I mentioned Jane Eyre recently and before it got any further from when I finished this book, I just had to say this:
Can we take a minute to appreciate how awesome Jane is?
Honestly. She has courage in her convictions; she is logical, practical, intelligent, and observant; she is humble and willing to admit fault, but refuses to be taken advantage of; she is incredibly brave; she is confident without being at all arrogant; she is an excellent illustration of the idea of quiet dignity.
But most of all, she is independent. She forms her own opinions. She makes her own decisions. She moves the action forward. She writes her own story. She refuses to let other people tell her who she is or should be.
This seems like such a low bar to meet but the truth is that there are few female characters like this. There are so few that truly make their own decisions and drive their own story forward. Jane is an absolute powerhouse.
The next few paragraphs contain spoilers. Jane Eyre is best read when you don’t know the plot twist, so that’s why I’m bothering to warn you even though the book has been around for, you know, more than 150 years. The spoilers end after the red text a few paragraphs below.
One thing I find incredibly inspiring in Jane is that she trusts the strength of her own convictions. The extent to which she trusts herself. We see this in her insistence as a child that she is not a liar, despite her aunt telling her she was, and we see it when she steadfastly refuses to break her moral standards by being Mr. Rochester’s mistress. She is not afraid to stand alone. She is not afraid to be the only person in the elevator facing the right way.
I was so touched by her thoughts as she is considering Mr. Rochester, who she is deeply, deeply in love with. She explains that part of her brain was saying,
“Love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?
Still indomitable was the reply: ‘I care for myself.'”
The other thing I absolutely love about Jane is that she absolutely refuses to let other people diminish her value. She stands up for herself.
One of the most famous lines from Jane Eyre illustrates this beautifully.
“Do you think I am an automaton? A machine without feelings…? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you–and full as much heart!…It is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, as equal–as we are!”
How can you not love someone who has the courage to say this to her boss?
End of spoilers.
I could go on for a while more, but this post is already long enough, and I have a novel to write!*
All of this is to say: if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, please, please, please, please, please do.
I promise it’s worth it.
*Quick note about that: I will be publishing posts as usual on Wednesday during November. My posts about National Novel Writing Month will be on Sundays.