Student Question

In Jane Eyre, when does Jane lose reason due to her passion for Mr. Rochester?

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Jane Eyre's character strives for self-awareness but does periodically become distracted, primarily by her tenuous but growing romantic relationship with Mr. Rochester. In chapter 16, Jane becomes distressed when she learns that Mr. Rochester will be attending the same party as the distinguished and beautiful Blanche Ingram. Jane recognizes that her distress is unwarranted, as she does not possess nearly enough status to consider herself as a potential romantic partner for Mr. Rochester.

In an attempt to re-orient her expectations in order to remind herself of her identity and her station in relation to Mr. Rochester, she creates two portraits. One is of herself, rendered simply and with perhaps brutal honesty. The other is of Blanche, depicting her in all her elegance and beauty. When she yearns for Rochester, she examines these portraits to remind herself who she is and where she stands, and she impels herself back to reason.

There are also Jane's harsh experiences in chapters 28–29, where she flees Mr. Rochester's estate without any plan or adequate means to support herself. This is perhaps when the chasm between Jane and reason is at its greatest, as her complicated love for Mr. Rochester drives her to self-destructive actions. Jane is an otherwise steadfast and pragmatic person, but these events encapsulate the ferocity of her passion for Mr. Rochester. This love drives Jane to uncharacteristic feelings of jealousy, desperation, and impetuousness.

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