This is another book that helped shape me.
In some ways, Jane is the typical heroine: she grows up in hardship and develops a strength that can only be grown from that kind of upbringing. Then a mysterious man who also needs healing crosses paths with her, and they complement each other. She saves him, and he saves her. Typical.
In other ways, Jane is a unique hero. Through life’s torments, she remains compliant. She does not fight back. She learns at an early age the consequences of throwing a punch (or a book at a family member who has taken her in). Instead, she escapes mistreatment by walking away. It takes a lot of strength to realize one cannot solve every problem by facing it head-on.
Jane teaches me, to this day, that it’s okay to be soft. You can still be strong that way. You can be an artist, a writer, a musician, and still bend life under your will.
Some readers dislike this novel due to its flowery language and excess of description. It is true that much of Jane’s time is spent in thought, but it is active thought. It does not sit and slowly spin in circles. It moves forward, much in the same way my mind works (at least as far as I’d like to think).
Some may not relate to this story at all, and that’s perfectly all right. For me, it is a story I return to in the tough moments of my life. I know that Jane feels the same as I do, but she ends up living a life she’s proud of. I don’t care for happy endings, especially if they’re happy for their own sake. I prefer hopeful ones.
Those are much more honest.
There’s so much I could write on this novel to convince everyone of its relevance today and in history, but above all, it is an enjoyable read. Though the story of her life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it makes the reader all the more willing to cheer for her. She is a realist. She openly admits that things that happen to her really suck, but she is also an optimist at the end of it all. She is redemption incarnate, for Rochester, for herself, and for humanity.
What did you think when you read Jane Eyre? Share in the comments! And join me next week for a review on one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories. See you then!