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Love versus Autonomy - Jane Eyre is very much the story of a quest to be loved Jane searches not just for romantic love but also for a sense of being valued of belonging Thus Jane says to Helen Burns to gain some real affection from you or Miss Temple or any other whom I truly love I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken or to let a bull toss me or to stand behind a kicking horse and let it dash its hoof at my chest Chapter 8 Yet over the course of the book Jane must learn how to gain love without sacrificing and harming herself in the process Her fear of losing her autonomy motivates her refusal of Rochesters marriage proposal Jane believes that marrying Rochester while he remains legally tied to Bertha would mean rendering herself a mistress and sacrificing her own integrity for the sake of emotional gratification On the other hand her life at Moor House tests her in the opposite manner There she enjoys economic independence and engages in worthwhile and useful work teaching the poor yet she lacks emotional sustenance Although St John proposes marriage offering her a partnership built around a common purpose Jane knows their marriage would remain loveless Nonetheless the events of Janes stay at Moor House are necessary tests of Janes autonomy Only after proving her self-sufficiency to herself can she marry Rochester and not be asymmetrically dependent upon him as her master The marriage can be one between equals As Jane says I am my husbands life as fully as he is mine To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude as gay as in company We are precisely suited in character-perfect concord is the result Chapter 38
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