Jane Eyre Sees Male Domance Essay, Research Paper
Beauty is generally classified into two main categories: physical and mental. In the Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Erye, the protagonist rejects by choice and submission, her own physical beauty in favor of her mental intelligence and humility. Her choice becomes her greatest benefit by allowing her to win the hand of the man of her desires, a man who has the values Jane herself believes in. She values her knowledge and thinking before any of her physical appearances because of her desire as a child to read, the lessons she is taught and the reinforcements of the idea appearing in her adulthood. During the course of the novel she
lives at five homes. In each of these places, the idea of inner beauty conquering exterior appearance becomes a lesson, and in her last home she gains her reward, a man who loves her solely for her mind. She reads against her cousins wishes as a child at Gateshead, learns to value her intelligence as a child at the Lowood Institution, her mind and humility win the heart of Mr.Rochester at Thornfield Manor, she earns St. John’s marriage proposal at Marsh’s End, and in the end she wins her prize of Mr. Rochester’s hand in marriage at Ferndean Manor.
Jane Erye spent the beginning of her childhood at her Aunt’s house, where she struggles to become more intelligent by reading books. Jane wants to learn, even though her cousin insists: “You have no business to read our books; you are a dependent” (pg. 42). Shortly after being struck for reading, she lays in bed and requests: “Gulliver’s Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused with delight” (pg. 53). Her ambition to read and better herself meets opposition from her cousins, yet she continues to struggle to read when she can. The family she lives with treats her as an outcast, but she continues to reject
their criticism of her, and to improve herself by reading whatever she can get her hands on.
Jane Erye’s next home emerges as the Lowood Institution where she spends six years of her life learning to become intelligent and morally stringent, while remaining visibly plain. Her lesson of physical and mental humility comes at the hands of Mr. Brocklehurst, the institution’s main benefactor. Upon seeing a girl with natural curls in her hair, he proclaims: “My mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to clothe themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety” (pg. 96). Such a strong influence on Jane, at such an early age, greatly persuades her opinion of her own physical image. She feels her status in life always remains as a humble and inconspicuous servant with a sharp mind and strict morals. In spending six years of her most impressionable years of her life at such a repressive institution, she learns a great deal of humility.
Lowood also teaches Jane a great deal by giving her one of the greatest benefits to her life: a good education. Jane spends eight years of her life at Lowood where she, “had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel in all” (pg. 115). Her education means more to her than her simple appearance. She had the option of just sliding by in her studies and leaving Lowood as soon as possible. Instead, she remains in a school that stifles any sign of beauty, but gives her a chance to better herself intellectually. Her desire becomes obvious in her decision to remain at the school even after she rises above being a student, and she works there as a teacher, while continuing to learn herself.
Jane’s first job after Lowood places her at Thornfield manor as a governess, and Jane quickly falls in love with her master, Mr. Rochester. His own appearance seems ugly to most people, such as Georgianna, who describes his portrait as, “an ugly man” (pg. 262). Yet Jane falls in love with him because of his mental capabilities and the feeling of simpatico she feels with him. Her feelings remain a secret with her for a long time, and she struggles to display her true heart because as she says: “You are not beautiful either, and perhaps Mr. Rochester approves you: at any rate you have often felt as if he did” (pg. 186). Neither are
physically attractive, but their minds and hearts feel unified, as Rochester explains later in the novel: “my equal is here, and my likeness” (pg. 282). Both characters seem to wish for a mind connection with a person who shares their values. Physical appearances seem to mean nothing to them, they only desire to have a mental attraction.
However, Jane’s apparent opponent in winning Mr. Rochester’s heart becomes Mrs. Blanche Ingram. In a personal comparison between herself and Mrs. Ingram, Jane draws a portrait of Mrs. Ingram, with: “the august yet harmonious lineament, the Grecian neck and bust; let the round and dazzling arm be visible, and the delicate hand” (pg. 191). Yet, even with all the magnificence of her exterior appearance, Mrs. Ingram fails to win the heart of Mr. Rochester. She apparently falls short of acquiring his love because as Jane observed, “she could not charm him” (pg. 215). Mr. Rochester seems to desire more from the character of the woman he will marry than from her physical appearance. Mr. Rochester’s actions reinforce Jane’s
belief that mental beauty surpasses physical beauty. He could not have wanted a more visually appealing woman, yet he does not want her. Instead, he seeks a woman with inner splendor.
