Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time. I read the novel when I was in high school and then again sometime in between high school and college.

The Bronte sisters were clearly more ‘wild’ and passionate in their love stories (one of my fav books is Wuthering Heights) than Jane Austen.

I admired Jane’s sprit, especially when she totally called her aunt on the carpet about being more or less an evil, cold-hearted bitch to her. Jane was witty, charming, and above all strong. She really is the ideal woman both modernly and historically speaking. She stands up for herself and perseveres through difficulties and ultimately succeeds in her goal- wining Rochester’s heart and hand.

Jane Eyre’s tale was like the original prototype for job place sexual harassment and how NOT to have an office affair. I mean really…..hooking up with you much older, married, boss…..ya never a good idea no matter what century you are in!

I struggled though with Bronte’s description of Rochester- he is described as this kind of withering, decrepit, ugly old man who falls for this super young (I believe she’s only 16 or 17 years old) girl. I mean honestly was anyone else thinking chi-mo here??!?!! He’s like almost 40 what the heck is he doing lusting after poor little Jane???

So I struggled with that for quite a while as I did when I was in high school reading it for the first time. That and in my mind I see this dashing, ubber good-looking, slightly tormented, intelligent, rich, charming, British guy….I see Collin Firth or Huge Grant (which really belong in a Austen film LOL). I would have even gone with Jude Law as a good Rochester now that I think about it…..but really, this guy is like not even CLOSE to that oh so romantic ideal which I suppose is the point….but I digress.

Then when she runs away, she really only goes 10 or so miles from Rochester and then she ‘suffers’ for four days on the moors and has to beg for food when she finally is rescued by some people on the moors who are actually (by some weird turn of events) her kin-folk. I guess I just wasn’t buying the whole life altering experience she had gone through.

In my mind when I read the book before this all seemed like a very romantic and monumental book and Jane’s whole moor-ish experience seemed longer and more pivotal when I was in high school….but then again 16 year old mind versus an almost 430 year old mind…..HUGE difference I guess :).

I do agree with Bronte’s statement about Austen–Austen lacked the fiery passion and lustful torment which all of the Bronte sisters were able to capture in their love stories and heroines.

The book is a classic and a ‘must read’ for all you Victorian/Gothic lit fans out there, it’s got all the great Gothic elements: madness (Rochester’s psycho-ish ‘wife’ in the attic), unrequited love, dark scenery, crumbling castles, and the sort of anti-hero/Byronic hero who we find in Rochester.

Though I sound critical of the book, I really did enjoy it and it is a ‘staple’ in my bookshelf :).

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  • Kindle Edition, 351 pages
  • Published (first published 1847)
  • ASIN B004GHNIR0

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: British Literature, Classics, English Literature, Gothic Literature, Romance, Victorian Literature

Memorable lines/quotes: 

If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends

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7 Comments

  1. Jillian

     /  November 28, 2010

    Loved this book!! It’s one of my favorites.

    I agree with you about Austen, though I feel part of her was holding back on purpose. You can practically feel her shaking from the strain of not screaming, or at least, I can.

    Reply
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