Even though, it is the twenty-first century, and we talk a lot about development and growth and more importantly, feminism and women empowerment, we know that, still, women all around the world has a long way to go till they call themselves equal to men. We crave for independence, speak about being free and fight for respect, but honestly, how many of us have had the courage to be independent, to think as a free human being without a nagging fear of male dominance and suppression? This is the story of a woman who had all of that and more; the beloved and my favourite Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre is set in between late eighteenth and early nineteen century, which means it was two-three centuries before us. It was, no doubt, the time, when women were supposed to “feminine”, which is apparently being “delicate”, “girly” (I don’t even understand what it means!) and “someone who doesn’t speak much, openly”. So, basically an introvert. But you know what Jane Eyre did? She shouted at her guardian (her aunt), because she locked Jane up in a dark room even though Jane was afraid of dark. She fought (literally!) with her cousin brother because he abused her and well, her aunt punished Jane. She stood up to all of this, and finally when she was offered to go to a school all alone, far away from her “home”, she gladly accepted it because she wanted to be independent. Phase one ends here.
Phase Two: Her Schooling.
After getting admitted into Lowood School, she learns everything a woman should learn. She gets a fine education and a whole bunch of friends. When she is humiliated in front of all the girls in the school, and even she is sad at first, with the help of a friend named Helen burns, she stands up on her feet again and decides to face every challenge without sitting in a corner and cry like a coward; this is something we all should learn because this is an important lesson which people often forget about. Sadly, Helen dies during a typhus endemic which broke out due to poor clothing and meals in the school. Jane musters all her courage to go through this heart-breaking phase of her life and embracing life happily again. Nothing much happens except, she finds a mentor and confidante in one of her teachers. Phase two ends here.
Phase Three: Meeting Mr. Rochester
After spending six years as a student and two years as a teacher, she begins her search for work as a governess. When she gets a reply from Ms. Alice Fairfax to come to Thornfield Hall to teach Adele Varens, she gladly accepts, and again travels further to her destination. On her way, she sees a man (actually, her employer) fall from his horse and she helps him get up. Later unfolds a series of dramatic events between Jane and Mr. Rochester, including Jane falling for Mr. Rochester, and him getting engaged to another woman. Even though, Jane is in love with Mr. Rochester, she never acts out of principles, and never forgetting what her actual role is, in the Thornfield Hall. She confesses her love for Mr. Rochester in a dramatic speech,
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
Moved by the love, he proposes marriage which after a slight hesitation, she gladly accepts. But, unfortunately, on their wedding, a terrible truth breaks about Mr. Rochester being married to another woman who is mentally sick. Even though Mr. Rochester suggests that they go away and live together, she declines because she respects herself and never acts out of principles. As soon as she finds out the truth, she runs away from Thornfield Hall.
Phase Four: Meeting Mr. John Rivers
After running away from what she called her home, she reaches a place far away Thornfield Hall, tired, hungry and exhausted. She finds home, again with Mr. John Rivers and his sisters, Mary and Diana. She doesn’t let her past come anywhere in her conversations with them. As they story proceeds, we find out that, the Rivers family is actually Jane’s cousins and in the event of the death of their uncle, they receive a large sum of money. She is also now working as a teacher in a chool funded by the church.
As the proceeds, John Rivers asks Jane to marry him, not out of love, but out of duties, which she declines. Later on, Jane listens to faint voice of Mr. Rochester, and she returns to Thornfield Hall. It is all ruined, as Mr Rochester’s wife sets the house on fire, due to which he is blinded. After they both assures each other of their love, they gets married.
My ratings: 9/10
It presents us with a degree of feminism which is unimaginable at that time. Women all around the world has a lot to learn from Jane Eyre. If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of this book, what are you waiting for? Go grab it.