Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jane Eyre 36-38 (conclusion)

What do you make of the end? Much has been written. Much has been said in response to the novel's tidy but unsettling conclusion. Let's look closely. Like chapter 26 the final several chapters reshape how we make sense of what we have already read. Earlier there is a turning away; here there is a turning toward. What do we make of it in terms of what the end says about passion, morality, the social order (& the natural order for that matter), fulfillment of the self, etc.?

15 comments:

Brianna A said...

Today in class we talked actually a lot about the book, The Catcher in the Rye. We talked about Holden as a character in detail and then compared him to Jane. As Amy and Hayden pointed out, Holden is very hard to stick around because he is so "phony" and ironic. We are so involved inside his head that we start to dislike that he runs in circles around his own issues. Mr.Cook commented on how he could sympathize with Holden because of the hurtful things that happen to Holden. Jane, as we compared is different from Holden because she knows who she is. She doesn't try to say "screw you!" to her school or anything so rebellious teenager like. Jane is more just true to herself, and in that process she grows beyond her family and her school and thornfield and moor house, everywhere. We also talked about rewards and the religious meaning in this book. Religion is never a very big issue seen I feel like with Jane because she believes in God's will and she is still trying to understand where she lies within it all. This goes back to Helen and Broklehurst but also returns with Rochester, and hugely with St. John. As I saw on last year's blogging, the 09ers commented on how Jane uses her religion to fall back on, like Britta said because she used it to not marry Rochester and Britta was very frustrated that Jane would never just follow her heart and do what she actually wants rather than try to please some sort of order. I think its interesting that when Jane is trying to be true to herself she sometimes compromises what she really wants, obviously when she chooses not to stay with Rochester. But then again this choice is not compromising herself because she doesn't fall to being a mistress, something beneath her beliefs. Jane and Rochester are very different from St. John which we discussed also in class. St. John is doing everything for his reward with God, he supresses his own passion (for Rosamond especially) for the reward. Bronte makes us see how Jane and St. John relate to each other because they are both supressing their passions. St. John is doing it because he believes he is right to, so that he can reach the divine with god. So then why is Jane? Jane is trying to stay true to herself because she knows-religiously and morally-that it is not right to be with Rochester, but she also knows that's where her passion lies. In the end it all works out for everyone. St. John gets his divine reward, Rochester gets his true love, Jane gets a family, wealth, and a husband and even Bertha gets her firey release of passion (which nicely enough, brings everyone together again). So why does Bronte end it with St.John and his heavenly reward? Bronte shows Jane reflecting on being human and sad for St.John's death, but happy because she knows he is getting what he really wants. Maybe its Bronte saying if you are true to yourself--whether you believe that passion should be contained and put into gods work, or should be raging and wild, or should be true and moral then you will get YOUR reward. Maybe that is what makes us soulmates, or have a one true love, deserving the same rewards which could be each other.

Megan Keegan said...

I think that the ending of Jane Eyre is appropriate in regards to the novel as a whole but is a bit cliché. Since Jane was involved with Rochester at a time where things were both complicated and hectic, it was bound to happen that the two of them rekindle their relationship at some point. This being said, the way she finds Mr. Rochester is almost too much. He is blind and helpless and she is rich, young and plentiful. It’s a time in his life when he needs her in order to survive. This is a parallel to how they were before, when he had all the money and power and she felt inferior to him. The social order between them has shifted, not so they are considered as equals but so that she in fact holds the power.
The passion between Jane and Mr. Rochester is so rich that no amount of time can wear it down. The second that Mr. Rochester learns of Jane coming to find him, he is in the same mind set that he was when they were about to be married. For Jane, Rochester never really left her mind. She was always thinking of him even when she was at Moor House. St. John made her think even more of Rochester because his mannerisms presented him as the anti-Rochester. When St. John wanted to marry Jane, her problem with the union was that he felt no passion towards her. The only person that even held that passion for her was Mr. Rochester. In this regard, it was bound to happen that Jane and he ended up together in the end.

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

I agree with Megan that the way in which Jane is brought back into Rochester's life is suiting but cliché. As their social status switch, it makes it easy for Jane to be with Rochester not only because Bertha is now dead, but because she no longer feels the insecurity of Rochester being her superior. As we talked about in class, Bronte brings Jane back to people from her past in order to show progression in her character. Jane's re-encounter with the Reeds is very similar to the one with Rochester where she is now in a better position then they were before she had left them. My only dislike about this ending is that it all came to easy, after such a complicated novel.

Meredith S said...

