The book, Jane Eyre, starts slowly, with a telling of Jane’s humble beginnings. She is raised by her cruel Aunt Reed. By late childhood years, she is put into LowoodBoarding School for young women. She undergoes hardships there-finding an immediate friend who soon dies and frequently and unfairly being named a liar. Her brief friendship with Helen Burns brought out the best in Jane.
“I’ll stay with you dear Helen. When I awoke it was day: an unusual movement roused me; I looked up; I was in somebody’s arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me through the passage back to the dormitory. I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else to think about: no explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in a little crib; my face against Helen Burn’s shoulder, my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was-dead.”
Once Jane finally moves up in status and becomes a teacher at Thornfield Hall, she finds the world to be a much different place than before. With her increase of power, people have more respect for her. Men of great influence are interested in Jane, her Aunt Reed feels she owes it to Jane to apologize for how she treated her in the past and even goes on to admit Jane has an Uncle who she told that Jane was dead. This prominent Uncle winds up passing away but leaving her $20,000.
Once Jane has made a name for herself, she cracks in a way. I think she, like many people even today, are their best in the most difficult situations. Rags to riches is a stark difference from riches to rags; Jane becomes more superficial and influenced by others. It seems that she forgets her humble beginnings. When you compare this to Mr Rochester, who becomes a more honest, appreciating man when he loses everything, especially his dignity-Jane’s response to her change in status is less admirable.
This book felt very “before it’s time.” It included all genres and rarely touched topics-romance, mystery, horror, women’s roles, and adventure. It feels as if Jane is the constant in a science experiment, where she is tested in every possible situation. The mid 1800’s were tough times for women and so it is amazing to see her determination, strength, and power in each difficult phase of her life.
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
“Rochester: “Jane, be still; don’t struggle so like a wild, frantic bird, that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.”
Jane: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”