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Jane Eyre Notes on the Female Protagonist Themes

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Jane Eyre Topic Tracking: Female Protagonist

Female Protagonist 1: Jane has a vivid imagination and romantic side which cause her to be passionate, "strange" as the Reeds call her, and more emotionally and verbally advanced than other children her age. She is also extremely perceptive, analytical and self-aware. She says:

"Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humor...fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from fairy tales and older ballads...With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way." Chapter 1, pg. 7

Female Protagonist 2: Jane, after yelling at Mrs. Reed, realizes the later negativity of her words, despite their satisfactory nature at the time of performance.

Female Protagonist 3: Breaking down after her public censure, Jane admits her human need for love and affection to Helen. Her words and emotions reveal the great passion of her personality, and the drama of her imagination.

"'No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough; if others don't love me, I would rather die than live--I cannot bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and lit it dash its hoof at my chest.'" Chapter 8, pg. 60

Female Protagonist 4: "Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." Chapter 12, pg. 96

Female Protagonist 5: "Most true is it that 'beauty is in the eye of the gazer.' My master's colorless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,--all energy, decision, will,--were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me: they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,--that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me." Chapter 17, pg. 153

Jane strongly expresses her newfound knowledge of her love for Rochester, unabashedly or dishonestly.

Female Protagonist 6: Jane expresses herself very distinctly at seeing Rochester as she comes over the road, toward Thornfield. The symptoms add up, she is in love:

"Well, he is not a ghost; yet every nerve I have is unstrung: for a moment I am beyond my own mastery. What does that mean? I did not think I should tremble in this way when I saw him--or lose my voice or the power of motion in his presence. I will go back as soon as I can stir: I need not make an absolute fool of myself. I know another way to the house. It does not signify if I knew twenty ways; for he has seen me." Chapter 22, pg. 214

Female Protagonist 7: "I was in my own room as usual--just myself without obvious change: nothing had smitten me, or scathed me, or maimed me...Jane Eyre, who has been an ardent, expectant woman--almost a bride--was a cold, solitary girl again: her life was pale; her prospects were desolate...I looked at my love...it shivered in my heart, like a suffering child in a cold cradle...Mr. Rochester was not to me what he had been, for he was not what I had thought him. I would not ascribe vice to him; I would not say he had betrayed me but the attribute of stainless truth was gone from his idea; and from his presence I must go, that I perceived well." Chapter 26, pg. 260

Jane realizes she must look out for herself and live according to the values she has placed as significant in her life. Rochester finally becomes human for her--no longer an idol--the only locale of equality.

Female Protagonist 8: "As for me, I daily wished more to please him: but to do so, I felt daily more and more that I must disown half of my nature, stifle half my faculties, wrest my tastes from their original bent, force myself to the adoption of pursuits for which I had no natural vocation. He wanted to train me to an elevation I could never reach; it racked me hourly to aspire to the standard he uplifted. The thing was as impossible as to mould my irregular features to his correct and classic pattern, to give to my changeable green eyes the sea-blue tint and solemn lustre of his own." Chapter 34, pg. 351

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