Or is that my memory is failing me so that the pleasure is the same as the first time because I hardly remembered it? I read it about twenty years ago when I was living in North Carolina. I remember where I bought the book (the Duke University Bookstore in the Bryan Cente; oh, I loved that place).
Be that as it may, I got to the famous “Reader, I married him” as if that was the ultimate goal all along. However, Jane seems to have had so many goals to conquer that true happiness surely did not depend only on marriage? But as one of my previous posts talked about, women’s choices were quite restricted in those days. Brontë tries to challenge some of the restrictions with this novel by having Jane make some choices quite on her own: leaving Lowood to become a governess, leaving Thornfield with no money, proposing to St. John that she accompany him as a missionary without them getting married, which quite appall him. Two young unmarried people could not set out to go half way around the planet then… in some circles, it is now normal to do so.
In The Fiction of Relationship MOOC, it is also suggested that Brontë takes on the beauty industry by putting forth a heroine who is repeatedly described as not being pretty, as possessing no beauty, and as surely not having any power of attraction. That she is obviously appreciated by others, and even loved, seems to defy the equation of “beautiful” to “lovable”. But even making that possible seems to require retirement from the world in an isolated manorhouse, surrounded by woods so thick that they absorb sound rather than carry it. Must one live in seclusion in order to be different and to free oneself from social expectations?
There are so many other themes to discover through reading Jane Eyre, I certainly recommend it.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 2nd edition. Originally published in 1897. Downloaded from the Gutenberg Project.