In Jane Eyre, it is easier for characters to be morally pure if they are poor or if they refuse or renounce possible wealth.

 


Comments

Morgan Taylor
02/13/2013 7:52am

Thoughout the novel Jane dissapproves of the Victorian hierarchy. Mr. Brocklehurst is in trapped in the midset that money and status really mean everything, but this is what makes him seem hypocritiacal and misguided, but the large majority of girls who attened Loewood are living in poverty also show that their moral nature is mocked as well. Instead of the classic hierarchy in the novel it doesn’t truly matter where for you fall in the whole scheme of things as long as you seek and show desire to better yourself. But, it easy to value hard work, at the end of the day, the people who put forth the most effort will gain the most and truly excell in life.

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Voskuil
02/13/2013 7:57am

In the context of the story, this seems to be the case.
There is definitely a stark juxtaposition in the actions of those at Lowood in contrast to Eyre's "family" at Gateshead.
John Reed, in this piece, is definitely corrupted by his environment, an entitled child with sadistic tendecies, while Helen Burns is likewise molded by her poverty and her own lack of a family.
I doubt the theme is simply "Mo $ mo problems!1" (mmmhm, guuurlfreeen...), rather I believe Bronte is trying to showcase how one's environment ultimately molds the individual, in this case turning the rich BOY entitled and sadistic, and the poor GIRL self-loathing and submissive.

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Mackenzie M.
02/13/2013 8:51am

In the novel, it seems to be that the characters that give up what they have for others, like Miss Temple, are more pure compared to the ones with wealth, such as Mr. Brocklehurst or Mrs. Reed. Miss Temple doesn't have much, yet she chooses to share her food with Jane and Helen in chapter eight. The girls at Lowood think of Miss Temple as a "beloved instructress"(p.79). Miss Temple also says in chapter eight, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith," stating simply that it is better to be poor and to love others than to be rich and have hatred in your heart.

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Rubab T
02/13/2013 6:23pm

I agree with Mackenzie the book shows that those that are poor are kinder than those who are well of. Mrs Temple states that "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith," while on the other hand Mr. Brockelhurst who is providing the girls with gross porridge and not enough clothing to keep them warm, when he is the one in charge of the school.

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Jasmine T
02/14/2013 4:27pm

I agree with Mackenzie and Rubab, the poor are proven to do more kind things than the rich throught the book. The upper class women in Jane eyes are concieted and think they are better than everyone. Which is shown when Jane describes Blanche Ingram. "Her face was like her mother’s; a youthful unfurrowed likeness: the same low brow, the same high features, the same pride…her laugh was satirical, and so was the habitual expression of her arched and haughty lip.” (pg. 195-196)

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Tori Burris
02/17/2013 8:36am

I think that for the most part this is true; Mr. Brocklehurst, the Reeds, and Blanche are all wealthy and corrupted, however Mr. Rochester is wealthy and is kind. Likewise I don't think Ms. Temple was impoverished -as evidenced by her ability to afford a gold watch when watches weren't common- and she is kind to the girls at Lowood and deemed morally pure.

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Emily R
02/19/2013 2:58pm

I agree with Tori, though just because Rochester was nice he obviously was not morally pure or else he wouldn't have tried to marry Jane when he already had a wife, though she was mad (ch. 26). So it seems that it is easier for the characters that are poor to stay pure than the ones that are more well off.

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Nathan M
02/17/2013 4:08pm

Miss Ingram is rich, attractive, and talented. Jane is poor in everything but thought. Mr. Rochester is rich and the life of society but loves Jane. He says, "I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one" (Bronte 363-364). Being rich has given Mr. Rochester more oppurtunities to experience more of life than Jane, and when exposed to all of these options it is easier for sin to take its hold. Mr. Rochester, in his quote above, is describing Jane as his completion, she brings her purity to where he, himself, has none.

