- Jane is in some ways a thoroughly modern heroine, able to take care of herself and remain upright through enormous hardships. She gives freely of forgiveness and love though she has been shown few of those mercies herself, and she knows her own mind and isn't swayed by stronger personalities. When Rochester tries to persuade Jane to live with him as his mistress, she is sorely tempted but knows the pleasure of giving in would not outweigh the consequences:
"...while he spoke, my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling; and that clamored wildly. “Oh, comply!” it said. “Think of his misery; think of his danger—look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair—soothe him; save him; 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 more solitary the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?"
- I enjoyed the multi-layed presentation of Christians and faith. There are examples of people who are esteemed as Christians but really have none of the qualities, like Mr. Brocklehurst. St. John has the fire and the passion to do great things for God, but he expects perfection out of himself and others and isn't able to temper his expectations with compassion. Jane clings to the law of God as she resists Mr. Rochester in the above passage and realizes she has made him the center of her universe: "I could not, in those days, see God for his creature of whom I had made an idol."
- Neither Jane or Rochester are conventionally attractive, but in the other's eyes they are beautiful. She tenderly cares for him when he loses his sight, and he in turns adores her. Don't we all long to be judged more for our inner selves than for outward appearances? As Mary says on hearing that Rochester and Jane were married, “she'll happen do better for him nor any o’ t’ grand ladies.” And again, “If she ben't one o’ th’ handsomest, she's noan faâl and varry good-natured; and i’ his een she's fair beautiful, onybody may see that.”
|Rochester (Toby Stephens) and Jane (Ruth Wilson)|
source: personal copy. This book was one of my selections for Subtle Melodrama's 2011 Victorian Literature Reading Challenge.