Mr. Rochester apparent lack of interest in Mrs. Ingram gives hope to Jane. She feels with her inner being she can attract him. As the book progresses, Jane sees her education, moral fiber, and charisma defeating Mrs. Ingram’s exterior beauty in the struggle for Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester chooses Jane to be his next wife, and proposes to her by saying: “You – strange, you almost unearthly thing! – I love you as my own flesh. You – poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are – I entreat to accept me as a husband” (pg. 283). Words such as plain, strange, and obscure normally portray something undesirable in exterior appearances. Yet, Mr. Rochester using even such austere words, still desires to marry Jane. He sees something special in her, attracting him much more than anything visible to the eye. She holds something unique and special deep in her soul and personality, hidden from the outside. He does not want the lavish and beautiful Mrs. Ingram, but instead seeks the “plain” Jane who has something that exterior appearances can not convene. Jane’s struggle as a child to gain a good education in spite of being beautiful proves to be her wisest decision. Mrs. Ingram’s beauty fails to win the heart of Mr. Rochester, therefore, had Jane neglected her education and mental solidarity and focused entirely on her exterior, she would not have been able to charm Mr. Rochester into falling in love with her even with the most ravishing countenance.
Jane has a tragic experience at Thornfield that forces her to leave without any money or immediate means of getting a job. Fortunately, her unknown cousins take her into their family. She helps the two children in their education, and she befriends St. Johns Rivers. St. John wishes to be a missionary in the colonies, but at the same time he pursues beautiful Miss Olivier. In chatting one day, Jane asks St. John if he will marry Miss Olivier, and St. Johns response becomes: “she would not make me a good wife; that she is not the partner suited to me; that I should discover within a year after marriage” (pg. 399). Although this passage does not relate to Jane directly, it reinforces to Jane the thought that inner beauty and virtues mean more than outward appearance. Miss Olivier attracts St. John, but him refuses to marry her on account of her lack of moral fiber.
St. John instead decides that he wishes to marry Jane because: “he thought I should make a suitable missionary’s wife” (pg.468). She rejects his offer because he cannot give her the love and simpatico that she desires from a husband, like Rochester can give her. Yet, she finds it flattering that such an intelligent, moral man would ask for her hand in marriage. This experience again instills in her the idea that virtuous inner morality conquers physical splendor.
At the end of the novel, Jane returns to Mr. Rochester at Ferndean manor. Unfortunately, she discovers that he has fallen blind, and the fire that took his vision, also gave him a deep scar along his face. Jane vows to take care of him in spite of his appearance, but he wants her to marry him instead: “Jane will you marry me” (pg. 469)? This proves Mr. Rochester’s desires for Jane stem not from her physical appearance because he cannot see her. Instead he can only listen to her voice, which allows him to only see into her mind. His proposal demonstrates his longing for Jane originates in her intellect and personality, not in the beauty and physical comforts she might provide him with if he could see her.
Jane accepts, “Yes, Sir” (pg. 469) even though he appears as a crippled, old blind man. Jane returns his acts of love for her when she was just a plain governess. He did not desire her face or her figure and now she marries him even though he has become even uglier. This act of unselfishness and grace serves to show how Jane herself only desires a man with interior beauty to match her own. No longer can he offer his physical prowess or material wealth. She wants to remain with Mr. Rochester because of the mental compatibility, love, and intellectual stimulation that he can offer her.
Her joy in marrying him emerges in the following passage: “if ever I thought a good thought – if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer – if ever I wished a righteous wish – I am rewarded now” (pg. 470). Struggle and hardships filled Jane’s childhood, but her efforts and labor in maintaining a chaste and intellectual life, pay off for her in the end. She finds herself marrying a man that loves her only for her mind and not for her physical beauty. She is taught as a child to remain humble in her exterior appearance, and she finds that the man of her dreams does not care about her exterior, he only cares about the person on the inside.
Throughout Jane’s life, she maintains the opinion that mental refinement overcomes physical impressions. She learned her ideas as a child at Gateshead and Lowood, and the lesson repeats itself several times during the course of her life. All of her endeavors allow her to be the person of intelligence and morality that she desperately wants as a child, and this allows her to live a gifted life. In the end, she marries a man who desires her only for her mind, which fulfills one of her dreams, and her own inner beauty emanates as the sole reason why she won the hand in marriage of such a moral man.