Jane’s claim that she is a "plain, Quakerish governess" is actually somewhat misleading; her attempt to hide her beauty from the reader demonstrates her belief that beauty and morality are mutually exclusive.

 


Comments

Gold C.
02/13/2013 8:42am

I agree because Jane is modest in every way. She keeps her thoughts to herself. When Miss Ingram and the rest came to stay at Thornfield hall, she stated that Miss Ingram "was very showy, but she was not genuine: she had a fine person, many brilliant attainments, but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature...she was not good; she was not original...tenderness and truth were not in her."(Pg. 211) She saw outer beauty in Miss Ingram but knew where all of Ingram's flaws were and therefore was not one bit jealous of her. She is modest in that she never spoke of Ingram's flaws to her nor acted rash towards her even when Ingram was harsh to Jane. Also, when Mr. Rochester reveals to her that he wants to dress her in fancy clothes and buy her jewels, she rejects him by saying that "I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer" (Pg. 298) Even when they went shopping at Millcote to buy Jane dresses, she was so irritated that "the hour spent at Millcote was somewhat a harassing one to me." (Pg. 298) She was able to persuade Mr. Rochester on only getting two dresses instead of six. This shows that Jane does not desire to be crowned with jewels, but rather crowned as a jewel. He calls her an angel, but she protests she will not be an angel until she dies. Her modesty shows the beauty within her.

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Lucia E.
02/13/2013 8:44am

In Ch. 18, Jane compares herself with Miss Ingrame aplogizing the "seeming pardox" she claims that she may have inferior in looks but Miss Ingram is "she was very showy...She was not good; she was not original"(p.211). Compared to Jane she is only a victorian doll with no true passion like Jane. In that Jane hides her beauty for she does not want to lose herself in that materlistic mentality.

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Nick M.
02/27/2013 7:25am

I think that some analysis on what beauty we are talking about is needed. This discussion statement seems to argue that Jane is disowning the notion that she is physically beautiful. This really is not something that Jane has, but is hiding. Many people throughout the book describe Jane as being plain in appearance, which further encourages them to pay less serious attention to her. I do not believe that Jane has physical beauty that she is trying to disprove or hide, I merely believe that she wants to acknowledge that she does not have physical beauty. Jane is one of the few characters in the book that recognizes that physical appearances tell very little of one's morality or personality. I feel that with this passage, Jane is only further separating herself from the rest of society, by showing that she understands that as far as personal moral judgement is concerned, physical appearances are irrelevent and a false standard of personal definition.

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Jasmine T
02/13/2013 3:56pm

Jane sees beauty on the inside of people. She looks deeper than just looks and status in society. This is shown when Jane describes Helen's beauty as "[shinning] in the liquid lustre of her eyes, which had suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple’s – a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. Then her soul sat on her lips, and language flowed..." (pg. 79)

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Dani W.
02/23/2013 12:06pm

Agreed. Also Jane describes Miss Ingram as being beautiful and charming, but her lack of character drew Rochester away from her. As Jane claimed on p.212, "she could not charm him." Everything there was to know about Miss Ingram was on the outside, because she lacked depth. The reason why Rochester was attracted to Jane was because Jane had a complex and meaningful personality, despite her simple outward appearance. And on pg.148, she tells Rochester that, "beauty is of little consequence," after she admits that Rochester himself isn't handsome; yet his character is what makes Jane fall in love with him.

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Mackenzie M.
02/14/2013 7:50am

Jane has never had much money so she never learned that outward appearances mattered. She never seems bitter toward the fact that she doesn't have fancy possessions, saying on page 99, "I had not a very large wardrobe, though it was adequate to my wants."

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Mackenzie M.
02/14/2013 7:51am

Cont. Obviously since Jane doesn't spend too much time worrying about her outward appearance, she probably doesn't think that beauty and morality go hand in hand.

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Megan B
02/20/2013 5:40pm

I believe that Jane purposely talks herself down. Knowledge is power, so when she stays quiet and doesn't lash out it shows self control. John Reed didn't have self control, and the audience saw his weakness'. Jane doesn't have much material to value to she turns to her mental ability and plays off of it. Jane shows her beauty through her mind, she finds the best/worst in people.

