pride. At Gateshead, Jane is constantly told that she is inferior to her cousins, and she is always acting out against the petty tyrannies of Mrs. Reed and her son. When she is sent to the Red Room, she endures an experience that will mark her for life -- the unjustness of her punishment is something she can never forget, but as she grows up she realizes that her hysteria and anger at Mrs. Reed only made things worse. Although she says at the time she will "remember how you thrust me [into the Red Room] until my dying day" (Chapter 4), she does come to forgive Mrs. Reed when she goes to visit her on her death bed ("I had once vowed that I would never call her aunt again: I thought it no sin to forget and break that vow now," Chapter 21). At the end of the book, the moral nature of Jane's pridefulness is more fully treated. St. John's attempt to coerce her into becoming his missionary wife poses some fundamental questions. Jane knows that she has the intellect to be successful as a missionary. She also has learned that forgiveness is better than vengeance, and that service to others is better than withdrawing into one's self. Yet even though St. John's offer seems to embody all the things Jane knows are right, she cannot accept it because she does not love him (St. John, she says, "has no more of a husband’s heart for me than that frowning giant of a rock" Chapter 34). So the moral question, of choosing service, or choosing love, is what the book comes down to, and Jane's choice -- love, and Rochester -- suggests that Jane has fully and finally come to know her own heart. 

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Jane Eyre

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