Hello, Another Jane fan!
1. I do not consider myself as “damaged.” I grew up in a healthy environment, my parents are still married, and I was not abused in any way. I am fascinated by the character of Rochester.
2. Diagnosing a fictional character with an anxiety disorder is absolute quagmire. You must at first address the context of the text itself. When was it written? What would the author know about this type of disorder, since we know the term was not even in existence? All you have is the text. What proof is there in the text that makes you “fairly certain” of such a diagnosis? What specific symptoms or behaviors does Jane exhibit that lead you to this hypothesis (based on the modern definition of the disorder)? What are her “particular dysfunctions?” Do they match a description of the disorder? Even though the author did not have our 21st century understanding of such a disorder, we can assume that the symptoms/behaviors would have been the same in the mid-19th century. So the author would not know the symptoms as such, but she would have observed them in real life and written them as part of the character.
3. There is no way that we can say with certainty that “a healthy Jane who grew up in a normal environment with loving parents and a well-adjusted sense of self-worth may never have fallen in love with Rochester in the first place.” That is pure speculation. We can say that there are certainly cases where women who aren’t “damaged” choose to be with men who toy with their emotions and manipulate them (your words). You need to define Jane’s “self-worth,” using the text. Was she aware of her physical appearance and her place in the social constructions of her day? Yes. Does she lack a “well-adjusted sense of self-worth,” as you call it? The argument that she did not is essentially refuted in the central action of her leaving Rochester. If the modern definition of a “damaged” woman is one who continues a pattern of abusive situations, Jane does not fit that. She broke the pattern by leaving Rochester. A woman who did not have a “well-adjusted sense of self-worth” would not have left him.
4. “…but men like him have a particular draw for damaged women” – Upon what is this statement based? The author’s personal knowledge of relationships? The author’s literary knowledge of these types of characters? Can you give examples from texts that we know the author read (or was at least familiar with them)? We need to remember that this novel was written towards the beginning of the golden era of Victorian British literature. Jane Eyre pre-dates the work of Elliot, Hardy, Trollope, Stoker, etc.
I do not know if you are eliciting responses for the pleasure of the exchange or if you are pursuing this stream of thought for scholarly purposes. Regardless of your intent, a close reading of the text can help you come to solid conclusions.
: Jane Eyre in its novel form and its various
: adaptations (the musical included) has
: haunted me for decades and subconsciously
: probably affected multiple relationships in
: my life over the years. This may be a fairly
: controversial opinion but it's one that I
: have to offer up to the collective community
: to gauge the response of others who have
: been as shaped by this story as I have:
: I'm fairly certain that Jane, while
: incredibly intelligent and strong-willed,
: suffers from some form of post-traumatic
: stress from her childhood neglect/abuse with
: the Reeds. It is the hole in her life and
: psyche that this longstanding abuse and
: emotional trauma that this experience
: creates within her that is filled when she
: meets Mr. Rochester, who is older, dark and
: twisty in all the right ways to address her
: particular dysfunctions. He appears to
: engage her independent spirit and
: intelligence and to look upon her as his
: "equal", but we know of course of
: all the ways he intentionally toys with her
: emotions, manipulates her psychologically
: ("Painting Her Portrait" anyone?),
: and is ultimately dishonest with his
: so-called 'second self'.
: The theory stands that a healthy Jane who
: grew up in a normal environment with loving
: parents and a well-adjusted sense of
: self-worth may never have fallen in love
: with Rochester in the first place. Rochester
: might be objectively Byronic and inherently
: attractive for that, but men like him have a
: particular draw for damaged women.
: What do you all think?