In the following article, I will argue that one’s initial circumstances is no way determinate of one’s final circumstances. Notwithstanding that assertion, I will also argue that strength of character and cultivation of strong values are powerful indicators of strong role models that still bare resemblance to the characteristics of successful people today.
Born to be raised with the notion that she was an orphan without any distant family ties, Jane Eyre grew up resenting the adopted family that raised her. Later moving to the school for orphaned children, Jane found herself to be different. She had ambitions in life and yearned for new opportunities and new adventures; she looked at life wholesomely and saw within it — sufferings and misgivings, as well as triumph and glee, which differentiated herself from the other girls. However the most resonating theme from her life has been understanding what true love is, by experiencing and relinquishing it unwillingly. Through her love for Mr. Rochester, we learn that love knows no boundaries — no class, wealth, or privilege that can determine the unification and understanding of two individuals. Rather, it is about compromise, about allowing oneself to understand the inner workings of somebody else’s mind and soul, and emphasizing with someone that particular capability and knowledge. It is also because of her wholesome and genuine love for Mr. Rochester and the people in her life that life inevitably gave her opportunities to improve her status, beginning from her position of governess at Mr.Rochester’s house, to finding her long last cousins and a portion of inheritance for her at the end. At the beginning of the novel, Jane reiterated to the reader that “poverty for [her] was synonymous with degradation”. This theme can be seen resonating throughout the entire novel, as we see members of the middle and upper class treat Jane in a certain main in accordance with her social class. However, regardless of her initial position when she was younger, Jane rose above the stereotypes of class-obsessed England in the 1800s and changed her destiny from rags to riches. In particular, what we can conclude from this particular “rags-to-riches” story is not so much in terms of absolute poverty and glowing prosperity, but rather a poverty that was envisioned in the minds of society at the time and the supposed wealth to be associated with the wealthy. Most importantly, Jane changed the course of her life by cultivating strong values and allowing her values to dictate the course of her destiny.
We, the reader can sense the fury and rage in Jane Eyre when we find out that Mr.Rochester has been married before, understanding very well her pain and pride to give up everything to find a new life. We also resonated with her aspirations, when ultimately, she eventually came back to find Mr. Rochester, despite her superior status in terms of health and riches in the end. Even though she grew up with low origins, Jane toke advantage of the opportunities appropriately to change her destiny. Similar to many heroines of movies and novels today including Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and Oprah Winfrey, these heroines in no way subsided and conceded to the status quo in their perspective societies but cultivated and excised strong values against barricades of people who competed against their personalities, fought against their beliefs, but came out on top. Being shortsighted in your beliefs only shows a certain degree in a lack of grit and a lack of perseverance and strength of character to see that appearances and statues are all a facade; the true test of character and test to prove your character is in times of desperation, in times of survival, where you must endure to survive. Without prior knowledge of the character traits necessary for success in times of crisis and in times of poverty, no character is worth defining a heroine— no person is worth defining a role model. Because of the incredible courage, grit and perseverance that Jane Eyre showed from defying her cold relatives, to combatting bullying at school, to overcoming headache and downright abject poverty, I can argue that she displays values inherent in a true heroine, a true leader in society. Successful people today in our society are no different. One can only look at the former President Obama and his wife Michelle to see that middle class dreams still exist; those dreams are will instilled in hard-working class families who preach those values everyday. It is strikingly reflective of Jane’s strong moral values and character when she learns that Mr. Rochester is blind and has lost everything after the fire at Thornfield and still chooses to leave her present fortune to be with him. She yearned for him not because of his monetary status— but of that particular “sarcasm that had repelled, the harshness that had startled [her] once” to return to the land of familiarity”. We can identify Mr. Rochester and Thornfield as larger metaphor of the opportunity that was given to Jane to change the circumstances surrounding her life and origin, and therefore a secondary association with Mr Rochester and the values instilled in him — opportunity and openness. When we compare Jane to the other prominent ladies in the novel, such as the pompous Ms.Ingram, she differentiates from Ms. Ingram by displaying her countenance with ballast honesty, in contrast to Ms. Ingram’s hoax- like demeanour, downplaying her values to fit in with the culture and high society at the time. We can also justify that Jane, in relentlessly clutching to her values, represented an outlier from the conventional high society women of the 1800s. Often it is these revolutionary characters, such as Jane Eyre who illustrate to readers that strength of character and integrity in character will go further in life that pompous exaggerations of one’s presupposed character.
Written in the 1800s, themes in this book still strike a chord with millions of people around the world. One’s initial position in life, whether defined through poverty or social status, is no definition of a person’s full potential or a person’s true capabilities and talents. Opportunities come to us in the strangest of circumstances, often changing the course of our destiny, but give us the chance to demonstrate our strength of character and values in life. Jane Eyre has taught us that some values are timeless — strength of pride, dignity and integrity — those values are what guide us through times of chaos and triumph — those values in particular, are also simultaneously the ones that define us and characterize the legacy we want to leave behind. For Jane, it was leaving behind a legacy of cultivating a new life given her dire circumstances, while preserving her pride and her values throughout the journey.