Decorative Initial C

ontradictions course through the passage in which Jane's describes how she felt after rescuing Rochester Of the five sentences in this paragraph, three contain the word "but." Jane tries to sleep, but she cannot. She feels like a ship tossed on a "buoyant but unquiet" sea. Metaphorically she spies the safety of land but cannot reach it. These parallel yet conflicting structures convey the tossing of Jane's emotions. At one moment she feels intense pleasure; at another, assailing doubt. Erotic passion and temperate reason pull her in two different directions, with the metaphor of the rocking ship symbolizing her internal struggle. Jane turns "from joy to insecurity and back, just as one might toss back and forth in a turbulent sea" ("The Passion of True Love"). Although this image evinces Jane's love for Rochester, it also cements her doubts. The "freshening gale awakened by hope" represents the stability of "judgment," while the "counteracting breeze" off land is linked to "delirium." Such language makes the reader ask if it truly lies in Jane's best interests to pursue Rochester. At this stage of the novel, he has yet to prove his capacity for kindness and faithfulness.

Passion, however, eventually bears Jane away. Although the images in this passage beautifully illustrate Jane's confusion, they also explain just how powerfully Jane's emotions dominate her person. The word "feverish," for example, recalls the blaze that Bertha Rochester began in her husband's bedroom and equates the heat of Jane's passion with madness. Jane appears almost as emotionally overwrought as the crazed Bertha. Such uncontrollable emotions, of course, play a crucial role in the novel. Charlotte Brontë asks within her work how two people as passionate as Jane and Rochester can appreciate and enjoy one another. As R.B. Martin writes, the test for Jane is to become "worthy of love," without "violating" her own "nature and morality" ("Conclusion of Jane Eyre"). Likewise, Rochester must improve himself before deserving Jane. These character's passionate selves must mature without getting tempered. The solution to this dilemma means for Jane and Rochester to learn sympathy, the human emotion which will lead them to virtue.

Content last modified May 1994