From an early age Jane is portrayed as rebellious and independent in the face of repression. This is shown when she is attacked by her cousin John and she unconsciously but brutally defends herself, and again when she is later ostracized from the rest of the family: “Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly and without at all deliberating on my words – “They are not fit to associate with me. ” Here Bronte singles Jane out against the Reed family and this shows the confidence Jane was beginning to develop in herself.
This budding independence is later reflected in her act of sending out the advertisement for a job as a governess, “… it came quietly and naturally to my mind ‘Those who want situations advertise: you must advertise in the -shire Herald. ‘” This independence starts of early on when Jane is often left to her own element. During the time she was excluded from family activities, she expresses in thought, “To speak truth, I had not the least wish to go into company, for in company I was very rarely noticed… When one is left to themselves, loneliness evolves into self-sufficiency as you have no one to rely on but yourself. At another instance in the beginning of her days at Lowood school, “As yet I had spoken to no one, nor did anybody seem to take notice of me; I stood lonely enough, but to that feeling of isolation I was accustomed: it did not oppress me much. ”
She begins to get absorbed in being on her own. “I wandered as usual among the forms and tables and laughing groups without a companion, yet not feeling lonely… Bronte shows us a maturity in Jane wherein she doesn’t question her isolation anymore and satisfies herself with what she has. Her being forced to travel by herself to Lowood at such a young age is one of the signs Bronte gives us of her being forced to feel responsible for herself as she is being pushed into independence. Nevertheless, this undemanding nature is later seen when she must deal with the consequences of Mr. Rochester’s proposal, she is able to calmly evaluate the turns in her life because of this ability to accept.
Bronte shows us that even as a young child Jane recognises that she is being ridiculed without reason, she fights back against this and supports herself because she realises that no one else will do it for her. This way Bronte is creating the image of a child who is strengthening due to the amount of protection she needs from the inhabitants of the house she lives in. When protecting herself from Mrs. Reed with exclamations of what the late Mrs. Reed would say to her treatment of Jane, she says “… it seemed as if my tongue pronounced words without my will consenting to their utterance: something spoke out of me over which I had no control.
I think Jane had been through so much that now she was finally unconsciously expressing this resentment as the result of frustration and helplessness. “I had felt every word acutely as I had heard it plainly, and a passion of resentment fermented now within me. ” Bronte shows us this strengthening process in order to prepare us for a more confident and self-assured grown-up Jane. Bronte models within Jane’s character a sense of ambiguous strength, in both mind and body in the early stages of the story.
Jane made no use of tact or any of the various social conventions for protecting the feelings of someone with whom she had a disagreement. Her frank declaration to Mr. Brocklehurst proves this when she says, “I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it came, was objectionable: ‘I must keep in good health and not die. ‘” The fact that Bronte makes it sound like Jane knows that what she’s saying is defiant and bold, gives us the feeling that Jane has the strength and guts to speak out, even when she knows she might be reprimanded for it.
However this is not in vain, Jane does not act up to gain attention or to create chaos, she is stuck in a position where even her good behaviour goes unnoticed and she is treated the same way whether she behaves acceptably or not. “However carefully I obeyed, however strenuously I strove to please her, my efforts were still repulsed”. Bronte makes us acutely aware that Jane behaves this way to stand up for herself and we the readers fall on her side in sympathy and support.
Furthermore, as we examine Jane’s character more deeply, we see that she develops a sense of pride and self-respect. She cares much of her reputation and is highly sensitive to what the people around her think of her. When we see Mrs. Reed slander Jane in the presence of Mr. Brocklehurst she expresses in thought, “Now, uttered before a stranger, the accusation cut me to the heart: I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope from the new phase of existence which she destined me to enter. Bronte shows us Jane’s rage at being blamed of something false again when Mrs. Reed calls her a liar and she retaliates heartily, saying, “speak I must: I had been trodden on severely, but how?… I gathered my energies and launched them in this blunt sentence-‘I am not deceitful: if I were I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world” When Mr. Brocklehurst berated her at Lowood School and one of the girls made a face at Jane. “… in passing, she lifted her eyes.
What a strange light inspired them! What an extraordinary sensation that ray sent through me! How the new feeling bore me up!… I mastered the rising hysteria… ” Bronte refers to the quiet feelings of Jane in this situation as ‘hysteria’; this shows us the level of which she was sensitive of false accusations. “No, I know I should think well of myself, but that is not enough; if others don’t love me, I would rather die than live – I cannot bear to be solitary and hated,” she says to Helen after the ordeal of her public humiliation at Lowood.
Bronte expresses this as a childish feeling, but later on it matures into the dignity of the adult Jane; the way in which she carries herself, the way in which she presents herself as a governess when she says, “I ever wished to look as well as I could, and to please as much as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer… ” Jane is self-conscious and critical of her appearance because she is aware of her reputation now. Bronte shows us that Jane has a strong conscience, that after receiving her vengeance from Mrs.
Reed for calling her ‘deceitful’ she later says, “Willingly would I now have gone and asked Mrs. Reed’s pardon… ” she still feels guilt and sees things in clarity so that she knows when she must be at fault. Once again Bronte shows us this trait in Jane when Ms. Temple asks Jane for the truthful account of her relationship with the Reed family and Jane thinks to herself, “I resolved in the depths of my heart, that I would be most moderate – most correct; and having reflected a few minutes in order to arrange coherently what I had to say, I told her all the story of my sad childhood. I think this holds some irony that Jane was so careful not to falsely accuse her aunt of anything when narrating the story of her life with the Reeds while her aunt had no care to refrain from such things in Jane’s case. Yet it is this strong conscience of Jane’s that we see later on when she rejects for a time Mr. Rochester’s proposal of marriage when she finds out about his already present wife Bertha. Jane’s attitude about justice remains strongly with her through adulthood.
As a child, she explains this doctrine to Helen when she says, “If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way; they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck without reason we should strike back again very hard… as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again. ” This feeling progresses into the adult Jane when she refuses to stand any nonsense from Mr. Rochester. Jane Eyre is a character whose strength and individuality are remarkable for her times.