In Charlotte Bront Jane Eyre, the main character faces many struggles. One of the struggles she faces is the temptation to run away with the man she loves and be his mistress or to marry a man who offers her the contrary where it would be a legal and highly respectable marriage but with no genuine love. Jane Eyre returns to Rochester because she values love and passion more than reason and when she hears his mysterious voice calling for her, she is also sure that Rochester and her share a spiritual link. Jane must decide between two men who have similar characteristics but are offering her almost exact opposite relationships. Jane must decide between reason and passion which is on of the main themes in the novel.
The characteristics of the two men, who propose to Jane, conjure and symbolize the themes in Jane Eyre. Although, Rochester and St. John offer Jane entirely different relationships both men are noticeably selfish and disregard Jane’s feelings to some degree. Both men are strong-willed, powerful, and stubborn about their ways of thinking and living. This is especially seen in St. John as Jane describes her cousin as being “as stiff about urging his point” as possible. They believe that want they do is in the best interest of Jane and use unfair methods to tempt Jane into going against her own morals.
Rochester tries to convince Jane to run away with him by using the tragic story of his marriage to Bertha Mason. His story makes Jane feel sympathetic and only makes her “work more difficult.” Rochester turns to emotional blackmail when Jane still resists him. He tries to use her affection towards him to his advantage by accusing her of pushing him “back on lust for a passion – vice for an occupation.” He questions her on whether “it is better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law…?”
St. John, on the other hand, is far more convinced that he knows what is truly best for Jane. His plan for her is moral and appeals to her loyalty and idealism about God. He claims her “not for pleasure” but for his “Sovereign service.” But Jane must refuse him too because of her strong belief in that there must be love between two people for them to unite in marriage. St. John does not understand Jane’s passionate nature, for him passion is an earthly emotion which must be put aside so that God can be served. He, himself, sacrifices his love for Rosamond Oliver because he thinks she would not make a good missionary’s wife whereas Jane would but he does not truly love her. St. John uses his own ways to try to manipulate Jane but he does also try to use her affection towards him to his advantage.
Unlike Rochester, St. John uses religious arguments to try to convince Jane to marry him. He tells her that her rejection is not of him but of God. He believes “it is the cause to God” he advocates and “it is under His standard” that he enlists Jane. But Jane states that she could never marry a man who is “as cold as an iceberg” and “has no more of a husband’s heart.” She “scorns the counterfeit sentiment” he offers to her and scorns his “idea of love.” When his forceful attempts fail, he changes to a gentle tone which almost wins over Jane but in her confusion and sadness is when she hears Rochester’s voice call out for her. Rochester’s voice is speaking “in pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently” which sends Jane heading back to Thornfield. This time, it is not Jane’s conscience but her passion and love for Rochester which convinces her to not marry St. John.
Jane returns to Thornfield stronger morally and spiritually than before and finds that Rochester has changed for the better. Both characters have changed through the novel after suffering through hardships which indicates they should be together. Jane gradually matures through the whole novel but the most significant stage is after she leaves Thornfield. She learns her hunger and her need for shelter are her problems. Unlike her experiences at Gateshead and Lowood, Jane handles herself in a much more dignified manner when she arrives at the Moor House. Jane proves the housekeeper wrong by answering in a civil manner when the housekeeper believes Jane is a beggar. Jane learns to accept responsibility for herself and her actions. Rochester changes after the fire and he now turns to God and has begun to say brief prayers.
Jane, in refusing Rochester, has satisfied her conscience in obeying “ the law given by God: sanctioned by man.” And in refusing St. John, she has satisfied her instinctive feeling that a loveless marriage is a blasphemy. Without violating her beliefs, Jane has won her struggle. Her wish for love and satisfaction comes true when she is with Rochester. They have a happy marriage because they are able to achieve a balance between passion and reason.