Jane Eyre: Volume III

“Glorious discovery to a lonely wretch! This was wealth indeed!–wealth to the heart!– a mine of pure, genial affections. This was a blessing, bright, vivid, and exhilarating–not like the ponderous gift of gold: rich and welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight. I now clapped my hands in sudden joy–my pulse bounded, my veins thrilled.” (Brontë 385)

Jane Eyre’s life has been filled with punishment and hardship markedly when she stands up for herself and follows her desires and passions. But after denying herself the possibility of  “immoral” happiness with the married Mr. Rochester and fleeing for a life of guaranteed poverty, Brontë finally rewards Jane with money and more importantly a family.

It is after her failed attempts at platonic and romantic love that Jane is gifted familial love with St. John and his sisters– Jane’s cousins. Familial love is authenticated by blood and cannot be lost or abandoned. As Jane says, “This was wealth indeed!–wealth to the heart!– a mine of pure, genial affections.” (385) More important to her than inheriting money is inheriting a family. Immediately she offers to split her endowment to secure her family’s affections. She refers to this gift as “sobering” and as “a blessing, bright, vivid, and exhilarating.” (385) Her strong reaction confuses St. John as he cannot understand how someone would care so little about money and so much about family, but Jane has always preferred love to money as seen through rejecting Mr. Rochester’s gifts. St. John ultimately accepts Jane saying, “I feel I can easily and naturally make room in my heart for you, as my third and youngest sister.” (388) This binds her to a family, the part of life that she has always had to live without.

Jane’s fate seems to finally be turning, but stepping back and looking at the sacrifices she has made force the reader to look at this sudden fortune as seemingly inconsistent with the somber tone that makes up the rest of the novel. Despite all of Jane’s best intentions, Brontë makes the reader believe Jane is destined to be a “lonely wretch.” (385) All of Jane’s relationships are cursed to this point as she is forced to give them all up. When Jane follows her heart, be it in friendship or love, Brontë denys Jane the satisfaction of long-lasting happiness in Volume I and Volume II.

It takes Jane forsaking passion, becoming poor and working charitably to achieve this state of euphoria. In effect Jane becomes the ideal Christian, and it is only then that she is rewarded. Yet after achieving this happiness, St. John offers her one final choice, to stay on this Christian-like path, marry him and become a missionary.

It is almost as if Brontë presents Jane with one final chance to abandon this “ideal christian” image and return to Mr. Rochester. Jane all but accepts St. John’s proposal, but an outside voice– Mr. Rochester’s–comes to her like the voice of God– a God different from St. John’s. She leaves John to go be with the man she loves. She chooses to live for him and care for him rather than follow the obviously religious path.

In the final passages both Rochester and Jane make references to the fortune and gifts God has given them– the gift of each other. She says, “I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.” (454) For Jane, being with Rochester is heaven in life whereas being with St. John guarantees her heaven in death; the same heaven that St. John will soon reach according to the end of the novel. Jane, instead, chooses this earthly heaven.

M. Rajtik


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