Pages 222 - 224 (from "I see the necessity of departure…" to "You torture me
How are the ideas of love and relationship portrayed in Jane Eyre?
Jane Eyre is fundamentally a novel about the conflict between love, and the artificial context of relationship, which introduces impediments and pain to what should be pure and unconstrained. It is the pain of love forbidden by the constraints of societal morality which drives Jane to leave Thornfield Hall, and it is love's attraction which pulls her back there at the end of the novel, overcoming this barrier.
The love that blossoms between Jane and Rochester is in many ways the strongest and most lasting impression given by the novel. It is, however, a paradoxical attraction in that it causes Jane, and probably Rochester (although the first person narrative means we cannot be sure of his feelings except through his own expression of them), as much pain as it does joy. Jane, nursing her secret love for Rochester, is hurt so much by his supposed engagement to Blanche Ingram that she decided to leave Thornfield, and the man she loves, in order to escape the pain. In the passage in the novel where she presents Rochester with this decision, the pain is clearly and emphatically expressed. Jane tells Rochester that "it strikes me with terror and anguish to know I absolutely must be torn from you", and she equates the "necessity of departure" from his presence to the "necessity of death" itself. Jane and Rochester's relationship is a deep and intrinsic attachment, binding them together "as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame". Clearly, then, this love is no superficial romantic attraction, as is perhaps the relationship between St John and Rosamond Oliver that we come across later in the novel. It is also, as this image of mutual attachment suggests, a relationship of equality. "I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!" Jane cries to Rochester: the kind of declaration she would never make to St John, though the situation in this passage, and that in the part of the novel where St John proposes to Jane are very similar.
For the relationship between the two cousins is everything Jane and Rochester's isn't. Whereas in the latter relationship Bront� demonstrates a heartfelt passion, through which "my spirit addresses your spirit; just as if… we stood at God's feet, equal", the former is empty of all such emotional value. It is just as St John says - "I claim you - not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign's service". Between Jane and St John there can be no true love, for the his heart is given to God and to his missionary calling, leaving him with cold eyes and heart which sees only Jane's "human weakness" and her use only for...