*May contain spoilers.
What a great introduction to Charlotte Brontë! I would definitely need to revisit this book because it is chock-full of sprawling, poetic descriptions and insightful observations by our female protagonist. If I wanted a Anna Karenina tattoo after reading that epic tome, a bracelet would be the best memento after this iconic book. An understated piece of jewelry to remember to keep it simple, and the importance of knowing and trusting oneself like Jane Eyre.
Know Thy Self
I read many reviews that called Jane Eyre a heroine and I didn’t understand why. She was a plain girl who started out with nothing and ended up with everything: love, money and family. End of story, so what?
By the end, I understood that Jane Eyre is heroic because she could save herself from any moral dilemma she faced. She never gave up on herself. It was this kind of fortitude we applauded when she told Mrs. Reed to shove it, and when she succeeded at Lowood, and when she fended off men like a wide receiver. Jane is a survivor and even in her darkest moments, she found a way to pick herself up and push just a little bit more. I admired her wisdom, emotional stability, humour and lack of vanity. I admired her desire to be independent and free of the expectation of others.
Jane’s greatest strength was knowing herself and having the ability to make choices that complimented her values and desires. She rejected marriage even though her opportunities were limited. She put aside her anger and visited Mrs. Reed at her death bed. Jane conscientiously chose not to take the easy path if it didn’t feel right and by doing so demonstrated her courage to be unconventional. We get to know her heart and mind so deeply, I cared for Jane Eyre and wanted the best outcome for her.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda
Immediately, I didn’t feel that Mr. Rochester was a suitable match for our heroine and if she married him, she would be settling. I found him to be obnoxious, phony and deceitful. Hiding a mad wife in the attic is no small white lie. How could she ever trust him again? I thought when Jane and Rochester reunited I might feel differently about him. But when he put his slimy paw (note singular) on her and raved his gratefulness at her return, I still didn’t think he deserved her. But she forgave Rochester and had her happy ending. I guess that’s what matters most, living without regrets.
The little tale that could
Charlotte Brontë broke the mould with her tale of the little governess who lived and loved. Jane Eyre is hailed as a revolutionary proto-feminist text and I can’t imagine how this story blew up society, setting wheels into motion for future generations. I enjoyed the book because I liked our heroine. I learned a few things following her along the path to independence and may question during my own dark moments: WWJD? What would Jane do?