The theme of morality is a central concern in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to live ethically in a world that often seems unjust and immoral. Whether she is navigating her fraught relationship with Rochester or her complex feelings about Bertha Mason, Jane consistently strives to do what she believes is right and just. Ultimately, this focus on morality serves as an important source of empowerment for Jane, enabling her to overcome both external challenges and conflicts within herself.
Whether you are reading Jane Eyre for the first time or returning to it again and again, this exploration of morality will help you gain a deeper understanding of one of the most enduring works of English literature.
Charlotte Bronte uses many characters as symbols in Jane Eyre to discuss the topic of morality. “Conventionality is not morality,” Charlotte Bronte says. Self-righteousness is not religion, according to Bronte. Jane’s conventional personalities include Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre, which supports the idea that typical behaviors aren’t always ethical. The novel starts in Gateshead Hall, where due to Jane’s low social standing, Mrs. Reed sees her as an outsider.
Jane’s cold, selfish aunt denies Jane food, proper clothing, and a room of her own. Bronte portrays Mrs. Reed as a symbol of conventionality and cruelty by depicting Jane as an abused orphan who goes without love or compassion from her family.
At Lowood Institution, Jane is sent to live with Mr. Brocklehurst, the headmaster and owner of the school. While Jane is at Lowood, she suffers further mistreatment at the hands of Mr. Brocklehurst due to his strict religious beliefs that are reflected in his treatment of Jane and other students at the school. He aims to teach “moral purity” through harsh discipline, resulting in poor conditions for Jane and other students. Through this character depiction, Bronte highlights the hypocrisy of rigid, religious morality and its negative impact on Jane’s well-being.
Finally, Jane encounters St. John Rivers, a minister who preaches Christian virtue as a way to achieve salvation. Jane is initially attracted to St. John due to his strong moral compass and desire for social justice, but she quickly realizes that he lacks true compassion and understanding.
Jane rejects St. John’s belief system in favor of her own integrity and self-acceptance, demonstrating Bronte’s message that morality must be driven by empathy and humanity in order to truly be meaningful. Through these characters, Bronte explores the theme of morality in Jane Eyre and challenges traditional notions of what it means to be morally upright.
Bessie and Miss Abbot drag Jane to the “red room,” where she is informed by Miss Abbot: “No; you are less than a servant since you provide nothing in return. She must remain in the red chamber after retaliating against John Reed’s assault. She receives no affection or approval from her family. The doll she hugs at night when she sleeps is the only type of love she gets.
Jane’s self-confidence, personal dignity, and integrity go against society’s norms which is why Jane Eyre reflects her theme of morality throughout the novel.
Jane Eyre is a story that explores the theme of morality in a variety of ways. Throughout Jane’s childhood, she faces constant mistreatment from her family members, who view her as ungrateful and immoral due to her quick temper and lack of self-control. Despite this treatment, Jane maintains her moral compass and refuses to be subjugated by others, demonstrating incredible strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
As Jane grows older, she begins to develop an independent sense of self that sets her apart from other women at the time. Her strong moral principles lead Jane to make a number of tough decisions throughout the novel, including leaving Thornfield after discovering Mr. Rochester’s secret and rejecting St. John Rivers’ proposal of marriage.
Jane’s unwavering commitment to her moral code is one of the things that makes her such a compelling and relatable character. In a time when women were expected to be submissive and compliant, Jane Eyre stands out as a brave and principled individual who follows her heart regardless of social conventions.
While the theme of morality is present throughout Jane Eyre, it is particularly relevant in the context of Jane’s relationships with Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers. Jane’s interactions with these two men tests her morals in different ways, and ultimately leads her to discover her true identity and sense of self-worth.
Jane first meets Mr. Rochester when she goes to work as a governess at Thornfield Hall. Initially, Jane is intimidated by Mr. Rochester’s gruff demeanor and disapproving attitude towards her. However, over time, Jane comes to see past Mr. Rochester’s rough exterior and falls in love with him.
Even though Jane is deeply in love with Mr. Rochester, she ultimately decides to leave him after discovering that he is already married to an insane woman who he keeps locked away in the attic of Thornfield Hall. Jane knows that it would be morally wrong to stay with Mr. Rochester and become his mistress, so she makes the difficult decision to leave Thornfield and start a new life.
