Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Chapters 22–25

Summary Chapters 22–25

Another possibility is that Jane’s misgivings stem from other concerns. She has always longed for freedom and escape, and marrying Rochester would be a form of tying herself down. Jane may worry that the marriage will encroach upon her autonomy, and even enforce her submission to Rochester. Not only would the marriage bring her into a relationship of responsibility and commitment to another person, it could cement her into a position of inferiority.

Jane’s anxiety surfaces when Rochester tries to dress her in feminine finery. She reacts with revulsion, noting that she feels like a toy doll. Jane fears that Rochester may be trying to objectify her, that he sees her not as a human being with her own thoughts and feelings but as a plaything designed to cater to his fantasies and whims. Jane also worries about her financial inferiority: she hates the thought of marrying “above her station,” as she does not want to feel that she somehow “owes” Rochester something for the fact that he has “deigned” to love her, as it were. She hates the thought that his love might be a “favor” to her.

Thus, Jane’s feelings and desires for Rochester are tightly bound up with her feelings about her social position (her status as an employee and her experiences of economic dependence) and her position as a woman. She is very sensitive to the hierarchy and power dynamic implicit in marriage, and despite her statement that she is forced to “yield” to her feelings for Rochester, she does not desire the complete surrender that heroines in romance novels experience. The storybook wedding toward which these chapters appear to lead cannot succeed, because Jane will only be able to occupy the role of wife on her own, quite different, terms.