I have a confession to make. Last night I finished Jane Eyre for the first time in my life. And then I wildly and emphatically proclaimed to world via select social networks, HOW IN ALL THE GREAT EARTH HAVE I NEVER READ JANE EYRE UNTIL NOW? Because, really? How is this possible? Whenever people would mention Jane Eyre, I’d shrug my shoulders and say, Oh yeah, Jane Eyre. But, No. I didn’t have a clue. How silly of me. How foolish of me to shrug in response. And now, whenever people shall mention it, I will clasp my hand to my chest and sigh, Oh, Jane Eyre. It’s like I’m a new person.
To have a Bachelor of Arts in English, to be a lover of books and now at 27, finally know this story. I’m so disappointed in myself. I must tell you that a few years ago, I checked out a copy from the library, but the first few bleak pages launched me into boredom with all that mistreatment at Gateshead and the way that Jane was just so serious. All that logic and reason was exhausting. I closed the book in ignorance and returned it. Oh, silly, young me.
Now let me tell you, even when I found myself sneaking in every moment possible to turn another digital page of Jane Eyre, she still exhausted me with her rational nonsense. She’s a thinker, that Jane. Just calm down a little Jane, just a little. But, then the wonder of this story is that she feels reason the way others get swept up in emotion, just a wildly. Wild with reason, that Jane Eyre. “And as I think and breathe, I must love him.” And the other characters, namely the men, are her greatest foils. Ms. Bronte, you’re totally brilliant.
I happen to be a very involved reader and a total feeler (INFJ, right here) and if you were a fly on the wall at any point, here are a few things you may have heard me shout out, resulting in ridiculous glances from my husband.
- You love him, Jane Stop talking. You love him!
- Who the f$#( is Grace Poole?
- Ahh, no marry him anyway! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who wanted them to still get married after finding out you-know-what. Does this make me a horrible person?)
Passion and reason are huge themes of this book. I would say that Mr. Rochester and St. John are both extremely passionate suitors, but on opposite ends of the spectrum. Mr. Rochester lives and breathes for Jane, as if he’ll crumble into a million pieces without her, and he loves her Oh.my.word He loves her, gushing out obsession, passionate love. St. John is passionate also, which you might not see, but in the way that the Mr. R. is wildly blinded with consuming love for his little Jane, St. John is consumed with reason, duty, and responsibility for the mission/for his position of ministry and for that reason, he feels his proposal to Jane just as strongly as Mr. lover-I-have-a-tragic-secret. I mean, why else would he think this an acceptable and enticing proposal, “You were meant for the hardships of a missionary’s wife. I’m not really in love with you, but we could do the work together?” Wrongo, Johnny boy. Gah, I wanted to scream, DON’T MARRY HIM. Well, I did.
Upon reading the end, I let breath enter my lungs again, and my head fall back in the most Kathleen Kelly dramatic of ways. And then the most shocking idea traipsed into my little head. Please sit down, are you sitting down?
For the longest time, I would swear that there was no greater romance ever penned, that there was no set of lovers that could even stand in the shadows of Miss Elizabeth Bennett and her Mr. Darcy. Yet, today as I sit here, as if I’m about to say the most scandalous of statements, I believe we have some competition.
Watching the film tonight.