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Nick M.
02/27/2013 7:17am

As we discussed in 2nd hour, I believe that Jane's beauty and morality is separated on purpose. Much like how Jane is more educated than the other women of her time, Jane also has a much more in depth analysis of morality. In doing so, Bronte has set up a situation in which Jane is described as physically plain to accurately show a contrast between society's expctations and views of Jane, versus the actuality of her individualism and socially defiant intelligence. Without describing Jane as "plain", Bronte would have dilluted the severity of Jane's diversity from those around her.

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Brian H.
02/27/2013 7:28am

Not only does Jane attempt to maintain a plain appearance; she also is quiet, submissive, and almost shy when talking to others. Even during her engagement with Mr. Rochester she almost always called him "sir" no matter how many times he called her his "darling," his "angel," his "elf".... She rarely, if ever, actually refers to him by his first name.

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Caitlin F
02/27/2013 12:35pm

I'm confused- how does that have anything to do with Jane's attempt to say morality and and beauty are mutually exclusive?

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Stephanie D.
02/27/2013 7:42am

I agree, because the most of the people that say Jane is beautiful on the outside are people she attempted to keep away from to stay away from immorality.

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Kelly M.
02/27/2013 8:54am

Jane definitely looks for beauty in the personalities of others. She describes herself as plain because the people she has encountered- Helen, for example- that have been pleasant to her have not necessarily had the most striking features. Jane sees beauty as a sort of unnecessary quality for a good person to have.

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Anna H
02/28/2013 7:02pm

I agree that Jane doesn't see beauty as a necessity. She describes her cousins Eliza and Georgiana as beautiful and Mr. Brocklehurt's girls as extravegant and beautiful but none of them were described as great or caring people.

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Maria k
02/27/2013 4:40pm

Jane's appearance is plain just like her personality. The Victorian woman at the time were materialistic and depended on others to make their decisions. Jane is the exact opposite of the Victorian women, she is independent as well as plain. Jane looks like such a way because she does not find herself pretty, and her personality goes with her plainness.

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Karis P
03/01/2013 7:49pm

I don't necessarily think her personality is plain, but I do agree that she is very contradictory to the Victorian women of her time. Like you said, she is independent, which makes her unlike most women of her time, but it certainly adds some color to her personality.

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Rachel W.
02/27/2013 6:16pm

Jane's outer appearence is similar to her plain personality.Jane considers her appearance in several different ways.The pride in her appearance quickly turns when she realizes that she isn’t more of a natural beauty. "It was not my habit to be disregardful of appearance, or careless of the impression I made: on the contrary, I ever wished to look as well as I could, and to please as much as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer."

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Rae G.
02/28/2013 6:00pm

I don't think Jane is trying to hide her looks, I think she really is plain but not ugly. Bessie comments on her looks when she comes to see her at Lowood and compares her to her cousins, implying that they have grown up to be more attractive than she is. Mr.Rochester thinks that she is beautiful because he loves her.

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Nicholette U
02/28/2013 7:24pm

I agree. What reason does she have to lie about her looks? It hardly gains her more pity if that's what she's after. Jane tries to take an unbiased view of things; particularly when she is analyzing people, including herself. She is sometimes swayed by her feelings for Mr. Rochester in her view of him: "his stern features softened; his eye grew both searching and sweet" (Chapter 17), but she is generally aware of it. She does overcompensate slightly with herself. Also, she tries to take on the aura of the "plain quakerish governess" and clings to it because it is a part of her, so how could it not be true, at least to a moderate extent? She refuses Mr. Rochester's offers to buy her new dresses ( now I am arguing against myself) so she may believe that abandoning her simplicity will draw her into immorality.

