From the beginning of the novel Jane is aware that she is confined to an existence that is beyond her control, most poignantly exemplified in her confrontation with Mrs. Reed in the red room. Yet finding herself within the rationed and regulated confines of Lowood, she chooses to remain for eight years, becoming aware of the institution's limitations only upon Miss Temple's departure. Entering into the service of the Rochester estate Jane again feels confined, but here we find that she has managed to establish and maintain a personal vision that to her is liberating:
I lingered at the gates; I lingered on the lawn; I paced backwards and forwards on the pavement: the shutters of the glass door were closed; I could not see into the interior; and both my eyes and spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house — from the grey hollow filled with rayless cells, as it appeared to me — to that sky expanded before me, — a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the moon ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she left the hilltops, from behind which she had come, far and farther below her, and aspired to the zenith, midnight-dark in its fathomless depth and measureless distance: and for those trembling starts that followed her course; they made my heart tremble, my veins glow when I viewed them. Little things recall us to earth: the clock struck in the hall; that sufficed; I turned from the moon and stars, opened a side door, and went in. [p. 99]
Though Jane's vision is "fathomless" and "measureless," she leaves it abruptly and without a second thought.
What draws her so powerfully back to her duty? How does Jane reconcile her grandiose vision with her mundane life? Is this tension made evident elsewhere in the novel and to what ends?
Jane seems to look on her experience at Lowood as a thoroughly positive one despite the many horrors she relates of her life there; it seems as though Lowood has allowed Jane to find the vision and sense of freedom upon which she dwells in the passage above. How? Has she been influenced by the religious teachings of the school? What role does Miss Temple play in her development?
Despite having attended a religious school Jane seems to dwell on fantasies of monsters and fairies. What does this suggest about her character? How has religion nonetheless influenced her understanding of life?
How might it be significant that Charlotte Brontë gives us this impression of Jane's vision just before she formally introduces Mr. Rochester into the novel? How does his manner both agree and clash with this aspect of Jane's impression of the world?
Last modified 2 February 2004