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The gothic romance novel “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, is essentially the story of a woman’s quest to find love. Through the many challenges in her life, Bronte portrays her character, Jane, as one who struggles not only with her gender and class, but also with her sense of belonging. Growing up in the absence of a mother, Jane struggles with her identity and her womanhood. Through the different stages of her life however, she encounters various women who nurture her and act as her guides and motherly figures. In building relationships with these women, Jane is able to learn from their experiences and, in turn, reflect on her own.

Consequently, the relationships she makes with these women throughout the novel mould her identity and the decisions that she makes in life. Therefore, the role of these relationships are significant to the themes and overall plot of the novel. It is revealed in the beginning of this novel that Jane experiences a very rough and unloved childhood. Growing up as an orphan, she is raised by her aunt, Mrs. Reid, who belittles and abuses her. Not only is she treated as an outsider by her aunt, but she is also bullied and beaten by her cousins, and is often locked her up in a room without food or water.

In essence, Jane is unable to experience love from her own relatives, which tarnishes her idea of a family. However, in the absence of care from her aunt, one woman helps Jane endure the pain through her childhood and treats her with kindness and respect. Bessie, the maid at the Reid household, is the one woman who cares for Jane through this stage in her life by providing her with consolation from the abuse that she faces at home. It is through Bessie that Jane first experiences love from another person, which allows her to overlook the anger and pain in her life. …

She would tuck the clothes round me, and twice she kissed me, and said, ‘good night, Miss Jane. ’ When thus gentle, Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, and kindest being in the world (Bronte 31)… ” Although subordinate to Jane’s class, Bessie soothes Jane and understands her fears. Moreover, she accepts and loves Jane exactly the way she is. As the novel progresses, Jane’s quest for love becomes further evident. As she ages however, she has internal conflicts about the type of love which she wishes to find and endure.

The type of love which she receives from Bessie as a child, however, is a reflection of pure and motherly love and is very significant in understanding Jane’s character. Jane’s relationship with Bessie aids her in quest for love, as this relationship allows her to recognize the meaning of love, and the type of love which she desires from another. As a result, her relationship with Bessie is a factor that certainly influences her decision of marrying Rochester at the end of the novel, instead of St. John Rivers, whom she realizes does not love her at all.

As she matures into a young woman, Jane spends much of her time at Lowood School, away from her aunt and cousins. However, the obstacles in her life do not end, because she is in constant fear of the head master, Mr. Brocklehurst, who demeans her by instruction of her aunt. Although she is able to find support in a friend named Helen Burns, she loses Helen shortly to a fatal illness. During this point in her life, Jane loses trust in her faith and moreover, in her will to go on. When times seem dire and she feels lonelier than ever, Jane finds comfort in Miss Temple, her teacher and advisor at Lowood, who supports and understands her.

Miss Temple provides Jane with kindness and support throughout her time at school and eases her pain after Helen’s death. In doing so, she helps Jane cope with her bitter childhood and helps her move forward; reviving her faith and spirituality by assuring her that she is not alone. As her governess, Miss Temple also stimulates Jane’s intellectual understanding by teaching her to read and write, and by supporting her love for art. As a result of this, Jane is able to educate herself and later pursue a career as a governess. Grateful, Jane realizes that she would have been lost without Miss Temple’s support. “…

To her instruction I owed the past part of my acquirements; her friendship and society had been my continual solace; she had stood me in the stead of mother, governess, and latterly, companion (Bronte 104). ” As she moves forward in life, Jane learns the importance of an education for a woman of her particular class, and cherishes her intellect. Because she is of the working class and also a woman, she begins to realize that her status in society will always be at a low. However, she does find that because she is well educated, her background is able to render her an intellectual equal amongst the men who she encounters throughout the novel.

Consequently, it is because of Ms. Temple that Jane has the strength to continue her studies at Lowood and therefore educate herself. Her resulting role as a governess aids her in her quest for love, as it is through this job that she meets the love of her life. Jane’s resulting occupation as a governess allows her to learn a lot about the roles of women in society, as well as the different classes to which each person belongs. Throughout the course of her job she meets many women, including those who are also of the working class, and others who she is subordinate to.

When analysing the roles of these women, Jane finds that status causes for inequality amongst society, especially for women, who are already considered as being inferior to men. Distraught about her own place in society, Jane’s spirits are lifted by her cousins, Mary and Diana Rivers, who welcome her into their home and treat her with kindness. These women shelter Jane during a time at which she feels lost, and serve as her role models. Because both women are unmarried and live in equality with their brother, Jane learns through her cousins that women can be independent and equals to men. …

The girls, as soon as they left school, would seek places as governesses: for they had told her their father had some years ago lost a great deal of money, by a man he had trusted turning bankrupt; as he was now not rich enough to give them fortunes, they must provide for themselves (Bronte 137). ” Although Jane constantly has inner conflicts about her status in comparison to the men who she encounters throughout the novel, after reflecting on her cousins’ lives, she realizes that a woman can essentially build her own status and live independently.

Mary and Diana Rivers restructure Jane’s idea of a family, as she finally finds relatives who truly care about her. Moreover, these women aid Jane in her quest for love by reminding her of who she is, and what she deserves from a man. “‘Plain! You? Not at all. You are much too pretty, as well as too good, to be grilled alive in Calcutta. ’ And again she earnestly conjured me to give up all thoughts of going out with her brother (Bronte 235). ” As a result, these women help Jane understand herself, and influence her to make the right decision of not marrying St.

John Rivers, a man who could neither love her, nor understood her passions and beliefs. Conclusively, it is evident that through each stage in Jane’s life, she has the assistance of supportive female role models to help influence her actions and decisions in her quest for love. Moreover, these relationships help her get through difficult stages, as these women revive Jane’s faith through their love, support, and advice. Through building these relationships, she also builds her identity by realizing who Jane Eyre is as a woman.

Jane’s life is essentially a reflection of the lives of these women, because from their knowledge and experiences she is able to create her own. Although her relationship with each woman is different, each relationship provides her with insight and essentially moulds the decisions that she makes throughout the novel. Consequently, it is clear that the relationships she carries with these women throughout the different stages of her life build the plot and overall scheme of this novel.