Jane Eyre Essential Quotes by Theme: Autonomy

Charlotte Brontë

Essential Quotes by Theme: Autonomy

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 10

“A new servitude! There is something in that,” I soliloquized (mentally, be it understood; I did not talk aloud). “I know there is, because it does not sound too sweet; it is not like such words as liberty, excitement, enjoyment: delightful sounds truly; but no more than sounds for me; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere waste of time to listen to them. But Servitude! That must be matter of fact. Any one may serve: I have served here eight years; now all I want is to serve elsewhere. Can I not get so much of my own will? Is not the thing feasible? Yes—yes—the end is not so difficult: If I had only a brain active enough to ferret out the means of attaining it.”


For eight years, Jane Eyre has lived at Lowood—six years as a student and two years as a teacher. When her favorite teacher and confidante, Miss Temple, marries and leaves, Jane decides that it is time for her departure as well. While she has come to enjoy her students (as well as the school, following Mr. Brocklehurst’s demotion in control and influence), she feels that it is time for her life to move on. She no longer has the financial support of Mrs. Reed, so she is entirely on her own. Employment for respectable women being limited, Jane knows that she will not free herself from labor, but merely transfer it to another venue. Although she is not free to refrain from having a job, she is free to choose her “new servitude.” She has received a very good education at a time of limited schooling, and she now has experience as a teacher. She decides to remain in that field by placing an advertisement announcing her desire for a position as a governess. Within a week, Jane accepts a position at Thornfield Hall, the home of Edward Rochester.

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