Top Ten Quotes
1) “I resisted all the way: a new thing for me” (Chapter 2). Jane says this as Bessie is taking her to be locked in the red-room after she had fought back when John Reed struck her. For the first time Jane is asserting her rights, and this action leads to her eventually being sent to Lowood School.2) “That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper, of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings. I feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark all the work of my own hands” (Chapter 8). Jane writes of this after she has become comfortable and has excelled at Lowood. She is no longer dwelling on the lack of food or other material things, but is more concerned with her expanding mind and what she can do.3) “While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ears. It was a curious laugh distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped” (Chapter 11). Jane hears this laugh on her first full day at Thornfield Hall. It is her first indication that something is going on there that she does not know about.4) “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags” (Chapter 12). Jane thinks this as she looks out of the third story at the view from Thornfield, wishing she could see and interact with more of the world.5) “The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him” (Chapter 15). Jane says this after Rochester has become friendlier with her after he has told her the story of Adele’s mother. She is soon in love with him and goes on to say, “And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude and many associates, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire” (Chapter 15).6) “I knew,” he continued, “you would do me good in some way, at some time: I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you; their expression and smile did notstrike delight to my inmost heart so for nothing” (Chapter 15) After the fire Rochester tries to get Jane to stay with him longer and he says this to her. This is one of the reasons that Jane feels he fancies her.7) “I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me” (Chapter 17). Jane says this when she sees Rochester again after his absence. She had tried to talk herself out of loving him, but it was impossible. This is also an example of one of the times that Jane addresses the reader.8) “In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell: it groveled, seemingly on all fours: it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair wild as a mane, hid its head and face” (Chapter 26). This is what Rochester, Mason, and Jane see when they return from the stopped wedding and go up to the third story. This is the first time Jane really sees Rochester’s wife.9) “Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt? May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love” (Chapter 27). Jane says this as she is quietly leaving Thornfield in the early morning. She knows that she is bringing grief upon herself and Rochester, but she knows she must leave.10) “Reader, I married him.” This quote, the first sentence in the last chapter, shows another example of Jane addressing the reader, and ties up the end of the story. Jane is matter-of-fact in telling how things turned out.
QUOTATION: Reader, I married him.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane, in Jane Eyre, ch. 38 (1847).
QUOTATION: Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Mr. Brocklehurst, in Jane Eyre, ch. 4 (1847).
QUOTATION: Youpoor and obscure, and small and plain as you areI entreat to accept me as a husband.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Mr. Rochester, in Jane Eyre, ch. 23 (1847).
QUOTATION: If you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 14 (1847).
QUOTATION: Feeling without judgement is a washy draught indeed; but judgement untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (181655), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 21 (1847).
QUOTATION: It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 12 (1847).
QUOTATION: Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 29 (1847).
QUOTATION: Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after- flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 4 (1847).
QUOTATION: Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, Preface (1847).
QUOTATION: One does not jump, and spring, and shout hurrah! at hearing one has got a fortune, one begins to consider responsibilities, and to ponder business; on a base of steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares, and we contain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn brow.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 33 (1847).
QUOTATION: Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgement shall still have the last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Mr. Rochester, in Jane Eyre, ch. 19 (1847).
QUOTATION: You had no right to be born; for you make no use of life. Instead of living for, in, and with yourself, as a reasonable being ought, you seek only to fasten your feebleness on some other persons strength.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Eliza Reed to her sister Georgiana, in Jane Eyre, ch. 21 (1847).
QUOTATION: Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
ATTRIBUTION: Charlotte Bront (18161855), British novelist. Jane Eyre, ch. 12 (1847).
1 – 2 Elaine Gulotta
Christianity in Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte addresses the theme of Christianity in the novel Jane Eyre. Bronte states: “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last” (35). In Jane Eyre, Bronte supports the theme that customary actions are not always moral through the conventional personalities of Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers.
