“Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally ‘ripe’ for learning.”
- Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Monday, December 8, 2008

RTH: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read Jane Eyre in high school, but I really didn't appreciate it back then. It was for AP English, so there was a lot of homework involved, and I think I focused more on that. Also, my husband and I were in the musical in college. I got to play Miss Scatcherd (somehow I always get the mean characters) and my husband was the Priest who is going to marry Jane and Rochester the first time. We also had numerous ensemble roles. Anyway, neither of us really enjoyed the show all that much and Jane Eyre being a classic has always been kind of a joke to us.

Well, I must admit to a huge change of heart! This book is now in the top of my favorites! I don't think I was mature enough to understand the lessons taught in this book, during my previous experiences with it. I also read books in a different way now. I focus more on what I can learn from any book I am reading. I love to mark quotes that stand out to me and make an impression, and this book had a ton of markers in it! I checked it out from the library, but I definitely need to buy this book now. :)

I find Jane such a wonderful example. She's a selfless, humble person who sticks up for her morals. She had a difficult childhood, but she learned a really important lesson from Helen. A lot of it is summed up when Helen tells her, "It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you." I think Jane really took that lesson to heart, because she becomes a very humble and compassionate person.
I was impressed with her choice to leave Thornfield. She could have easily stayed with Rochester and lived a life of luxury and love but she knew that it was wrong. She was able to walk away, and leave everything behind. She knew if she stayed any longer that it would be too hard to leave. She wanted to be able to respect herself, even if that meant she would be solitary and friendless.

You learn a lesson from Mr. Rochester that you shouldn't be so quick to judge a person's character. He married Bertha quickly and recklessly without really knowing her and her family. Even before he knew she was crazy, he didn't like her. It would be so sad to be stuck in a marriage of that sort. Before you make a commitment of that magnitude, you should make sure that you know the person who is going to become your spouse. He is also to be admired for taking care of her. Sure, he kept his wife a secret, but he says that he would never physically hurt her, and he made sure that she was taken care of.

Mrs. Reed is such a sad character. She had such hate for Jane, simply because her husband was fond of her as a baby. As she said though, the things that we don't worry about in health, seem to plague us on our death bed. I found it interesting that she didn't consider Jane a blood relative. I mean, sure she wasn't related to her, but she was related to her children. She obviously regretted her previous behavior in her last hours.

I was glad that Jane didn't want to settle for a loveless marriage with St. John, although she was pretty close to giving in before she heard that fateful "Jane! Jane! Jane!" on the wind. She admitted that she would probably grow to love him if they got married, but he wouldn't want that. John seems like a good guy, but he has his weaknesses too. He's so obsessed with his "higher calling" that he doesn't always think of the little people. I liked when Jane said "it would be folly for the feeble to wish to march with the strong." She didn't feel that stirring or prompting to serve as a missionary. I think that is really important. We all have different abilities and gifts, some people can touch and affect large numbers of people, but others are meant to influence those close around them.

Jane was a pretty independent woman, full of integrity and honesty. That would have been hard in her situation and class in society when she had nothing. I think the separation of Jane and Rochester was necessary. Jane was able to find her cousins and help the kids at the Morton school. Mr. Rochester learns that God has a larger view of the world, He "judges not as man judges." It was good to see him acknowledge God's hand in his life, even through his tragedies - he was eventually able to feel remorse and a desire for repentance. He humbled himself greatly through his infirmities. When Jane comes back, they are both in a much better place to make the most of their love and relationship.

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