The novel “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte consists of the continuous journey through Jane’s life towards her final happiness and freedom. This is effectively supported by five significant physical’ journeys she makes, which mirror the four emotional journeys she makes. 10-year-old Jane lives under the custody of her Aunt Reed, who hates her. Jane resents her harsh treatment by her aunt and cousins so much that she has a severe temper outburst, which results in her aunt sending her to Lowood boarding school. At the end of the eight years, she has become a teacher at Lowood.
At the age of eighteen she seeks independence and becomes governess at Thornfield Hall. Over time, Jane falls in love with its master, Edward Rochester, who eventually proposes to her. On their wedding day, the sermon is abruptly halted by the announcement that Rochester’s insane wife is kept locked up in the attic of Thornfield. Jane runs away. Penniless and almost starving, Jane roams the countryside in search of shelter, until she finds the house of St John, Mary, and Diana Rivers, who take her in and nurse her back to health.
Jane then acquires an unexpected inheritance from her uncle. One night, Jane hears’ Mr Rochester’s voice calling for her, and decides to return to Thornfield immediately. On her return, she finds Thornfield to be a “blackened ruin” due to a fire which has left Rochester blind with only one arm and killed his wife. Jane goes to Rochester’s new home, and they are married. Jane’s physical’ journeys contribute significantly to plot development and to the idea that the novel is a journey’ through Jane’s life.
Jane Eyre’s” chronological structure also emphasises this idea, the journey progresses as time goes on. Each journey causes her to experience new emotions and an eventual change of some kind. These actual’ journeys help Jane on her four figurative’ journeys, as each one allows her to reflect and grow. The journey only ends when she finds true happiness. Jane makes her journey from Gateshead to Lowood at the age of ten, finally freeing her from her restrictive life with her aunt. Before making her journey, Jane’s feelings are conveyed by Bronte through the use of pathetic fallacy: … he grounds, where all was still petrified under the influence of hard frost. ”
The word choice here reflects Jane’s situation – she is like the ground, petrified’ under the influence of her aunt, whose behaviour is mirrored in the term “hard frost” because of the icy discipline she bestows. Mrs Reed’s attitude towards Jane highlights one of the main themes of the novel, social class. Jane’s aunt sees Jane as inferior as she had humble beginnings: she is “less than a servant”. Jane is glad to be leaving her cruel aunt and of having the chance of going to school.
Eight years later, when Jane travels from Lowood to Thornfield, she is much more contented. She has come to be respected by the teachers and pupils at Lowood, largely due to the influence of her teacher, Miss Temple, to whose instruction she “owed the best part of her acquirements” and who had stood her “in the stead of mother, governess, and latterly, companion”. Jane has found in Miss Temple what Mrs Reed always denied her. This particular journey marks a huge change in Jane’s life; it is a fresh start for her: “A new chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play… ”
This comment also shows that Jane herself thinks of the move as a new beginning and is looking forward to her “new duties” and her “new life”. When Jane arrives in the town of Millcote, she is fearful: “… I am not very tranquil in my mind…… I looked anxiously around….. all sorts of doubts and fears are troubling my thoughts. ” Her anxiety, though, is counterbalanced by the “charm of adventure”; Jane is finally independent and in control of her own life.
Although journeying into the completely unknown, Jane does not look back, only forward to her new life and her freedom at Thornfield: … I saw a galaxy of lights… ” Jane’s reference to galaxy’ highlights the idea that she is not only alone in the world but alone in the whole universe at this point, yet she is excited and fascinated by this. The third important journey which Jane makes is from Gateshead back to Thornfield having visited her Aunt Reed on her deathbed. By then Jane realises that she loves Rochester, but has no idea that her feelings are reciprocated. A key theme is raised: Jane has a fierce desire to love and be loved.
She feels alone and isolated when she has no friends around her. This is a stark contrast to the search for money, social position, God etc. – which drive the other characters. These contrasting themes reinforce Jane’s affectionate nature, intelligence, and sense of justice, all of which are strengthened with every journey she makes. During this journey, Jane is afraid of what the future holds for her. She believes at this point that Mr Rochester is going to marry Blanche Ingram, and that she will have to leave Thornfield and never see Mr Rochester again.
