Quotes and Analysis
God and nature intended you for a missionary's wife. It is not personal, but mental endowments they have given you: you are formed for labour, not for love. A missionary's wife you must - shall be. You shall be mine: I claim you - not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign's service.
St. John Rivers
St. John makes this statement when he is attempting to convince Jane to marry him and become a missionary in India. St. John's declaration that Jane is formed for "labour, not for love" emphasizes his belief that love and passion have no place in a moral life. St. John's argument of ownership also highlights his view of Jane as a subservient companion, not a woman with independent thoughts. Although Jane approves of St. John's morality, she is unwilling to sacrifice love to become the kind of woman that St. John wants her to be.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question. I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
This is one of the more famous quotations from the novel because it provides an immediate sense of Jane's personality, as well as her position of lonely inferiority among her cousins at Gateshead. In the first line, it seems as if Jane desires to take a walk and is upset that she cannot. However, with the addition of the later lines, it becomes clear that Jane actually dislikes long walks - even from the very beginning of the novel, Bronte informs the readers that Jane is an atypical character who will make some surprising decisions. This opening quotation also describes the extent of Jane's loneliness and unhappiness with the Reed family; it is because of her empty childhood that Jane thirsts for the family and love that she will find with Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Manor.
I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time; - I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not - did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies: I have heard of good genii: - there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good-night!
This quotation occurs immediately after Bertha Mason has set Mr. Rochester's bed on fire and Jane has rescued him. Mr. Rochester discards his sarcasm for one of the first times in the novel and acknowledges that he feels a significant emotional connection to Jane. This intimate moment is only possible because of Mr. Rochester's vulnerable position, and both the reader and Jane begin to see some of the person who lives beneath his brooding and tormented exterior. Bronte will continue to explore the idea that Jane and Mr. Rochester are kindred spirits as the novel continues, but even these few lines lay the seeds for the fiery passion that will pervade Jane's relationship with Mr. Rochester.
I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead you must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about. We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me. By dying young I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.
This speech comes when Helen Burns is dying in Jane's arms at Lowood School. Although she only appears for a few chapters, Helen and her view of Christianity become very significant to Jane as she grows into adulthood. Helen argued for turning the other cheek: accepting the injustice and unhappiness of the earthly world because of the joys that await in heaven. Although Jane does not wholly agree with Helen's passivity, particularly in the face of the torments at Lowood, she admires Helen's strength of faith. Still, Jane fears for her friend's death and the inevitable loneliness that will come when she is gone. Helen strives to convince Jane not to be unhappy because she is finally fulfilling her destiny and finding peace with God.
Reader, I married him. A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.
This quotation comes after Jane has gone to Ferndean and discovered the newly-blinded Mr. Rochester. Up until this point in the text, Jane has always maintained a subservient position to Mr. Rochester. However, with the inheritance from her uncle, Jane is now an independent woman and can take charge of her own destiny. Moreover, with the loss of Mr. Rochester's eyesight, he becomes vulnerable and dependent on Jane; he can no longer maintain his former position as the superior male. Thus, instead of using the subservient "He married me," in which Mr. Rochester is the dominating partner, Jane takes the superior in the relationship: "I married him." However, this inequality is resolved when Mr. Rochester regains the use of one of his eyes; Jane and Mr. Rochester are finally able to support a relationship of mutual respect and quality.
You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it.
This speech occurs when Mr. Rochester tells Jane about Adele's origins and his affair with Celine Varens. Mr. Rochester's assertion that Jane has never felt love is not necessarily false. At this point in her sheltered life, Jane has barely experienced familial love, not to mention romantic love. Mr. Rochester's conclusion about Jane's emotional experience also emphasizes her inferior position in their relationship. Because he has experienced many kinds of love, Mr. Rochester is ultimately wiser and thus, superior to his naive governess. However, Bronte suggests that Jane actually possesses far more wisdom and clarity about love that Mr. Rochester: she is the only one of the two who is able to resist the call of animal passion and resist the temptation to become his mistress.
Why, I suppose you have a governess for her: I saw a person with her just now - is she gone? Oh, no! there she is still behind the window-curtain. You pay her, of course: I should think it quite as expensive, - more so; for you have them both to keep in addition...You should hear mama on the chapter of governesses: Mary and I have had, I should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them detestable and the rest ridiculous, and all incubi - were they not, mama?
Jane overhears this speech by Blanche Ingram during one of the social gatherings at Thornfield. Blanche expresses the upper-class prejudice against governesses and other members of the lower-class. Instead of respecting governesses for the work that they must do, Blanches mocks them openly and without any consideration for Jane's presence in the room. In her mind, a governess is nothing more than a servant and worthy of even less respect. This attitude is one that Jane constantly faces as a governess; Mr. Rochester is the only member of high society who ever treats her with respect.
She bit me. She worried me like a tigress, when Rochester got the knife from her...She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart.
This speech takes place after Richard Mason has been attacked by Bertha. Although Mr. Rochester forbids Jane and Richard Mason to speak about what has occurred, Jane cannot help overhearing this clue to the mystery of Thornfield. Through Mason's description, Bronte is able to present Bertha's nature as bestial (as a tigress) and even vampiric, a term in itself that alludes to the Gothic literary tradition. Not only is Bertha akin to the animal world in all its chaos, she is even carnivorous and attempts to suck the life out of her brother in the same way that her presence threatens to suck the life out of Mr. Rochester's happiness with Jane. Bertha's uncontrollable animal nature comes in stark contrast to Jane's placidity and rationality; although Jane possesses some of the same fiery passion that Bertha has, Jane is able to control her inclinations with her humanity.
If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should - so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.
This speech occurs during one of Jane's conversations with Helen Burns at Lowood. Although Helen prescribes to the idea of "turning the other cheek" when mistreated, Jane believes that people should defend themselves to ensure that they are never mistreated again. Jane is unable to mirror Helen's passivity at Lowood and her passion and strength of character will help her to overcome many obstacles in her life. Eventually Jane learns to hide her passion and anger at injustice, but Mr. Rochester will still recognize a kindred spirit beneath her calm exterior.
You must be on your guard against her; you must shun her example: if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers, you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weight well her words, scrutinize her actions, punish her body to saver her soul; if indeed, such salvation be possible for (my tongue falters while I tell it) this girl, this child, the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels before Juggernaut - this girl is - a liar!
Mr. Brocklehurst represents the worst kind of Christianity in the novel. His evangelical sermons, extreme stinginess, and cruel treatment of his students come in sharp contrast with his family's luxurious lifestyle and his embezzlement of school funds. In this particular scene, Mr. Brocklehurst demonstrates the extent of his cruelty by tormenting Jane with false accusations in front of her school peers. Although Mr. Brocklehurst is eventually removed from his position at Lowood, he remains one of the worst obstacles that the child Jane must overcome in order to continue her quest for independence.
Jane Eyre Essays and Related Content
- Jane Eyre: Major Themes
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- Charlotte Bronte: Biography
- Jane Eyre Summary
- About Jane Eyre
- Character List
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- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of Volume I, Chapters 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Volume I, Chapters 6-10
- Summary and Analysis of Volume I, Chapters 11-15
- Summary and Analysis of Volume II, Chapters 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Volume II, Chapters 6-11
- Summary and Analysis of Volume III, Chapters 1-6
- Summary and Analysis of Volume III, Chapters 7-12
- The Madwoman in the Attic: Angel or Monster?
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