Book Review: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

Jane Eyre

Plot: Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

-Contains minor spoilers-

I have finally read and finished Jane Eyre. I had to mature, this I can now tell you with utmost certainty. I attempted a couple of years ago, and halfway through the book became overwhelming – the English is elaborate and for lack of a better word – floral – and the twists and turns of the novel was too much at that stage.

I enjoyed it very much this time around. The book has a dark tone, with intimacy I would not expect published back in the 1800’s (it wasn’t all Fifty Shades of Grey back then). The romantic suspense between Jane and her master builds and builds, until you want to smash them together.

There are some shocking moments in this book too – Jane’s treatment as a child is nothing sort of horrific. Her school years is a vast improvement over her aunt’s behavior towards her, but I felt the same helpless sympathy I felt when Harry was locked under a staircase in Privet Drive. Jane takes school and turns it into a life for her, and it is soon evident that she has overtaken all her relatives in integrity and ambition. Leaving the school, she starts working for the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and her love for him is pure, idolizing and intense, and nearly fatal when she flees him after hearing his dark secret.

The writing is incredibly elaborate and winding, and the dialogue is sharp and drawn out. There were a few times where I generally wondered the need for ten pages dedicated to one scene, the fact that it could have either been eliminated or just shortened was evident.

I was ready to burn this book to the ground nearing the end. I feared and feared Jane would end up marrying the extremely boring St. John, who, despite what Jane believes, struck me as a priggish, self righteous fanatic that would have murdered her spirit. Had this happened, I promise you now, I would have hunted every single copy of Jane Eyre and burned them all into crisps. Luckily, the novel avoided it’s untimely end by giving me exactly what I wanted. The book ends with sadness – Mr. Rochester injured and suffered a great loss, but their love is enough to carry them through.

This book made me sigh with happiness more than once. It appealed to me because Jane is firstly, a feminist. They did not coin that term so easily back then, but she is a smart, educated woman who takes her affairs into her own hands. She has no need to marry until she falls deeply in love with a complex man. Mr. Rochester’s love for Jane does not spring from her beauty or her charm, rather her smartness and capability and that they are so excellently suited for one another. In the end Jane meets him as his equal, and not some inferior caste who is dependent on him. For over two hundred years this is a love story that is more realistic than the garbage produced today.

My next step is to watch the latest adaption – I need to watch it NOW.

Rating: 8/10

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