Conformity In Jane Eyre

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In The Awakening, Kate Chopin’s protagonist Edna Pontellier possesses “that outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions.” Similarly, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and its titular character obeys social norms of the time period, while questioning those social norms as she grows up in a middle to upperclassmen-like society in 1830’s England. Jane Eyre conforms and adapts to society while inwardly questioning it in the many periods in her life, including her childhood with the Reeds, her education at Lowood, and her relationship with Rochester at Thornfield, teaching her important values in life as she progresses and grows in the novel. In the beginning of the novel, readers are shown that Jane Eyre has a very critical viewpoint…show more content…
Rochester. As she learns more about her mysterious employer, it becomes clear to the reader that Rochester is the polar opposite of Jane Eyre. While Jane is timid and shy, Rochester is not afraid to share his opinions and boast about his lifestyle. “The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint: the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him.” (Bronte 171) She is enthralled by his outwardly behavior because he emulates the person she wants to be to those who question her in society. It is this point where her outward conformity and inward questioning start to clash, with being conflicted by her opinions of Rochester and the mysterious happenings at Thornfield. In the beginning of their relationship, they are confrontational, especially in their conversations about social issues of the time. "I don’t think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have—your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience." (Bronte 157) At this point of the novel, Jane is becoming more of an adult, and adapting her opinions and values into real world situations, especially in those where Jane’s social status is questioned. While in conversation with Rochester, her shyness starts to dissipate and her opinions start to be heard and valued. “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart! (Bronte 292). When Jane sustains the courage to stand up to Rochester’s remarks, he starts to admire her more and more for her need to rebel and her grasp to attain freedom, and begins to love her. Rochester feels this way because despite his social status, he has feelings that equal the intensity of Jane’s. They marry because
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