Jane Eyre. Just the name makes me feel like I’m on a windswept moor straggling toward a looming house in the distance. The moor is bare, except for a gnarled tree where ravens roost… just kidding. It makes me feel like I’m sitting in my literature classroom agonizing over an in-class essay. Turns out, the cold chill of the moor and the cold chill of having two minutes to finish my paper aren’t that different.
Anyway, here are 7 thoughts I had while reading Jane Eyre, that most wonderful and confusing of Gothic novels. WARNING: spoilers ahead!
1. I guess my hair is sinful?
According to Mr. Brocklehurst, it is, because I have naturally curly hair and sometimes wear it in a braid.
“‘Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does she conform to the world so openly—here in an evangelical, charitable establishment—as to wear her hair one mass of curls?’
‘[E]ach of the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven[.]'”
Thanks for the tip, Mr. Brocklehurst! I guess the only way to heaven is to straighten my hair–or better yet, shave my head!
2. Helen is way better than me, and she’s like 12.
She’s the only person who is nice to Jane after Mr. Brocklehurst humiliates her. She forgives people endlessly. She gives a deep and moving speech about the hope of salvation right before she dies–and she’s, what, eleven or twelve? I can only wish to be as cool as her.
3. I am SO glad I live in the 21st century.
Tuberculosis is treatable. You don’t have to travel everywhere by carriage. CPS is a thing. If you’re a woman, your life isn’t over if you’re not married by age 18. So many perks!
4. Jane, you can totally do better than Mr. Rochester.
I know you’ve met like 5 men in your entire life, and they’re all terrible, but Mr. Rochester is terrible too. He’s not nice to you, and he’s not attractive or virtuous or whatever you’re looking for in a man. You, on the other hand, are brave and smart and awesome. Why are you even considering falling in love with him?
5. So many red flags. All the red flags.
Mr. Rochester pretends to date Blanche, who is a total jerk, just to make Jane jealous. Then when he does propose to Jane, he says things like, “I have a terrible secret but I can’t tell you until we’re married.” Jane knows that there’s more to the fire and the screams in the attic than Grace Poole, and she knows that Rochester is hiding it from her. Then, when Jane does find out about Bertha, Rochester tries to persuade her that bigamy is OK. Yet, for some reason, she still loves him? Don’t ignore the red flags, Jane!
6. St. John, you are not God.
This probably comes as a surprise to you, but it’s true. You’d make an even worse husband than Rochester, and that’s saying something. Just because Jane doesn’t want to marry you doesn’t mean she is defying the will of God. You’re first cousins and honorary siblings! Just go to India as a brother/sister pair! I know that in your mind, you either have to hate Jane forever or marry her, but–guess what–you have more options than that. Crazy, I know.
7. OK, Jane, if you’re happy, I guess I’m happy…
I still think that Rochester’s pretty creepy. But now that he’s blind and poor, he seems to have mellowed a little. Jane, you’ve lived through a lot by now, so we want you to be happy. If Rochester is no longer trying to be bigamous, I guess you can marry him.
What did you think of Jane Eyre? Did any of these thoughts cross your mind, too? Let me know in comments!
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