I finally finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; and I have spoken the word ‘Eyre’ in my head so many times the last two days that it seems a part of my mind now. I found the voice in my head constantly at practice while reading this novel. Perhaps, because it was written in first-person narrative or perhaps, due to the “telling” nature of Jane’s thoughts to herself and other people.
Throughout the novel, the Christian spirit of Jane Eyre is not surpassed by anyone other than Helen Burns. Helen is almost a divine embodiment of purity and goodness itself. She teaches Jane:
“Love your enemies; bless than that curse you; do good to them who hate you and despise-fully use you.”
and when Jane declares this to be impossible and unjust, Helen convinces her with arguments not of goodness and understanding another’s stand, but of the futility of resentment. She says:
“Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to be too short to be nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
As we suspect here, Helen’s life is short-lived and struck by a terminal disease for it appears that only those who approach death can nurture such divine goodness and expansion of mind. Our heroine, Jane, much contrasting to Helen is a very real character with goodness in it’s human limits. She undertakes a journey which changes her from being an impulsive, vehement and indulgent child to a more subdued, calculating and restrained demeanour; her sense of independence and strong-will remaining untouched. Much like Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, passions may torment and rage in suppressed fury inside her, but she follows the dictates of her judgement and conscience even in the most testing circumstances. It seems right to focus on her character development through the novel since much of it is focused on her inward struggles, the choices she makes and the strong sense of morality that they stem from. Mr. Edward Rochester, in regarding her, says this:
“the clear eye and eloquent tongue, the soul made of fire, and the character that bends but does not break- at once supple and stable, tractable and consistent.”
I enjoyed reading through the romance between Mr. Rochester and Jane and was in awe of Jane’s articulateness and quickness of response in rebutting other people and establishing what she means. She is a wonderful icon of feminism, social-discrimination and strong-mindedness, which makes her condemn Hannah from criminalizing poverty, Mr. Fairfax from entering into a bigamous marriage, Ms.Ingram’s callousness and her continual condemnation against Temptation runs throughout the novel.
She strives to find a balance between her passion and her conscience, a place where both may finally be at peace. My undeveloped and rather immature views do not approve or like the final theme of the novel- that Mr. Rochester repented for his sins through being struck by blindness and crippled in his arm. I sympathize with him and understand him when he loves Jane and wants to marry her, in-spite of being married to a woman decades ago who is a full-fledged lunatic. I don’t understand why Christianity or morality of any sorts should disturb this peaceful union of man and woman who are so perfectly meant for one another. It was wrong of Mr. Fairfax to be deceitful about this matter to Jane but was it a criminal offence of his to think of abandoning his lunatic wife and entering into another marriage? Of that, I am not so sure. Was it not understandable, and if understandable, rather forgiveable?