Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading Level: Classics
Publisher: Penguin Books 1847
Pages: 578


A new edition of one of Penguin's top ten Classics-the novel that has been "teaching true strength of character for generations"
(The Guardian)

A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman's quest for freedom. This updated edition features a new introduction discussing the novel's political and magical dimensions. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?

My thoughts:

There are few books that I read for school that I actually enjoy. Jane Eyre is one of those books. I really like Brontë’s story that deals with a strong female in the Victorian Era where women essentially had no rights. Women were subjugated to one role, to have a lot of babies and make sure the family life is run smoothly. Women were basically expected to be weak and helpless, incapable of making decisions beyond her family. With the character of Jane, Brontë incorporates the trials and tribulations of a woman stuck in a time where she’s expected to keep quiet and go with the status quo. Jane does the opposite. That’s why I love Jane Eyre. Here is my character overview/review:

Jane Eyre

The protagonist, Jane, is described as “plain and small.” Her physical representation contrasts to how her inner character is. Jane is not plain and small, she is strong and brave. As a child, Jane is more outspoken and fiery. Jane learns from Helen Burns that going through life as very passionate and outspoken can sometimes hold you back. Keeping that passion and fire inside while having a reserved, yet strong-willed nature outside will help you tremendously in life and society. Jane does just that. Jane goes through so much and she takes the harder and longer road. Leaving her first true home, Thornfield Hall, and leaving her first and only true love, Rochester, is a testament to Jane’s will. Making these tough and heartbreaking decisions actually made her happily ever after that much sweeter. As you can see, Jane is my favorite character in the novel.

Mrs. Reed

Mrs. Reed. What can I say? What a cruel, cruel person. What kind of aunt abandons her niece and ships her off to school? I mean, she also lets her kids terrorize Jane as a child and blames Jane for everything. No wonder why Jane hated her aunt, especially as a child. Well, all I have to say is karma’s a bitch. It caught up with her in her in the end. Didn’t it Mrs. Reed? Her rotten son John ends up broke and dead and she dies herself. Her daughters didn’t end up so bad though. The one positive thing I can say about Mrs. Reed is that it made Jane strong. The difference is Jane didn’t become stronger because of Mrs. Reed, she became stronger in spite of Mrs. Reed.

Edward Rochester

Rochester is one of the romantic interests for Jane. More accurately, Rochester is the only love interest for Jane. St. John is in such a small part of the novel and the fact that he is her cousin really made me think eww, even though I know that it was more common back then. But still, eww. Anyways, I didn’t really like Rochester at first. He was really brash and rude to Jane. However, as I kept reading, Rochester grew on me. He made some really selfish decisions, though. Like, almost committing bigamy just to be with Jane. You can look at it both ways though. One way it’s really touching and shows how much love he has for Jane. The other, it shows that he’s selfish and a liar and will do anything to make Jane his. I’ll go with the latter. If I’m in a relationship I wouldn’t want my significant other to lie to me, no matter what, and I certainly wouldn’t want him to commit bigamy. Overall, Rochester realizes that he has to be unselfish to be with Jane and subsequently be happy. So, I give him props because, let’s face it, Jane Eyre wouldn’t be the same if Jane didn’t have her happily ever after with Rochester.

St. John Rivers
To me, St. John is very cold and rigid. As Jane says, he doesn’t know how to love, at least like her or Rochester. I’m saying this in the aspect of a romantic interest for Jane. As a friend and person, St. John is actually very nice. A great example is when he lets Jane stay with him when she is homeless and starving, not even knowing who she is. I think St. John cares for Jane but can’t offer her a life of true happiness like Rochester.

My next step is to watch the 2011 movie. Hopefully, it lives up to this wonderful book.

Favorite Quotes:

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”


“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
--Helen Burns

“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!”

“If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
--Helen Burns

“I am not an angel,' I asserted; 'and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me - for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

“‘No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,’ he began, ‘especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?’
‘They go to hell,’ was my ready and orthodox answer.
‘And what is hell? Can you tell me that?’
‘A pit full of fire.’
‘And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?’
‘No, sir.’
‘What must you do to avoid it?’
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: ‘I must keep in good health and not die.’”
--Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst

“You — you strange — you almost unearthly thing! — I love as my own flesh. You — poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are — I entreat to accept me as a husband.”

“Reader, I married him.”
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