The apparently “happily ever after” ending of Jane Eyre is certainly well-deserved by Jane, but beyond this it also manages to balance out challenges that were created earlier in the book. If Jane and Rochester had continued their relationship after their aborted wedding and the discovery of Bertha, the power of each side would never have been equal. Rochester would have had all of the money and control, forcing Jane to sacrifice her independence to be with him. Jane was torn between principle and love.
The ending resolves this specific dilemma. Rochester, blind and crippled, depends on Jane to assist him. His physical disabilities diminish his ability to function normally without help. Jane says on page 454, “…for I was his vision, as I am still his right hand.” Rochester’s dependence on Jane in addition to her money from the inheritance allows the marriage to be equal rather than skewed in Rochester’s favor. The marriage is balanced because Jane is permitted to fully be her genuine self without sacrificing bits and pieces for what she wants. Her principles, values, and passion stay intact and alive.
The ending may seem to settle this issue a bit too perfectly, but this is necessary because Jane cannot resolve the inner conflicts she experienced throughout the book unless the ending demonstrates that the struggles were not meaningless. Jane is a character with a very particular philosophy on life that is developed over the course of the story. She could not have gotten to the “happy ending” without all the toil she experienced while developing this philosophy beforehand. From a distance, it seems that Jane does conform to the social order. She gets married, has children, etc. However, when examined more closely, it is apparent that her life is not typical at all because she has found “true love” which allows her to have a structured life that is extraordinarily happy and free on deeper levels.

Francesco P said...

i have a few things i wanted to address.

Today in class we paralleled the significance of Jane Eyre’s ending with the overall tone of Catcher in the Rye. Both novels exemplify the self’s dilemma within a society to comply with the social order without violating their individual ethical principles. In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s perspective of the noblest thing to be is the force that prevents the inevitable plunge from innocent naivety into his perceived ingenuity of reality. As, Mr. Cook said, this is obviously impractical as, growing up is inevitable, ergo lie’s the dilemma. How does one preserve the ethical standards, and morals of their identity, if they are in direct conflict with the social order? Jane, although, maintains her authenticity by refusing to violate her principles and in result is “rewarded by god” with her fairly tale like ending. Through this, Charlotte Bronte is strongly suggesting her critique of our society, or perhaps the society of 19th century England. The implication is that through the convenience of slightly doubtful circumstances, Jane’s inheritance and Rochester’s maiming, Jane may attain her happiness and keep her principles. This although contradicts Jane’s original innate desire for equality, and seems to suggest that the resulting outcome could only have been possible under the circumstances which flipped the positions of Jane and Rochester. In that sense, Bronte appears to suggest that genuine equality cannot seem to exist. By the acknowledgement of one inequality, follows the acknowledgment for the necessity of some form of an evolutionary social advancement. By the intention of resolving one inequality, another is created.

Francesco P said...

Also, I’ve been reflecting on the original question posed in the initiation of AP English, on ‘as one begins to become conscious of the reality of the social order, one must make the choice of complying with it, rejecting some aspects and accepting others, or rejecting it altogether. In many circumstances one must sacrifice parts of their identity in order to fluidly exist within society. In literature, if the sacrifice is conscious by the character, or conscious by the author, introduces whether characters must change to allow themselves to be happy in an imperfect world, or whether “fate” or some outside force will fulfill the genuine desires of the individual, by having to discreetly contravene the individuals principles.


A predominant prerequisite of maturing is the acknowledgement of the social order, and the acknowledgment of yourself simultaneously. As Mr. Cook articulated earlier, it’s very difficult for one to see themselves in true lucidity. If someone can do this though, as Jane’s introspective nature allows her to do, while still retaining the ability to observe and be aware of their environment with clarity, it creates a double consciousness. They are capable of living with content satisfaction within a society that can never genuinely be compatible with an individual’s sense of reality and ethics. Bronte is vaguely suggesting through Jane, the difficulty of such an aspiration, as in the end Jane does not accept the inequality of her relationship with Rochester, but rather is granted leave from it, by becoming dominant in some manner.


One more thing I wanted to bring up was a statement Mr. St. John articulated, “ All men must die, but all are not condemned to meeting a lingering premature doom, such as yours would be if you perished here of want.” What I interpreted from this, is that the incompliance of the social order does not necessarily bring you closer to any significant objective. I took the unavoidable condemnation of ‘early’ death to signify the inevitable flawed social aspects. If one were to remain docile and passive to their wants, rather than using their volition to improve their circumstances they would not be aiming towards any sincere goal, and by that forfeit the potentiality of their existence; although Jane is hardly one who remains passive to circumstances which contradict her sense of self. With reluctant and yet willful intentions she quickly departs Thornfield, when her internal principles are challenged. By intervening with her position in leaving, rather than allowing it to become the flawed ingenuity of her position as a mistress, she allowed the course of events to bring her closer to a more satisfying contentment.

