Jane Eyre A Romance Essay, Research Paper
Jane Eyre: A romance?
Usually Jane Eyre is thought of as a romance novel, however in how many novels that are categorized as romance do you find a woman as the heroine? Jane has to go through many hardships in her life to accomplish the tasks that would ultimately make this story out to be a typical romance . In order to consider this novel a romance one would have to be able to look past many instances in this text that conflict with the ideas of romance today.
In many contemporary romance novels (one s you would find in the romance section today) it is easy for one to find a theme. Most of the romance novels written today follow a typical story line of boy meets girl who needs help or has problem. Boy fixes problem and girl falls in love and they get married and live happily ever after. The difference between Jane Eyre and romance is that Jane doesn t need Rochester to fix her life or save her. She is an independent woman that has the ability to live without him and function on her own. The story is not one of a young girl who plays the damsel in distress that needs a knight in shining armor to save her. Jane is a heroine who is in many ways is what Rochester needs to fix him.
In the very beginning of the novel we are introduced to a young girl named Jane. This girl is from the very start different from your average female romance character. We begin to understand this when the text provides for us an example of Jane s independence and remarkable ability to stand up to those that wish to harm her. The first example of this is the fight between Jane and her benefactress’s son John. When he attacks her both physically and verbally she fights back with a passion that one would not expect to find in a girl of her time or genre, especially against a member of the masculine sex. Wicked and cruel boy! You are like a murderer — you are like a slave-driver — you are like the Roman emperors! Jane exclaims to John after he had thrown a book at her. This is the first moment when we begin to see Jane as a young girl who is not afraid to fight when she feels she has been treated unfairly. This is also a characteristic that sets her apart from most romance characters.
A knight in shining armor is a man that has no faults, an attractive man who can fix any problem with the woman he loves. Rochester does not fit this mold, he is not an attractive man and has many faults. He carries with him the weight of many tragedies and problems. Rochester in many ways needs Jane to fix him more than she needs him to fix her. Contrary to many contemporary romances they are characters that depend on each other to fix the others faults, there is not one weak party that the other has to support. Rochester s faults are best represented at the end of the novel when he has lost his sight and his right hand. It is at this point that the reader begins to realize that although he his the man he needs Jane to support him through this part of his life. He at this points needs his right hand (Jane) to fix what is wrong with him before he can go on living. Jane at this point also realizes that she needs Rochester to let her help him in order to encourage and support her love for him. Rochester is in essence a being that is far removed from the contemporary male character of a romance. He is a man that needs the support and love of his companion as much or more than she needs him. It is this basic mutual support and healing that is vastly different from what we consider romance .
Jane Eyre contradicts the common romance novel outline once again when Jane and Rochester are unable to get married in chapter twenty-six. In this chapter it is discovered that Rochester is married to the woman in the attic (Bertha). In most romance novels Rochester and Jane would get married and that would be the end of the story, however in Bronte s Jane Eyre the story does not take the traditional road. Jane decides that it would be in her best interests to leave Rochester and venture out on her own. Jane breaks free of the traditional romantic female role when she leaves to find her own way in the world. She leaves Rochester, finds a job, goes and visits with her former benefactress, discovers an inheritance, and when she is propositioned for marriage once again realizes that Rochester needs her and returns to him. In many ways this is the odd point of the novel where the reader is surprised and confused by the turn of events. When reading a novel of this type, one that seems to lead to the marriage and then suddenly breaks off and moves in an entirely different direction, it gives a sense of reality to a romance that many did not intend to find nor expect.
Jane Eyre is in many ways not a romance one would find on supermarket shelves today. Yet to most is considered a romance. As a reader of this novel it is hard to classify Jane Eyre with the books that have Fabio and other scantily clad men adorning the covers. Jane Eyre is a classic, a book that has captivated readers for over a hundred years, and is not likely to be found among supermarket shelves next to a story of heaving breasts and muscular men.