image via Goodreads
Image via Goodreads
This month’s book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, tells the story of an orphaned girl’s coming-of-age and her quest for a home. Throughout the novel, Jane develops a strong sense of self-worth and struggles to find a balance between love and freedom. Perhaps the universal relatability of the novel lies in its strong feminist, moral, and spiritual themes. Although it was written 169 years ago and was largely a criticism of Victorian society, Jane Eyre still resonates with readers today. Here are five quotes from the story that can totally apply to your life.
1. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Jane Eyre describes herself as a free spirit with her own opinions. Brontë’s words create a character that is wild and nonconforming to society’s standards. Today we should continue to push ourselves to not be caged in by society’s rules. We must think for ourselves and express our free will, even when it is easier to conform to social pressures.

2. “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

With this quote, Brontë states the opinion that time spent holding grudges is time wasted.  There is not enough time to waste one’s life on negativity or resentment. In the grand scheme of your life, the people who wronged you will not matter, and ruminating on them is a waste of your precious time. What will matter are the positive things you bring to the world.  Today we might get this same message across by simply stating YOLO, which Brontë herself pointed out back in 1847.

3. “I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”
This is a great quote to come back to time after time. Although Brontë does not directly bring gender into the argument here, it is under the surface of this quote, and she does state that inner character is far more important than superficial things one might see as superior.  Just because someone is older or more traveled than you, that does not give them superiority over you. Also, people learn different things from different experiences. One person’s experiences do not make that person better than another person. It is not the experiences you’ve had but what you have done with them that matters.
4. “I am not an angel,” I asserted; “and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.”

With so much idealization of women in fiction, this quote is still very applicable today. Often women in fiction are painted as two-dimensional beings meant to help male characters without helping themselves. Female characters written like this often fall into what is called the “manic-pixie-dream-girl” trope. These characters are often written in the story to help the main character find their way, without finding their own self or happiness. Brontë allows Jane to point out that she is not a two-dimensional ethereal being, but simply herself: a multi-dimensional woman with her own path to happiness. She goes against the cliché of simply making Jane an angel sent to help her male counterparts. Jane is clearly her own person with her own struggles and journey — something we should demand and expect in the fiction that we read and watch today.

5. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
Brontë expresses the opinion that happiness is always better than maintaining appearances. This certainly still applies today, even if our social standards are not as rigid as the Victorian era. It is better to let your pride go and to enjoy life. Acting goofy may make you look silly, but, more importantly, it will bring you happiness.  Jane Eyre would always rather be happy than fit into the cookie cutter of societal norms. She would much rather be herself — which is a lesson we should all take to heart.

One Reply to “5 Quotes from Jane Eyre That Still Resonate Today”

Leave a Reply