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Lydia F.
02/19/2013 1:49pm

I agree with the statement, for the exclusion of Mr. Rochester, which has been explained in the comments above. However, I believe that the rich and corrupt can become poor and morally righteous. The conversion is shown through Mrs. Reed. On her death bed she calls for Jane and proclaims, "I have twice done you wrong which I regret now... and then I may get better; and to humble myself" (274). When Mrs. Reed had said this, her money had been spent, and she was now relatively poor, however when she was rich she had wronged Jane, which showed her curruptedness (made up word I know).

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Rebecca P.
02/25/2013 9:18pm

Though Mrs. Reed did say this, was she really morally righteous? If she was why did she still act as if she didn't care for Jane? Jane tried to lean over the bed to kiss Mrs. Reed, but she said Jane "oppressed her by leaning over the bed" (Bronte 275). She would not hold Jane's hand when Jane tried to and was still rude and bitter with her. Therefore, can you say she has become morally righteous now that she is poor? Is she morally righteous now?

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Megan B.
02/20/2013 5:06pm

It is easier to stay humble and motivate when you have others tearing you down. I think the characters such as Mrs. Reed or Mr. Brocklehurst are a positive impact on Jane's life. Since Jane is constantly being "put in her place" it helps her in the long run. Mr. Brocklehurst says "fearful lest her sent her vicious example should communicate their purity." ( 74) with this public humiliation it keeps her humble.

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Lucia E.
02/23/2013 11:52am

In Chapter 33 Jane renounces her wealth when she finds that she and the Rivers are cousins. Instead of keeping to herself she spreads it evenly arguing with St. John she rather have "have farternal and sisterly love" then the prospects of society ( p.448).

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Dani W.
02/23/2013 3:00pm

It would appear to be so as the novel critizes England's social heirarchy by making most, if not all, of the characters in higher social classes petty and/or vain. The guests at Thornfield Hall, primarily Blanche Ingram and her mother, openly insult Jane; when a gentleman asks if Jane should be invited to a game of charades, Lady Ingram scoffs at the proposal and states "she (Jane) looks too stupid for any game of the sort" (pg.207). Also Mr. Brocklehurst is hypocritical, stating that girls should be modest and plain while he dresses his wife and daughters in luxurious outfits. Mr. Rochester, although he is a bit of an exception, believes that he can win Jane's affections by showering her with gifts, and in the carriage he gives Jane a "smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched" (p.309). The novel suggsts how one can be easily corrupted by the power of money.

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Dani Wilson
02/23/2013 3:03pm

mistyped - *hierarchy*

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Hunter H.
02/25/2013 4:07pm

I agree with Morgan. Jane hates the social hierarchy of the time period, both because of how she was treated at Gateshead and how she was taught at Lowood. She has been conditioned to think that plain is better, which is what makes Mr. Brocklehurst so hippocritical seeing as it is his school yet he still indulges himself with the finer things

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Gold C.
02/25/2013 4:33pm

Under any circumstance, Jane is not desirous of wealth. When Mr. Rochester wanted to dress her in diamonds and priceless attire, she objects and tells him "I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's jacket" (pg 298). If there be a time that she'd be taken over with wealth, she would "not be...Jane Eyre any longer" and this is what makes her morally pure. Even in the end when she receives her "heiress" (pg 442) money, she doesn't desire the wealth of money. What she desires even more is the wealth of family. In her actions, part selfish and part selfless, she reunites the Rivers siblings. Another characteristic of hers that makes her morally pure is that she doesn't do anything completely selfish.

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Ana E
02/26/2013 6:17pm

Agreeing with the majority of these people. Although we do see the Reeds as the stereotypical rich family looking down upon those in poverty, we also see compassion and generosity coming from Miss. Temple who is also wealthy.

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Stephanie D
02/27/2013 7:40am

I agree, because when Jane was faced with marriage, but soon found out that Rochester had been keeping a secret from her, she decided that that money and security Rochester provided wasn't worth giving up her morals.

From the other side, with Rochester who had money, he was doing the immoral thing and attempted to marry Jane while still married previously married to a mad woman who essentially lived in a closet in his home.

