s.penkevich's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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Oct 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: classics, love
Read in April, 2012

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.
One would be hard pressed to find a stronger female character than Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. She is a staggering figure of feminist literature, rejecting, or rather, dismissing the notions of social class and many gender roles as she moves upward from her humble beginnings. I was floored by how incredibly enjoyable and poetic this novel was, and how it would resound equally well with audiences of either gender despite being often dismissed by males. With Brontë’s strong feminist themes brilliantly illuminated through her enviable prose and engrossing characters, Jane Eyre truly deserves the title of Classic Novel.

One cannot help but fall in love with the character of Jane Eyre. I went into this novel expecting simply a variation of Austen, and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of being focused on the proper workings within proper society, I found a total rejection of these notions in the character of Jane. Still being pleasant and strong willed like Austen’s leads, Jane climbs the ladder of society without stopping to consider her place within it and often criticizes class based distinctions. Although she is merely a governess, she aims for the heart of the ‘Master of the house’, and even after certain events would no longer require her servitude, she is quite insistent upon maintaining employment and an income. She is like a Victorian era punk, totally bent on independence. Mr. Rochester is another lovable character, despite his being a complete pompous ass (which totally won my heart). It is interesting to note that Brontë toys with some of the ideas of romantic plots as well. It is usual for the romantic couple to be attractive (look at Hollywood), yet Brontë is quick and often to point out that neither Jane nor Mr. Rochester are particularly pleasing to the eye, and have a difficult countenance.

Brontë’s use of language is widely impressive, having a keen eye for detail and distinction in both natural descriptions and dialogue. It was difficult not to speak like these characters in real life (which would have probably earned me a punch to the mouth), the writing and speech is that infectious. It flows for pages with a strong current without becoming dull in the long descriptive passages and accounts. In short, Brontë writes with the best of them.

Fleshing out this story is the theme of sin and forgiveness. While being heavily grounded in religion, Brontë dismisses the standard notions of the day in that regard as well, affording a deeply moral lead that is still able to criticize religious standards and have ambiguous religious beliefs. Jane is quick to judge her actions based on moral principal, but cannot allow it to keep her from being her independent, free-willed self. The most powerful moment of this novel, however, is that only after the sins of her lover are purified in flame and paid in flesh, that the two are able to meld in heavenly bliss.

If you haven’t read this, well, let’s just say I’m shaking my head at you like a disappointed father. I jest, but really, give this a try. Brontë is truly a master, and this book gets literally crazy. And for once ‘literally’ truly means literally, you’ll see. Jane Eyre is a wonderful character to follow through this novel and upon completion you will have ‘ acknowledged that God had tempered judgment with mercy
4.5/5
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Reading Progress

04/22/2012 "Didn't know how I would like this. Turns out I rather love it. I want to go around talking like this, but I don't want to get punched so I suppose I shan't." 5 comments
04/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

So am I. How's it going? I couldn't stand the first fifty pages but I've been enjoying everything since.


s.penkevich About the same for me. I wasn't sure about the whole abused and misunderstood childhood thing, it felt rather Harry Potter to me (I suppose it should be: Harry Potter felt rather Jane Eyre) but Bronte has such a way with words. Rochester is awesome though, he is such a bastard. I don't quite buy that Jane loves him and that she sees past his faults to his good qualities, becasue, well, what good qualities? His 'surly' nature makes me laugh though.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)




s.penkevich Sean wrote: ""

HA! Excellent


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Using that photo in lieu of a review. Don't tell anyone.


s.penkevich Mums the word.

This book got crazy. Literally.


rose vibrations Bahaha, Sean:

That photo is absolutely epic!

Can't wait to read this one.. I have it on my shelf.


B0nnie J.K. Rowling stole everything she ever read or heard of. Respect! Jane Eyre was one of her sources: the unwanted orphan, a mean "step" brother, boarding school, discovering a certain inner power, an identity that was hidden - and of course sleeping in a closet,
Mrs. Reed surveyed me at times with a severe eye, but seldom addressed me: since my illness, she had drawn a more marked line of separation than ever between me and her own children; appointing me a small closet to sleep in by myself, condemning me to take my meals alone, and pass all my time in the nursery, while my cousins were constantly in the drawing-room.



message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Good review, SP. I'm trying to get my daughter to read this for the great female role-model she will have in Jane.


B0nnie I handed Jane Eyre to my daughter last summer saying bet you can't put it down. And about 2 days later when she finished it, she asked...how did you know...?


s.penkevich B0nnie wrote: "J.K. Rowling stole everything she ever read or heard of. Respect! Jane Eyre was one of her sources: the unwanted orphan, a mean "step" brother, boarding school, discovering a certain inner power, ..."

So true! My first impression was 'wait, this is totally Harry Potter pt1.' I'm a bit surprised now that nobody jumped on her for that when it came out. Glad your daughter liked it. I wish I would have read it earlier in life. I'm into some Austen now, wish I wouldn't have dismissed Pride and Prejudice when it was required reading.


s.penkevich Steve wrote: "Good review, SP. I'm trying to get my daughter to read this for the great female role-model she will have in Jane."

