Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
What I think…
It is said that a classic book has the ability to be reinterpreted, to seemingly be renewed in the interest of generations of readers succeeding its creation. Probably, the reason why Italo Calvino wrote in his essay, “Why Read the Classics”, that “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
I am not a classic book reader, I admit, but I wondered what Jane Eyre needs to say, and would it interest me. If you read any book summary, they will tell you that Jane Eyre speaks of several themes. For me, she confided two (2): LOVE and EQUALITY.
Throughout the book it is evident that Jane wanted to belong, to find a family, and a love that will secure her identity. It was manifested in reference to different surrogate maternal figures, starting with Bessie and ending with herself as Adele’s governess. Then, she fell for Mr. Rochester, whom she considered family more than any of her biological relations. Many have asked, “Why him?” There are, of course, various reasons; but it was LOVE that which solidified her conviction - not influenced by blood, social status, money, wit, or beauty.
While Love is a reverberating theme of Jane’s autobiography, Equality is the core that branches in different aspect. From the very beginning, Jane emphasized that she was a poor orphan, mistreated and unwanted. Her outburst on Chapter 4 displayed her demand for equality. Severing her ties with Mrs. Reeds bespoke of emotional freedom, and the mere retelling of her history in Gateshead, revengeful as it may seems, asserts her authority over her aunt. They may not be of social equals, but she outweighs her aunt by principles.
Yet, it is the other that contradicts the former. Can love exist when equality is not a consideration? How many times Jane has spoken of class prejudice? Ultimately, Bronte has to relent. Society did not bend. Magically, Jane inherited a sizeable amount from her deceased uncle; lifting her, if not equal, to a sufficient stature. Adding Rochester’s accident increased his dependency in Jane and her care.
Contradict, it will. But Jane Eyre speaks of a love story, and so, love will prevail in the end. Love is the affirmation of Equality.
“I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.”
Before I end this, I send my deepest gratitude to Thursday Next –
I appreciate this ending better, Thursday. :)
ISBN: 0142437204 (ISBN13: 9780142437209)
Published: Published February 4th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1847)