Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, was a compelling novel depicting the struggle of Jane’s life in the Victorian times. Jane’s parents died soon after her birth and she was put into the care of Mr. and Mrs. Reed, her uncle and aunt. Mr. Reed died and Jane was left with her three cousins Eliza, Georgiana, and John, along with Mrs. Reed, a cruel, unfair woman. The family tormented Jane, but finally she was sent away to school. Including the school, Jane lives and experiences life in five completely different settings. Dominance was the principal obstacle at each of the places: Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield Manor, Moor House, and Ferndean Manor.
Gateshead Hall, where Jane resided with her evil aunt and cousins, was the first of her five homes. Jane experienced dominance from her cousin John. Mrs. Reed was biased and believed John was always the victim. John was dominant in both a physical and mental manner. An example of John’s mental dominance over Jane was when John summoned Jane while she was in the window seat. She approached him and asked, “What do you want?” He answered in a tone as if he were better than Jane, “Say, ÃÂ¡what do you want, Master Reed”(p. 3). Jane was actually a good child and her reaction as written was “Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair”(p. 4). This just added fuel to John’s fire and made him feel as if he had even more power over Jane, but she knew either way she would most likely be struck by him. She was right. He hit her, and then, soon after “the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it”. In the past, John must have been able to manipulate Mrs. Reed, Bessie (the nurse), and Bessie’s maid, Abbot, into punishing Jane because as soon as the three entered the room, they immediately placed blame on her. Mrs. Reed ordered Jane to be locked in the red-room, and as a result, John was most likely satisfied. Jane had finally had it with her aunt. She gathered up her courage and told her aunt exactly what she thought of the way she was being treated. “You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity,” said Jane (p. 30). At this moment, Jane began to change. She found a somewhat dominating side of herself, which might be exposed once again at a later point.
Jane’s next encounter with dominance was at the Lowood School to which her aunt sent her after Jane had spoken out. Mr. Brocklehurst was a cruel man who oversaw the school, much like a master. His dominance was not only towards Jane, but also to all the girls and teachers at Lowood. Mr. Brocklehurst provided very little for the girls in the form of clothing and food. He was also a hypocrite. During one visit, he told the children and the teachers, “You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying” (p. 55). Soon after, his two daughters and wife arrived wearing lavish clothing consisting of furs, velvet, and silk. As Jane described, “They ought to have come a little sooner to have heard his lecture on dress” (p. 57). He took advantage of his dominating power and made others suffer. Mr. Brocklehurst did not practice what he preached. Jane changed quite a bit at her time at Lowood. Another dominating person was Miss Scatcherd. She was not directly cruel to Jane, but to another student, Helen Burns. Who was one of he two people that impacted her life the most along with Miss. Temple, a kind teacher. Lowood had taught them to be quiet, subdued, and to not speak out. This was where Jane soon learned how to control herself around people like Mr. Brocklehurst, Mrs. Reed, and any other dominating figure in her life in the future.
The next leg of Jane’s journey brought her to Thornfield Manor. She had been accepted as a governess after advertising. She was now eighteen years old. Edward Rochester was the dominant individual. He was the wealthy master of Thornfield. Jane always felt intimidated by the wealthy and once again she was put into that situation. Mr. Rochester vies for the attention of Jane. Many times he put aside the fact that they were not of the same social status and ended up deep in conversation about many diverse ideas. Although he treated her as an equal, he also kept her at a distance with his controlling attitude. He thought very highly of himself. One time he said the following to Jane, “Miss Eyre, draw your chair still a little farther forward: you are yet too far back: I cannot see you without disturbing my position in this comfortable chair, which I have no mind to do” (p.121). He was always unclear of his intentions as shown. There was a catch to things he said and did. Mr. Rochester always reprimanded Adele, the young girl that Jane was governess for. He never wanted to be around her, but he still wanted complete control over her. An example of this was when he called for Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper and said, “I have forbidden Adele to talk to me about her presents, and she is bursting with repletion; have the goodness to serve her as auditress and interlocutrice” (p. 121). Jane allowed her self to be dominated by Mr. Rochester. Throughout the time that the two were romantically involved, she continued to address him as “sir.” At one point while they were deep in conversation, Jane said to Mr. Rochester, “I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea; it was involuntary), I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with their charmers–“(p.247). He had control over her actions as well as her thoughts. This was Jane’s first experience with love of any kind and she might have thought that was the way a lover treated his soon-to-be wife. The day of Jane’s wedding, she found out that Mr. Rochester had an insane wife that he kept locked up at Thornfield Manner. She realized that she could not accept his love, so the next morning she left Thornfield in search of a better life.
This brings us to Jane’s next home. Moor House was the home of the Rivers, consisting of Mary, Diana, and St. John, who took Jane in when she was found on their doorstep nearly starving. St. John was a minister who controlled everyone around him, including Jane. St. John found Jane a job running a school in a nearby town. He visited her relatively often, checking up on her. Jane probably did not even realize this controlling behavior because she was so used to getting it from others. St. John devoted much of his time to helping others according to what Jane said, “a large proportion of his time appeared devoted to visiting the sick and poor among the scattered population of his parish” (p. 335). He expected Jane to devote just as much time with the school, but also to him. This led to St. John asking for Jane’s hand in marriage and after the two could go to India together. At this point Jane was content with where she was living, but she was looking for love, and she knew she had not found it with St. John. She refused to marry St. John also because she knew his real intentions. Jane was smart and answered, “I have a woman’s heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I have only a comrade’s constancy; a fellow-soldier’s frankness, fidelity, fraternity, if you like; a neophyte’s respect and submission to his hierophant: nothing more–don’t fear” (p. 390). He told Jane, “You are formed for labour, not for love. A missionary’s wife you must-shall be. You shall be mine: I claim you not for my pleasure, but for my Sovreign’s service” (p. 384). This statement encompassed not only the fact that St. John had no feelings for Jane, but also he thought of her as a possession not a person, and therefore placing “claim” on her.
Jane soon left Moor House because she knew love would never be found there. Instead, she returned to Thornfield Manner, but found it in ruins. Jane went to a nearby inn where a man told her that Mr. Rochester was at Ferdean Manor. Mr. Rochester had suffered a severed arm and had gone completely blind, but Jane did not care and continued to Ferndean Manor. As soon as she saw him she fell in love all over again. She knew she had made a mistake leaving him, but leaving also changed her. Jane was now the dominant figure. Mr. Rochester depended on Jane for help around the manner because of his blindness. He also did not demand the attention of people around him nor Jane. From then on Mr. Rochester and Jane lived as equals. Jane had finally found happiness and her place in the world. Along with that she found herself and her more dominant side.
Jane’s dominance came in the form of courage and self-love. She learned that she did not have to live her life for other people. That is why she went back to Mr. Rochester. For once Jane did something for herself, and as a result she achieved her goal in life, to find happiness and love. “I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest-blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.”