Emma’s Dilemma: Jane Eyre is fake


Photo by Michael Purdie

I look up from my reading, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, which I examined vigorously and marked up with Post-It notes. I was dissatisfied with its attempt to portray feminist fantasies as realities.

Emma Coleman, Editor-in-Chief

Jane Eyre has disappointed me. I’m sorry, feminists, but that book just didn’t feel real. In a male-dominated Victorian society where governesses are merely upper class slaves, it simply should be impossible for such a stiff one to hold a rich man’s heart in her hand.

Sorry, Jane, it’s nothing against you. It’s against she who made you, Charlotte Brontë. Honestly, Brontë, what delusional world were you living in when you wrote that book? I know your childhood was pretty messed up, what with your sisters dying from typhus fever at boarding school and all, but what made you think that Jane Eyre’s story was remotely plausible?

Even in today’s society, such a happily ever after seems unlikely. Yes, we live in a world where women have rights and power to live and work for themselves. We are far from misogynistic.

Wait, sorry, I lied. It’s impossible to eradicate misogynistic tendencies in a country whose first lady is nothing but a failed attempt at impersonating Jackie Kennedy. But really, it’s not your fault Melania. The world is full of women like you who resort to physical and aesthetic appeal for praise. I do it, too.

But here’s the question: If good looks are the key to acceptance and admiration in a male-dominated society, how on earth did Jane Eyre do it? She was reportedly plain, small, far from beautiful, though modest enough. How was it possible for her to capture a rich man’s heart with nothing but a quick wit and eight years of education?

This is where I think Brontë messes up. She tries to show us a man who has seen the wrong in riches, in impetuous passion, in careless women, in trying to please society. Ultimately, she shows us a man driven mad by love, or lack thereof, and falls for the most level-headed girl he can find. But I have trouble believing that a man like that could actually exist.

Brontë has written a novel – a true classic – that is fiction is every sense of the word. Yes, there is a happy ending, but in what world could such a happy ending actually occur? I have no idea.