In this admirable first-person narrative, Jane Eyre -a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan- recounts her childhood and latter years leading to her marriage to the mysterious Edward Rochester.
What make the novel fast-paced, fascinating, and ultimately admirable are not the mundane events and incidents that happen to her, but the manner in which she tells them. Within a few pages it becomes obvious that the narrator is a character who is a master of the English language. Her sentence openers are well thought out, well measured, and well balanced-a veritable fountain of wisdom.
In addition, Jane owns a terrific imagination, which coupled with her lust for life, will get her to where she wants to go-but only after she experiences hurt, physical abuse, and much suffering.
The novel goes through five distinct stages:
- Gateshead. This is the residence of Jane spends of her childhood, and where she experiences the cruelties volleyed at her by her aunt (Mrs. Reed) and cousins.
- Lowood School. In this school she meets the mystic Helen Burns and Maria Temple, whom Jane admires and sees as a role model. In this school she also endures the headmaster’s humiliations and gratuitous abuses.
- Thornfield Manor. The manor is owned by Edward Rochester, who is her employer and with whom she falls in love.
- Moor House or Marsh’s End. Owned by the Rivers family who happen to be her relatives. Here Jane received a marriage proposal from her passionless clergyman-cousin St John Rivers.
- Ferndean. A second house owned by her beloved Rochester.
While we enjoy child characters such Dickens’ David Copperfield, Little Dorritt, and Pip, we admire Jane Eyre much more because she is proud and shows a fighting spirit. She fights back. She doesn’t just let things happen to her; and the fact that very same spirit gets her in trouble, she also fights extricate herself from her predicaments. Resourceful is the word that fits Jane. I always admire the passage in the novel in which she wants change in her life and how an epiphany comes to her: Advertise! And that single action gets her not only her first employment, but also her first and only love: Mr. Rochester.
The author, Charlotte Bronte, a master of the English language will take you back to England as it was in the 1840s, making you experience the highs and lows of life in England during that period.
Jane Eyre is true work of literature that will introduce readers of any age to memorable characters and a story that is inexhaustible in its wisdom. Not long ago I was moved by all the attention given to J. K. Rowling and her lovable character Harry Potter. Moved I was but not fascinated as I am every time I re-read Jane Eyre. While J. K. Rowling is an entertainer, Charlotte Bronte is a literary artist.
If you like low-brow romances you won’t find it here. It is a story of a woman who struggles with a world in which she doesn’t quite fit. While the novel may be read as a critique of both gender and social class, it contains a strong feminist stance. The protagonist and narrator has no amazing qualities, she’s a plain girl and it says so, many times in the novel, but she shows some endearing qualities -which I won’t mention- that readers inevitably discover.
Ahead of her times, Charlotte Bronte, hints and unveils as much as it was permitted then, erotic tensions, boundless passions, and hateful marriage ironies. These were not qualities encouraged in Victorian women writers, and Jane Eyre was offensive to many a contemporary.
Jane Eyre is a transformative book from which we can all learn. I always say that the depths of human emotions one doesn’t find in either in psychology book or philosophical tracts-but only in fiction. Read it!
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