Jane Eyre: The Theme of Deceit and Dishonesty
"'The marriage can not go on: I declare the existence of an impediment'" (306). Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is the story of an orphaned girl who is sent to live at Gateshead Hall with Mrs. Reed and her three cousins, whom Jane doesn't get along with. At the age of ten, Mrs. Reed sends Jane away to Lowood Institution, an all girls' school, where she spends the next eight years of her life. At the age of eighteen, Jane leaves Lowood and accepts the position as governess at Thornfield Hall. Mr. Rochester, the owner of Thornfield Hall, and Jane fall madly in love and plan to get married, but little does Jane know, Mr. Rochester has a terrible secret that could ruin Jane's life. Throughout the novel, the theme of deceit and dishonesty results in unhappiness and suffering not only to those being lied to, but also to those people perpetuating the untruths.
In the beginning of Jane Eyre, Mrs. Reed tells the owner of Lowood Institution, Mr. Brocklehurst, that Jane has, "'a bad character, a deceitful disposition; and to let everybody at Lowood know what [she] is, and what [she] has done'" (34). Jane already despises Mrs. Reed for treating her so poorly, but now she is infuriated. If Mr. Brocklehurst describes Jane as Mrs. Reed instructs him to do, Jane will never make friends at Lowood because all of the children will fear her. Jane battles back by saying to her aunt, "'I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty'" (33). Jane is fed up and wants nothing more than to go to school and escape from Gateshead Hall and everything associated with it.
Deceit and dishonesty come into play once again after Jane is at Thornfield Hall. Mr. Rochester almost burns in his sleep, but Jane saves him by pouring water on him, which wakes him, and puts out the fire. Jane hearing a strange laugh moments before she found Mr. Rochester burning, believes it to be Grace Poole, a strange servant living at the mansion. Mr. Rochester readily confirms her suspicions by saying, "'Just so. Grace Poole-you have guessed it'" (157). However, the next morning Jane hears a completely different story from Grace Poole. "'Master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains caught on fire'" (160). Jane doesn't understand the confusion of the situation and wonders why Mr. Rochester would hide the truth about his attempted murder. This is a turning point in the novel and Jane is once more affected by deceit and dishonesty as is Mr. Rochester because Jane doesn't trust him anymore.
The riff between Mrs. Reed and Jane is bridged only when Mrs. Reed is honest with Jane, and Jane is called to her aunt's death bed. Jane accepts, and...