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Jane Eyre’s Struggle Between Conscience and Passion Essay

People can be held prisoner by their own feelings in an emotional box that confines them and controls them. Passion is the powerful, driving emotion that penetrates these feelings and compels one to break free of the box detaining them. In other words, passion is the motivation that drives one to take action against the shackles of their situation to create change in their life. All people have these passions, but what happens when these passions go against one’s conscience? A person’s conscience values things, like passions, as right or wrong, important or not important, or, significant or not significant.

Thus, one’s conscience is like a barrier to one’s passions, and therefore, there is a constant struggle between the two. This internal struggle is prominent within Jane Eyre, the main character in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre. Jane’s conscience tells her to marry the one she loves, but her passion for freedom and equality conflicts her and creates for her an internal struggle. In the final chapters of the novel, Jane’s conscience eventually defeats her passion for individualism, completing her internal journey and creating a victorious conclusion.

Jane grew up in the Victorian Era in England, and era in which women faced much inequality and prejudice. This is the box that confines Jane throughout most of the novel, and ignites her passion to break free of it and be an equal, individual woman. Jane expresses this on page 129 and 130 of the novel as she states, “Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field 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 knitting 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.” Thus, Jane does not want to be the property of a man because it interferes with her passion to be free. When Jane meets Mr. Rochester though, she develops a liking towards him, which eventually turns into a love for him. As a result, a struggle is born between Jane’s conscience, which is telling her to marry Mr. Rochester, and her passion to be an equal individual woman. In the end, Jane realizes that loving Mr. Rochester is more important than continuing her rebellion against the constraints of society, and therefore, her conscience wins as she happily takes Mr. Rochester’s hand in marriage.

The triumph of Jane’s conscience adds a victorious conclusion to the end of the novel, and completes Jane’s internal journey as a whole. Jane began her life watching her aunt and cousins let injustices wash over them. By experiencing this, Jane developed a passion to rebel against society and a passion for individualism, which she states in the quote on page 68, “If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse.

When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should – so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.” This passion pushes Jane to survive the difficulties she encounters growing up, but forces her reject some of the happiness in life at the same time. This rejection is heartbreaking for the reader as the novel progresses, and she rejects more and more happiness. So therefore at the end of the novel when Jane finally sacrifices her passion for happiness with Mr. Rochester, it creates a triumphant ending and completes Jane’s transformation from rebellion and rejection to openness and love.

Throughout the novel, Jane is in a constant struggle between her passion for individualism and her conscience, which tells her to pursue happiness instead. This struggle is the centerpiece for the novel, and therefore when Jane finally decides to let happiness in, it creates an exalting, happy ending for the reader. This ending furthermore completes Jane’s internal journey from rebellion to acceptance and love, which also is a satisfying ending for a reader.


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