"Jane Eyre": Loves vs. Autonomy.

1500 Words Dec 6th, 2005 6 Pages
In the novel by Charlotte Bronte, "Jane Eyre", there is a constant battle of love versus autonomy in Jane, the main character. At points Jane feels as if she would give anything to be loved. Yet over the course of the book Jane needs to learn how to gain affection of others without sacrificing something in return.

In the early stages of Jane's life she was a very autonomous girl. She grew up in a hostile environment in the home of Mrs. Reed and her three children, John, Eliza, and Georgiana that is known as Gateshead. The Reed family showed no love or any sort of affection towards Jane in any way, shape, or form; for they all despised her. She spent most of her time out of contact of others. The most contact she had with someone was a
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When Rochester proposes to Jane she gives in to love. But then becomes afraid of loosing her autonomy and self image. "And then you won't know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's jacket--a jay in borrowed plumes" (Bronte 263). Jane says this to Rochester after he elaborates to Jane about giving her jewels to make her even more beautiful then she already is. But as Jane sees it, if she puts on something that isn't her, she will loose her image of herself, and in addition, her autonomy. She would loose her autonomy because she would be allowing someone to make a decision for her when she is perfectly capable of making it. Her fear of losing her autonomy motivates her refusal of Rochester's marriage proposal. Jane believes that "marrying" Rochester while he remains legally tied to Bertha, Rochester's wife at the time, would mean rendering herself a mistress and sacrificing her own integrity for the sake of emotional gratification.

After refusing to marry Mr. Rochester she leaves Thornfield with no destination. She turns up at the Moor House, the residents there are St. John Rivers and his sisters Diana and Mary. These residents Jane learns are her cousins. After having stayed there for quite some time, St. John starts to have feelings for Jane. In an attempt to hide his true feelings, he asks Jane to marry him for the sole purpose to be his missionary wife in Africa.

Shall I?" I said briefly; and I looked at his
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