Molly A said...

We left our previous discussion analyzing the transformation that Jane and Rochester had to go through in order for them to be happily married as equals.
There is no point in the novel where (through Jane's perspective) they are equal. He either has all the money and power, or is handicapped and fully dependent on her. However, the EMPHASIS that is put on that equality, or lack there of between Jane and Rochester, is probably a product of Jane's self consciousness. She lived her life overcoming obstacles and ignoring most pessimism. Along with those traits, she had control in every aspect of her life maintaining her principles. After meeting Rochester, and developing a relationship, his affluence intimidated her.
In a discussion earlier in the book we stated that we as readers were always under the impression that monetary value didn't attract or repel her. However, monetary equality becomes such a main focus in those last chapters, it becomes evident that it was an important factor all along.

nFrye said...

Nancy F.

As we have discussed in class, a huge part of Jane Eyre is the religious background of the author and her characters. I find the parallels between St. John and Mr. Brockelhurst very interesting because, while they both appear to hold the same ideas close to them, Brockelhurst is hypocritical, as Mr. Cook pointed out. However, St. John is not exactly the character that a reader longs to be, even though what he holds dear is a noble cause. When I was reading, I found St. John to be a terrible, cold character, which he even admits to being. His opposition to passion makes him an unhappy and undesirable character. Just as Amy and Hayden stated that they so disliked Holden because he seemed like such an unhappy, unlikeable person, so do I feel about St. John. Because of my feelings towards St. John, due to Jane's description of him, as well as the translation of her own feelings about him, I found St. John to not be a noble character, despite his mission to aid those poor in India. His attitude and search for a reward made what he was doing seem less noble and made him less of the ideal hero.
I believe that Charlotte Bronte believed much more in Helen and Jane's form of Christianity, where love of others, mercy, and compassion far outweigh the ideas of personal sacrifice. Bronte appears to believe in allowing one's passions to flourish, but not to get out of control. Because both of the characters that believed in sacrifice were shown in a negative light, while Jane and Helen are treated as wonderful people, people with hearts and passions as well as hope and faith in God, I have come to the conclusion that Bronte had chosen a more loving, compassionate Chritianity.

One of the things that I found very strange about this novel is the transformations that Jane goes through. What I had trouble understanding, while everyone else in the class seems to get this, is that I don't find Jane to be particularly full of passion. I see that she has a strong sense of self and holds herself to a certain standard, but I don't see lots of passion. When the book began, Jane was wild and young. After she left Lowood, I found that she had settled down quite a bit, to the point of being almost boring. In my opinion, had the story been written from another perspective, Jane would have been a rather ordinary character, excepting her dealings with Mr. Rochester. I am aware that she is a great reader and artist, that she is very astute, but I don't see a lot of passion. Perhaps other people have a different opinion? I would love to hear it.

Katina T said...

The ending of Jane Eyre ends with the topic of St. John. When I first read this, I was kind of thrown off by the way Bronte ended the novel. I guess I just expected her to end it with a, "Yay, Rochester and Jane get married, the end!" moment. But instead it ends with a letter from St. John, telling Jane about how he is unafraid of death because he believes that he is going to a better place. As I read through some of the blogs from last year, one that caught my attention was one that Britta wrote. Britta compares Jane to St. John, which is something I never thought of doing, but in reality, it makes perfect sense. Jane thinks that staying with Rochester will be morally wrong, so she chooses to leave him in order to stay true to herself. St. John dos the exact same thing with Rosamond. They both want to be the morally right and compromise on what will make them happy. I never noticed this comparison because I've always compared Rochester to St. John, and not Jane. Seeing this resemblence, I understand now why Bronte decided to end the novel the way she did. Jane's story ends with a happiness, marriage, children, etc. St. John is not married, and will probably die alone, but also, is not afraid. Both feel as though they have remained true to what they believed was right. In doing so, although they had to compromise what they wanted, the end results were both victorious: Jane did end up with Rochester, when he didn't have a wife, and St. John, always striving to be true to god, finally believes that as he is close to death, he will end up in heaven. Both have a happy ending, but these endings are extremely different.

nFrye said...

We discussed how Jane's social status was changed by the end of the novel. Molly said that when Rochester was maimed and Thornfield burned down, Jane was made superior to him because she had money and a family with a name and Rochester had become dependent on her. However, by the end of the novel, Bronte was able to level them off. When Rochester regained sight in his right eye, his dependance on Jane lessened, thus putting the two of them on a more level playing field. The message that Bronte was sending was that Jane did not have to be superior to Rochester in order to be with him. It was much more important for them to be equal.

