Brenda's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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May 11, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads, historic
Read from March 01 to May 10, 2011, read count: 2

** spoiler alert ** I vaguely remember reading this way back when and having a somewhat negative feeling. The first half of the book is crazy gothic in the best sense. Childhood drama, a spooky old house holding secrets, and a dark brooding man. All the best one can hope for in a mid-19th century drama. Perfect for all those fans looking for something with more meat to chew on while you search for the next great teen read.

I forgot how much of a douchebag Mr Rochester is in this story. He messes with our heroine in many ways including taunting her with a fake bride and dressing up as a old gypsy woman with predictions of doom. It really makes this reader pause to think what exactly was so appealing about this type of man to Miss Bronte.

But the core of the story is about change. Change of behavior, change of mind, change of spirit.

The changes Miss Eyre goes through are heavily influenced by her childhood friend, Helen. It's interesting to see the many different movie adaptions because it seems that they nearly all get this part wrong. The point of this friendship to this reader has more to do with the type of person Helen was, not simply the fact that she died. Helen was a very devout Christian and held very interesting ideas about "modern" Christianity. This is a theme that runs throughout the rest of the book as Jane struggles to find a balance between her passions, her station in life, and being a good Christian.

The other part of this story which is missed time and time again is the very shocking nature of this book to the people for whom it was intended; the Victorians. The idea that a woman of Jane's background being so headstrong and independent was repugnant to many in the 1900s. Miss Bronte was a reformer and displayed her views very forcefully in this seemingly harmless tale of romance. People of our time have no problem with the idea that Jane would have a romantic relationship with her brooding master. We might wonder at her choice of men, but it doesn't occur to us that this was utterly forbidden. The dramatic scene of the tree being hit by lightening might be lost on readers of today and what it meant to the people of yesteryear. Still, it makes for fun reading.

Then the second half of the book hit and I remembered why I had trouble with it the first time around. Jane Eyre goes on a HUGE emo trip and comes to a SCREECHING halt once she joins St John (sinjin) & Co. She languishes in her despair as she slowly, painstakingly tries to rebuild her half-life without the people of Thornfield Hall. She reconciles with her past and tries to conform to the expected path, but she finds that she would rather die than continue this life. This reader nearly did, but from boredom. I can see why Miss Bronte chose to send her heroine on a fool's errand rather than spend the rest of her days with Mr Nineteenth Century Man of the Year, but I would have preferred an editor with a heavy hand here. Once she heads back to her dear Rochester, I am glad for it, but she again languishes in the emotions of the characters. I understood the symbolism of his maimed body and the uncertainty of their situation now that they are on equal footing (quite convenient in every way). BUT, by the time all was said and done, I had a very large bruise on my head from the author as she bashed my brains out with her point.

Thank you, Miss Bronte! I get it!

The best film adaptation I saw was by the Masterpiece Theater production. It missed a few of the main story arcs, but it understood that the main chemistry between the principle actors was most important. The new version we went to see at the Lagoon was laughable, quite literally. I had to stifle a few sniggers to keep from ruining the experience of my fellow viewers. Not to mention, the chemistry between the principles in this version came off more paternal than romantic and... eeeeeew.

I'm glad I read it again. I forgot how crazy it was, but I also forgot how boring it could be too. It made for a very fun discussion for my new book group so it was utterly worthwhile and it's funny that we all had read this in our youth and that we all stopped reading it at the same place in the book. It only confirms that my experience in re-reading this book was not isolated.

Jane Eyre started out with about 4 stars for me but as the second half of the book trudged on, it lost one star because it annoyed me. I know this work of fiction spoke volumes to the women of Miss Bronte's generation and I give her much credit for that AND I acknowledge that she had very big kahunas for having the guts to write this book, but the ending lost some steam for me.

As I read the very last line of the book, I celebrated it being done, not that it was a great read. Oh, well. On to the next book. And yes, I do recommend it, although with a warning of slow moving fiction ahead. ;-)

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Quotes Brenda Liked

Charlotte Brontë
“It is not violence that best overcomes hate -- nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Reading Progress

45.0% "I forgot how crazy this book is!"
100.0% "Thank god!"
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Jamie (new)

Jamie I think this one took me about a year and a half to finish back when I read it in high school. Totally worth it, and I loved it in the end, but it was surprisingly trudging.

Brenda UGH, I so need to finish this! I agree with everything you said. I'll have a few words to say about the St. John (sinjin) section of the book though!

message 3: by Jamie (new)

Jamie This is a perfect review of Jane Eyre. Although, you almost go too easy on Rochester for my tastes. What is with these Bronte ladies and their manipulative emo bastards? At least Rochester was marginally better than Heathcliff, I guess.

Brenda Quite honestly, I could rip the man several "new ones" with the arsenal of faults Miss Bronte readily supplied me with, but I'm sure most women of our time would reject someone like him. (Sadly, a few would still take him.) But to use an old adage, finding fault with Rochester is like shooting fish in a barrel. Not sporting at all. ;-)

message 5: by Brenda (last edited May 11, 2011 09:27PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brenda Jamie wrote: "This is a perfect review of Jane Eyre. Although, you almost go too easy on Rochester for my tastes. What is with these Bronte ladies and their manipulative emo bastards? At least Rochester was m..."

Also, I agree with Rochester being "marginally" better than dreary Heathcliff.

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