A lot of people who've never read it think that it's a very dry, boring classic that pretentious people read. I thought this too.
But when I picked it up last year and read the first chapter, I was amazed by what I read. I mean, there's child abuse and paranormal happenings in the first 10 pages!
It wasn't what I expected at all. I kept reading, and I soon couldn't put it down. Jane's strong will drew me in like a magnet, and I admired everything she said and did.
Here are some of the most important things I learned from Jane Eyre.
[Disclaimer: if you, like me, absolutely despise spoilers I wouldn't recommend reading this unless you've read the book.]
First and foremost, she taught me that I can be independent. That I could love myself.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
The way she treated those who wronged her and bore no prejudices showed me to be forgiving.
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
When she fell in love with Rochester, I leaned that appearance and age and wealth are no borders for love.
“I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.”
That she told Rochester how she felt, and didn't wait around for him to do it, taught me that I can express my feelings just as much as anyone else.
“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! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”
"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."
The way Jane fled from her love taught me to do what's right always, rather than what is easiest.
“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”
And the way she returned to him showed me that I have the right to be happy. That love exists.
“All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.”
“Reader, I married him.”
I truly believe that this book has made me a better person. All I hope is that one day I can be half as strong as Jane Eyre.