I hope she reads it and loves it! I will be doing the same for my daughter someday. Jane is a great role model.


Bennet S.P., I love your review and this story. Do you have a favorite on-screen Eyre? Mine is Charlotte Gainsbourg from the 1996 version, which is my favorite in general.


Jenn(ifer) don't shake your head at me! you didn't "read" it either, so there!


message 15: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten I plan to read the Bronte's canon. I have only read Villette, but plan to read the rest over the next couple of years. Excellent review!


s.penkevich Bennet wrote: "S.P., I love your review and this story. Do you have a favorite on-screen Eyre? Mine is Charlotte Gainsbourg from the 1996 version, which is my favorite in general."

I have yet to see any actually. I think the 96 one is the only one streaming on Netflix though so I will make sure to check that out.


s.penkevich (Jenn)ifer wrote: "don't shake your head at me! you didn't "read" it either, so there!"

Head still shaking ha


s.penkevich Jeffrey wrote: "I plan to read the Bronte's canon. I have only read Villette, but plan to read the rest over the next couple of years. Excellent review!"

Thanks! I'll have to check out Villetete soon. I think you'll enjoy this one.


Jenn(ifer) s.penkevich wrote: "(Jenn)ifer wrote: "don't shake your head at me! you didn't "read" it either, so there!"

Head still shaking ha"


It's funny, I'm pretty sure I read this book.. but I read it during my pre-Victorian/Victorian lady literature phase one summer and all of those Austen/Bronte books are a big blur now.


s.penkevich Yeah, Austen seems to be pretty much the same. She is good though, but I feel much of her characters and plotlines are interchangeable. As well as Kiera Knightley playing every character.

Secretly in my mind this entire novel is played out by chickens. I don't know why. But I often make chicken noises in place of their dialogue.


Jenn(ifer) s.penkevich wrote: "Yeah, Austen seems to be pretty much the same. She is good though, but I feel much of her characters and plotlines are interchangeable. As well as Kiera Knightley playing every character.

Secretly..."


HAAHAAA!!! That made me lol out loud.


s.penkevich Wes Anderson should do the film version.
Speaking of which, his new movie is out today. Very excited.


Jenn(ifer) nice. I like Wes Anderson. I'm sure I won't see the film until it comes out on DVD. Unless it's animated? Cos it has become clear that the only movies I will get to see in the theater are the animated ones.


message 24: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary My son gave me the newest version of the Jane Eyre movie. It was excellent. He watched it with me,and was asking me questions about the storyline,and I was like it's been since the 1970's when I read it in high school.

So, I downloaded it onto my NOOK, and plunged into the book. I remembered loving it when I read it in school. Not disappointed at all. I admire the strength of Jane, in her life, convictions,and the fact that she married her boss , even with his physical handicap .

What a great story!


s.penkevich Gary wrote: "My son gave me the newest version of the Jane Eyre movie. It was excellent. He watched it with me,and was asking me questions about the storyline,and I was like it's been since the 1970's when I re..."

I should catch that version too. That's with Michael Fassbinder right?

Ha, the 'physical handicap' came as quite a shock to me. Didn't expect something that dramatic. It truely is a wonderful book.


message 26: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary yes to Fassbinder. he was great in the role.... yes, it is a wonderful book!


Traveller Wow, when you started reading this, I never thought you would end up liking it this much!

Very thoughtful review, S!


s.penkevich Traveller wrote: "Wow, when you started reading this, I never thought you would end up liking it this much!

Very thoughtful review, S!"


Neither did I, ha. It inspired me to check out more of this genre though, I'm halfway through Emma now. Not quite as good, but still enjoying the way Austen has such careful control over characterization.


Cecily If you were expecting Jane Eyre to be something like Austen, no wonder you were surprised!


s.penkevich Yeah, much better I thought. I liked how she didn't dwell much on class and what makes a 'smart match'


Cecily Yes, Jane is more feisty and less tied to convention than even the most independent of Austen's heroines.


Amber Goodwin Hello! Sorry for this response, I know this was quite a while ago. I am currently writing my MA thesis on Jane Eyre and wish to include a small segment on current responses to the novel. Would you mind if I quote a small section of your review? I will cite you fully and even show you what I have written if you wish!No worries if not.-Thanks, Amber.


s.penkevich Amber wrote: "Hello! Sorry for this response, I know this was quite a while ago. I am currently writing my MA thesis on Jane Eyre and wish to include a small segment on current responses to the novel. Would you ..."

Go right ahead, I'd be honored!


Amber Goodwin Thank you! That is really helpful, honestly, thanks so much!


s.penkevich Amber wrote: "Thank you! That is really helpful, honestly, thanks so much!"

Let me know if there is any way I can helP!


s.penkevich Sabah wrote: "Excellent review SP! I love Jane and of course Rochester, how can I not? I love her feisty, gutsy, independent, refusal to be daunted by anyone or anything. Whether thats Rochester dark brooding, s..."

Thank you! Jane is so cool. Rochester is my favorite 'male' character from this era of novels, all the Austen ones included. He's sort of an asshole, which works so well on paper. The two work together because they are both so strong willed, her even more so. Glad to see you also love this one!


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