Jane Eyre (pronounced like ‘air’ for those of you who are confused as I usually am) by Charlotte Bronte, my favorite of the Bronte sisters is one of my favorite books, and easily my favorite of the romantic persuasion.
When I was first assigned this book for an independent novel assignment in school, I had mixed feelings. I had heard it described as ‘romantic’, ‘boring’, ‘amazing’, and again, ‘romantic’. So I didn’t quite know what to think. Then, of course, there was the synopsis.
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.
I like very dark stories, typically. So this book didn’t exactly pique my interest. However, when I actually read it, I changed my mind very quickly.
While this isn’t exactly promoted, the story of Jane Eyre is quite dark. When the story opens, your thrown into Jane’s torment straight away. The tragedy of Jane’s childhood was that she remembered a time when she was loved and had someone to love, and each time to finds this love it is torn away from her. Her parents, her Uncle Reed, her dearest (and only) childhood friend. These events build her up into the type of women the rich folk look for in a governess (a stay-at-home private tutor/babysitter). Her passion is treated as a sort of undertone. It does not control her, but it gives her a sort of outward spunk (for lack of a better word) uncommon in women of the time. Making Jane one of these most interesting characters I have ever read.
Then, of course, there is the love story. I am a closet-case sap, you see. And while I am very tired of stories where it feels like they quite literally fall into a sort of love like state with a person they’ve talked to once, their relationship was not as simple as the synopsis makes it seem. Jane insists on being his equal, his partner. Not his servant or what have you (even though she’ll only call him Mr. Rochester). She is not a character looking for love, and when she starts to have a crush she fights it. The whole thing happens as it should: gradually, then all at once. And since Charlotte Bronte is such a brilliant writer, we get to experience her pure joy, as it is the first time since she was a very young child that she had been happy. And, really, it’s not that dramatic. Everything that happens is set up in a way where, when it happens, you’re just thinking ‘Of course‘.
Also, this is a Gothic novel. It is dreary. The main characters are damaged (in fact, I believe they discuss this at some point) and there are ghosts and crazy people and fire. Monsters hiding in the shadows, even. Not like the boogieman, of course, but in the way where earlier in the book we are told a ghost story and we watch as it seems to play out (until logic takes hold, of course). But there are moments when the whole thing feels like a madhouse, when you think for a moment someone is going to die. And, perhaps, someone does.
There are maybe two sunshine happiness moments in the whole story. The first, the sequences in which Jane and Rochester declare their love for one another and run off to get married. The second is the ending. I mean, this book has one of the happiest ending in the history of ever. Especially taking into consideration the pasts of the characters and the whole rest of the book. When you get to the ending, it is very satisfying and slightly giggly.
I would recommend this book to people who are fans of classic literature with feminist views, strong female protagonists, romance, and gothic fiction.
If you enjoyed basically anything by Jane Austen, Lady Windemere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde, Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, or Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, you will probably enjoy Jane Eyre.
If you have read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and have yet to read Jane Eyre, I’ll have to kindly ask you what you’re doing with your life, because clearly you have done something incorrectly.
Basically, I love this book. Give it look. And if you didn’t love it, please tell me why below.
Have a nice day.