“On its most simple and obvious level, Jane Eyre is a love story. The love between Jane, orphan and poor, and Rochester, wealthy, is at its heart. The obstacles in the way to fulfil this love is the main source of dramatic conflict in the work.
Different types of love in the novel*:
- Helen Burns, selfless love of a friend.
- Absence of love, (Jane and Mrs. Reed, selfish relationships among the Reed children, and in the mocking marriage of Rochester and Bertha) –> Jane realizes that the absence of love between herself and St. John Rivers would make their marriage a living death, too.”
“Jane Eyre is very much the story of a quest to be loved. Jane searches, not just for romantic love, but also for a sense of being valued, of belonging. Thus Jane says to Helen Burns:
“to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest” (Chapter 8). (Destructive love)
Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing and harming herself in the process.
Love –> Marriage but marriage is not refusing autonomy or being submissive according to Jane. She doesn’t want to be a mistress and doesn’t want to sacrifice her own integrity (Rochester) She likes the economic independence her marriage with St John will bring as they will not only be partners in a marriage but also partners in a business, however, it won’t change the fact that their marriage is loveless.
Jane chooses Rochester (love vs autonomy)
Then she discovers that she doesn’t necessarily have to give up her independency to be Rochester’s wife. The marriage can be one between equals. As Jane says:
“I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. . . . To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. . . . We are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result” (Chapter 38).