Love at any Cost
Jane Eyre on all levels is a coming of age story. However, if we dig a little below the surface it quickly becomes also a story about finding love. On page 66 Jane has a conversation with Helen, when she says, “No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough: if other 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 let it dash its hoof at my chest.” This shows Jane’s desperation to find some love in her life, be it romantic, or just a friend. She is willing to suffer any pain, and any blow for just a chance at it.
This gives Jane’s character an heir of desperation about her. Love itself is fickle, and if one is willing mangle their body, or lay themselves upon a sword, their life must truly be in tatters. Bronte does a great job of justifying these extreme emotions/thoughts of Jane’s by first introducing us to her cousins, Jack especially. Her “home” life is such a miserable experience that we actually feel bad for Jane when she begins her speech to Helen. Without the brutish character of Jack, Jane would come off as being a sniveling dramatist.
Also, by making Jane a reader of books it gives more credit to her mind set. As a trope in writing, the trait of reading books carries a connotation of romanticism. Although, Jane’s version of this romanticism brings with it a dark side, she still sees that as a risk worth taking. It’ll be interesting to see this theme of love and the desperation for it unfold as the rest of the novel does. As it stands right now, Jane is a character who will sacrifice anything to get what she needs (in a good way).
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Dover Publications, 2002. Print.