A Tale of Duty Essay

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“Again and again he said, ’Are you happy, Jane?’ And again and again I answered, ‘Yes.’ After which he murmured, ‘It will atone – it will atone.’” Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte, and published in 1847, is a romantic, gothic novel with deep themes of duty, marriage, and faith. The book is the tale of an orphan girl named Jane Eyre, who endures a traumatic childhood under the poor care of her aunt, Mrs. Reed. Jane grows up to fall in love with Mr. Rochester, who has a terrible secret – an insane wife whom he keeps hidden. Mr. Rochester believes that his wife and he are not truly married, and proposes to Jane Eyre. On their wedding day, Mr. Rochester’s secret is revealed to all, including Jane. Because of her faith in God and moral duty, Jane refuses to wed Mr. Rochester and runs away. For a year, she lives with two young women and their brother St. John, until she discovers that Mr. Rochester’s wife has died in a fire she started in her madness. At the end of the story, Jane finds Mr. Rochester, they are married, and they live happily ever after.
The main theme in Jane Eyre is duty. The story is romantic, haunting, and intriguing, but the theme really goes back to a moral sense of duty. The theme starts at the beginning of the story with Mrs. Reed’s low sense of duty in regard to caring for Jane. Duty is next seen in Mr. Rochester, who struggles with a sense of duty to his insane wife, Bertha. He ends up deciding that he has no obligation towards her, claiming that they are not true husband and wife. “What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs; as well might you refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard” (pg. 719-720). Mr. Rochester, because of his suffering, disregards his duty to his deranged wife. Finally, Jane’s sense of moral duty is strong. She refuses to live with Mr. Rochester when his secret wife is revealed to her. She declares, “I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the...

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