The Dangers of Secrets
In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the characters come to learn that secrets do more harm than good through Edward Rochester’s secrecy after the fire in his room, Mrs. Reed not telling her about the letter from her uncle, and Edward Rochester’s secret marriage with Bertha. First, Rochester, who really knows what happened during the fire in his room, refuses to tell Jane the full truth so as to not hurt her. Secondly, Mrs. Reed and Jane do not have the best relationship; the hiding of the letter only strains this relationship further. And finally, Rochester’s secret marriage with the psychopathic woman Bertha Mason causes a rift in Jane and Rochester’s relationship which never fully heals. In other words, secrets will never end well, as seen by Rochester keeping what happens during the fire secret to Jane.
To begin, Rochester makes sure the fact that Bertha, not Grace Poole, starts the fire in his room secret to Jane. The price that Rochester would pay if the secret of Bertha got out would be immense. For example, Rochester’s main reason for doing this is obviously to keep Bertha unknown to Jane, who has no idea Bertha even exists at this point in the story. Rochester is sleeping peacefully one night when Jane hears a strange laugh. She walks up the stairs and smells smoke from Rochester’s room. Jane quickly puts out the fire and explains to Rochester about the laugh she heard. She says it was from Grace Poole, and Rochester quickly agrees, saying that the “singular laugh” Jane heard was Grace’s (Bronte 157). Jane later wants to talk to Grace about the incident, which happens the next morning. Grace is also heavily involved in this secret, as she is Bertha’s caretaker. Grace claims that “… he [Rochester] fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains [caught] on fire…” (160). This causes Jane to dislike Grace immensely, because Grace would not admit the fire is her fault (which, obviously, it is not). This lie causes Jane’s opinion of Grace to lower very much, as Jane thinks Grace is an awful person. In reality, Grace is doing her job, which is keeping Bertha secret. Rochester does not want Jane to find out about Bertha, so he lies to cover his tracks. Therefore, Rochester’s lie to Jane causes more harm than good, much like Mrs. Reed’s cover-up of the letter from Jane ends any chance of their relationship being mended.
Subsequently, Mrs. Sarah Reed, Jane’s aunt, hides a letter from Jane that ruins their dying relationship entirely. Mrs. Reed’s hiding of this letter is extremely evil and effectively ruins Jane’s chances at living the life she deserves. For instance, Jane’s uncle, John Eyre, is very rich and is willing to take Jane into his own household. However, Mrs. Reed does not want Jane to live this lavish lifestyle and tells John that Jane is dead. John Eyre wants to “adopt her [Jane] during [his] life, and bequeath her at [his] death whatever [he] may have to leave” (252). It is very clear that John Eyre truly...