Reason And Passion In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

875 words - 4 pages

Reason and Passion in Jane Eyre

    In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte uses various characters to represent aspects of reason and passion, thereby establishing a tension between the two. In fact, it could be argued that these various characters are really aspects of her central character, Jane. From this it could be argued that the tension between these two aspects really takes place only within her mind. Bronte is able to enact this tension through her characters and thus show dramatically the journey of a woman striving for balance within her character. As a prerequisite for marriage, Jane uses this determination in her relationships with Mr. Rochester and St. John.

 

Passion and reason, their opposition and eventual bringing together, serve as constant themes throughout the book. "Unjust!--unjust! Said my reason...How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in resurrection!" (Bronte, 17) Jane's passions are uncontrolled because she is not using reason. We see the dangers of nature and passion tempered by reason in the scene in which Rochester almost marries. Jane must get over her overwhelming passion for Mr. Rochester or Jane runs the risk of losing herself. In this case, passion nearly gains a victory over reason. Jane nearly loses her own personality in her overwhelming love. "Feeling without judgment is a washy draught indeed; but judgment untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition" (Bronte, 247). In other words, the individual must attain a balance between reason and passion, not be dominated by one or the other.

 

The opposite is true when Jane is tempted to marry St John. Jane longs "to rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of his existence, and there to lose my own". (Bronte, 180) Again Jane almost loses herself, however this time the reason is nearly the victor. Jane's passionate nature is nearly entrapped by St John's reason and self control. In a conversation with Jane, St. John says that he is unhappy with parish duties, and that there is a discrepancy between his ambition and his preaching. Like Jane, he must find a way to reconcile the conflicting demands of reason and passion. Jane ends up hearing voice which directs her to return to Rochester, and saves her passionate nature from destruction. "I was growing very lenient to my master: I was...

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