Monday, March 31, 2014

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
By: Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre
Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit—which proves necessary when she takes a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves?
I get it now, guys. I get it. Jane Eyre is a big deal of a book, there are so many cultural references to it, so much of literature is derived from it. It's one of the biggest books from the 1800s and one of the most well-known and beloved classic novels. It was a matter of time until I finally gathered the courage to read it. This book is almost unanimously loved by readers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. That much hype can be intimidating, but this book, this book more than lived up to all of it. I totally understand why this novel has stood the test of time and why it's so beloved. I absolutely loved this book.

I love that this book is more a character study than anything. Jane is the perfect narrator to examine all the characters that she interacts from Mr. Rochester to St. John. It's an in-depth look at how superiority, subservience, will, temper, external circumstances, and convictions weigh in matters of love and marriage. That being said, Jane always, always, always felt more like a character than a caricature. Now I understand why Jane is such a beloved literary character. She's sympathetic, and she holds on to her agency throughout the story. She is wherever she is because she believes that it is best for her to be there. She considers others in her decision making process, but she doesn't cater to their every wish. She is firm in her values, unwavering in her loyalty, and never give up either for love or position. She demanded to be treated like a person, never revered as an angel or thrown out as a demon. She is the heroine to inspire all heroines. And yet, she never becomes too perfect. She never even ventures near 'Mary Sue' territory. She feels things deeply and wholly and utterly, but her emotions don't fully dictate her choices. Sometimes she has to talk sense into herself, but she always comes to her senses.

I love that Jane wasn't willing to take terms in her love life that she couldn't live with, even for those she loved most. This kept her relationships healthy. She is the heroine that young girls should be looking up to and aspiring to be like.

The writing is gorgeous as well as accessible. The characters are distinctive and well-drawn. The plot is slow, but large and wonderful. I adored every second of this book. It pulled me in from the beginning, something that doesn't always happen with classics. But I found the language to be very immersive. I know that this is a book that is going to stick with me forever.


"But I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness and what I believed in I wished I behold."

"Women are supposed to be very calm generally, but women feel just as men feel. They need exercise for the faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do...It is thoughtless to condemn them or laugh at them if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."

"And I could not unlove him now merely because I had found that he ceased to notice me because I might pass hours in his presence and he would never once turn his eyes in my direction because I saw all his attentions appropriated by a great lady."

"There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort."

"I had rather be a thing than an angel."

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man...Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation, they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor."

"No reflection was to be allowed now: not one glance was to be cast back; not even one forward. Not one thought was to be given either to the past or the future. The first was a page so heavenly sweet - so deadly sad - that to read one line of it would dissolve my courage and break down my energy. The last was an awful blank: something like the world when the deluge was gone by."

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