That’s why I don’t want to be Jane Eyre

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A couple of days ago I saw a headline on Il Corriere della Sera , which caught my attention: Perchè tutte (o quasi) vorremmo essere Jane Eyre di Charlotte Bronte” ( That’s why all of us (or almost all) would like to be Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte). It was a kind of  interesting, because, actually Jane Eyre has never been one of my favourite heroines, and certainly not one I naturally identify with,  maybe Angela Frenda, the journalist who wrote the article, had new fresh hints to offer.
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Jane Eyre belongs to category of the Bildungsroman, if fact we see her moral, psychological, and intellectual development from her early youth to a more mature age. Jane is an orphan left in the care of a cruel aunt, who gets rid of her very soon and sends her to a horrible school for girls, Lowood, to become a governess. After many years of troubles and hard work, she finishes her education and is employed at Thornfield, a name which can’t certainly be considered good omen.

images2VG97WDJThe owner of the house is Edward Rochester, a sort of Byronic hero, a mysterious, seductive, arrogant, passionate, handsome man who eventually falls in love with our plain Jane and proposes her marriage. He just forgot to mention that he was already married. It happens. His wife Bertha had gone mad shortly after the marriage, and lived in secret part of the house in the custody of a lady. Every now and then, she managed to escape the surveillance and she walked in night – veeeery Gothic indeed – spying the inhabitants of the house or trying to set  Mr Rochester’ s room  on fire, which she did. Shocked and humbled, Jane runs away penniless and is helped by a family, the Rivers, who eventually she discovers to be her cousins, and inherits a small fortune from an uncle. One night she has the impression of hearing Mr Rochester’s voice calling for her. She returns to Thornfield and finds the house burned down – it was Bertha’s doing – and Rochester blind and lame. He still loves her and now she accepts to marry him.

pictures-of-cinderella-8312Certainly our heroine doesn’t  belong to the typical prototype of Cinderella, that is I am beautiful and virtuous, therefore I deserve a prince and an easy life.  But, according to Angela Frenda : “Jane is a girl who has used no shortcuts, many of us see in her a metaphor of how life should be lived (by women, above all)”. Jane, in fact, is the kind of woman who obstinately and strenuously fights alone to reach her goal in a hostile, sometimes cruel world. Yet she accepts no compromises, she doesn’t want to use the charms and tricks, typical of the female world, but just hard work, sensibility, love and above all dignity. When Jane finds our about Mr Rochester’s wife, for example, she refuses to become his lover and leaves Thornfield without accepting any help from him.

imagesHVLYHC6UOk, I’m convinced: she is a saint, an example for us all, a metaphor, whatever, but there is one point I am firm: what is the reward for such immaculate perfection in the end? Mr Rochester? Love at last? Bah! We should remember that when Jane Eyre makes her homecoming at Thornfield, she is an independent, strong woman ( Charlotte Bronte had endowed her with a small fortune) while Mr Rochester is a weak man emotionally and physically shattered . She will have to nurse him for the rest of her life! If this is the reward, I’m sorry, but I’d rather be Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Even Bridget Jones would be ok.

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89 thoughts on “That’s why I don’t want to be Jane Eyre

  1. I actually do not understand the article written by Angela Frenda. I honestly can not see why someone would like to be Jane Eyre.. Altough she has a strong personality and all the good attributes that we read in the article, why should someone want to be her? She finds out that her lover, Mr. Rochester, was already married ( what kind of woman would like to be in that situation?); She decides to spend the rest of her life taking care of an emotially and physically weak man (again nobody would like to do that); She does not achieve what she deserves! Jane is a strong and indipendent lady and every single woman should obviously take her as an example, but as I have already said, I do not understand why anyone should like to be her!

  2. Certainly Jane Eyre is a great lady, an heroin: she is independent, a fighter who believes in her ideals and who wants to reach her goals by herself. But, even though her behavior is admirable, she lives a very troubled life and she ends up living with a blind man; she will be forced to take care of him for the rest of her life while, in my opinion, she would have deserved to marry a man who should have been at least as independent and strong as her. For all these reasons, I can say that I honestly don’t want to be Jane Eyre too.

  3. I disagree with Jane because if I were you I would not be married to Rochester especially when she had become a strong woman and I think she deserved after her past a handsome man and good a blue prince. and I think coming back to Thornfield has shown Rochester the true love

  4. In my opinion Jane Eyre did not mistake in the end to marry Mr.Rochester because she managed to go beyond the ugly look of him to take care and to spend the rest of life with him; even though she had become an independent woman. Often love goes beyond the outside appearance.

