In Jane Eyre, Jane is often described as a solitary and strange creature. For Jane, imagination and solitude are often one and the same. As a child, Jane is frequently abused, both physically and mentally. She suffers from feelings of exclusion, loss, and unworthiness. In order to cope with such feelings, she retreats into herself. She secludes herself within her own thoughts, and develops her own stories and imaginings to keep herself occupied. In a certain sense, these help her to remain sane. They allow her to develop a life outside of the miserable one she leads, and to experience some small amount of happiness.
When Jane goes to school, she uses her imagination and her time of solitude as downtime after a day of learning. Similarly to the journal of Charlotte Bronte, Jane describes a school setting in which she needs time to herself in order to recuperate and recharge for the next day. Jane’s introverted qualities continue into adulthood. When she goes to work for Mr. Rochester, she is happy that it seems to be a nice home where she is respected. Even in a nice location though, Jane needs her alone time. She claims that even there, “the restlessness was in [her] nature” (114). She spends a certain part of her nights pacing the house, either thinking or imagining fantastic stories. She walks “backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot” (114). This behavior can be compared to a child, running around the house imagining fairytales and new friends. From the outside, such activities can seem strange. To Jane, however, they are not only normal, but also necessary.
It is interesting to read Jane’s narrative of what she imagines, and, as the reader to try to imagine this in our own minds. Jane describes how she allows her “minds eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it-and certainly they were many and glowing” (114). For Jane, these visions in her imagination are the exciting point of her life. They are where she can play out her dreams, her hopes, and her delights. She can open her “inward ear to a tale that was never ended-a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence” (114). In reality, Jane is a teacher. Her life is one filled with books, knowledge, and repetition. Although the mystery of Mr. Rochester provides some amount of excitement in her life, she finds that she needs more. She finds her life lacking in excitement, and says that people such as herself “must have actions; and they will make it if they cannot find it” (114). Instead of creating news and actions for herself in reality, she does so in her head. She describes that she is not the only one in this position. She claims that “millions are in silent revolt against their lot” (115). She soon, however, gets more excitement than she bargained for.