I like to look at the titles of books — to muse about why the title was chosen, and what it might mean in the larger scope of the book, the characters, as well as the author’s life and times. And, one of the most infamous titles (and increasingly adaptable characters) is Charlotte Bronte’s most famous novel: Jane Eyre.
So, why Jane Eyre?
It’s all about the Dick and Jane… We’m reminded of those simple books, written by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp, from publisher: Scott Foresman. There is still something very relational about the children in their “everyday” activities through the books. With the fun and colorful graphics and the cheerful children running through the pages, we are drawn to find out more about their adventures.
Of course, the names were ordinary as well. We associate it with “Plain Jane,” the idea of an ordinary girl or woman, who doesn’t stand out as being particularly striking or beautiful. Even the name usage itself is not particularly popular — it’s not a top-10 baby name, but we do seem to all know someone who is named Jane.
Do we feel sorry for Jane?
Familiarity breeds compassion in a very-real sense. We are drawn into Jane’s struggles, and we seem to know this everyman character, even as she is drawn upon the page. We follow her life and coming-of-age from her own, first-person perspective.
First-person perspective. The title is also the first indication that we will experience the story from the heroine’s perspective.
As the plain (even ugly) child, she is in training to become the submissive woman, accepting any abuse in silence–without question. Never loving, her aunt is also preparing her to assume the role of a young woman who has no money and no prospects: “Jane, I don’t like cavaliers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.”