The issue of class is prevalent in the novel. The novel begins in Gateshead Hall when Jane must seat herself away from her aunt and cousins because she does not know how to speak pleasantly to them. She proceeds to seat herself in the breakfast room where she reads a book titled The History Of British Birds. She draws specific attention to the passage that states: “The winds in these introductory pages connected themselves with succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast, to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking” ( 40). Jane resembles the “rock,” because she is also standing alone. She is an orphan who lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, who possesses a higher standing in society. Due to Jane’s lower class standing, Mrs. Reed treats Jane as an outcast. As Bessie and Miss Abbot drag Jane to the “red room,” a most gruesome and scary room for a child, she is told by Miss Abbot: “No; you are less than a servant for you do nothing for your keep” ( 44). She must stay in the red room after she retaliates to the attack John Reed makes upon her, her obnoxious and evil cousin. John tells Jane: “mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentlemen’s children like us and eat the same meals that we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense” ( 42). Jane knows that she has nothing in common with her family at Gateshead. “I was a discord at Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there” ( 47).
She receives no love or approval from her family. The only form of love that she does have is the doll she pathetically clings to at night when she sleeps. Mrs. Reed is an evil and conventional woman who believes that her class standing sets her to be superior, and therefore better than a member of her own family. As a result of Jane’s tantrums, quick temper, and lack of self-control, society classifies her as an immoral person. She is not moral because she does not act like a proper refined young woman. She speaks up for her herself when she knows she is not supposed to, and her family believes that she acts more like a “rebel” than a young woman. Her spontaneous and violent actions go against conventionality and she must suffer as a result of her rebellion. Miss Abbot believes: “God will punish her: He might strike her in the midst of her tantrums” ( 45). Jane’s tantrums are not customary or acceptable, so during those precise moments of her tantrums, she is especially susceptible to God’s punishment. Miss Abbot constantly reminds Jane that she is wicked, she needs to repent, and she is especially dependent on prayer. The Reed children, in contrast, are treated completely opposite. Although John Reed is cruel and vicious to Jane, he receives no type of warning that God will punish him. He is conventional, which in the situation at Gateshead, is synonymous with upper-class. Mrs. Reed and the characters at Gateshead blatantly confuse the link between morality and conventionality.
The novel proceeds to change setting as Jane travels to Lowood, a school designed to educate and care for orphaned children. Mrs. Reed decides to send Jane there after the doctor, Mr. Lloyd, advises her that Jane should attend school. Mrs. Reed is glad to be rid of Jane and asks Jane not to wake the family the day of her departure. Jane arrives to Lowood and observes the behavior of the students. They are ” all with plain locks combed from their faces, not a curl visible; in brown dresses, made high, and surrounded by a narrow tucker about the throat” ( 79). The day is long and all students must wake up at dawn and read the Bible for hours at a time. Often, the food is burnt and inedible. One day, Miss Temple serves the children cheese in order to compensate for their burnt porridge. Mr. Brocklehurst, the self-righteous minister of Lowood, tells Miss Temple: “You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls, is not to accustom them to luxury and indulgence, but to render them, hardy, patient, and self-denying” ( 95). Mr. Brocklehurst stresses the importance of plain clothing and humility, however the company he brings to Lowood seems to be the complete opposite. The women have long beautiful hair and are dressed richly. Mr. Brocklehurst emphasizes Christian values among all the members of Lowed Academy, but he does not exercise the views himself. He singles out Jane in the middle of her class and informs the class of all of her previous wrongdoings. The acts performed by Mr. Brocklehurst are even more hypocritical when one compares them to the acts of Helen Burns. She serves as a role model to Jane and states: “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefullly use you” ( 90). Bronte uses Helen’s beliefs as a contrast to the conventional and self-righteous actions of Mr. Brocklehurst. Bronte states: “Appearance should not be mistaken for truth” ( 35).
