Home Forums Discuss JANE EYRE What do you think of the end of JANE EYRE? Reply To: What do you think of the end of JANE EYRE?

#206 Reply


I see how carefully and often you’ve read /Jane Eyre/, MJ, and I hesitate to offer my non-Victorianist perspective! In any case, it seems to me that /Jane Eyre/ does try to harmonize value systems, as you suggest. At the end, the heroine gets right with religion and everything else that she wants: a better position, love, marriage, family, Rochester domesticated. The world makes sense.

/Daniel Deronda/ offers an interesting contrast. I wonder if Brontë says you can have what you want, and Eliot replies, no, you can’t. I’m not sure that Gwendolyn gets what she wants (and perhaps neither does Dorothea in /Middlemarch/). Eliot is writing more than a generation later, and as the novel form ages, sometimes both its shape and characters cohere less. Brontë’s Jane seems coherent, integrated, triumphant, and so does her novel. Daniel Deronda, however, breaks in two as Gwendolyn’s plot diverges from Daniel’s. In both cases, the heroine’s fate seems bound up in the novel’s form.

Probably I’m overgeneralizing. In the twentieth-century, though, the novel-of-education form continues to disintegrate, and so does the protagonist as an integrated self (Samuel Beckett’s trilogy somehow clarifies this idea for me). I think my point is simply that /Jane Eyre/ imagines that harmony exists, both in the cosmos and in the self. Later novels (and some earlier texts) often don’t.