Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte Theme
Longing for Love Charlotte Bronte created the novel "Jane Eyre," with
an overriding theme of love. The emotional agony that the main character
experiences throughout the novel stem from the treatment received as a child,
loss of loved ones, and economic hardships. To fill these voids, Jane longs for
love. Ironically, Jane rejects affection at some point throughout the novel
though it is that which she seeks. Her painful childhood experiences create an
emotional center derived from this pain. Thus, she views love as consuming and
it is not a high priority in Jane's life. She accepts the fact that she will
probably live her life in loneliness. From the onset of the novel we view the
world through the eyes of Jane, a young, penniless, orphan. At the beginning of
the story she is under the care of her widowed aunt, Mrs. Reed. At the Reed
household, Jane is neglected and mistreated with favoritism being given only to
the three obnoxious Reed children. Jane begins her struggle for love here at

Gateshead. Her temper and self-will become apparent there. She stands up for
herself not only to her cousins, but to Mrs. Reed as well. "You think I

Burkhart 2 have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or
kindness, but I cannot live so: and you have no pity" (Bronte, 45). Her
early life at Gateshead proved to be a rather traumatic period in Jane's life.

Jane "dared commit no fault: [she] strove to fulfill every duty; [she] was
termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaky, from morning to noon, and from
noon to night" (Bronte, 22). Trying to act in accordance with Mrs. Reed and
the Reed children, never purposely committing a fault, Jane was continuously
"naughty" in Mrs. Reed's eye. Living a childhood such as Jane's, one
would expect a self-willed and rebellious personality to emerge. "I was a
discord at Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there...If they did not love me, in
fact, as little did I love them" (Bronte 23). Treated with disrespect and
lack of love Jane began her journey, her quest for love. Her rebellion towards
the family that hated her fueled an inner subconscious conflict dealing with
love and trust. Mrs. Reed eventually sends Jane to a boarding school called

Lowood Institution. Lowood is a charitable school and has the worst conditions
imaginable. It is here, where Jane meets her first true friend Helen Burns. At
the orphanage, Jane forms a passionate attachment to Helen. Burkhart 3 Helen
assumes a sisterly like role and teaches Jane love in the form of religion.
"Read the New Testament," Helen instructed Jane, "love your
enemies" (Bronte 69). "Then I should love Mrs. Reed, which I cannot
do; I should bless her son John, which is impossible"(Bronte 69). Jane does
not comprehend the act of loving thy enemies. Her lack of comprehension stems
from her childhood and the lack of love she received. Never in her childhood did
she get the attention and love that a child deserves. How could anyone expect
someone to be able to love when she has had no example to follow? In Jane's eyes
her self-worth would severely diminish if she were to love someone who did not
love her. Helen explains to Jane how Miss Scatcherd dislikes Helen's "cast
of character" (Bronte 65) and the deep impression the injustice of an enemy
makes on your heart. Jane is able to gain strength from Helen's faith. It is
this faith that she attains that guides Jane through her life and ultimately
leads to her happiness. Another character that has a significant influence in

Jane's life at Lowood is Miss Evans, the superintendent. Miss Evans is primarily
the first person in Jane's life that treats Jane with justice and confidence in
her ability to "make good." In her dealings with Miss Evans and the

Burkhart 4 scolding she receives from Miss Evans, Jane puts Helen's lessons to
use. She tries to accept her scolding as if it had some higher purpose, though
she is hurt inside when she is scolded. Her experiences at Lowood make her a
much stronger self-willed person, though they also contribute to her decrease in
rebelliousness. Jane eventually leaves Lowood and ventures to Thornfield Manor
where she gains the position of governess under Mr. Edward Rochester, her
master. Meeting Mr. Rochester completely changes Jane's life. The attention she
receives, the interest, and the affection all fill voids in Jane's life. For
once a person of the opposite sex cites a