After completing a long awaited novel on my lengthy reading list, I was awed when finishing Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This captivating story that covers the life of an orphaned girl hit me to the core. Not only did it converge a theme of excitement throughout the plot-line, but it offered a sense of resilience in the way in which the main character handled her life and the situations that come her way.
Although this is seen as a classic Victorian read in the world of literature, Jane Eyre is easily related to the modern woman of the 21st century. Her experiences of being cast out by her own aunt and cousins, mistreatment at boarding school, and broken romance with a later employer left her with a series of faults deemed unwanted by all. Despite these let downs in her path through life as a young women, Jane’s manner of handling the hurtful situations is what we can all take a few pointers from.
When waking up each day to the threats of her snooty cousins and aunt that treated her as though she were of a different cast, Jane suffered with being unwanted from a young age. Containing a strong-willed attitude, Jane made it clear through reprimanding statements her feelings towards the harsh upbringing. Though the raising of one’s voice towards an adult was viewwd as disrespectful (and still is today), Jane did so as a defense mechanism in order to let her feelings become apparent to those around her. This may seem like a negative attribute to obtain, but Jane showed resilience while using this at a young age. She stood up for herself in moments where a self-esteem boost was necessary. Guarding herself from being trampled on the rest of her life, Jane established a confident attitude towards her oppressors, speaking against the judgments her caretakers placed upon her.
After a willing transition from her aunt’s house to boarding school, Jane found freedom from soloed embarrassment in the home. However, she merely transitioned to sternness and perfection in the setting of six teachers presiding over dozens of orphaned girls. Quickly being pointed out for her outspoken conscious and attitude in comparison with the other, more submissive girls, Jane continued a life marked with physical and mental consequences of shame. What did she do in response to this unfriendly atmosphere? She learned to hold her tongue, show respect, honor her elders, and be obedient to those before her. Although she learned to be complacent wherever she was, Jane did not waver in her self-respect. She learned from her time at school and used her personal experiences to foster an environment of encouragement and grace to the future homeless girls that would be under her instruction as a teacher.
Jane sets out on a new adventure. One of courage and independence with little knowledge of where the future will take her. Placing herself in the mansion of a rich aristocracy whom she never met, Jane wholeheartedly took up a role as governess. After an unclear, yet budding romance with her boss Mr. Rochester, Jane finds herself engaged. When her unrealistic dreams of romance seemed to be in the palm of her hand, Jane’s innocent relationship with Rochester fell through the cracks on their Wedding day. Discovering that her fiance was already wed to a woman still living, Jane’s heart and trust were broken. What seemed to be a miracle and newfound joy in her life came to a halt and she dealt with the pains she longed to run away from in the past.
Jane’s resolution to the immoral relationship was not to submit to the dreamlike abundance her fiance offered her: To live in the richness of a French Villa as Rochester’s true love (aka mistress) and to cherish her love in the privacy of another country with no family or friends to question her. Jane had every obligation in her heart to comply to Rochester’s pleads of sacrifice for love. But she didn’t follow her heart in this instance; she followed her mind. Her heart was beholden to the one she first received affection, attention and care from. Her first friend. However her mind shook her, reminding her of the immorality hidden behind the secrecy of the decision. Dignity, self respect, and value revived her plan of response in this moment of difficulty. Placing her self worth before her heart’s gnawing desires, Jane chose to go down the path less traveled by women in these situations. She left, straying herself into the wilderness as a homeless, impoverished woman with no money, family connections, or job.
Although she ended up finding her way in life, establishing herself as an independent woman and marrying the one in which her heart found true love for, Jane persevered through her trials to get to this point. She took the negative consequences of poor decisions made by those around her and let them build up her character. Instead of submitting to what she and those around her strove for, Jane let Self Respect, Dignity, Morality, and Self Worth dictate the actions she made as a child and young adult. These acts of wisdom traced back to her strong-held faith in the Lord and want to commemorate goodness in her life. Jane is a strong representation of a Godly woman, so you might as well just go ahead and read Proverbs 31!
In the end, I think we can all learn a few things from Bronte’s writing, but don’t take that from me. Read the book yourself and get the whole experience.! Otherwise, Jane Eyre the movie does a pretty good job at getting down to the point (2008).
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
~ Rachel Anne