The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

The opening five chapters of Jane Eyre, we are introduced to the novels narrator a young orphan who is under the care of her aunt Mrs. Reed.  Jane is treated unfairly due her status of being an orphan and is even considered lower then a servant.  There are few instances where she experiences kindness through one of the servants, Bessie.  I see Jane as a very determined girl and keeps her faith and beliefs very near to her heart no matter where life takes her.  She is just a girl trying to find her place in the world.  Jane is looking for an escape to find her own freedom and each time she feels that she has found a place where she could be free, she is wrong.  When presented with the opportunity to go to a school that would take her out of the Reed household, Jane is more then ready to experience what she thinks to be some type of freedom.  Only to learn that she may have just as bad or worse than what she experienced living with her aunt.

As I read this novel it reminded me of a movie I was saw called Hanna.  Hanna is also an orphan who is being raised by her father away from any type of civilization deep in the forests of Europe where her father has trained her to be an assassin.  Like Jane, Hanna just wants to find her place in the world and ends up on mission across Europe where she finds that everything isn’t what she thought it would be and secrets about her own identity are revealed to her as she fights to stay alive.  As the novel continues the reader learns that Jane also finds out about secrets that will eventually be revealed to her.

I felt that Jane and Hanna were similar because they are both two young girls that just wanted acceptance in a world they haven’t fully understood yet and to feel apart of something and not just be an outsider.  They both felt that if they left the place they were most comfortable in they would find something better which they both find out the harder way that sometimes there isn’t always something better.  Eventually they both find what they are looking for and come to some sort of peace with themselves.  Both girls stay true to everything that they’ve learned, they mature quickly but still remain true to their original beliefs and adjust themselves accordingly to the circumstances they face.

Besides Jane and Hanna a few characters from the novel and film have similarities.  Helen Burns, who befriends Jane at the Lowood School and accepts Jane for who she is compares to Sophie of the film, who Hanna meets along the way of her travels across Europe.  Both characters are accepting of the two girls,  Mrs. Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst, who were most cruel to Jane, have similar characteristics to Marissa Wiegler of the film who also is very cruel to Hanna.  Bessie Lee and Sophie’s mother are comparable because these to woman take the time to get a deeper understanding of the two girls and get to experience a kindness they have never known through these women.

The main comparison that I made between Jane and Hanna was when I across this quote from later on in the novel in chapter 23, “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!” 

Which is said by Jane to Mr. Rochester when she finds out he will marry another woman and she most leave Thornfield.  I felt this was comparable to Hanna because Marissa Wiegler didn’t see Hanna as a real person that had feelings and free will she was just seen as an experiment that had to be kept a secret.  Hanna has her moment when she doesn’t let Marissa stop her from continuing on her original mission.  Because of Jane’s past it was hard for people to see her as equal to them and finally part of society.  This was a huge statement for Jane to make because she was finally feeling like she has found her place in the world and felt belonging and everything she overcame in her past was being thrown back in her face.  This statement by Jane shows that even though she thought she had found freedom and equality she wasn’t going to stay in a place where they still viewed her and below them so she continued on to find her place in the world.



Although the novel would have to be read in its entirety for this comparison to be fully understood, I feel that once you have it would all make a bit more sense.  I ended up reading most of the novel when I came across this preview, that made me a bit curious to what will happen in the novel.

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1 thought on “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

  1. Jason Tougaw

    First of all, I love the movie Hannah. Jane Eyre is a pretty influential text. I wonder if the writers (Seth Lochhead and David Farr) and director (Joe Wright) had the novel in mind. It may be that the similarities you mention are the product of the genre Kevin calls “The Orphan Narrative,” or it could be that there is some direct influence.

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