In my most-timely reading of Jane Eyre, I came across the conclusion that the progression of an individual’s life was dependent on two base thought-centers: Reason, and Passion. More specifically, an individual’s life revolved around their ability in managing their Reason and Passion. When Passion is dominant, an individual feels life to be fierce, filled with strong emotion, whereas when Reason is dominant, an individual attempts to objectively view their surroundings and try and understand them; however, human nature is never so simple so as to only delve into one of the two. There are mixtures of the two, sometimes with neither side being apparently dominant, while other times an individual will completely shift over from reason-ruled actions into passion-dictated actions. Neither Reason nor Passion are static. And that’s what makes Jane so dynamic.
Jane is an orphaned child who lives with her aunt Reed, after her uncle Reed (who took her in after her parents died) passed away; the Reeds treatment of Jane is despicable, as their treatment of her is unfair and most likely resulting from the Reeds’ disapproval of Jane’s passionate character. . Jane’s displays of passion render her labelled as “rebellious” by the adults at Gateshead; unrestrained Passion is thought to lack thinking before committing one’s actions. Jane is not completely ruled by Passion, as her Reason is what allows her to know that the Reeds are treating her unfairly (mainly by treating Jane’s cousins, whose characters are much more unlikable, better than Jane herself). This imbalance causes frequent outbursts in Jane, as her Reason provokes greater Passion within her, and it is in this way that Charlotte Bronte demonstrates the dangers of an imbalance of the two towards Passion. The emotions of an individual (frequently associated with Passion) must be controlled to a certain extent, as acting solely on emotions lacks forethought, and may lead to severe misunderstandings between individuals. Boundless Passion is a beautiful characteristic under certain circumstances, but in Jane’s situation (as an orphan with the Reeds), her fiery character is often reprimanded.
Jane is able to escape Gateshead by being sent to Lowood Institution, a school for poor girls, and upon her arrival, decides to establish a new character that she thinks will be well liked: a character who is dominated by Reason. Individuals dominated by the need to think may partake in the observation of the actions of others, as Jane does. In their observation, those individuals attempt to understand those around them, as well as themselves, by watching the actions of others. A deficiency of emotional thought, however, leads to boredom and a lackluster character; fortunately for Jane, she is able to avoid such an issue by befriending Helen Burns, another Reason dominated individual who has great control over her emotions. Reason will often allow one to control their emotions, yet an indulgence is Reason may lead to insincerity within one’s emotions. Helen dies to “consumption” (tuberculosis), which leaves Jane without a friend who she may share her passions with. Jane’s spends eight years at Lowood in total, but her character is what causes Jane to lose interest in Lowood: an individual often grows to detest places where they may not be able to display their emotions. For Jane, that place is Lowood Institution. A large imbalance between Reason and Passion makes life bland this time for Jane, which makes her want to leave her secure position at Lowood Institution (she comes to teach their in her last two years at Lowood) in pursuit of Passion.
Imbalance, as a concept, is generally thought to be negative, as imbalance may correlate to indulgence; however, from my reading of Jane Eyre, I’ve come to think that imbalance is inevitable, at least in terms of Reason and Passion. Both exist in an individual, but it is the choice of the individual that determines which of them is dominant. While one is dominant, the other exists in special situations for the individual. Jane, as an example, is sometimes reasonably passionate, by which I mean to say that Jane is dominated by her Passion, while Reason may also exist in her; other times (as shown in her time at Lowood Institute) Jane is passionately reasonable, which is to say that Jane is dominated by Reason, with Passion existing with smaller influence on Jane. Later on in the novel, Jane comes as close as she may possibly get to a balance between the two when she falls in love with Edward Rochester, and by that time Jane is a completely different character. The paradoxical statements “reasonably passionate” and “passionately reasonable”, which I’ve used to define Jane’s character, accomplish the purpose of defining an impossibility in achieving balance between the toy: an individual cannot be passionate within reason, and at the same time, an individual cannot be reasonable with passion. The two aspects of human nature are opposite. This does not deter Jane in her journey, and by achieving what can be argued to be the closest form of balance between Reason and Passion, Jane is able to find her happiness.
“Finding Your Passion”. Live High. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 Jan. 2017.
“Don’T Be A Victim Of Your Intellect”. Gifted For Leadership | Women Called to Ministry. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 Jan. 2017.
Laurence, Ida. “Deconstructing The Intellect”. Waking Times. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 Jan. 2017.