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Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.

This, one of the final passages of Jane Eyre, summarizes the novel’s “happy ending.” Its implications have generated much debate over the way Brontë chose to conclude her book. Some critics view Jane as having sacrificed her autonomy—no longer her own person, she and Rochester have merged, sharing one heart, each possessing the “bone” and “flesh” of the other.

One might also argue that Jane relinquishes her powers of thought and expression—two characteristics that have defined her for most of the novel. Suddenly, the otherwise imaginative Jane equates her “thinking” to her conversations with Rochester—she even finds the conversations “more animated.” Similarly, although ten years have elapsed since the wedding, the otherwise eloquent Jane suddenly claims that she is unable to find any “language” to “express” her experiences during this period.

Other critics interpret this passage in a more positive manner. It can be read as Jane’s affirmation of the equality between her and Rochester, as testimony that she has not “given up” anything. The passage is followed in the novel by a report on St. John Rivers. Jane writes: “his is the spirit of the warrior Greatheart . . . his is the ambition of the high master-spirit. . . .” (Greatheart serves as guide to the pilgrims in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.) Emphasizing St. John’s desires for “mastery” and his “warrior” characteristics, Jane describes a controlling patriarch. While Rochester may have been such a figure at the beginning of the novel, his character has changed by its conclusion. He has lost his house, his hand, and his eyesight to a fire, and the revelation of his youthful debaucheries has shown him to be Jane’s moral inferior. Rochester can no longer presume to be Jane’s “master” in any sense. Moreover, Jane has come to Rochester this second time in economic independence and by free choice; at Moor House she found a network of love and support, and she does not depend solely on Rochester for emotional nurturance. Optimistic critics point to Jane’s description of St. John as her reminder that the marriage she rejected would have offered her a much more stifling life. By entering into marriage, Jane does enter into a sort of “bond”; yet in many ways this “bond” is the “escape” that she has sought all along. Perhaps Brontë meant Jane’s closing words to celebrate her attainment of freedom; it is also possible that Brontë meant us to bemoan the tragic paradox of Jane’s situation.