The secret identity of Jane Eyre
By Megan McAllister
Jane Eyre is a narrative of her own autobiography as she calls it. As the reader we got to watch her grow up as she matured from childhood into adulthood searching herself and the world around her for her identity. At one point in the novel she states that, “I had given in allegiance to duty and order; I was quiet; I believed I was content; to the eyes of others, usually even to my own, I appeared a disciplined and subdued character.” This quote comes from chapter during a time of disruptive transitions in Jane’s life. She has just lost one of the only people in her life that we have seen not be cruel to her. It is obvious that Jane admires Miss Temple deeply and is saddened by her moving off with her husband This quote speaks to Jane’s self-identification of herself as a now eighteen-year-old. For the first time she is off sort of on her own without anyone to guide her. She seems more self-assured and confident than she was as a child who had just lost her only friend to Typhus. She is also more subdued and quiet as she herself writes. This is a great contrast between the incident where she screamed at her aunt and now a school teacher. She obviously is in a good state mentally and emotionally since she was able to overcome to events of her traumatic and horrific childhood. However, I’m not convinced she is as well put together as she may seem. In that same paragraph as her previous quote is another that reveals a startling discovery about her supposed identity. She writes, “From the day she left I was no longer the same: with her was gone every settled feeling, every association that had made Lowood in some degree a home to me. I had imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind.” This quote reveals that Jane found her identity in Miss Temple. Her feelings towards Lowood which before seemed a sign of maturity and forgiveness are now revealed to only be caused by her relationship and feelings toward Miss Temple. She got her nature and habits from her as well. Miss Temple was more than simply a mentor she was someone who Jane strived to be like and embody. Jane was not concerned with being her own person because no one had liked her as a child for who she was; because of this she succumbs to the temptation of trying to copy others and be like others. This is proven further in a later chapter when she discusses goodness. She writes, “ I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele.” This statement made in chapter 12 proves even more that Jane defines who she wants to be and what she takes her identity in by others and not herself.