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How does Bronte portray Jane as an independent woman in the novel?
Bronte is very successful at presenting Jane Eyre as an individual, who is completely different from most Victorian women of her class. From a young age, we see that Jane has been left on her own and never really felt that she was part of any family. “Bad animal” is a remark from her cousin John, who bullied her at Gateshead. However, Jane grew a passionate nature, which was deemed very ‘unnatural’ for a child like her. These passionate feelings allowed Jane to grow into her own person, and develop her morals and beliefs.
Throughout the novel, it is evident that Jane strongly believed that she had to be dependant upon herself, and stay true to her beliefs. Bronte carefully shows that Mr Rochester’s attempts to give Jane jewels, as though the jewels would raise her status from a governess to a different person, were in vain. “Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange” portrays that in order for Jane to stay true to herself, she must stick to who she is, and not be swayed by anyone else. Similarly, Bronte uses Jane’s sensible nature when telling Mr Rochester that she will be Adele’s governess until after their wedding shows the reader how Jane is not easily led. This reinforces that her love for Mr Rochester is true as Jane Eyre is not a liar and is independent.
Unlike most of the Victorian women of her era, Jane does not feel an obligation to marry the richest man she can find. Instead, Charlotte Bronte presents Jane’s independency because Jane Eyre never looked for love, but instead, she found it. Almost instantly, the readers can see that Jane has chosen the right man to marry.
Bronte uses juxtaposition with St John Rivers to highlight how, without Mr Rochester, Jane now feels unsure of herself. It contrasts with her strong and confident nature beforehand. St John Rivers is a domineering man who broke Jane’s independence. However, when he asked her to go to India ‘as my wife’, Jane realises that she has not been true to herself and instantly becomes independent of herself again.
Through the novel, Bronte ensures that the reader can see how Jane’s indepence grows with Rochester, but not with St John Rivers. This, as readers, shows us that Jane’s independent nature thrives with people that accept her for who she is, but even with those such as John Reed who were cruel to her, or domineering (St John Rivers), her true feelings show through because she believes in her morals and individual beliefs.