Essay Question: Consider how the nature of self-preservation has been reflected and developed in a literary text or texts you have studied. Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator about the role that self-preservation plays when individuals respond to competing demands.
Cary Fukunaga's 2011 film adaption of Charlotte Bronte's classic, Jane Eyre, portrays the perpetual journey through Jane's life towards infinite happiness and liberty. Throughout each struggle Jane is faced with, new experiences and emotions unravel as the character develops a new sense of innate self, becoming more self-aware through battles of morality and emotional tribulations. Jane's desire for love, liberty and respect see's her through times of hardship all whilst maintaining her dignity in seeking cast-iron self-preservation.
Women throughout Victorian society were glorified as female domestics, a role Jane Eyre knew all too well. The scene that takes place in the Drawing Room depicts Jane Eyre's unfamiliarity and significant displacement within Rochester's world, where she is seen as the obvious "help" among an abundance of wealth. Although Jane's educated background serves her with good social graces, she still remains of low social standing within Mr. Rochester's circle of associates. Though Jane's inheritance allowed her to live comfortably with autonomy, it came with no burden, unlike such wealth that grew burden to Rochester.
Jane's journey is in stark contrast to the other characters who seek only wealth and status whilst Jane Eyre's compelling desire to love and to be loved allows her journey to transcend through times of weakness and sorrow. The portrayal of Jane's character often shows passion yet restraint which serve her integrity and self-respect with justice. Though her complex relationship with Rochester ends in short-lived happiness, at Jane's knowledge of his marriage to existing wife Bertha Mason, Jane's spirits remain unbroken, but withered. Although Rochester remained as Jane's social superior, she had still hoped to become his emotional equal. Furthermore, Jane undergoes a battle of morality, leading towards her conscience, impelling her to define right from wrong when given the opportunity to live as Rochester's mistress but in turn favours temptation and a life with Rochester.
Jane's poor treatment as a child with her Aunt Reed resulted in her forceful attendance at the Lowood School for Girls where again she was slated as deceitful and troublesome. Subjected to isolation, poor meals and little clothing, Jane's only ray of hope at Lowood took place in her friendship with Helen, who soon died within her arms. Jane's role as an educator after school soon took the position of a governess, a role which ensured an unstable, transient career and constant relocation. Jane's troubled childhood and early years of ill-mannered treatment consequently saw her snatching up a job as governess for the wealthy Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall, a comfortable and far enough place distracted from the harsh reality of her past. Gothic elements also set the basis for poor living conditions, where her board at Lowood School remained bleak and gloomy as opposed to Thornfield Hall which is set in a typical castle or manor with an air of suspense and mystery. In addition, supernatural occurrences which evoke a sense of a haunting presence.
Jane's life epitomises the role of women and class distinction of the time, throughout the entirety of the film, undergoing struggle after struggle. The search for infinite happiness took a toll on Jane's self at times; however, the hardships and heroic efforts made by Jane ensured her self-preservation and lifelong happiness a long with a blissful life with the once austere yet enigmatic Mr. Rochester. Ultimately, the conflicts faced throughout Jane's life fulfil and serve her the life she had once wished for.