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Chapters 36–38

Summary Chapters 36–38

No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.

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Another problem that troubles some critics is the fact that Jane finds happiness in the novel only through marriage, suggesting that marriage constitutes the only route to contentment for women (after all, the “happy ending” for Diana and Mary, also, is that they find husbands). It could be argued that, in returning to Rochester, Jane sacrifices her long-sought autonomy and independence. Another way of looking at Jane’s marriage is that she doesn’t sacrifice everything, but enters into a relationship in which giving and taking occur in equal measure. Indeed, in order to marry Rochester Jane has had to reject another marriage, a marriage that would have meant a much more stifling and suppressed life for her. Moreover, in declining to marry St. John, Jane comes to the realization that part of being true to “who she is” means being true to her emotions and passions; part of what makes her herself is manifested in her relationships with others—in the giving of herself to other human beings. By entering into marriage, Jane does indeed enter into a “bond,” but in many ways this “bond” is also the “escape” that Jane has sought all along.

In providing a happy ending for Jane, Brontë seems to suggest that individuals who manage to navigate the pressures and hypocrisies of established social and religious structures can eventually enter into lasting love. A woman who refuses to bend to class and gender prejudices, or to accept domination or oppression, might still find kindred hearts and a sense of spiritual community. Lastly, Brontë seems to suggest a way in which a woman’s quest for love and a feeling of belonging need not encroach upon her sense of self—need not restrict her intellectual, spiritual, and emotional independence. Indeed, Brontë suggests that it is only after coming to know oneself and one’s own strength that one can enter wholly into a well-rounded and loving relationship with another.