The Loneliness of the Interconnected Essay

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“Loneliness” harbors a mostly negative connotation: alienation. Because of this connotation, we do not automatically associate one gaining self-respect through loneliness. However, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre disproves this initial thinking through the characterization of the strong-willed protagonist Jane Eyre– isolated her whole life figuratively and literally– and the book chronicles her maturation through adolescence to adulthood. This isolation though compels her to understand her self-worth, her value, an idea foreign to many women in the context of the time period the novel was written–the 19th century. Jane’s loneliness allows her to mature and realize that being alone does not devalue her worth, her self-respect is far more important than being in relationship. Loneliness enables Jane to embrace independence and chart her own path in a patriarchal society.

Jane’s initial stints with loneliness follows her into the critical years of adolescence. Jane is born into loneliness–an orphan from a young age. Growing up with the Reeds–her late uncle’s wife and children–she was not considered apart of the family, instead she was seen as a burden. The Reeds target and alienate her in numerous psychological and physical ways– whether it be John Reed throwing a book at her or she being locked away in the chilling Red Room, leaving her ill. Through these isolating experiences at such a young age, she develops the skill that she is alone in this world and to not to measure her self-value based on the opinions of her immediate family. When one respects herself, then one is apt to defend herself. Before leaving for school, Mrs. Reed declares Jane as a liar in front of the school’s manager Mr. Brocklehurst. One of Jane’s first act of defiance is standing up to Mrs. Reed and describing how sick Mrs. Reed is. During her Lowood years, she is again an outcast– forced to stand a desk silently and alone, holding a sign that reading “liar”. Despite these setbacks, she gained the friendship of Helen Burns–an angelic figure. These early interactions with loneliness implants the idea that Jane must look inward looking inward, to her own strength for satisfaction; relationships are secondary to her, and she must only enter those in which her independence and self-worth are preserved.

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Jane’s emphasis on self-respect grows in lieu of two marriage prospects. Jane continues this journey of self-exploration in the next stage of her life at Thornfield, where she works as a governess for young French girl Adele in a house from an idle caretaker, Mr. Rochester. At Thornfield, Jane experiences less of physical isolation and more of mental loneliness: she doesn’t fit in anywhere. With the servants, specifically Mrs. Fairfax she feels intellectually superior, but the visiting Upper-Class ladies treat her as inferior. She finds solace in her conversations with Mr. Rochester–feeling intellectually and emotionally fueled by Mr. Rochester’s often stern and cold demeanor. The two develop a relationship and Mr. Rochester goes as far as to propose, Jane agrees. However, during their wedding, an objection arises from two men, who explain Mr. Rochester is already married– to Bertha Mason, a mad-woman. Jane enters a state of loneliness–lost with her own thoughts– as she goes through a mental tug of war: does she stay or leave Thornfield? She loves Mr. Rochester but distrusts him. While many would stray away from being lonely, Jane invites it as she identifies this as a mean of preserving her self-worth. She does not fear loneliness–she has dealt with it many times over– and instead sees loneliness as a source of self-respect in embracing independence over the attractive forces of love. Her respect guides her, in the end, choosing to leave on her own. Even when presented with the prospect of a comfortable life, days filled with company through an unhealthy marriage to her cousin St. John, who incessantly pressures her into marrying him, she decides against it. From prior experiences in Lowood, she realizes that her lonely life presently allows her to respect herself enough to not enter a marriage in which there would be no love, being only merely a wife to St. John. Jane decides for herself who she wishes to marry, free of pressures from the outside world, and to enter one where her autonomy is preserved.

Jane’s strong will reflects how in light of loneliness, one can still be strong, still be apt enough to defend and support oneself. Jane’s self -respect saves her from caving into the influences of outward pressure: the Reeds’ treatment towards her, the lust of Mr. Rochester, the pressure of St. John’s proposal. Jane Eyre rings truth to Hunter S. Thompson words, the interconnectedness of loneliness and self-respect breeds independence. This begs us to consider how in a world of increasing isolation do we preserve our self-worth? We find these answers through Jane Eyre’s independence: we remember to embrace self-respect and autonomy isolation provides.

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The Loneliness of the Interconnected Essay. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
“The Loneliness of the Interconnected Essay.” Edubirdie, 28 Feb. 2024,
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