For a week before Jane’s departure, she dreams of a baby each night: “… a dream of an infant… it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me.. ” This recurrent image is possibly personification of the innocence and vulnerability of Jane herself: she has to support herself and still feels alone because she does not believe that Rochester loves her. Jane is not enthusiastic about returning to a place so filled with bad memories, but doing so allows her to finally put her experiences at Gateshead behind her.
Making this journey shows that she has become strong enough to face her aunt as an equal and that she no longer resents her. When returning to Thornfield Jane is unhappy; she feels a mixture of anticipation and fear for the future. Preparation for the pain she will feel when Rochester marries distresses her. Nature again mimics Jane’s situation and emotions: “… the sky, though far from cloudless, was such as promised well for the future… it seemed as if there was a fire lit, an altar burning behind its screen of marbled vapour, and out of apertures shone a golden redness. ”
The sky, here, symbolises what is to happen to Jane – the clouds depict that only heartache seems to be ahead for her, but actually she is about to become indescribably happy. The fire represents Jane’s strength of character – although so many terrible things are happening to her, her spirit remains unbroken. “Golden” symbolises her goodness and purity, while the “redness” symbolises the passionate feelings she has for Rochester. However, her happiness is short-lived.
When Jane flees from Thornfield after the discovery of Mrs Rochester, she is more distraught than she has ever been: … ay you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. ” Alliteration displays the depth of her anger, and Bronte’s use of strong metaphors is highly effective in conveying Jane’s sorrow.
“Stormy” describes her turmoil. Her tears cause her so much pain that they “scald” her face. There seems no hope or happiness left in her heart. Despite this journey being so traumatic for Jane it is an important one for her personal development, she shows astonishing bravery amidst total despair.
Religious imagery highlights this: Jane has vowed to “keep the law given by God, not by man. ” She is doing what she thinks God would consider right, sacrificing her happiness rather then committing a sin. Jane “hearing” Rochester’s voice calling to her prompts her final physical journey from Marsh End to Ferndean: “… it did not seem in the room – nor in the house – nor in the garden: it did not come out of the air – nor from under the earth – nor from overhead… where, or whence, for ever impossible to know! ”
Jane has not actually “heard” Rochester in a literal way; she senses that he is crying out for her. This event takes place after she asks God for guidance, linking the theme of religion to that of the supernatural, guiding hers and Rochester’s fate. On arrival at Ferndean, Jane and Rochester’s relationship blossoms once again, but differently than before. In the past, Jane felt like an inferior to Rochester because he was her employer and was wealthy. Jane now feels at “perfect ease”, her “whole nature” having been “brought to life and light.
Her personality has developed; she can now tease Rochester and make him jealous as they are now on a more equal footing, both emotionally and financially: “I love you better now, when I can be really useful to you, than I did in your state of proud independence…. ” Rochester has been made a better man because of his disabilities, he is no longer the arrogant master, he must depend physically on Jane as much as she depends emotionally on him. The great irony here is that Rochester can only see the way to happiness now that he is blind. Their marriage is what finally brings Jane true happiness.
These five journeys mirror Jane’s four emotional journeys. She transforms from an immature child to an intelligent, accomplished adult at Lowood. Jane also changes gradually from innocent and naive to mature and strong-willed. Both her experiences at Thornfield, where she learns what it is like to love and to feel loved, and her time of reflection at Marsh End, where she has time to clear her head and discovers her true family roots facilitate this. The time Jane spends at Marsh End allows her to gain a new perspective, she now sees that loving Rochester is not enough, they must be equals and have no secrets.
She sees that she was right when she “adhered to principle and law, and scorned and crushed the insane promptings of a frenzied moment. ” To start with, Jane is oppressed by her aunt and is allowed no will of her own, she is completely “a dependant” and has “no money”. This situation improves enormously when Jane goes to Lowood, although she is still a servant in Thornfield until she runs away to Marsh End, where she must still depend on others in order to survive. Jane eventually gains her freedom through her inheritance, and the fact that she no longer has to depend on Rochester.