Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, has been on my “To Be Read” list for a long time. I am almost embarrassed that it took me so long to get around to reading it! So finally I did, and now I understand the lure of this great piece of literature.
First of all, I knew nothing about the Bronte sisters (and their drunk brother) before I read this novel. But the minute I closed the book I just had to start learning more about the Bronte Family, and mostly about Charlotte.
Charlotte Bronte went under the pen name of Currer Bell for Jane Eyre to be published, because of course no woman could write such a magnificent piece of work in her era. At a whopping 4 feet, eleven inches, she was opinionated and strong willed. Jane Eyre is believed to be fictional autobiography of Charlotte’s life. Which if you have read it, would have been a harrowing childhood. She died at the age of 38 with her unborn child, of which had been suggested that it was from dehydration and hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness).
Jane Eyre tells the story of a “plain” governess, who after a difficult upbringing and life falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Jane is a spunky, quick witted, and confident female. After falling in love with Mr. Rochester, and almost marrying, some secrets about him arise. She is then faced with big decisions, and an incredible journey of finding oneself. Eventually Jane and Mr. Rochester marry, but only after his insane first wife dies in a dramatic house fire.
Being that this novel was published in 1847, I think Charlotte Bronte was reflecting her feminist views through Jane. When it was published it was the first novel written in the female first-person perspective. At times, Jane is snarky and laughing at the way society treats women and their roles. But what I loved most about Jane is she is truly herself. Consistently described as plain, as a reader I believe she is far from it. Sometimes what the eye lays it sights on at first may seem plain, but once you learn more about the subject it is beautiful. This is the case for Jane. She is a spirited, and amazing woman, who hit an ultimate low to eventually rise to the top.
I’m not going to lie to you, I was disappointed when i read the beginning of Chapter 38 and it said, “Reader, I married him.” I was so hoping at the time that Jane would defy what every woman deemed acceptable in that era. But the more I thought about it she did defy society by doing exactly what she wanted to do.
I only wish I had read this novel when I was a teenager, and grew up knowing who Jane was. Don’t let the word CLASSIC deter you from this novel, it’s a must read!
Below are some titles that are great read-alongs/read-alikes. I actually read all of these novels prior to Jane Eyre, and cannot help but wonder whether they were inspired by it.
- Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
- Thirteenth tale, Diane Setterfield
- Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery
Well my friends, those are my thoughts on Jane Eyre. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I just could not stop thinking about this book. I see now why it has stood the test of time with it’s big, bold themes, and vivacious heroine.