By Ashni Dhaor:
On 16th October 1847, a novel by the name of ‘Jane Eyre: An Autobiography’ was published. The author of the book was stated as Currer Bell which was the pen name used by Charlotte Bronte at that time, since publishers were seldom interested in even looking at the literary work of a woman. The novel was very shocking for its time. Even though the book was written almost a hundred and fifty years ago, the character of the protagonist was way ahead of her time and even today, we can learn a lot from this classic novel.
1. Be a ‘brave’ person before being a ‘good’ person: Jane Eyre, the main character of the story, grew up in a loveless environment and her childhood was portrayed almost like a ‘Cinderella’ story. But the difference was that she was fearless, outspoken and bold even in her childhood. At the age of 10, when she gets to know that she is being sent to a charity institution by her cruel aunt, there is nothing stopping her from the outburst she throws at her aunt for mistreating her and declares that she’ll never call the woman her ‘aunt’ again. She speaks out against her to-be-husband as well when she discovers he has a wife. When Jane gets to know that her uncle has left a fortune for her, she insists on sharing it with her cousins who had helped her later in life through thick and thin. Jane’s childhood and adolescence was miserable but she does bounce back and doesn’t fall prey to life’s adversities.
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” -Jane Eyre
2. No matter what happens, stick to your principles: Being an orphan, Jane never lost the path to righteousness or did anything immoral. In the story, Jane is head over heels in love with Mr. Rochester, but leaves him at the aisle when she discovers that he has a wife. Even after much convincing from the love of her life, not once does she retract from her decision (though she does marry him later when the wife passes away in an accident). She knows that marrying a married man is against her principles and morals. Moreover, she cannot be a home-wrecker for another couple just for the sake of her feelings. At a later instance as well, when St. John asks her to accompany him to his voyage to India for a missionary work as his wife, Jane refuses since that would mean compromising her passion in a loveless marriage.
“I am a free human being with an independent will.” -Jane Eyre
3. Being educated is being self-reliable: Jane is deprived of all the things in life which are normal for us to have. She has no family or money, not even a person whom she could call a friend after her sole friend at the Lowood Institution died in her arms when they were. Though conditions at charity institution were inhumane, Jane focused on her studies and came out as an educated woman. Out of all odds, Jane manages to get a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall and lives with dignity. Out of all that she earns, she also manages to save some of it and travel away from Thornfield after she breaks off her wedding. On reaching another destination, though with some help from her relatives, Jane again arranges for a job as a teacher.
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” -Jane Eyre
4. Marry only for love, nothing else: Jane’s love life too is as complicated as everything else in her life. She falls in love with Mr. Rochester, her employer, who is also in love with her. Their wedding is interrupted by the revelation that Rochester has another wife which compels Jane to break off the wedding because of her principles. She is then proposed to by a St. John, but turns him down since she knew that it would be nothing but a love less alliance which won’t be a meaningful marriage. The fact that one should always marry for love can also be seen in Mr. Rochester’s life. His first marriage was more of a business deal since he had an eye for his father-in-law’s wealth. Little did he know that his wife has an underlying mental condition which eventually wrecked their marriage.
“I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me.” -Jane Eyre
5. Always hope for the best: Having had a traumatic life as a child, Jane never lost hope. When she was sent to the charity institution by her aunt, Jane hoped that no matter what, at least the place will be better than her aunt’s place. When Jane came to Lowood Institution, the inedible food and harsh conditions did not frighten her. Instead, she strived to have a better future and studied well. Jane’s faith helped her through thick and thin and eventually good things did happen to her. She inherited a fortune from her uncle, married the love of her life and found happiness. In the end, it all turned out to be alright.
“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.”-Jane Eyre