With the new Jane Eyre movie now in theaters, I decided to reread the classic story and was struck by how many of its themes still resonate today. It certainly is gothic - with its shadowed middle-of-the-night happenings and the lunatic wife locked in the attic.
But what surprised me were the feminist themes. Jane is a forthright and smart young woman who laments the lack of intellectual pursuits for women - even commenting that females need to be stimulated in the same way that men do. And this was back in 1847.
I also couldn't help thinking that Edward Rochester would never cut it as a hero in today's romance world. This is a man who deliberately taunts Jane by pretending he is about to marry another woman. He also lies to her, almost commits bigamy and repeatedly tries to convince her to become his mistress. Not exactly the traditional hero.
But perhaps that is part of his appeal. Rochester is not handsome and a forthright Jane even tells him so. However, that he falls totally and completely in love with our heroine is not in question. Ultimately, we do fall for him and his intensity. He is the ultimate suffering hero. And, Jane does refer to Rochester's broad chest and athletic form.
I guess some aspects of a romance hero endure over time.