After watching the movie at least a hundred times last summer I finally read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Once started, I couldn’t put it down. It quickly became a favorite.
In it, St. John Rivers proposes the idea of marriage to Jane Eyre under the idea that “enough of love would follow.” Jane does not love St. John. At least, not in the way that he would like. She calls his offer “counterfeit” and rejects it, of course.
What happens when “enough of love” is not enough? If you’ve read Jane Eyre, you know she left and never spoke to St. John Rivers again.
When someone is your first thought, your last thought, and every thought in between, and you live with the idea that enough of love will follow, you’re asking to spend life alone. Or to be driven to some kind of madness. Or both.
I spent the better part of twelve years married to someone who did not love me. Thinking, all along, that enough of love would indeed follow. If I acted a certain way, did this, or did that, that he would love me. He did not. That I have ended up in that situation again, is mind boggling. I can never be something I am not. I am either “enough” the way I am, or it’s time to walk away. I am always going to want more. I am never going to be happy sitting on the sidelines. I have tried to be a good friend. Then I realized. I don’t want to be a good friend. I don’t think I can do this anymore. I don’t want to hear about your “harmonious” relationships with other people. It’s utter madness to think that I do. I believe in fighting for what you want. But there’s a point where it becomes toxic. Where you have to cut your losses and not walk, but run.
Jane Eyre found love. In the most unlikely match. She, poor and plain. He, twice her age, wealthy and by all accounts, handsome. But for him, her love was enough. He saw her inner beauty. And he fully appreciated how much she adored and cared for him. Much to Jane’s own amazement. For she, too, saw herself unworthy of such love.
St. John Rivers lived out his life alone.
I want to be Jane Eyre. I do not want to be St. John Rivers.
– J. Ela