There is a cliche that always seems to pop up in media. ”Eyes are the window to the soul.” It makes sense, eyes are often more expressive than facial features. This holds true to the eye imagery in Jane Eyre.
The first passage that really shows how important eyes are is when Jane is describing Rochester’s eyes. “…and in his great, dark eyes; for he had great, dark eyes, and very fine eyes, too—not without a certain change in their depths sometimes, which, if it was not softness, reminded you, at least, of that feeling.” Already Rochester has power over Jane, not only as her employer but as a potential romantic partner. There is almost a wistful sigh to Jane’s description of his eyes.
The tone changes after the fire. Rochester had “one eye was knocked out” and “the other eye inflamed: he lost the sight of that also. He is now helpless, indeed—blind and a cripple.’” His gaze was broken, similar to how his power over Jane by this point was non-existent. Jane further emphasized the change in Rochester’s power by in the line: “The caged eagle, whose gold-ringed eyes cruelty has extinguished, might look as looked that sightless Samson.” An eagle is a bird of prey who is often seen as a dominant force in nature, to have him caged is to remove that power like the biblical story of Samson, who had his power stripped from him.
While Jane states that “I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress.” and goes on further to tell Rochester that “I find you lonely” and she would “be eyes and hands to you.” She puts herself in a place of power over Rochester, a reversal from when they first meet. When Rochester does regain his sight, it is when his son was put into his arms and Rochester “could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were—large, brilliant, and black.” This indicates that the child now holds power over Rochester and Jane, as most children do. Because the child has Rochester’s eyes unbroken.
I could not get the image of eyes out of my head while reading the book. The constant gazes we feel in society seemed to be emphasized. Almost as though the novel had its own eyes and watched the readers through them.