I absolutely devoured this book. I don’t know much about the author, Charlotte Brontë, except that her sister, Emily Brontë, wrote that Gothic romantic novel called Wuthering Heights. I read Wuthering Heights when I was seventeen and I remember that I was not ready for the violent, dark, and twisted love of Heathcliff. Thus, when I started reading Jane Eyre, I was expecting such twists and turns. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
On the first part of the book, Jane goes to an all-girls’ school and meets characters that I consider to be angelic. One is called Helen Burns, a fellow student, and the other Miss Temple, the only ‘sane’ teacher in that school (in my humble opinion). Helen is indescribably wise. I believe this is how children would be if they truly met God at a young age! She is childlike, but she does not act in a childish manner. She has much love, mercy, and humility in her heart. Without trying to enforce her beliefs on Jane, nor trying to preach at her, Helen influences Jane more than all the people who wronged her through her genuine love. So it is with Miss Temple. Unlike all the people Jane has met so far, they both never condemn her, never accuse her, nor overly flatter her. They are honest, simple, and truthful with Jane. They praise God and they depend on Him in everything.
I also love the heroine of this novel because she isn’t your typical heroine. Jane is not perfect. She is not super smart, she is not super pretty, nor is she super witty. However, she is genuine. She is truthful, and finds the core of her being very much dependent on God.
When she was hopelessly in love with Mr. Rochester, she admitted that Mr. Rochester had become an ‘idol’. Then, on their wedding day, when she found out that he was still married (although it was a lunatic he had for a wife), though every emotion and feeling in her called out to ignore that, she could not; she would not; for she belonged to God. And that passionate love she had for Mr. Rochester was very much still there! However, she never condemned God nor Mr. Rochester for the situation she was in.
Jane, who had all the reason in the world to condemn so many… Mrs. Reed (her aunt), Mr. Brocklehurst, Mr. Rochester, fate itself! They all wronged her in so many ways, yet she never held contempt for any of them. She did not waste time in this, but instead investing time and effort in loving them, in working on forgiveness.
Where and when did she learn this? Through years of spending time at Lowood, the girls’ school, under the careful guidance and love of Helen (though short, it was a very meaningful time) and Miss Temple, Jane learned to direct her passionate character and feeling personality towards the good path of true Christianity. And through her selfless, quiet love, Mr. Rochester also learned to draw near God.
After Jane left him, Mr. Rochester thought himself to be desolate; without hope. Then, when the burning of his estate made him blind, he had a time of self-reflection, where he was able to bring before God his biggest fault: pride.
Although Jane had made the mistake of loving a man who was not after God’s heart, and although Mr. Rochester had not been seeking God when he loved Jane, through all their blunders and mistakes, God seems to have brought them together in the end; when both of them were truly ready to love each other.
This book made me think that no matter how messed up we are, if we fully entrust ourselves to Him, He is bound to redeem it, and transform it into the loveliest of love stories.
(Written in January 3, 2012; edited a tad bit today)