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Tori B
02/28/2013 6:04pm

I think that in many ways this is true, I also think that it's possible that Jane never saw herself as beautiful, not to mention that the thinking of the time was still a little more puritanical than it is today and beauty that was self-realised was in many ways unattractive. I am more inclined to believe that her beauty is seen by those who take the time to look beyond the physical and discover her personality and intelligence. If she is plain in appearance, then she must be a sort of person who is humble and has a natural goodness that shines through them and makes them more attractive. I believe that since she was told from a very young age by both the Reeds and the servants that she is ugly she somewhat believes that.

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Caitlin F
03/01/2013 6:03am

Agree- jane doesnt think she could stay herself if she was beautiful. but Miss Temple was beautiful AND nice and such, so I think jane believes you can be beautiful and moral but only if youre a really amazing person. Even her friend Helen was somewhat plain but still pretty good and smart about things- then she started talking and using her knowledge with an equal and suddenly she was more radiant than Miss Temple

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Morgan S
03/01/2013 7:45am

I agree that Jane believes that beauty and morality are mutually exclusive. The characters around her believe her to be heartless but she proves them wrong when she says “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!” (pg. 291). Jane does not believe that you must be beautiful to have a soul; in fact, she sees the beautiful characters around her as flat and heartless despite their beauty.

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Victoria B.
03/01/2013 2:18pm

Many passages illustrate Jane's desire for living a modest lifestyle and her dislike of material things. One of the passes is on pages 386-390. Rochester says to Jane, "This morning I wrote to my banker to send me certain jewels he has in his keeping...In a day or two I hope to put them into your lap..." Jane replies, "...never mind jewels! I don't like to hear them spoken of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange; I would rather not have them".

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Tatiana C.
03/01/2013 6:11pm

I disagree. I think by distinguishing herself as plain and she is merely equating herself to men. Not saying she is a yeah okay moving on... but she would like to be taken seriously and women with their need to be dressed fancily and all of that are not always taken seriously. This is mostly because they seem preoccupied with looking pretty. I think she may believe beauty, in this case manufactured beauty rather than natural beauty, and respect are mutually exclusive. She also seems to be pushing to break some sterotypes of women such as when she says, "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" which would fuel her decision to keep her beauty a secret and break the rigid restraints she feels plague the lives of women.

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Tatiana C.
03/01/2013 6:16pm

She also says "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." (Chapter 15)
supporting her take me seriously movement.

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Kristen S.
03/01/2013 7:51pm

I agree with Tatiana. Compared to the extravagant, materialistic Victorian women, Jane is very plain and simple. She likes this view of herself, to separate her from these other women she associates to a conforming to society that wouldn’t let her express and rebel in the same way the readers see her throughout the book. Maybe because of this difference to other women, Jane makes unrealistic comparisons that negates her beauty. She really believes she is just plain as it’s been a negative label attached to her for her life. On page 299, Jane says “‘I am not an angel... and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.” which isn’t fair to Jane because biblically, an angel is supposed to be in a new skin, with nothing compared to an earthly beauty, so she downgrades and simplifies herself unfairly. As for morality, she remembers Helen saying, “[t]hen learn from me, not to judge by appearances...” (p. 62), and she still ravished on Helen’s beauty, and looked up to her morality.

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Crissy T.
03/01/2013 6:52pm

I don't think that Jane is hiding her beauty because other people often describe her as plain, even Mr. Rochester. Jane describes Miss Temple as being beautiful, but also moral. The same concept can apply to St. John as well.

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Amanda C.
03/01/2013 8:36pm

I agree that Jane holds beauty and morality mutually exclusive. Whether Jane is actually beautiful or not is irrelavant but her humble nature shows she does not value beauty and instead values morality. Jane exercises judgment on the pretty Miss Ingram as being the opposite "Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling. . . She was very showy, but she was not geniune: she had a fine person, many brilliant attainments, but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature. . . She was not good. . .tenderness and truth were not in her" pg 211. Throughout the book it seems to a common pattern that the people who put substantial value on their appearance are somehow inwardly marked.

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Ashton T
03/01/2013 10:07pm

The reason Bronte had Jane had believe she is modest was in order to form a modest character of Jane and have credibility. In chapter 10 (pg 101) Bessie meets Jane when she is a teacher at Lowood and talks about how well Jane can play, and Jane refuses the compliment.

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