Jane Eyre Post II: Jane the Enigma

My friend RJ and I are reading Jany Eyre together and writing about it. You can find RJ’s latest post here, and my previous post here.

I am a character-driven reader. If I do not like the main character of a novel, I cannot continue reading it. Usually for me, liking a character requires identifying with said character in some way, understanding why they choose the actions that they choose. Jane Eyre, however, is different. I like Jane because I am fascinated by her actions, because I do not always understand why she does what she does.

At the beginning of the novel, I was slightly annoyed with Jane: I saw her as whiny and self-pitying, though understandably so. There are so many novels with whiny protagonists, however, that even understandable fussing is too much. However, as she grew older, Jane become more tolerable, though also more distinct and, therefore, more mysterious.

While I can understand her behavior towards Mr. Rochester when she first moves to Thornfield–she is a governess for his ward, much lower than Rochester is socially, and has been told her entire life that she is ugly–when she has not only ascertained Rochester’s affection, but is engaged to him, she becomes even more distant from him. She refuses treat him as her fiancé, or to allow him to treat her as his fiancée.

This and other actions throughout the Thornfield portion of the novel rouse my interest, so that, despite my differences with Jane, I can read her character with ease. She and I are different enough to keep me on my toes, never able to guess what she will do next, or where it will take her.

2 thoughts on “Jane Eyre Post II: Jane the Enigma

  1. Great post. I totally agree. In addition, I personally think this novel is way ahead of its time. The story addresses issues that have no longer become “issues” in the modern world.

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