“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Author: Charlotte Brontë
Publication Date: 1847
Buddy read with Melanie!
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This is absolutely a book that all young women should read. This is a story of self-respect and enduring emotionally trying times by maintaining rational decisions which are lessons that I think everyone, but especially young girls, need to be reminded of at times.
First, I can’t emphasize enough how profound this book is for its time (and probably why it was despised by many at the time of its publication). Jane Eyre was originally published in 1847. This is one of the many periods in history where the biggest achievement a woman make is to marry well and one of the most qualifying characteristics a woman could have was to be pretty.
Enter Jane Eyre. Orphaned as an infant and sent to live with an uncle who loved her and an aunt who found her burdensome. After her uncle’s death, the aunt takes on a whole evil step-mother persona and treats Jane as a lesser human. One of the most profound moments in this part of the story is when some servants make the comment that they would sympathize more with Jane if only she were prettier.
I would think that a book that is over 150 years old would be past the statute of limitations on spoilers but just in case there is someone that has not read it, I will specifically state any of the major developments in the book.
That said, in the broadest of terms, Jane, despite not being pretty, is later in the position of being able to make an astoundingly good marriage considering her situation. According to contemporary thought, this is a wonderful fortune for Jane. However, in order to do so she would have to abandon her own sense of right and wrong.
There were just so many moments where I was so proud of Jane for making the decisions she did because I know how hard it is to separate yourself from emotional moments in order to make decisions that actually make sense.
I actually first read this book about 2 years ago and I loved then. This time around though, I noticed a few things that I didn’t before.
First was a little bit of anti-Christian sentiment.
This book was not hard-line anti-religion. More it took issue with some ideas. Most important of which, I felt, was the idea that if someone does you wrong to just completely let it go because eventually you will be dead and in Heaven so it won’t matter to you anyway. There is something to be said for forgiving those that have wronged you but I felt like this book was standing up to the idea of just letting it go completely and acting like nothing happened because that is ultimately the easy way out. The idea that suffering makes you a better person.
Also, I noticed how incredibly selfish Mr. Rochester is. I don’t know why I didn’t notice this so much before but it really stuck out to me now. Every time he tried to justify himself I just rolled my eyes at him.
For me this book is less about the romance and more about the importance of strength of character. Of being able to be proud of yourself, to respect yourself. It is natural to seek love and acceptance and searching for those things that were denied to her in her childhood was something that shaped Jane, but she refused to compromise her own moral compass to achieve it.
Absolutely a recommended read for anyone that likes classics. The only reason it did not get a perfect 10/10 for me was that I felt like it got wordy and went on a little long at times and I felt myself getting a little bored waiting for something to happen.