Words to Live By

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of the works around which I have constructed my principles, my dreams, and my fundamental truth of life.  Interestingly enough, I hated it the first time I attempted to read it. To paraphrase another fundamental figure in my life,  first impressions are not always accurate and my relationship with Ms. Bronte’s book has exponentially improved in civility.

I re-read Jane Eyre multiple times a year in fits and starts. I use its chapters like a spice, a few pages here- a couple chapters there – a quick dash of that fiery confrontation from Chapter 27 here; whatever dose I need to help me make my life what I know it can be and sometimes what it must be.

This following passage has been in my thoughts much of late.

“‘Oh comply!’ it said, ‘Think of his misery, think of his danger–look at his state when left alone…Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?’…Still indomitable was the reply–‘I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad–as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour, stringent are they; inviolate they shall be…with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot!'” Chapter 27, pg. 279

In particular, I have zeroed in on this sentence to keep myself afloat: “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. ” I repeat it, or more accurately my paraphrased version, like a mantra in my head. I will not give up. The more alone I feel, the more desperate my cause, the more short time grows, the less assistance I have or am able to seek, the more inferior I fancy my mind is to the task,  the more I will struggle to achieve my goals.  I can do this. I must do this, therefore I will find the strength to make it happen. Though I feel terribly alone, intellectually I know that actually I’m not. I have my Faith as well as the well wishes of many friends and family.  I do have my very own Mr. Rochestor (actually my husband is infinitely superior to Edward Rochestor) who mercifully did not have a mad wife in the attic when I met him. I will persevere.  After all, it’s what Jane Eyre would do.

Marquette Lighthouse in Summer sunset, by Ellen Schneider


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