It must also be taken into consideration that the time period the novel was written in had different standards than we do now.

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Addi B
03/01/2013 7:32pm

I agree with what you said about Jane not changing her morals after she finds out about Rochester's wife. I also agree with what you said about Rochester because by trapped his wife on the 3rd floor is morally wrong to do for a person but for him he thought that's what he had to do. As we see on page 339 Rochester didn't know what to do so while he was doing something moral he did try to do the right thing for him. If any of us where in his situation what would you do? Just because Rochester has money doesn't automatically make him an immoral person. Rochester was still having his wife taken care of which is still s positive thing so it shows that you don't Always have to be poor to be moral.

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Anna H
02/27/2013 8:53am

I agree that it is easier to saty humble when you do not have much. It is easier to lose all that you have when you have very little. The rich have power and therefore are less likely to worry about being pure or humble.

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Melanie M.
02/27/2013 2:04pm

I agree with Anna. People who have less (sometimes) tend to be kinder because they know what it is like to lose everything; they have less of an appreciation for wordly item and more of an appreciation for personal relationships. I think a good question to ask would be what is considered wealthy and poor. DOes it deal strictly ith money or in more personal items as well?

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Abigail H.
02/27/2013 10:15am

"Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the county subscribed largely for the erection of a more convenient building in a better situation.....he (Mr. Brocklehurst) was aided in the discharge of his duties by gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sympathising minds...' (Pg. 91) Jane describes these men as wealthy AND benevolent. They use their wealth for good, unlike Mr. Brocklehurst, and don't have to disown their money to be moral.

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Caitlin F
02/27/2013 11:36am

yes, that is generally true, but not always as with Georgiana when she, Jane, and Eliza all meet at the Reed household to stay with Mrs. Reed as she is slowly dying. Eliza is still somewhat cold yet indifferent to Jane, but Georgiana warms up to her, having nice useless conversations about Georgiana's life on a walk in the gardens

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Caitlin F
02/27/2013 12:32pm

also with Miss Temple, she works in a school, so it is safe to assume she's not one of those wealthy ladies who come into Lowood to basically mock the poor-ness of the school and the girls in it. but Miss Temple is kind, giving, etc. so that makes the point of poorer people being the nicest, although like above with Georgiana, she disliked Jane but thought well of her when they departed

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Maria K
02/27/2013 4:44pm

I agree that it is easier to stay pure if one is not materialistic. With wealth comes ignorance and with ignorance comes other immoral acts. Jane is not wealthy, she does not think she is beautiful; this shows the reader that Jane's morality does go with her wealth.

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Rachel W.
02/27/2013 6:49pm

Throughout this novel theVictorian class hierarchy is looked very down upon. Jane teaches Hannah that how much money you have and your moral character are completely different things."Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime."

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Rae G.
02/28/2013 6:17pm

I agree don't agree about it being easier, Mrs.Temple is well off and morally pure and Mr.Rochester is as well he was just caught in a bad situation in his youth. St.John actually seems to me to struggle with his purity, he fights marrying the girl he loves and asks Jane to marry him but he seems to be struggling every time he talks to Jane about the girl. He is morally pure but that isn't necessarily easy for him.

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Nicholette U
02/28/2013 7:53pm

Most of the truely benevolent people in Jane Eyre are poor, or at least not very well to do. They are the ones in subservient social positions. Perhaps this is what humbles them and teaches them to value other people for their work and not their name. Mr. Rochester is the only example who is well to do and still looked up to by Jane. He struggles toward moral uprightness, but is most inhibited by his wealth and social class. All the immoral pastimes (keeping a mistriss, hiding a wife, traveling the world to run from his problems) are easily within his reach because of his money. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is righ to enter the kingdom of God."- Mark 10:25 In order for Jane to have become wealthy, she would have had to exchange wealth for righteousness. The weight of inner conflict over the situation is slowly lifted.

