Monday, December 15, 2014

Recently Read: Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Classic
Publication Date: 1847 
Page Count: 608
Rating: 5/5

 I finally read Jane Eyre. I listened to a really great free audio-book on my phone while driving home and back to school over the past three or so weeks. I've really been loving listening to classics on audio-book while driving, and I really loved listening to this one. I have a lot to say about this book, I really loved it, so let's get started!

Love this beautiful Vintage Classics version that I own

You are probably familiar with the plot of this book, but I feel that this book gets summarized incorrectly a lot. The romance is usually picked out as the main plot point in this novel, but I would have to disagree with that. This is the story of Jane Eyre and her journey to find and struggle for independence and self-acceptance. Sure there is a romance between her and the infamous Mr. Rochester, but that is just one element of the plot, and not the most important element by any means. 

I loved the way this book is set up. Jane is telling her story directly to you, the reader, and address you directly many times. She starts her story when she was a young girl of eight or nine and continues up to where she is in her life when she writes the story. Jane is honest about her feelings and struggles and shows no shame and offers no apologies for wanting her independence in life and the right to be in control of herself, which was no easy task for a women in the 1800's. She is such a strong character and so relatable and likeable. 

I heard a lot about Mr. Rochester before reading this book. Most of what I had heard painted him in the light of a brooding but highly romantic figure. I will admit he was brooding, in the true fashion of a Bronte love interest, but he was also a drama queen and gave Jane a lot of back-handed compliments. See the bottom paragraph for further discussion, if you have already read the book, or don't mind some vague spoilers. There is an element of suspense to this novel though, and I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone.  

Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it. Jane is a heroine that defies her time and is still seen as brave and relatable many years after her appearance. I think it is also interesting and important to point out that Bronte fist published this book under a male pseudonym. She said this gave her the courage and power to write a female heroine that was fiercely and unapologetically independent. The fact that the romance of this novel has overshadowed that element of this book really frustrates me. 

P.S. Bronte's writing style is crazy. I have never seen someone use multiple colons and semi-colons in the same sentence, but she sure does it and does it well. Here is one of the most well-known lines from the book that illustrates Jane's refusal to give up her independence.   
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will."
-Charlotte Bronte 

I really respect the way that Jane handles herself all throughout this book, but specially in regards to Mr. Rochester and his big secret. She refuses to settle for a life anything less than what she imagined for herself and what she believes she deserves and makes a decision that very few women of her time would have made; to go off into the world completely alone. Jane will not give up her freedom and will not settle for a life less than she deserves, even for the man she loves. Some may scoff at Jane's choice to return to Mr. Rochester at the end of the novel, but she only agrees to be with him after she feels she has found her own self-worth and has her own means of supporting herself monetarily to ensure her independence will and can continue after they are married. It is also important to keep in the mind the time this book was written and the 'norm' and expectations for literature when contemplating the all too convenient death of a certain character and the appearance of relations for Jane at the perfect time. 

What are your thoughts on this novel? 
How about film adaptations? I'm planning on watching the 2011 version soon on Netflix, but leave me your other recommendations. I've also heard the BBC mini-series from 2006(?) is great too. 


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