6.22.2009

Jane Eyre Review

Hurray! I have finished the wonderful book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte! This story is one of those classic stories that can appeal to both men and women (although I can't speak for the guys, seeing as I am female), no matter how old they are or what time they live in. This is basically a novel posing as an autobiography (in first-person narrative) of the fictional heroine Jane Eyre (pronounced Air), a woman who may be described as "plain-looking", "intellectual", and "free-willed"; though she is a lady living in the early 19th century, she doesn't conform to the Victorian stereotype of being subordinate to men and not being able to think or express herself freely. This story pretty much has 5 distinct parts to it:
  1. Jane's childhood at Gateshead, the house of her uncle's family where she is neglected and abused by her aunt and cousins.
  2. Her education at Lowood School, a charity institution run by the hypocritical Mr. Brocklehurst whose family lives a comfortable and rich lifestyle but whose students suffer from poor living conditions.
  3. Her time as governess of Thornfield Manor, where she teaches a young girl named Adele who is the ward of Edward Rochester, a classic example of the Byronic hero. Eventually she falls in love with him, and he with her, even though there is a twenty year difference between them. Sadly, just when they're about to get married, it is revealed that Edward has a wife from a previous marriage, a violent madwoman whom he keeps locked up in the attic. Jane refuses to be Edward's wife, though she still loves him, on the grounds that he would be a bigamist and it would go against her moral values.
  4. Jane then runs away and finds herself at Moor House, home of St. John Rivers and his sisters, who turn out to be Jane's first cousins. St. John intends to travel to India and devote his life to missionary work and he asks Jane to accompany him as his wife (What the hey? They're cousins for crying out loud!). Jane consents to go to India but adamantly refuses to marry him because they are not in love. John continues to pressure Jane to marry him, and his forceful personality almost forces her to comply, but at the right moment, she hears a voice that sounds just like Edward Rochester's calling her name, and she decides to leave her cousins' home and go back to Thornfield Manor.
  5. In the last part of the story, Jane travels back to Thornfield. But in her year of abscence, the house had been burned down by Rochester's mad wife, who after setting the house on fire committed suicide by jumping off the roof. (Sure was crazy, huh?) Rochester survived the blaze, but he lost a hand and his eyesight in the bargain. Jane finds him living alone except for a few servants in an isolated manor house, and there she reunites with Rochester. At first, he fears that she will refuse to marry a blind cripple, but Jane accepts him without hesitation. Happy ending!
I loved reading this story because it was easy to relate to, and the characters seem to leap off the pages, along with the settings. The author, Charlotte Bronte allegedly based many of the events in the story on her own life (going to a harsh school and becoming a governess for examples), so the narrative seemed almost real. I very much recommend this book, and give it a thumbs-up!

2 comments:

tabithablogs said...

I just finished reading Jane Eyre a few weeks ago, too! It is such a wonderful book; I can't believe I had never read it before. You gave a great summary, too!

Silvergal said...

I love your summary of Jane Eyre, I almost feel as if I read it myself, excellent!