Jane later meets St. John Rivers, a minister who is also working as a missionary in India. St. John and Jane share a similar moral code, and they quickly develop a close friendship. St. John eventually asks Jane to marry him and come to India with him, but Jane realizes that she does not love him in the same way that she loves Mr. Rochester.
Even though Jane knows that she would be happy living a life of service alongside St. John, she ultimately decides against marrying him because she does not want to spend her life with someone she does not love. Jane’s decision to follow her heart instead of societal expectations is a clear demonstration of her commitment to her own moral code.
The theme of morality is Jane Eyre is prevalent throughout the novel and Charlotte Bronte does an excellent job of exploring it through Jane’s relationships with Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers. Jane’s journey to discover her true identity is one that will resonate with readers long after they finish the book.
After the doctor, Mr. Lloyd, tells her that Jane should go to school, Mrs. Reed decides to send Jane to Lowood. It is good riddance for Mrs. Reed, and she asks Jane not to wake the family as she leaves. When Jane arrives at Lowood, she sees how the students behave. They have “plain locks combed from their heads without a hair showing; in brown dresses with high waists and a little tucker around the neck.”
Jane is struck by the appearance of the students and by Mr. Brocklehurst’s, the superintendent, harsh words. Jane begins to see a great deal of unfairness at Lowood. The girls are poorly fed and clothed and are subject to cold rooms and hard labor. However, Jane endures these difficulties, in part because she befriends another student, Helen Burns. Jane grows very close to Helen, who serves as Jane’s confidante and mentor.
Despite the difficult conditions at Lowood, Jane receives a good education there and eventually becomes a teacher herself. After four years at Lowood, Jane grows restless and decides to leave. She advertises for a position as a governess and is hired by Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper at Thornfield Hall, to teach Mr. Rochester’s young ward, Adèle Varens. Jane enjoys her work and is soon drawn to Thornfield Hall itself, which she finds to be a warm and welcoming place. She becomes friends with Mrs. Fairfax and grows especially fond of Adèle.
Jane’s happiness is short-lived, however, as strange events begin to take place at Thornfield. Jane hears mysterious laughter in the night and sees a ghostly figure wandering the halls. Even more disturbingly, Mr. Rochester begins to act strangely around Jane, sometimes flirting with her and at other times seeming angry and distant. Jane is confused by these mixed signals but continues to feel drawn to Mr. Rochester.
One night, Jane is woken by a noise in Mr. Rochester’s room and goes to investigate. She finds Mr. Rochester with a bleeding wound and helps him back to his bed. The next morning, Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane that Mr. Rochester has been injured in a riding accident and will be away from Thornfield for some time. Jane is disappointed but remains at Thornfield to care for Adèle and keep Mrs. Fairfax company.
Jane’s peaceful existence at Thornfield is once again disrupted when Mr. Rochester unexpectedly returns home, accompanied by a group of guests. Jane is surprised to see that one of the guests is a beautiful young woman named Blanche Ingram. It quickly becomes apparent that Mr. Rochester is interested in Blanche, and Jane is hurt by this revelation. Nonetheless, Jane continues to stay at Thornfield Hall and takes advantage of opportunities to spend time with Mr. Rochester.
As the weeks pass, Jane grows increasingly suspicious that Mr. Rochester may be hiding something from her. She overhears him speaking on the phone and realizes that he is having an affair with another woman named Bertha Mason. Jane is shocked by this discovery and confronts Mr. Rochester about it one night while they are alone together in his study. Instead of denying the accusation, Mr. Rochester admits that he is married to Bertha but insists that she is insane and a danger to both Jane and himself if she ever learns of Jane’s presence at Thornfield Hall. Jane is horrified by this revelation and decides to leave Thornfield immediately.
Jane flees Thornfield in the middle of the night and wanders the countryside, eventually collapsing from exhaustion. She is rescued by a family named the Rivers, who take her back to their home, Moor House. Jane discovers that the Rivers are actually her cousins, Georgiana and Eliza, whom she had thought were dead. The Rivers invite Jane to stay with them, and she soon begins to feel at home at Moor House.