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Morgan S
03/01/2013 7:45am

Agree. Mr. Brocklehurst is a good example of this statement. He has a ton of money, but he is so concerned with remaining rich that he neglects the children and also the women who work at Lowood. They are fed inadequate servings for their meals, and their clothing is minimalistic and plain. Ms. Temple is the perfect counterpart to Mr. Brocklehurst, for she is kind a generous and loving even when she has barely anything left to give or even money to spend.

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Victoria B.
03/01/2013 2:06pm

I agree. As I discussed in the Home Statement #1 post, Jane refuses the possible wealth of Rochester. The main example of this is in Chapter 27 when Rochester is willing to keep Bertha out of the way of his and Jane's relationship. However, Jane, being morally pure, refuses the possibility.

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Ashton T
03/01/2013 2:24pm

Through the eyes of Jane we see the behavior of richer people that, to Jane, seem more rude. Jane refuses all temptations of promoting immoral conduct, as Victoria said, Jane refuses the wealth of Rochester. which was easier for her because she does not have the idol of money. She also refuses Rochester due to having the image of being a mistress, because of Bertha. " I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man." (page 366)

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Caleb J.
03/01/2013 2:41pm

I agree with Tori, not everyone in Jane Eyre that is weathy would have to be evil and corrupted, Mr. Rochester saw love in a poor and an orphaned girl, Jane. At the time Jane has no money, no fortune, and no family and was treated like a family member in Thornfeild

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Tatiana C.
03/01/2013 5:03pm

I agree. I feel like the book was a criticism of the era, and during the time in which Jane Eyre is set wealth is glorified. So throughout the novel Bronte gives most of the wealthy people the role of tormenting Jane in some way physically or emotionally. And follows it all up with "Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime", or there is nothing wrong with being poor because it is a very Christian or honorable situation to be in and rich people are beastly (in the bad way).

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Graham G.
03/01/2013 7:35pm

When Jane comes into good fortune at the death of her uncle, she definitely feels some guilt about the pecuniary difference between her cousins and herself, stating that she "again felt rather like an individual of but average gastronomical powers sitting down to feast alone at a table spread with provisions for a hundred." So, I would agree that this is the case at least for Jane.

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Karis P
03/01/2013 8:05pm

When Jane was given the opportunity to have wealth, she turned it down. This doesn't prove or disprove the level of difficulty it takes to remain morally pure, but it does show the morals she had that most likely came from having a humble background like the other girls at Lowood. Bronte portrays many of the characters with wealth in the novel in a negative light, so, in this novel, it seemed to be easier in general without the wealth.

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Brian H.
03/01/2013 8:37pm

The mutual exclusivity of wealth and true morals is a common theme in Jane Eyre. Even from the beginning, this can be seen. The Reeds are moderately wealthy, but are obviously not the nicest people. Mr. Brocklehurst demonstrates this as well; he rigorously enforces strict guidelines on the pupils but hypocritically uses his wealth for his family's vain extravagance. Finally, Bronte shows this the most with Blanche Ingram, who seemed at first a likable and talented person; However, when she heard that Mr. Rochester wasn't nearly as rich as she thought, she no longer cared.

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Kristen S.
03/01/2013 9:03pm

Jane shows in getting the opportunity to have a fortune,“My task was a very hard one; but, as I was absolutely resolved- as my cousins saw at length that my mind was really and immutably fixed on making a just division of the property... they yielded the length...” (p. 450). She was being morally pure to the family, but not to St. John, by dividing up the money between the cousins. This at least shows the ability to be morally pure, although with more wealth, it becomes harder as there are more tough decisions and fights about the money.

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Amanda C
03/01/2013 9:37pm

I agree. At Lowood Jane is raised on little means and she grows up and leaves Lowood a more moral person. Also, when Jane is caught up in the frenzy of engagement to Mr. Rochester, though she tries to refute the material gifts, she still indulges on the emotional riches "I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol" Ch XXIV

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Tyler E.
03/02/2013 3:33pm

I do agree on this, money is a great thing to have don't get me wrong. But money makes people greedy and selfish. People can lose themselves and their morals by this.

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