Religion

"I Longed for… Power"
" It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties from too rigid a restrain, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow creatures to say that they aught to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex" (93).

Jane experiences feelings of boredom, dullness, and monotony throughout her entire life. At Gateshead, Jane is evidently the only child with any real promise, but is detained from excelling because of her cruel aunt and her orphan class. When Mrs. Reed finally gives into Jane going off to school, Jane is excited about the fact that she will be able to do something new and progress in new ways. However, upon arrival, Jane realizes that Lowood, the all-girl, "nun-like" school, offers little for her progression. Instead, Lowood philosophies teach her to be subdued, self-denying, and pious towards God. After eight long years at the school, Jane decides that it is time she explores new horizons and she advertises herself as a governess. When she gets the job at Thornfield, Jane is incredibly excited to put what she has learned for the past eight years to use. Once again however, she is disappointed when she realizes that the life of a governess is just as monotonous as the life she had previously endured. But what is the source of this dull life? Jane seems to suggest her inability to lead a meaningful and exciting existence in the quote above.
Within the first sentence, Jane infers that she is not "satisfied with tranquility." Tranquility refers to the calm, subdued life that others imposed on her at both Gateshead and Lowood, and other women of the time. Leading this type of "tranquil" life was an expectation for women of the time. For Jane specifically, the word choice is interesting, because instead of saying that she is not satisfied with a boring or repetitive life, "tranquility" refers to her emotions. It is evident, that Jane is not like the normal woman who can hold back her emotions, but is rather impulsive and rash at times as she follows her intuition before reason. The sense of tranquility points to this idea of holding back emotions, something Jane is quite incapable of. Her frustration with the "tranquil" life is expressed in her description of the lifestyle as "vain." Vanity suggests a person or people who put themselves and their own lives before others. Because Jane finds it hard to lead a tranquil life, even though she tries her hardest and knows that she should, she believes that people who say that others, particularly women, should lead tranquil lives are only thinking of themselves because perhaps they do not know the difficulty involved in leading such an existence.
In the second part of the first sentence, Jane contrasts the tranquil life with that of finding action. She infers that it is almost a human necessity to find some action or entertainment. Most interestingly, she says that if excitement does not come naturally, one will "make it if they cannot find it." In some way, Jane proves this statement to be true as she successfully got away from both Gateshead and Lowood. However, now she is stuck in the same position at Thornfield that she had always been, so did she really make action for herself? Also, not every woman is like Jane. Jane just so happens to have a strong head on her shoulders and knows that there is more to life than what she was taught at Lowood. Unfortunately however, not every woman has the ability to do this represented when Jane says, "millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine." The word "still" again depicts a motionless, dull life that points less to the emotional quality of the life seen in "tranquil" but rather more to the actual day by day cycle of the droning life. Jane describes the life as a "doom," an extremely strong and opinionated word depicting horrible and devastating feelings caused by this lifestyle.
Going back to Jane's belief that anyone living in this lifestyle will "find" and "make" action for themselves, Jane says that there are millions who are "in silent revolt against their lot." "Silent revolt" is such a powerful phrase that ignites images of masses of silent women fighting against convention in their hearts, but being pressed back down with their heads that tell them to act according to society. We see this internal struggle with Jane as she constantly wants to say and do things that she knows that she shouldn't. Jane articulates that this revolt of the masses of women go "against their lot." "Lot" could mean a number of things, ranging from the society, to men, to their own humble wills. In any sense, it represents the idea of these women wanting to reject and fight against something bigger then them, which makes them incapable of doing so. It is important to note that while the most obvious interpretation of this quote suggests that Jane is referring to women like herself, this first part of the quotation could speak to anyone, male or female, living in the incredibly rigid and classified norms set by the Victorian society.
The next part of the quote points directly to the role of women as compared to the role of men in the society. Jane reverts back to the idea of women being calm and subdued, but continues to say "but women feel just as men feel." Throughout this section, Jane seems to try to equate men to women on a variety of levels. First Jane speaks on an emotional level saying that "[women] need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do." She speaks of the idea of breaking out of her dull life and progressing, just as men are able to do. Her word choice of "brothers" is significant because it represents the male race on the same level as the women, as opposed to if she had referred to them as fathers, or teachers, or some role that suggested a sense of superiority. Again she talks about how the woman race suffers from "stagnation" just as men do, and goes on to say, "it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say they out to confine themselves…" "Narrow-minded" is similar to Jane's use of the word "vain" in that it infers others imposing what they think is best on others without really knowing the situation of those imposed upon. The idea of men as equals is implied when she says "fellow-creatures," however she seems to contradict herself by using the words "more privileged." "Privilege" is a right or benefit given to someone usually by an outer source. In this case, Jane refers to men as more privileged, because the society that they live in give the men more freedom and more rights than it does the women. The combination of these four words suggests that Jane sees herself as equal to men, but because of the circumstances that they live in, she is automatically less privileged or in other words, inferior.
Next, Jane lists off activities that are expected of women including, "making puddings," "knitting stockings," "playing the piano," and "embroidering bags." All of these activities not thought provoking, deep labors, but rather seemingly shallow and simple ways of life, even though it is proficiency in these areas that made one a woman in the Victorian times. Lastly, Jane declares "it is thoughtless to condemn [women], or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." "Condemn" and "laugh at" evoke feelings of condescension from the male race. Obviously, Jane is referring to herself as one who is interested in "doing" and "learning" more than the average woman did at the time.
We interpret Jane's ideas as incredibly modern and revolutionary. Jane says that there are millions of people living not for themselves but rather for a larger sense of what is socially accepted. While these ideas can be representative of anyone who feels confined by what society deems "normal" and "conventional," Jane directs her argument towards the specific issue of women in the society. It is essential to keep in mind how adamant the Victorian society was in keeping women in their very subdued, humble, domestic roles. In fact, if anyone attempted to break out of these roles, they were seen as different, contrary to social norm, and most plainly, mad. Jane undergoes a struggle between wanting to lead a life for herself, of progression and excitement, and wanting to lead a life where she will be accepted by society. Which one will she choose?

Religion 7.3 of 10 on the basis of 1545 Review.