Jane and Hester
Love is something defined as happiness, but what does love mean when it begins to hurt that person and traps them completely? The definition of love changes and becomes a continuous struggle to escape or run away from the evils it possesses. No matter how sever the pain, love is never sub sided. Hester Pynne and Jane Eyre are both characters that involve themselves in a romance that overcomes them entirely. In each novel their love and feelings turn into a fallacy in which they learn of secrets, lies, guilt, and death.
Jane and Hester cannot run from their problems, they are forced to face secrets, sin, and death to be with the ones they love. Although the women are both independent, they start to rely on someone that they fall in love with. Someone that they believe is meant to be with them until death. However, when things go wrong, their first instinct is to run away entirely. What’s stopping them? “Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine.
May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agised as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love”(Bronte 306). Jane Eyre’s passion for Mr. Rochester was miserable, but the small moments in which he made her feel infinite, kept her from staying away. Hester was alike in the way of love, but knew better then to leave the village that her secret lover lived in. She wanted him to be safe from the evils of society. What kept Hester from truly leaving?
Hester like Jane knew she could live on her own and be independent, but Hester showed her strength from the beginning because she knew that leaving the one she loved, would only cause her misery. She knew that Pearl would be a constant reminder that she sinned and could not love Dimmesdale without reticule. “It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change is impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility. (Hawthorne 126).
Hester’s hate towards the Puritan society and Dimmesdale for not suffering with her was interfered by love. Its power let Hester believe that no matter she went or who she met, her heart would be forever with Dimmesdale. Jane was more oblivious, she believed she was strong enough to walk away from love, but in the end it conquered all the hate and lies. Both women knew that running from love is like running from death, inevitable. What little time a person has to live a full and happy life, what little time a person has to waste it.
Jane and Hester are both strongly connected to Mr. Rochester and Dimmesdale and the last thing they think about is the death of their loved one. They are both so in love that they want every second of their life to be spent with one another. This is an example of why the women find a hard time leaving their lovers. They know how fragile life is and how quickly their loved ones can be taken away from them. Jane learned the value of life through her many experiences in which everything she had ever loved was taken away by death. If others didn’t love me, I would rather die than live—I cannot bear to be solitary and hated”(Bronte 62).
Hester learned in a harder way, for she learned this experience when the pain of the sin that Dimmesdale and her both committed had taken Dimmesdale to his death bed. Hester tried to savor every moment with him, but under such restrictions of puritan society, it was nearly impossible. She did know however that death was inevitable from day one, and that leaving the village would only ruin the time she had left with Dimmesdale. But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghostlike, the spot where some great and marked event has given the color to their lifetime; and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it”(Hawthorne 66). Hester knew that the day the secrets were revealed it would only be bittersweet, she knew her love would be forced to an end. Jane was the same, but she handled it by avoiding all bad that was present.
The purpose of a secret is to keep someone safe from discovering something that could impose harm on another. The irony of a secret is that it causes guilt and temptation rather than the satisfying feeling of helping another. Hester and Jane have lovers that hold secrets that inflict pain, fear, and guilt to themselves and others. But what is a secret that is taken too far? “‘Sir,’ I answered, ‘a wanderer’s repose or a sinner’s reformation should never depend on a fellow-creature.
Men and women die; philosophers falter in their wisdom, and Christians in goodness: if any one you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend, and solace to heal’”(Bronte 206). Hester and Jane know that with secrets comes sin, but they are both so deeply in love with that sin that they are trapped in the middle of moral values and the nature of love. Each novel however, has a consequence of sin and secret. These consequences are what keep Hester and Jane close to Dimmesdale and Mr. Rochester. The consequences are things such as pain, torture, lies, and reticule.
When the women see how strong their love is they fight through those consequences of pain and lies to keep that love alive, for they know it’s the only happiness they have ever felt. “But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose”(Hawthorne 158). There is a bond that keeps two people together, a bond that has no definition and changes through experiences and struggles. A bond called love. It’s a something that cannot be ripped apart just by running away or trying to avoid it. The authors of both books show that sin, death, and love are all inevitable.
Jane and Hester cannot run from their problems, they are forced to face secrets, sin, and death to be with the ones they love. In their lives they have found that the attachment they had was worth fighting for. “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs”(Bronte 51). So in conclusion both books show how love is a bond that cannot be broken, it’s a power that is higher than the lies or wrong doings of their lovers. Hester and Jane show courage and strength by not being able to stay away from the ones they love, but instead fighting for the happiness they believe in.