This continues from “A Heroine’s Quest for Home, Part Three: Jane’s Tests”
“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, anymore than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.”
Unlike the typical quest tale, Jane Eyre’s journey consists of a series of calls and departures, each one bringing her one step closer to finding a home. In a happy home, there exists a healthy balance of security, duty, and freedom. Jane’s search is for a home where she can be both useful and loved, and where she can enjoy a sense of security and belonging while also retaining her independence. As a child at Gateshead, Jane was dependent on people with whom she felt neither a sense of love nor belonging. At Lowood, she became useful but was still a dependent. At Thornfield, she was useful and also loved, but not yet independent. At Marsh-End, she was able to be useful and independent, and even discovered a sense of belonging, but her life still lacked the security and love which her soul required. By the time Jane joins Rochester at Ferndean, she has become independent and is able to serve him on a level of equality. She tells him, “I love you better now, when I can really be useful to you, than I did in your state of proud independence.” Their new relationship is one of mutual benefit rather than subservience and dependence.
Just as the hero in the quest tale returns bringing back the “boon,” when Jane returns to Rochester, she seems to administer a life-giving elixir. As she describes it, “All I said or did seemed either to console or revive him […] It brought to life and light my whole nature: in his presence I thoroughly lived; and he lived in mine.” She now experiences what it is “to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.” In the end, Jane overcomes her apparent disadvantages and finds her place in society while preserving her own identity and integrity, as well as a home where she can truly live, love, and be loved.
This article continues from “A Heroine’s Quest for Home, Part One: From Gateshead to Lowood”
“He is not to them what he is to me,” I thought: “he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.”
In this series of articles, I take a look at the story of Jane Eyre, one of my all-time favorite novels, by reviewing the various periods of Jane’s life as phases of a journey. Following her time at Lowood School, Thornfield Hall is the second stop of Jane’s journey. It is here that Jane experiences a new type of servitude – one in which she willingly and joyfully serves someone she loves. While being put to use immediately as a governess, more importantly she is directly useful to Rochester on numerous occasions, beginning with her first encounter with him. On this occasion, Rochester tells Jane, “Necessity compels me to make you useful.” After she saves him from the fire, he tells her, “I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time.” Continue reading “Jane Eyre: A Heroine’s Quest for Home, Part Two”→
My newest “guilty pleasure” has been the PBS series “Downton Abbey.” It’s really just a classy version of a soap opera, but the characters, script and story lines are extremely well-done and really draw the viewer in. My mom-in-law and I breezed through the first season in a week or two, then jammed through the second season online so we could be all caught up in time to begin the third season, which just began here this month.
Anyway, my quote of the week (1/21/13) comes from Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham, talking about his New Year’s resolutions. He commented that one of his goals has been to read all of Dickens’ works, and that happens to be one of mine as well. Bonneville said,
Literature is the lifeblood of everything, really, in terms of inspiration and nourishment of the soul. So each year, I get Dickens off the shelf and say, “This is the year.”
I am proud to say I have gotten quite a bit closer to that goal than Bonneville has! Keep at it, Hugh!
Besides Dickens, my other personal favorite is Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her novels more than once and just keep rotating through them by reading one Austen novel every year. Is there a certain author whose complete works you plan to or have read?
“We fly forgotten as a dream, certainly, leaving the forgetful world behind us to trample and mar and misplace everything we have ever cared for.”
Gilead is one of those books that I can’t recall how I happened upon – must’ve seen it on a list somewhere and read a review or summary that grabbed my attention, so I put it on my wishlist, and was later fortunate enough to snatch it up for 50 cents at the library bookstore. As I started reading it, I really had no idea what to expect, but right away I was struck with the unique perspective from which it is narrated. This book doesn’t follow an obvious plot-line and there are no chapter divisions. It is written in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness style as the writer records his memories and thoughts as they come to mind. It’s not one story, but a collection of them. Marilynne Robinson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005 for Gilead, which is loosely based on the life of her own grandfather.
Looking for something good to read? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I love reading, book lists, and recommending great books to others. Please accept my humble reviews and recommendations of Christian, Classic, and Children’s books. Check out my lists of “Books Every Christian Should Read,” and feel free to comment on my articles and to offer some of your own recommendations!
This is a charming book about the real Quaker boy who became the royal painter to King George III. The story is set in mid-18th century in Pennsylvania. At this time, Quakers believed art to be worldly and vain. While Benjamin secretly practices his drawing skills, he is aided by local Indians who teach him how to make colors out of things found in nature. Benjamin also shows his resourcefulness and determination when he “borrows” fur from his cat’s tail to make paintbrushes. Benjamin respectfully works to persuade his parents and church to recognize his talent and to permit him to receive art training. Benjamin West became a famous and influential painter as a result and is known as The Father of American Painting. After reading this story, my kids were excited when we visited the Huntington Library in Pasadena and saw a couple of West’s paintings hanging in the art gallery. The story of Benjamin West encourages children to be persistent in developing their talents and not to give up on something if they truly have a passion for doing it. The story also lends itself to supplemental lessons or research about the Quakers, William Penn, and West’s art. Kids and adults of all ages will love this book!