Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

 

I get the feeling that Jane Eyre may have ruined future English classics for me. I find it hard to imagine very few other classics topping this one. This was actually a book that I had no interest in reading because I had been underwhelmed by a Jane Eyre miniseries I watched several years ago. However, so many people have urged me to read this, saying it’s an excellent book, and they weren’t wrong.

Jane Eyre is definitely cut from a different cloth from the other classic novel heroines I have come across. She is well-rounded woman of substance, courageous and brave. We follow Jane from her humble beginnings as an abused orphan, both at her Aunt Reed’s house and the boarding school she was subsequently sent to, to her life as a governess. During this period, Jane learns, and is willing to learn, many lessons. I admired her courage and her determination, her desire to be free, despite what little she had or was given, her intelligence, and her love for others.

“I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen that then I desired more of the practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.”

I was surprised to read passages that highlighted her feminist leanings; it was very timely that I read this book on International Women’s Day.

“Nobody knows how many rebellions beside political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. 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; they suffer from too rigid a constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings…”

It’s also a love story, featuring the brooding Mr. Rochester. I found him to be quite an interesting character, though I did question a few of his actions.

Bronte’s writing style is truly exquisite; she has an adept handle on the language and her prose was like poetry at times. I found it quite charming the way in which she addressed the reader (“dear Reader”) throughout the narrative. It was also interesting to see that Bronte uses semi-colons a lot more often than I do (and I think I use them a lot!).

“The flame flickers in the eye; the eye shines like dew; it looks soft and full of feeling; it smiles at my jargon: it is susceptible; impression follows impression through its clear sphere; where it ceases to smile, it is sad; an unconscious lassitude weighs on the lid: that signifies melancholy resulting from loneliness. It turns from me; it will not suffer farther scrutiny; it seems to deny, by a mocking glance, the truth of the discoveries I have already made…”

I’m so glad to have my own copy of this book as I believe I’ll be reading this one over and over again in the future.

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