Representation of Love in Jane Eyre
The analysis of love is based on two characters: Jane and Rochester. Jane is first portrayed as an orphaned 10-year old girl. The initial setting is Mrs. Reed’s house where she is subjected to unfair treatment. The Reeds later send her to Lowood as a punishment for lying. Jane struggles against adversity but does not harbor hatred and revenge. She trains as a teacher and secures a job to coach Adele, who is an illegitimate daughter of Rochester. Later, Rochester’s wife dies and Jane accepts Rochester’s hand in marriage. In all her entire life, Jane expresses love to the people she encounters. Through an analysis of Jane’s values, this paper asserts that sacrifice, integrity, and attention make love idea and worthwhile. On the other hand, the lack of these qualities makes love illegitimate and immoral.
A person exhibits sacrifice when he/she is ready to offer something to for the betterment of another person without expecting anything in return. It is a precious deed which expresses a great sense of humanity. Bront portrays that one of the important qualities that make love worthwhile is a sacrifice.
Sacrifice as a feature of love is shown through characterization and setting. The main character in this work of literature who expresses the qualities of love is Jane. She is orphaned at an early age of ten years. The death of her parents greatly affects her life. From the time she is orphaned, she lives with Mr. and Mrs. Reed, her uncle and aunt. The setting at the Reeds house vividly shows characters who cannot sacrifice to accommodate Jane as an expression of love. The Reed family takes care of Jane out of the pity of being orphaned but not because of parental love. Jane misses parental affection in the Reed family. Mrs. Reed is excessively domineering and shows anger and hatred to Jane. Jane Eyre is affected by the bad treatment to the extent she decides to demonstrate. The anger in Jane can be seen in her words. She compares the son of Mrs. Reed to a slave driver. John, the son of Mrs. Reed is not ready to offer the sacrifice of accommodating a girl who is not his blood sister in their home. He frustrates Jane’s life in the family. Jane compares the boy to a Roman emperor, who harbors insatiable thirst for power.
“You are like a slave driver, like a Roman Eperor!” (Brontë 4)
Jane uses these symbols to protest the unfair treatment that she is subjected to in the Reeds family. These symbols show that Mrs. Reed and her son are excessively domineering. The icy relationship makes Jane’s life in the Reed family frustrating. Clearly, Mrs. Reed is not willing to sacrifice and love the child of another woman. Therefore, lack of sacrifice makes love immoral. The Reeds punish Jane for this criticism by locking her in the red room. Red, in this case represents showing strength over the other person by subjecting them to danger.
“Take her to the red room and lock her there” (Brontë 7)
The lack of sacrifice is shown by the discrimination perpetrated against Jane. The Reeds consider Jane as an outsider and cannot offer her the love that they can offer to a family member. The discrimination makes Jane conclude that the gap between her and the Reeds cannot be bridged. She claims she was born upstairs, denoting that she occupies a lower social status compared to the Reeds family. Discrimination makes love illegitimate.
However, some characters exhibit sacrifice as an expression of love through sacrifice. Rochester, for example shows that he is considerate and forgiving in his interaction with members of the family. Rochester‘s wife cheats on him and conceives out of wedlock. Though the dishonesty greatly affects the relationship, Rochester accepts the daughter that is a result of infidelity. Since Rochester respects humanity, he accepts to take care of Adele, the consequence of dishonesty. Rochester also unsuccessfully sacrifices to save his wife from a burning house. Unfortunately, the wife jumps from the roof and dies. Rochester attracts a lot of admiration from Jane for the heroic act. In the event of saving the wife, Rochester breaks his leg and loses his eyes. Rochester shows readiness to risk his life for the sake of love. In this instance, sacrifice portrays love as ideal and worthwhile.
Integrity, in the context of love, is more than being honest. It is a foundation of a deep relationship and a worthwhile union. Jane harbors an open heart and presents situations honestly as a foundation of integrity. She does not shy away from revealing the things that make her unhappy. She sets her conscious free by refusing to hide the things that oppress her. She openly expresses her judgment as her defense. She blasts Mrs. Reed by locking her up in a dark room and says Mrs. Reed wants her dead
“My uncle Reeds, papa and mama are in heaven and know how you shut me up and wish me dead” (Jane Eyre 24).
Jane is religious in her above narration. She contrasts the fruit of love, which is heaven with the hell. From the judgment, we can tell that the place for Mrs. Reed is hell for her lack of integrity in valuing love. Love harbors good values and people should express them in actions, not in the lips. Jane perceives love as the consciousness to uphold the truth, which is a characteristic of love. In expressing integrity as an essential component of love, Jane refuses to marry John Rivers. Jane realizes that there is no common value of love between her and the clergyman, hence, refuses the proposal. She openly expresses her judgment that John Rivers’ intention is to mate and not love. She says that she can only be involved in a marriage that is bound by love (Brontë 412).
Jane observes that Mr. Rochester harbors great integrity and admires him for that quality. In the case Rochester was not married, Jane could have presented herself to be married to him. However, Jane is guided by the morality of integrity and cannot marry a married man.
According to the findings of Jane, integrity and sacrifice complement to make life ideal and worthwhile. The readiness to sacrifice is fanned by the sense of integrity. The two factors are rewards of love. Jane openly expresses her love for Rochester. She says that being Rochester’s wife is the happiest thing that she can experience on earth (Brontë 441). She bases her expression of love on the admiration of the love values that Rochester has. She says Rochester has the values of integrity and sacrifice. Jane reciprocates by sacrificing to love Rochester, who is a blind man.
Attention is a deliberate decision to show respect and care for other people. Love is built by the habit of giving and taking, driven by fair feeling. Attention is a channel of appreciating love values. Love is made real through directing attention to the other person. Jane harbors the quality of attention in her engagement with people. She expresses great attention to care for the people around her. When she is undergoing education in Lowood, a disease attacks poor children in the area. Jane takes the bravery to criticize the authority for lacking the attention to employ preventive measures to save the children. Jane defends attention as a show of love as she cannot stand looking at the poor being treated unfairly. She is brave enough to express criticism and bring to attention the suffering of the weak and poor (Brontë 65).
The values of sacrifice, attention and integrity make love idea and worthwhile. The values transfer the good standards love shares. The life of Jane reflects that love harbors the inherent quality to share. Sharing forms the human values that contribute to a better society. Sharing exist if there is a deliberate motive of sacrifice and integrity. The consequent love strengthens unity in the society.