Jane Eyre, though fictional, can really be seen as a novel about the potential Christians have of growing by walking on God's word. Before meeting Helen Burns, Jane lived like anyone else, who is wounded and unloved in a fallen world. But in Helen, she SEES something different, an inner strength holding Helen up in times of humiliation. I think of bumper stickers, desk accessories, and memorized verses Christians accumulate on their way to full victory. For some, they are surface reminders of what could be; for others they serve to sharpen the sword. There is a picture I can't seem to get out of my mind, not that I'd like to, but it is of Jane is watching Helen in the midst of her trial, baffled at this person who tangibly lives in the light Jane does not know yet. She has tasted the kingdom indirectly and it's possibilities. She wants in on this, even though at first she is repelled. In time, Jane learns what Helen's life hinted at, following the words of the Bible. Helen has faults, such as becoming easily bored and even a bit untidy. Even her weakness adds into the story, because it just doesn't fit the stereotype that Jane has seen played out in her life.
Something odd about this fictional romance, is that it isn't your typical Barbie meets Ken followed by instant and continual drooling. It starts out when plain Jane meets Mr. Crab Apple with baggage. She's nothing to catch his eyes. He's nothing to attract her heart. But in time they discover each other's beauty through conversation. It's as if their friendship of mind causes Jane's features to reposition into attractiveness and Rochester's rough edges soften to sweetness, pointing out the real angles of love. But tragically, the baggage is exposed and Jane choses integrity. Most would slip at this point in worldly novels and it would be considered okay. I'm glad this novel did not go this way. Jane even holds out for something better when Mr. Missionary Zeal - but nothing real asks for her hand in marriage. It seems like a good option, but something prevents Jane from settling for 2nd best - not quite love but a mission - though not hers. We find that Jane eventually wins in romance and does it rightly. This is one of those books I hope all single people would read. Yes, of every age. Perhaps it would influence them to not give into despair at moments or even settle for less than God's best.
The best and most heartbreaking scene is when Jane's risk of leaving her job and true love takes her to a place of unknown and hunger. It is faith that propells her to take the chance that God will direct her and that integrity will somehow be rewarded. The path is opened along with some good friendships and onto a temptation that Jane triumphs over. As you can guess, all ends well. Not perfectly, but there's a rich ending and I add that it is worth it.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte is a book pointing towards a healthier view of romance - integrity and a mind match. It suggests the belief of the "big picture view" of Divine guidance and redemptive suffering. Though the language was cumbersome when I first read it, it's worth pushing through for it's rich plots and characters. I pray that if you read it you will never forget Helen Burns.
Next...Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
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