In 1847, Charolette Brontë graced us with the now classic novel, Jane Eyre. Through reading this compelling story, numerous lines and paragraphs stand out for different reasons. Whether it’s about love, loneliness, or a lost kid forced to live with an evil aunt, the words in Jane Eyre are a true gift to the world.
Advice, whether sought out or not, is always valuable. Hundreds of self-help books exist in book stores and online today, but reading this novel from the nineteenth century can provide just as much wisdom.
Here are ten life lessons/ pieces of advice from Jane Eyre:
1 – If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all. And always, think before you speak.
“Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.” Mrs. Reed (Chapter 1)
“…one should consider all before pronouncing an opinion as to its nature.” Jane Eyre (Chapter 13)
“Then no more need be said; change the subject.” Blanche (Chapter 17)
We live in a very loud society where most people are quick to shout their views to the world. It can help to take a step back and listen to these old words of wisdom, especially before spewing out any negativity around others.
2 – Always respect your host and the home you’re living in.
“…you should try to be useful and pleasant, then perhaps you would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude, missus will send you away, I am sure.” Bessie (Chapter 2)
Obviously little Jane Eyre wasn’t treated well in the home she lived in, and she didn’t deserve the harsh sessions of scorn from her aunt. But the point here is to hold respect for those taking care of you. Though those people may not be perfect and will give you a hard time every now and then, it’s important to acknowledge and uphold the rules put in place whether it’s living with your parents or dealing with a difficult boss. We should speak up for ourselves, yes, though with regards to those who are providing for us.
3 – Hardships will make sense later in life.
“Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question – why I thus suffered; now, at the distance of – I will not say how many years, I see it clearly.” Narrator (Chapter 2)
We all go through dark periods in life and in different stages – childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and so on. In the moments of pain it is difficult, if not impossible, to see what good could ever come from our suffering. Often later in life, when looking back on our worst days, we can take an objective perspective and see the lessons learned and skills earned during those rough times.
4 – People should not be judged by their income and/or residential status.
“Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable poverty; they think of the world only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices; poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.” Narrator (Chapter 3)
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education…” Narrator (Chapter 27)
“…these coarsely-clad little peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy, and that the germs of native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind felling, are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the best-born.” Narrator (Chapter 31)
Just because a person is homeless or earns a low income does not mean he/she is lazy, unintelligent, or a drug addict. We are all equal in the big picture of the universe whether you are a millionaire or living in a tent. It’s unfair and foolish to judge people by how they choose to live their lives if we’ve never even held a conversation with them.
5 – Happy moments do exist in the darkest of lives.
“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.” Narrator (Chapter 4)
Life has its bleak and bland days mixed along with the sorrow and painful hours. Sometimes it can seem as if the world is falling downhill and your life is plummeting down to the depths. No matter how bad things get, look for something – anything – that can bring even a small moment of joy to the dark days.
6 – Leave the past behind.
“Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to an immeasurable distance; the present was vague and strange, and of the future I could form no conjecture.” Narrator (Chapter 5)
Everyday is a new day and provides more chances to move forward with life. The past can weigh us down, especially the more that we dwell on it. It helps to focus on the present and hope for the best future for ourselves.
7 – Being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“…without a companion, yet not feeling lonely…” Narrator (Chapter 6)
“…but my heart and mind would be free, I should still have my unblighted self to turn to; my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate in moments of loneliness.” Narrator (Chapter 34)
“As yet, I had spoken to no one, nor did anybody seem to take notice of me. I stood lonely enough; but to that feeling of isolation I was accustomed; it did not oppress me much.” Narrator (Chapter 5)
Being alone often has negative connotations attached to it. A lot of people are terrified of this state. Yet, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing and spending time alone can really be an enlightening experience.
8 – Holding onto grudges will only trouble the mind.
“No ill usage so brands its record on my feelings. Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spend in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” Helen Burns (Chapter 6)
Holding onto a grudge often is hard to let go of because we feel it will let the person who has done wrong to us off the hook – like we’d be giving that person a “get out of jail free” card. However, letting go of grudges doesn’t free that wrong person, it frees you. It does absolutely no good to sulk in anger or frustration at a person’s actions outside of your control. Let go and forgive those who have wronged you, and be free to move on with your life.
9 – Your opinion of yourself is the most important.
“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” Helen Burns (Chapter 7)
“…a wanderer’s repose or a sinner’s reformation should never depend on a fellow-creature.” Jane Eyre (Chapter 20)
“I still felt as a wanderer on the face of the earth: but I experienced firmer trust in myself and my own powers, and less withering dread of oppression. The gaping wound of my wrongs, too, was now quite healed, and the flame of resentment extinguished.” Narrator (Chapter 21)
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained, I am, the more I will respect myself.” Jane to herself (Chapter 27)
No matter who you are, what you do, or where you are headed, there will always be someone out there who is not fond of you and your lifestyle. At the end of the day, that those critical people don’t really matter. The only person that can give you value and worth is you. Only you.
10 – Everyone deserves a second chance.
“We shall think you what you prove yourself to be, my child.” Miss Temple (Chapter 8)
Wherever someone came from, whatever rumors may exist, a person should be allowed a fresh start when moving to a new location and group of people. It’s not fair to judge based on past transgressions, former acquaintances, or trivial history. The best way to give someone a fair chance is to personally get to know him/her as he/she is now, yourself, with a clean slate for both parties.
Jane Eyre by Charolette Brontë is a must read for everyone. Not only does it give us an amazing story of hardship, perseverance, and triumph, it also provides amazing life lessons.
Thank you for reading this post. ^_^