This is more of a personal post, I guess, since I really just wanted to share something cool with all of you. But a few weeks ago when my World Literature students and I were wrapping up our discussion of Jane Eyre, I was absolutely stunned to find that none of them enjoyed the ending! Now I have always held the opinion that Jane Eyre is my favorite “classic” romance, only behind Pride and Prejudice. But they had some valid arguments, which I’ll share below (spoilers for those of you who haven’t read Jane Eyre!).
Their number one problem was with the fact that Jane ended up with Mr. Rochester! Now me, I swoon every time I read that first line of the last chapter – “Reader, I married him.” It fills me with bubbles and happiness and sunshine. But once we really started discussing it, they made some very interesting points. The one that really struck me was this: if Rochester was willing to cheat on his first wife (even if she was insane – which is not a valid reason for cheating; at least get a divorce first), who’s to say that he wouldn’t cheat on Jane? Now of course we can all say that Rochester would NEVER do that, but we can’t really determine that for sure. I mean, people say things and then screw up relationships years down the road.
Either way, I still love Jane + Rochester and will ship it even in my grave. But I thought it was the greatest thing in the world to see these students get all up in arms and offended about this book – it was one of the first times I’ve seen them take off on a debate of their own. Not only that, but they deviated from the essay prompts I had given them and wrote their own prompts to further explore the Rochester/St. John/Jane triangle. Those were the best papers I’ve ever had the pleasure to grade, and in the meantime I had my eyes opened to some new perspectives!