21 Reasons Why Jane Eyre Is The Most Revolutionary Literary Heroine Of All Time
In honor of Charlotte Brontë's 198th birthday.
1. Charlotte Brontë "rejected the convention of the beautiful heroine" and wanted to write a more relatable female protagonist.
2. Jane Eyre was also one of the first novels to be told from the perspective of a child while they were still a child.
And then show how those experiences shaped a person's adult life.
3. Jane addressed the constraints her gender dealt with, and actively defied them.
4. She also understood the importance of friendship and loyalty, and stood by Helen Burns' side even though it meant she was punished as well.
"If all of the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."
5. Because she was poor and not bound by social convention, Jane embraced and searched for greater meaning in life.
6. And she operated entirely on her own moral compass.
7. She admitted that she had fallen for Edward Fairfax Rochester, despite her efforts not to.
"I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me."
8. But she also loved him because she saw how much he loved her for her soul.
9. She showed that women could be vulnerable.
10. And that it was normal to deal with depressed thoughts and that there was no shame in feeling sad.
"I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes."
11. Despite her self-respect, she could also express feelings of self-consciousness in regard to her looks.
"Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: tomorrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully, without softening one defect; omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, 'Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.'"
12. And she was honest about her feelings, even in her lowest points in the story.
"The spell by which I had been so far supported began to dissolve; reaction took place, and soon, so overwhelming was the grief that seized me, I sank prostrate with my face to the ground. Now I wept: nothing sustained me; left to myself I abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards. Now, here I lay again crushed and trodden on; and could I ever rise more?"
13. She was unafraid to let herself feel love, even though she did everything she could to conceal it.
14. And she was totally aware of her sexuality in a super-advanced way for the time.
15. But, despite trying to be reserved, she eventually stood up for her feelings for Rochester via one of the best monologues ever.
"And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!"
16. She was also delightfully flirtatious with Edward (while also always sticking up for herself).
"Jane, you understand what I want of you? Just this promise -- I will be yours, Mr. Rochester."
"Mr. Rochester, I will not be yours."
17. And she refused to let him treat her like she was inferior just because of her social status.
18. Even though she had feelings for Rochester, she was still determined to always be true to herself.
19. She learned to value being alone so that she could truly know herself and what she wanted.
20. And when she found out about Rochester's secret, she went away to be on her own before returning to him in the end.
"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself."