What really counts are good endings, not flawed beginnings- Ibn Taymiyyah. Through Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte shows that sometimes mistreatment plays a massive role in shaping the person people turn out to be, and the life they end up having. Everything that Jane Eyre goes through is worth it in the end. Jane's search for happiness is like a kind of spiritual journey in which she overcomes a series of trials and hurdles. At the end Jane is a strong woman, she has a place in society and a loving family. She is better than everyone who looked down on her and was a threat to her success.
Jane Eyre is abused a lot in her childhood by her aunt and cousins. At Gateshead, her cousin John Reed torments her frequently. She claims, “ He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions”. (Bronte 13) Even though she was afraid of him, when he hit her Jane does not remain silent and endure it like it is expected of her. She fights back and calls him a “murderer” and a “slave driver”(Bronte 14). By fighting back Jane refuses to accept what is expected of women of her class position. This outspoken and defiant nature leads to her departure from Gateshead.
At the end Jane turns out to be better than John Reed. He spends money on gambling, gets into debt, fails out of college and finally commits suicide. No one misses him except for his mother; while Jane turns out to be far better than him, she has social class and respect.
Mrs. Reed treats Jane worse than her servants; she treats her like a slave. She plays an important role in Jane's hatred for ruthlessness and abuse. Mrs. Reed offers a breaking point for Jane which makes her realize that she should leave Gateshead to a better place. After conflict with John Reed, Mrs Reed locks her in the red room which makes her consider the possibility of going to Lowood as an escape to a better life.
Lowood is a hard journey and still not the right place for Jane. It is an important phase in Jane's life which teaches her an important lessons. Jane learns about friendship and forgiveness through Helen Burns. Helen is Jane's first real friend and has a huge impact on Jane’s life. Jane idolizes her and takes her advice. Helen teaches Jane about forgiveness. She is very patient and tolerant. Jane does not understand Helen's "doctrine of endurance" and how she would not fight back (Bronte 101). Jane believes that when struck people should "strike back again very hard" to the assailant (Bronte 105). This highlights Jane's character as a person who retaliates and speaks up for themselves. However, with Helen's death Jane understands the importance of forgiveness. Later on, Helen’s spiritual strength and humility plays an important role in Jane’s life for forgiving Mrs. Reed. When Jane finds out that her aunt is sick she goes to visit her. Bronte quotes “she regarded (Jane) so icily, (Jane) felt at once that her opinion of (Jane)—her feeling towards (Jane)—was unchanged and unchangeable” (Bronte 439). She tries to fix her relationship with her aunt but Mrs. Reed’s hatred is too much to accept Jane and change herself. It shows how much Jane has changed and grown but Mrs. Reed is still stuck on where Jane left her. Jane has always wanted vengeance but Helen left such a huge mark on Jane’s life that she forgives her aunt.
From Helen and Miss Temple, Jane learns what it like to have someone by their side. When Jane accidentally breaks a slate and Mr Brocklehurst scolds her for it, Miss Temple whispers “Don’t be afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident; you shall not be punished”(Bronte 121). This is the first time someone has shown kindness towards Jane. It shows Jane that there is goodness in the world and that not everyone is evil.
Mr. Brocklehurst is a hypocrite and he starves the girls; this teaches Jane self control. He is very strict in discipline. He makes sure that all the girls are plain and simple which makes Jane into a very simple person and things like wealth and money do not attract her.
Bronte does not accept the idea of a weak female. She portrays Jane Eyre as a strong woman, especially after Jane moves to Thornfield and becomes a governess. Jane falls in love with Rochester but she also realizes that she wants to be treated equally. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” (Bronte 483). She shows Rochester that she is an independent woman with the right to choose whatever she wants and no one can take that away from her. Mr. Rochester always shows superiority over her but she puts him in place.
Bronte shows Jane Eyre become more aware as she grows up. She understands what is right and what is wrong. When Jane finds out that Mr. Rochester is married, she knows that it is wrong to stay with him. Mr. Rochester wants to marry Jane even though he has a wife which is illegal and immoral. Jane’s decision shows that she is able to reason and understand moral and civil laws and individualism. Even though Rochester tries to tempt her into staying when she finds out that Rochester was married. She says “I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God” (Bronte 605). She does not get tempted with his excuses and become his mistress. She does not want a life where she has to compromise or be cheated on in any way. She wants to be an equal, not a lower person and Rochester having a wife is against everything she desires. This decision helps her in getting her happy ending because at the end everything works out for the best.
At Moor House Jane achieves true individualism. When she gets to Moor House she was lost, she had no money, no luggage, she was broke. There she starts a new life as a headmistress of her own school. She does not depend on anyone; she is the one who is calling the shots. Jane finds out that Maria, Diana and St. John are her real cousins and she finds a home and a family. She finds out who her uncle is and finds her inheritance. She becomes financially independent and everything works out for the best. If Jane Eyre did not call of her engagement with Mr. Rochester none of this would have ever happened and she would have never achieved independence.
Thornfield teaches Jane to be altruistic. She learns to become a bigger person. She gets social equality when she gets her inheritance; she achieves what she had always wanted, a family. When she gets her inheritance she shared it with her cousins. She does not act selfish and keep it all to herself. She knows what it is like to be poor and feeble and she doesn't want her cousins to starve and endure all the hardships she went through. Also, now that Jane has money she could marry whoever she wanted without feeling beholden towards them.
St. John’s proposal is the ultimate turning point that makes Jane realize her desire for love. She realizes that her happy ending is with Rochester not St. John. St. John does not love her, he is dedicated to his work. “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s wife[...] 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”(Bronte 771). He proposes her, but only because sees her as an ideal missionary wife who can help him preach. He believes in keeping feelings for love and passion inside and in being dutiful to God. Jane realizes that she can not marry where she does not love and that she can not continue to deny her passion. Jane Eyre insists that true love should be based on equality, mutual understanding and respect. St. John proposal makes her realize that she wants love i.e Rochester. This proposal leads Jane Eyre out of Moor House, to Ferdean where she gets her happily ever after and have kids with Rochester. Her decision to go to Rochester is something she decides after she has figured herself out.
Jane goes through self realization. In the beginning Jane thinks thinks of herself as a nobody. She said to herself“You […] a favorite with Mr. Rochester? You gifted with the power of pleasing him? YOU of importance to him in any way [...] How dare you? Poor stupid dupe” (Bronte 303). When she finds out she likes him she mocks mocks herself for even thinking that he would even looks at her. She has a very low self confidence. After she finds herself in Moor House and becomes financially independent, she realizes that she is someone. She becomes confident in herself, she thinks herself as an equal. She also realizes what she wants in life and she rejects St. Johns proposal. She realizes that he did not possess what she desired, true love. St. John wanted her as a missionary wife who would be like an assistant but Jane desired love. She felt like Rochester was calling her and she left to get her happily ever after.
At the end, Jane gets a happy ending with a man she loves. After everything she has been through life works out for her. She gets married, has children and finds herself. Her mistreatment plays a massive role in shaping the person she turns out to be and the life she ends up having.
Everything happens for a reason. We should stay head strong and positive to face all the adversities in life.
Brontë Charlotte. Jane Eyre. W F Howes Ltd, 2013.