We’ve things to face and deconstructions on this 19th century Bildungsroman female story by Charlote Brontë. It’s not one of those domestic romance, but one that conveys unhinged relationships and needed forking paths to reach its final.
Jane Eyre is an educated, polite woman, that makes her path through life as almost a man, criticized for refusing to be against what’s supposed to do as she’s a poor relation in a family, has very little cultural capital. She should be a governess and that’s. She has no other accomplishment and should be grateful for the opportunity.
She’s plain, refused and bullied on all the paths she went: The Reeds; Bessie, her nannie; Helen, chastises her by not turning the other face; Brocklehurst, rebukes her from not knowing the psalms; Rochester, than loves her without knowing, makes her serve as an employee to his future bride, a beauty; and the Rivers. Least but last, the most shocking, the mad Rochester’s wife, locked in the attic.
She’s cruel treated, puts in the lowest position, keeps repeating ‘Yes, sir,’ though she considers herself an equal to some of the characters and sometimes is impatient and angry with others. A class power culture is implied, a dialect of male-female, wealth-poor, strong-weak. What is so curious is that power requires masters-victims and Jane refuses to sacrifice herself if its not dully sincere, if its just autocratic.
In 19th century, I guess, there’re more plain women than today. Though Jane is bullied by her plainness, by herself even, she has so many more qualities that make for it: lovely soul, courage, intelligence.
Who said a plain woman couldn’t have a very interesting and fulfilling relationship? Couldn’t have intelligence and charm?
A quick and witty mind could win a contest from an empty beauty. Those qualities are much more compelling and fewer to find. The determinedness and sparring of words are more attention catching in Brontë’s novels than in the flirty ones. It shows that love relationships breaks hierarchy, class bounds to make partners equal.
One has to be sensitive to noticed about all these exquisitely, fairly and fabler motions. It could be Beauty & the Beast or Red Riding Hood & the Bad Wolf, but instead of a fable, Brontë wrote a book that could be called subversive.
Specially in the 1840s where Europe was in revolution. Jane’s no victim. She’s strong and active, and she shows she has her trump cards just for being her, evolving from a miserable, bullied child to mature woman not accepting to lessen her anger and to turn her face to be strike again.
To reach the last line, “Reader, I married him.”, all the leading characters have to evolve and go to different, forking paths, face beautiful things, and eat garbage, become ill, almost marry, fall in love with another and almost die.
Marriage was a crowning success at that time, even for plain Jane and damaged Rochester.
Jane’s a schone seele, Goethe’s beautiful soul, that succeeded.