The first time I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë I was fresh out of high school; 18 years old and very impressionable. I had already, as a teen, gotten myself involved in some unscrupulous behaviour. As I was about to embark on my adult life, I was in need to hear the voice of a strong and noble woman. It might have been fate that I picked up and read this life-changing book at this time in my life.
Encountering a character of such maturity, intelligence and humility would go on to help shape me into being the adult I am today. Her character lives with me and I always remember her strength, dignity and compassion during times of trial and when I am faced with moral dilemmas. In a sense, she has been a role model to me over the years and for this reason, I recommend that every young woman (and young man too) read her story.
These are some of the valuable life lessons that I have learnt from this inspirational character called Jane Eyre:
- You have the strength to overcome any negative situation in your life, even if you had a difficult childhood or have a shady past.
- When people mistreat you, opt to take the moral high ground and return their abuse with kindness.
- Work hard under all circumstances, even when you are physically ill or under emotional or mental strain. Never expect handouts, but at the same time do not be too proud to accept help when in need.
- Never lose your self-respect, even when others push your boundaries. Never doubt your worth.
- Always speak the truth no matter what the consequences may be.
- Be generous at all times – share whatever you have with those who lack, even if it means a sacrifice on your part.
- Love without restraint but never compromise your values for the one you love.
- Never cross the line between right and wrong, no matter how tempted you may be to take the easy way out.
- Respect your superiors and colleagues in the workplace.
- Trust in your capabilities and believe in yourself. Dare to dream and pursue your goals outside of your comfort zone.
- Walk away from bad situations, which you have no control over to change. If you cannot positively impact the situation, step away.
- Always take advice from others into consideration but never allow someone else to persuade you to do something, which goes against your values and beliefs.
- Live by your convictions. Be the one who walks the walk.
- Be reasonable and practical when approaching life-altering decisions.
- Be a trustworthy friend who genuinely cares for friends and looks out for their best interests.
- No matter how successful you become in life, never lose your humility.
- There is no need to be ostentatious when you have money.
- Be graceful in manner amongst all people everywhere.
- Be willing to make sacrifices for the ones you love, especially when they are old or ill and cannot take care of themselves.
- Never harbour anger, bitterness or resentment against anyone, no matter how badly they may have hurt you. Forgive them even if they never apologise to you or never acknowledge how they wronged you.
- Use discernment – know when to say yes and when to say no.
- Always be in control of your emotions and have your wits about you, so that you can handle unexpected situations graciously. Work on calming your temper.
- Plan your words. Think before you speak. Never speak out of turn or say things which you will later regret.
- Apply good judgment in all situations. Be alert and perceptive around people, especially around those you do not know very well.
- Be a person of substance. Always work on growing yourself until you have layers of talent, knowledge and personality.
- True richness lies in having family and not in monetary wealth.
- Be shrewd in all your dealings. Be on guard against people who will take advantage of you.
- Learn from your past mistakes.
- Beauty lies not in looks, but in the condition of the heart.
- Hold your head high even when life gets down. The seasons of struggle are momentary and a new dawn always approaches.
One has to give due appreciation to the author, Charlotte Brontë, for creating this amazing character in a very real and relatable way. It is no easy task to create this many layers of depth within a character. Brontë has indeed created a one-of-a-kind character with Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre is relevant to society today just as much as it was when it was first published in 1847. The truths, values and life lessons are timeless, and this is why this book has remained to be one of the most widely read and enjoyed classics of all time.