Social Relationships In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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Humans, by nature, are evolutionary beings, taking on many forms as they make the journey from birth to death. Daughters become mothers, who age into grandmothers; apprentices take the place of their masters; lovers, through marriage, gain the title of partners. While some may wear a handful of hats in their time, others change their status in society rapidly. Charlotte Brontë deftly illustrates this truth in her novel Jane Eyre, whose titular character inhabits many different shapes as the novel runs its course. Though her role continually shifts, her mission remains constant: to find a place where she may find love and kinship. This desire for belonging drives her to play part after part with the hope one will lead her to her goal. As she …show more content…
The limited amount lower class pairings we see are affectionate and healthy, particularly Bessie and her husband Robert. Jane’s cursory glance into their happy, welcoming home provides the strongest support for happiness as paramount for working class families. This makes sense, as they face none of the stigma surrounding courtship in the upper class. Jane Eyre’s heavy handed focus on relationships of the upper class allows Brontë to elaborate greatly on their inner workings. The novel portrays the partnerships of the elite to place little importance on love, instead opting to mutually benefit both parties in both social standing and wealth. Jane, for a time, suspects the seemingly contrarian Mr. Rochester to have succumbed to societal pressure to marry without love, observing, “The longer I considered the position, education, etc., of the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or Miss Ingram for acting in conformity to ideas and principles instilled into them, doubtlessly, from their childhood” (Brontë 270). Jane, not only having been a part of the lower class since birth, does not understand the need to marry for social benefit, and is happy to learn Mr. Rochester choses to rebuke this norm and marry where genuine affection exists. Later on, another reason for choosing a relationship void of love appears: religious duty. St. John Rivers, who prepares to embark on a mission to India, insists Jane accompany him as his bride. His religious zeal is portrayed when he exclaims, “‘God and nature you for a missionary’s wife. It is not personal, but mental endowments they have given you: you are formed for labour, not for love… I claim you – not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service’” (Brontë 571). Within his speech, he rejects love as being the reason for

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