  5. In my opinion I think that her being strong and indipendent is not diminished by her choice to marry a crippled and blind man. On the contrary her integrity and indipendence give her the force to do this choice.

  6. Certainly Jane Eyre has some features that a lot of women set as their goals in life but I don’t really want to be her too. Jane ended up as a strong independent woman , that is amazing, but during her life time she had a lot of misfortunes. I also think that she doesn’t even have a good ending story, she married the man that she loved but than she would have to take care of him for the rest of her life even though she became a wealthy woman. I personally don’t want to be Jane, maybe I want to become somebody who manages to be on her own and be a strong independent woman, but definitely I don’t want to live her story.

  7. I don’t think Angela Frenda was referring to the specific things that happen to Jane in the story. I agree with you saying that being the nurse of a cripple man maybe is not the future every woman aspires to; but I also think that everyone chooses (or should choose) his own destiny with the purpose to be happy. Sometimes what makes me happy is not appreciated by others, but it doesen’t change what that thing is for me. So, if marrying the cripple Mr Rockester made Jane Eyre happy, which better reward she could have received? Actually I don’t know If that choice really made her happy, but if the answer is yes, I definitely would like to be like Jane.

  8. From my point of view Jane is a very strong character who, notwithstanding her difficult past, made a significant growth both psychological and social. I am convinced that in the end she would have never married with Mr Rochester, because now she is rich, indipendent and has connection, so she deserves a better life instead of nursing her husband.

  9. I actually disagree with you, because she indeed managed to fight against the “cruel world” never losing her perfect behavior and basically didn’t get a proper reward in the end. On the other hand, however, she made a choice. Nobody forced her to marry Mr Rochester, she wanted to. So can you really define that an unhappy ending or even a burden?

      • Yes, I was just trying to say that I believe she is happy with the choices she made, even if that’s not the ending that anyone would ever aspire to, particularly after all the troubles she had during her growth.

  10. Jane Eyre is definitely an example for every girl, but personally I would have never come back to the man who lied to me especially after becoming so independent and wealthy. Also, let’s be real, love rarely goes beyond appearance! I can’t really see an happy ending in this story. I’d rather be Catherine Earnshaw or Margaret Hale!

  11. I am sure that jane’s fight will never end! Like the battle of every woman! She has the neccessary determination to face all difficulties in her life! She had to make a choice but her real challenge is preserving her indipendence and strength also after her marriage! Her next goal could be to teach her values to the man she loves!

  12. I sincerely believe that Jane Eyre didn’t want to marry Mr. Rochester, not just because he was already married, but also because she didn’t want against her ideals. I think she wanted to became an independent woman without marrying a rich man.

  13. I think that Jane Eyre is an example of women ,she decied to spend her life behind her sick husband, acquired by love.But I didn’t share her choice, she had already lived a very hard life,why should Jane manly complicate her life?I think that life is already hard , maybe she should put aside love and try to start a easiest life.

  14. I think that for the whole story Jane was in love with Mr. Rochester’s soul and personality rather than his appearance, and for this reason and for her strong integrity during the development of the novel, I believe that she has never thought to an happy ending such as that of young and rich ladies. She was indeed in search of a balance, a natural and a true love, even if eventually her lover was not the prototype of the charming prince.

  15. Assuming that putting myself in a woman’s shoes is not so easy,I will try it however.
    Someone who takes care of a sick person and loves him too,is always praiseworthy,but that’s to say that part of Mr R condition is also Jane’s fault,in fact, if she had stayed with him,things would have been different (maybe worse,but who can says it?). Ok,Mr R was wrong to lie,or better still,omit his marriage,but anyway,he had the heart to look after Bertha,the mother of his daughter;this is a feature to appreciate in a man.
    So,in my opinion, Jane’s choice,at the end of the novel,is not wrong.
    It’s very nice to be independent,mostly for a woman,but happiness and true love are most important,if she reached this two goals,why not be like her?

  16. I think that Jane only in partly can be considered an example. From the point of view of morality certainly SHE is an example because SHE is a strong woman who is able to take strength from her misfortunes, thus becoming more autonomous. For what concerns fortune, I can’ say that SHE is girl to be envied , because as a child SHE had to
    suffer the violence of her counsins and as a grown-up SHE was able to marry the man he loved but only once he had become blind and cripple.

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