Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Disclaimer and Spoiler Alert: I'm new to book reviews because I really haven't written many for about 16 yrs. I'd like to think I did this book review a bit different this time so I hope you'll understand why & bear with me.
When I read, I tend to become emotionally involved in the book and I become part of that world. Perhaps, this happens to everyone but I thought I'd share with you my emotional thoughts as I journeyed through the story. So, there are spoiler's contained in this review but overall I hope you'll get a sense of what I was feeling as I read. Well, here it is:

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë

At the beginning, reading this book was too sad for me and quite painful to imagine how the Reed family around Jane Eyre treated her so cruelly and yet did not seem to realize how it affected her. Jane explains her mistreatment best just prior to her departure from Gateshead for Lowood School as she says: “You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity.” This comment really struck my heart and stayed inside me to ponder it for a while.

One of the most defining times in Jane’s life is at Lowood School. It is not because life is pleasant there but that she notices contrast in the character of people, perhaps for first time, through Miss Temple, who is kind, and Miss Scratcherd, who is quite unpleasant. Jane meets Helen Burns and a beautiful friendship develops. I enjoyed their exchanges and felt as Jane did about Helen that I could’ve listened to her for unlimited amounts of time. I also felt that Helen’s views on life were quite different from Jane’s and that was a learning point for Jane. Helen understood the difference between religion and spirituality. Helen brought this to Jane’s attention and it was something that I also pondered upon. I loved this amazing contrast. I loved this unique bond of friendship between them.

One of the most compelling although quite confusing moments for Jane at this point in the book was when Helen took ill and Jane had to go about her daily life without knowing or understanding just how sick Helen really was. Finally, Jane couldn’t take it and went to see Helen who was now upon her deathbed. I found this to be such an endearing scene and one mark of the true love of friendship when Jane is able to tell Helen how much she means to her and then falls asleep beside her. When Jane wakes up, she is in her usual circumstances in her own room and isn’t told until two days later than Helen passed away beside Jane during that night. I just found that to be remarkably sad yet hauntingly beautiful. It’s something I’ll not forget easily after reading it.

After this experience, Jane continues her life as best she can until Miss Temple marries and leaves Lowood School. At this point, Jane is restless and applies to be a governess. She is hired and travels to Millcote where she is employed at Thornfield, where finally life is pleasant and comfortable for the most part. Adèle is the eight year old French girl that she will be tutoring. It was a lovely scene when Jane meets Adèle and finally interacts with her. I thought Adèle was so charming when she recited poetry and full of life to sing to Jane in spite of being what must’ve been a lonely child inside the walls of Thornfield.

I loved Brontës’ introduction of Mr. Rochester without Jane realizing who he was. I could almost see Jane’s surprised face when she discovers Pilot – the dog in Mrs. Fairfax’s room.

Soon after this Jane gains strange insights into Mr. Rochester and then she is placed in a unique position to save Mr. Rochester’s life. I found it predictable yet necessary that soon after this Jane realizes she is gaining feelings for Mr. Rochester.

Then the potential relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester develops and the plot thickens with its tensions, irregularities & obstacles as Blanche is introduced. The women are completely different and I felt that Mr. Rochester never had feelings for Blanche so that she wasn’t really a threat. The real threat is Mr. Rochester himself and the secrets of Thornfield Hall.

I loved the dream sequences of Jane and knew that conflict was coming. So, the events before the wedding didn’t surprise me. I hated how the events unfolded before the wedding but I was glad they happened in the time frame that they did.

After this incident, I felt it predictable that Jane would move on. This is where you learn the depth and true grit of Jane’s character. Through the rest of her conflicts, you gain a sense of her integrity. I’m glad that Jane had this time, even through her conflicts, and I did enjoy the ending. I’m rather easy to please though and hopeless romantic.

Overall, the book has some magnificently beautiful scenes and I felt it is rather thought-provoking at times. I learned a lot more vocabulary through reading it which helped me feel intelligent. I had a hard time understanding the French contained in the book because I don’t know the language but I was still able to understand what I read in spite of this. I’m glad I read it and I would recommend it because it is a classic.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I loved the way we got to know Mr. Rochester, too. I maintain that one of the best scenes in the book is the gypsy one.