Helen Burns represents Bronte’s point of view when she states to Jane: ” Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances” ( 88). Life continues at Lowood and the children trudge to Brocklebridge Church daily in the freezing cold without proper clothing. The long walks coupled with the lack of food at Lowood lead to an outbreak of typhus. Many faculty members disappear, notably Mr. Brocklehurst. During this outbreak, Helen dies and she states: “I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to Him, reveal Him to me” ( 113). Here, Bronte emphasizes the point that Helen dies happy and fully clings to her Christian beliefs. The outbreak of typhus leads authorities to examine the school. They discover the awful conditions the students of Lowood live in. “And the discovery produced a result mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurst, but beneficial to the institution” ( 115). Mr. Brocklehurst is punished for his actions. He no longer may run the institution on his own. He is a self-righteous man who confused the ideals of Christianity with suffering. Bronte emphasizes this point when Mr. Brocklehurst now has to have others help him run the institution “who knew how to combine reason with strictness” (115). Bronte believes: “To attack the first is not to assail the last” ( 35). Mr. Brocklehurst tries to torment Jane. He verbally denounces her when she is first at Lowood. He does not succeed in the end. Jane blossoms at Lowood and acquires many new skills. Mr. Brocklehurst did not “assail the last.” He was not able to fulfill his desires to change his students at Lowood into servants and sufferers because others gained authority over him. Bronte’s views that “self-righteousness is not religion” are supported through the actions of Mr. Brocklehurst.
The novel proceeds to another setting, Thornfield, where Jane meets Mr. Rochester. She falls in love with him after some time, but she leaves him when she finds out that he would commit an act of bigamy if he marries her. Jane leaves Rochester and winds up in Moor house with the Rivers family. Jane meets a very enthusiastic religious man, St. John, who devotes his life to performing Christian acts. Jane states, “He was comparatively seldom at home: a large proportion of his time appeared devoted to visiting the sick and poor among the scattered population of his parish” (377). As a clergyman, St. John Rivers performs all of the duties that society expects of him. For example, he visits the poor, he takes care of the sick, and he plans to take mission trips. However, the duties that St. John performs are ones that society assigns to him. If St. John believes that the society will perceive a mission trip to India as a beneficial thing, then he will go to India. All of his actions are planned and traditional and as a result, St. John takes no personal satisfaction in the work that he does. As Jane learns more about St. John, she realizes that he is strangely similar to Mr. Brocklehurst. St. John Rivers is also somewhat of a hypocrite. He preaches and spreads the news of the grace of God as a missionary, but he simultaneously commits a very cruel and unjust act. He tries to force Jane to marry him when he states: “and do not forget if you reject it, (the proposal) it is not me you deny, but God” ( 434). St. John focuses his life on the very conventional and customary acts of Christianity and therefore he is not a happy person and he is not easily able to lead a moral life. He, like Brocklehurst, confuses the idea of conventionality with morality.
The novel ends when Jane marries Mr. Rochester, who establishes a firmer grasp on religion. He was once blind, but now he is able to see. He has overcome many handicaps throughout the novel. He once believed that he had to lavish individuals with gifts in order to show his love for them. He would spend thousands of dollars on gifts for Jane and his child, Adele Varens, with the hope that one day they would love him back. When the novel ends, Rochester has changed his conventional value system and no longer places an extreme emphasis on physical things. He confesses his sins to God and forms a closer relationship with Him. He does not confuse morality with conventionality as St. John and Mr. Brocklehurst have. He knows that in order to maintain a relationship with God, he does not have to travel to church in the freezing cold or exert any other bold and pretentious acts of faith . Bronte uses Mr. Rochester as a contrast to Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers. Mr. Rochester changes his conventional ways, and then is able to live a more moral and happy life. The characters Mrs. Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John lead their lives in conventional and self-righteous ways and Bronte portrays them to be immoral. This idea supports one of the main themes in Jane Eyre, “Conventionality is not morality.”