Books and Movies Reviews

Themes in Jane Eyre

In the following excerpt, Kramer examines the interplay between Jane’s concern for equality and her urges to submit or rebel.
The fact is that the motivating forces of Jane Eyre’s personality are not sexual concepts at all but personal concepts. She reacts as she does to erotic situations not because of repressions or of desires to emasculate or castrate her menfolk but because she fully understands her own motivations. She also comprehends the significance of alternatives she is presented with, and the states of life that her choice of action can lead her to. Unlike the actions of modern protagonists, whose lives are a continual process of self-frustration and self-discovery, Jane’s conform to her principles and her understanding of her moral and physical needs.
Jane herself controls the point of view and provides the standards by which she herself and all the other characters are evaluated; thus she herself is not only the principal integrating force in the novel but is also the most complex character in the story, with instincts and standards at odds with each other. The psychological action will therefore be the interplay of divergent impulses within her, and the final reconciling or proper ordering of these impulses will be the principal part of the final resolution of the novel as a whole. She demonstrates her self-confessed impulsiveness, her vehemence, curiosity, and rebellious nature, she admits that she cannot live without love but is independent enough to castigate Mrs. Reed, the person whom in other circumstances it would be the most natural for her to love. Again, by the time she becomes involved with Rochester, she communicates clearly the various conflicting impulses that impel her to thought and action. She consciously allows her attraction to Rochester to have temporary sway, enjoys a sublimated coquetry with him in argument, uses both common sense and impassioned self-chastisement to rid her mind of fancies that …

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