Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

December 1, 2010

I borrowed this book.

My rating for Jane Eyre – 3

About:
Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë is an 1847 novel published as “Jane Eyre. An Autobiography” under the nom de plume of “Currer Bell”.  The novel is told in first person narrative and goes through five distinct stages in Jane’s life.  In spite of many dark elements the novel has strong elements of right vs. wrong as well as morality.

Feeling too adequate? Buy the book to get a lesson on how inadequate you really are?

Thoughts:
I can certainly see why “Jane Eyre” is considered a classic. Brontë’s use of strong language , rhetorical brilliance and lovely narrative are certainly impressive.  The author also had the guts to tackle many social issues head on, something that we, at this voyeuristic age, seem to take for granted.  Even though this book was not meant to be  historical, several decades later I found it captivating to read about the day-to-day living of 1800’s England.

The book described the fascinating social ladder of the 1800’s where governesses (nannies/teachers) were far below their employers, yet often better educated.  I felt that Jane’s assertions to Rochester that she is  his equal was something that was simply frowned upon a society which thrives on ambiguities.

I found myself increasingly interested in the outcome of the story, the Rochester secrets, Jane’s wit and eventual outcome.  The personal story of Jane Eyre is very absorbing and well written.  Brontë’s observations are poignant and engaging, her storytelling, when she’s not of on a tangent, is admirable.

But,oh the tangents… as much as absorbing as the book was, when the characters start going off on departures about religion and morality I almost felt as if I was being scolded.  The huge amount of storytelling which is meant to be nothing but a filler got to be annoying after a hundred pages or so.  The only conflict in the book is between Jane and Rochester, the rest of the book is filled with Jane being Jane, preaching to the reader about morality, virtues, temptations which might have some charm, but certainly isn’t interesting.

My favorite book, Don Quixote (book review) is known for it’s unbalanced structure, but the Quixote chapters are completely separate from the stories within a story parts.  In “Jane Eyre” Brontë tells the tale in logical progression which is structured around the protagonist.  However, the consistency of the narrative is done at the expense of the overall strength of the whole.

Synopsis:

The orphan Jane Eyre, brought up by an duty bound aunt by marriage is having a miserable childhood.  The family is spoiled and socially fixated, considering the orphan in their mists beneath them and bans Jane from her cousins.  After an incident with her cousin John, Jane is sent to a school called Lowood where the moral pillar of her time finds herself subject to the hypocritical minister who runs the place.  Jane endures the school even though she has been branded a liar and subject to a starvation diet as well as other miseries – but she remains faithful to standards which would break any other mortal.

Reaching adulthood, Jane leaves Lowood to become a governess for Mr. Rocchester at his home called Thornhill.  Mr. Rochester wins Jane’s love and respect even though she knows he is harboring a secret.  Rochester asks for Jane’s hand in marriage, even though she keeps remind him what a poor, plain girl she is.  At the last moment the marriage is thwarted, Jane flees Thorhill all alone and without a penny to her name.  However, Jane finds her way back to society and moves up the social ladder only to make her way back to Mr. Rochester to discover his painful secret.

Come on, it’s a classic.  You’ll be smarter just by having it in your home – Buy it here!

Some people love this book, some people hate it.
What do you think, does it deserve its status as a famous and influential novel?

Zohar – Man of La Book

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14 Comments

  • LifetimeReader December 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I read _Jane Eyre_ when I was 11 or 12 years old and it has been a favorite ever since. I’m so sorry you did not enjoy it! Jane, as I interpret her, works very hard to be honest and good–but she has to struggle at it. I guess that is how it felt to be a goody-goody pre-teen girl in 1980, in a way…

    • zohar December 1, 2010 at 10:47 am

      I enjoyed the book, just not as much as others.

  • Melissa Mc December 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I loved this book — tangents and all!!

  • Marie December 1, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Does it deserve to be a classic? Um, yes! It’s not for everyone, fine- but what book is?

  • mummazappa December 2, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I confess I have never read it, just one of the many many classics I am ashamed to say I’ve never read, but want to. I think I need to focus on reading more classics in 2011, I might even start with Jane Eyre 🙂

  • Mel December 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I remember working my way through Jane Eyre as a teenager. It is far from my favourite classic. I do want to read Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys,which is meant to be awesome and acts as a prequel to Jane Eyre. The First Tuesday Bookclub reviewed Wild Sargasso Sea earlier this year http://www.abc.net.au/tv/firsttuesday/s2842760.htm if you are interested.

    Even though I did not much enjoy reading Jane Eyre myself, I enjoyed reading your review. I think you have captured both what is interesting and what is a bit tedious about this classic.

  • Tricia December 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I have yet to read Jane Eyre – I loved the movie but for some reason just haven’t gotten around to reading the novel.

  • dicke titten December 10, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I like your blog.

  • Heartworm Prevention December 10, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    very informative blog, thank you!

  • Jillian December 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Oh, this is a favorite book of mine! I just read it in January 2010 for the first time, and it started me off on my journey to read so many other great classics.

    I thought the ‘lecture’ passages blended well with the (page-turning) story, and added to the ‘feel’ of the era. I mean, they probably had lectures in every story, back then. I thought C. Bronte was remarkably entertaining, given the era. 🙂

  • flirt December 15, 2010 at 3:31 am

    I like your blog.

  • Wynter February 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this review. I think the ‘tangents’ can certainly be tedious, but overall an excellent classic!

  • Grace May 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I used to be a huge fan of Charlotte Bronte, and loved Jane Eyre. Recently though I picked up a copy of “Vilette” and started to be bothered by the writing style. Bronte is just so melodramatic about everything. The main character in the novel was a reclusive young woman who was a teacher, and while it was interested to see a novel about a woman during that time period, I did agree that she was very preachy.

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