Andrew Ryan said...

From reading the end of Jane Eyre I can see how the novel fits the stereotypical “happily ever after” ending as Meredith said, but personally I thought that the fact that Rochester regains his sight is too fictitious even for this book. As far as the ending goes I see how Jane and St. John could never be together for the rest of their lives. Not only does St. John not have the passion of Rochester, but St. John is not truly interested in Jane’s opinions or feelings. His plan is to use her for his own personal gains which include going to India and he feels he can’t go unless Jane marries him. Jane is also not St. John’s top priorities in life; all his love and passion is directed towards God and appeasing God in his life. Rochester on the other hand loved Jane for who she was so much that he was able block out all his other woes to make room for her in his heart. Granted it was not fair for Rochester to not tell Jane about his other wife but he was doing what he felt was right in that he didn’t just leave her in such a manic state to fend for herself, he tended to her and paid Grace Poole to look after her and to make sure she was safe. Unfortunately it seems he was in a lose-lose situation, because if he did leave her and Jane found out she would probably wouldn’t feel that he would always be there for her and that the passion that he expressed was probably only temporarily. The character of St. John is essential in the novel because he is interpreted as the anti-Rochester and by having a character that is opposite of Rochester, lets Jane realize what she is missing and what she needs in life. Jane is not able to be with Rochester the first time he proposes to her because she feels uncomfortable accepting gifts from him. She as Terry said in class “does not want to be a pity case”, she’s comfortable in her own skin and because of this, she is able to observe people more in depth. Jane does not want to be looked down on and pampered by Rochester; she wants to be on an equal status with Rochester. Rochester changes from the first proposal to the second because instead of Rochester only supporting Jane with his money and social status, Rochester and Jane are able to support each other equally. With the sudden inheritance from her uncle and with the union of her relatives who are popular in the town; Jane has gained wealth and an impressive social status. With this she is able to give aid and her presence Rochester who has been stricken blind, and has lost a hand in the fire at Thornfield, and he give her what she needs which is the passion. Also with Birtha gone, Rochester can give all his attention and love towards Jane. Both characters are so similar in that they don’t want much in life except one another.

Andrew Ryan said...

Ending the book with St. John is significant because even though she did not love him, she still respects him because he has a set of values that he abides by, and nothing will stray him from them. Jane respects this because Jane sticks to her own set of values and beliefs and even though her values are different from his, she is able to appreciate that he will live and die doing God’s work. Rochester’s and Jane’s wedding is significant because they marry with barely anyone there, which reveals that neither of them care what other people might think about the marriage. Jane like St. John is living her life the way she wants to and does not care how people might perceive her in her decisions.

Sabrina said...

At the conclusion of Jane Eyre, I enjoyed reading the end because of the new character that both Jane and Rochester evolved into. I found that their relationship is healthier now that they are on the same page. Before, when Jane had no money she was on a different level and although Rochester liked her, it still seemed as though he wanted her to be someone she was not. Personally, I believe that since Jane and Rochester got married without any big party or people there watching, it meant a lot more. It proves that there is no ties being pulled, it was just out of a love for one another and knowing that there is nothing else that they wanted. Jane knows now that Rochester loves her fully, and she makes it apparent to the reader that she is also in love with him.

Another part of the ending that proves that they make the right decision is when Mr. Rochester tells Jane to leave for St. John if he is better than Rochester. On page 447, Jane goes on telling Rochester that he is the only one for her. "But if you wish me to love you, could you but see how much I do love you, you would be proud and content. All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence for ever." The dialogue at the conclusion of the novel makes up for, in my opinion, a perfect ending.


The only thing that trows off the ending is Jane talking about Mr. Rivers on the last couple pages.
I wish Bronte had kept the ending involving just Jane and Rochester and put the outcome of St. John somewhere else.

Molly A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molly A said...

Throughout the book Jane was determined to have the superior power in her life. That is, with or without money. Yes, she desires money. Who doesn't. Her quote earlier in the book about risking liberty at the price of caste, enlightens us on her opinions involving her DESIRE for money. She would rather be rich because she thinks that rich people are happy. However, she is never willing to give up the power over her life, to someone who has more money, simply because they have more money.
There is a difference between her trying to give up her childhood freedom, and her giving up her adult independence.

As for the equality of their relationship. Yes Rochester gains his sight, and becomes less dependant on Jane. However, look at the levels to which he had to sink in order for their marrige to become justified in her eyes.