Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Jane Eyre beats Elizabeth Bennet as the greatest heroine of all time…

Or otherwise known as my cage match challenge to Sinead. So as I mentioned I’m writing a blog for Brie at Romance Around the Corner for Heroine Week. While doing so the topic of my two favorite heroines of all time naturally came up.

But in a straight up competition I have to pick Jane Eyre, who is in my opinion the greatest heroine written of all time. Here is why:

1. Way more tragic childhood to overcome. Orphan, horrible foster family, awful school, death of her best friend. Despite all of this she triumphs over these tragedies to find love.

2. Her spirit. While both women share a tremendous spirit, which is why I think we love them, Jane has to really work to hold on to herself while so many forces in her life try to suppress and crush that spirit. I don’t know that anyone tried to crush or reign in Elizabeth.

3. She’s a working woman. Now I know Elizabeth essentially couldn’t work given her status, but this is my pick and I like that fact that Jane has that independent element about herself.

4. More of a risk taker. This no one can deny. Elizabeth really doesn’t risk much, while Jane perpetually risks everything for a better life.

5. Finally, her self-worth. Both women have a strong sense of who they are. Both women fight the expectations of their status. Elizabeth is offended to be called beneath Darcy (even from a practical standpoint she probably knows she is). Jane is willing to marry Rochester, even though she knows it flies in the face of society. But for me it’s that moment when Jane realizes he’s already married, and he proposes to take her away to France, that’s where she rises above Elizabeth. Her determination in not taking the easy path, despite her circumstances, is a much greater sacrifice. Her clinging to her principles, her belief in herself, and what she wants from the man she loves, I think surpasses anything Elizabeth does to have the same.

And now you pick. Jane or Elizabeth?


Eileen said...

I'll throw the first cage match punch!

Jane all the way. I reread Jane Eyre last year and was surprised at what a page turner it still was! She was smart and determined and never stopped working hard and couldn't rely on looks to get what she wanted.

Lizzie Bennett is kind of silly in comparison.

Unknown said...

oooh cage match, it's on

Rube said...

How about... Jane doesn't have much of a sense of humor, and she doesn't really have great taste in men. (The house party and fortune-teller act were tellingly d-bag moves on Rochester's part, I've always thought.)

Rube said...

Oh yeah, and wife in the attic. That was also a kind of a little d-baggy. Srsly, Jane?

Stephanie Doyle said...

Rube... she can't have a sense of humor... she's too busy being TRAGIC :)

But good point about Rochester. Maybe next cage match is Rochester vs. Darcy.

Eileen said...

I will grant you that Rochester is deeply flawed, but I feel that she kind of de-d-bagged him with her love. She walked out of the fortune teller ruse. She wouldn't run off with him as his mistress while his wife was still in the attic.

Darcy would win the Rochester vs. Darcy cage match. He's just pompous. Not nearly so bad.

Mary Jane Hathaway said...

Echoing Rube!!

Terrible taste in men and runs away into a storm when she finds out the crazy wife is in the attic?


Mary Jane Hathaway said...

P.S. I think Jane Eyre sets a terrible example because it's very rare you can actually de-d-bag someone.

They either are, or they're not. And Elizabeth Bennet misunderstands Darcy's true character. She doesn't take him on as a psychological charity case and reformat his creepy little synapses.

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