I am so happy to be typing up this blogpost for *Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I understand that this is the first introductory work of Ms. Bronte that everyone reads.
Could’ve said the same for myself, unfortunately I was 17 when I first bought this book and don’t know what version I got, but I couldn’t go past a single paragraph before having to open the dictionary to look up words I didn’t even know existed!
It was a struggle to get through a single chapter and I gave it up.
Still have no clue to this day what type of version it was, abridged or unabridged.
Fast forwarding a few year, I picked up Villette by Charlotte Bronte, and I was completely enamored by her story. The way she wrote, the way she addressed the reader, described the characters, and created this atmosphere of longing and pushing through any difficulty, it was all so mysterious and addictive.
And here I’ll conclude my preface, and tell you what a delightful, rebellious, and strong person Jane Eyre is.
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Although, it is termed as a Gothic Romance, can I just say I found none of the male characters attractive, interesting or even likable! I’ll get to why in a bit, but I don’t think this story was meant to be interpreted as a spin on forbidden love.
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
Now, you may wonder who is Jane Eyre? And why has she bewitched so many readers all these decades?
“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”
When we first meet Jane she is a 10 year old orphan, living with her late uncle’s family much to their chagrin. She is considered a burden and isn’t loved let alone respected. Ultimately, her aunt sends her to a school for Orphans.
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do… and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.”
But not before Jane gives her a piece of her mind on her double standards of appearing as a God fearing woman yet so unkind and unjust.
“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”
At the school called Lowood, she doesn’t have an easy time, as the students aren’t treated, fed, clothed or housed particularly well. However, soon those circumstances are improved and she gets on fine, and becomes a teacher at the same school.
“I am not an angel,” I asserted; “and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.”
Now, our girl Jane longs to see the world, has hopes and ambitions, and realizes that she has to get out of Lowood in order to expand her horizons. With no connections or family, she advertises for a position of a Governess in the local newspaper.
“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.”
She goes through bouts of doubt and curiosity, but ultimately gets a call back from an unknown place for a young girl.
This is how she ends up at Thornfield and meets the slightly obnoxious, slightly moody, and mostly deceitful Edward Rochester, the master of the House, and her employer.
They have an intense relationship ultimately falling in love, but Edward hasn’t been upfront and honest about many things to Jane. Despite, his strong affections, his secrets once revealed put Jane at a cross road.
One, which tests her integrity, her self esteem, her position in society and her love for Edward.
I tried to keep as many spoilers away from the summary as I could, but it was quite a task.
“I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world.”
You see, despite the obvious love story in it, Charlotte Bronte stole my heart for the character development of Jane. As a true Victorian novel, it was such a treat to read about heroine who doesn’t faint at slightest inconvenience in life.
Or is treated as a “fragile, delicate thing”!
Jane is so headstrong, even as a child she knew how to stand up for herself. Not accepting any injustice or wrongful blame against her.
This same integrity is the guiding light for the tough decision she makes, which in my opinion was the best choice. Her inner monologue on what to do once Edward’s secret is revealed is so amazing.
There are so many points where I found her to be rebellious, yet compassionate, headstrong, yet selfless, passionate, yet calm, and I truly admire her!
As for the male characters in the book, I couldn’t care less for them. There is no one like Mr.Darcy even though he was such a prick, but even he learnt from his mistakes while Mr. Rochester is a different kind of breed.
For me Jane Eyre will never be a lovestory. It will be a story of going through life and it’s hardships, and still coming out victorious. It will be a tale of a feminist Victorian heroine who knew her worth and values, and didn’t let anything lead her astray.
She remained true to herself till the end.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
- Reader level: I’d say in the middle. Not quite hard, nor easy either. There is French in it as well.
- Should you read: You must, you must!
- Would I read it again: Never giving my copy away!
Till next time,