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the following passage, Jane laments not only her own personal feelings of imprisonment but also explicitly questions the confinement of women. Her restlessness causes Jane to mention such dissatisfaction: she is hardly willing to accept any situations that are imperfect according to her ideals and opposed to her standards. Here she introduces to her audience her beliefs regarding the place of women in Victorian society, constantly emphasizing that she feels trapped and abandoned by her decision to act against societal standards. Only in the safe solitude of the third-floor balcony can Jane let her imagination run wild with a "tale that was never ended." Only apart from the other characters in the novel can Jane express how much more out of life she deserves and demands:

Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third story, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it — and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended — a tale of my imagination created, and narrated continuously quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actually existence.

It is in vain to say human beings out to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine. And millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Woman are supposed to be very calm generally: and a filed for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer, and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knotting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. [p. 93]

Questions

What is the significance that Jane can only express such thoughts outside?

What is the importance of nature in the novel, especially concerning Jane's own development and education?

Jane mentions allowing her mind to dwell on certain types of aspirations only after she is in a safe and secure location. What is the importance that Jane naturally arrives at such feelings and aspirations? Are these emotions only possible to detect when her mind is fully relaxed?

Jane uses words that refer to the act of writing, such as "tale" and "narrated." How does this speech refer to Charlotte Brontë's work as a female author during this time period?

Jane writes that people will naturally find action if their lives are too tranquil and still. How does such a sentiment work when considering the role of a natural and humanistic approach to life and relationships that is so dominant and apparent in Jane's character?


Victorian Overview Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre Discussion questions for Jane Eyre

Last updated 2 February 2004