Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
On the Shelves: Fiction, Classics, Romance
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity.
She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers” (Goodreads 2013)
I never expected to enjoy Jane Eyre quite as much as I did, I was pleasantly surprised. The novel can easily be split into three sections: “Childhood, Thornfield and After”. But what I want to talk about the most is the character of Jane Eyre, and then Edward Rochester, due to mixed controversary regarding him.
Jane Eyre is, I feel, one of the first feminist literary characters. She finds her own way in the world, and when she is torn between staying with the man she loves or sticking to a belief which has been ingrained into her since childhood, she realistically sticks with her belief. Rather than anger God and commit a sin, she would wander alone in the world and seek to find her own fortune. She stays true to her own character despite what readers would “Want” for her, and I feel this was very brave of Charlotte Bronte to pen.
The character of Mr Rochester also comes under scrutiny often on the internet, in many readers opnions, he is a horrible person for what he does (does anyone here know how hard it is to review this WITHOUT giving away spoilers?!) However, again sticking to the theme of religion as a major part of their lifestyle at this time, this would have been a sin, a breaking of a solemn promise made in the eyes of God. Rochester, being rich and popular, could easily have cast out that…problem, ignored it and turned a blind eye (pardon the expression), but in light of both his vows, his conscience, and I believe, kindness of his heart, he took care of (oh sod it) his mentally unstable wife, despite her being a danger to him and ruining his reputation amongst society. That’s pretty damn decent of him if you ask me!
Don’t get me wrong. I, like a lot of readers, feel that there are sections of this book which quite frankly could easily be cut out and it wouldn’t affect the heart of the story. I believe that almost the whole of “After” could be condensed to one or two chapters quite easily and it wouldn’t change much at all, in fact it might be less annoying (ugh St. John, what. I mean Bronte did you really have to go there?)
But saying that, Jane Eyre has managed to wrangle its way into my Favourites shelf, because for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it. From the writing style, the world building, the characters, the romance- and that doesn’t happen very often with me!