Sandi's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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Feb 18, 2011

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bookshelves: e-books, 2012, literature, romance
Read from February 17, 2011 to February 03, 2012

I will preface this review by saying that I am not going to worry about spoiler alerts and hiding spoilers. “Jane Eyre” is 165 years old and a part of our collective cultural consciousness. If you don’t know the story, you probably should go read the book instead of reading this review.

I could have sworn that I read “Jane Eyre” sometime in my teens. There are parts that I distinctly remember. However, when I read Jasper Fforde’s “The Eyre Affair”, there were plot points mentioned that I had no memory of at all. If I ever had read it, I must have read an abridged version.

“Jane Eyre” turned out to be a completely different book than I remembered. What took me by surprise was how feminist it was at certain points. As a child, Jane is surprisingly strong and independent. Throughout the book, she shows these traits. Therefore, it is really disconcerting that she falls for Edward Fairfax Rochester. There is so much that’s wrong about this relationship. He’s twice her age and keeps referring to her as a little girl. He really comes off as some sort of creepy pedophile. He’s very possessive and can’t take “no” for an answer. After it’s revealed at their almost-wedding that he’s got a crazy wife in his attic, he’s in major denial about what he’s doing. He’s planning to become a bigamist and just can’t understand why Jane wants to get away from him. He has a rationalization for everything and it’s all just all a bunch of delusional BS. I really admired Jane for being strong and getting out of that totally dysfunctional relationship. She continues to be admirably strong afterwards in her rejection of St. John Rivers’ rather insistent proposals of marriage. However, the story ends completely wrong. She goes back to Rochester and everything’s okay because his lunatic wife died in a fire that burned down Thornfield Hall. Really? Really? Did the story have to go there? Couldn’t Jane have met a nice man and settled down? Did she really have to go back to Rochester?

Charlotte Bronte does use her novel to effectively illustrate what life was like for single women and orphans in Victorian England. There really was no safety net. Jane’s parent died when she was a baby. She was fortunate enough to be taken in by her sister’s brother, but is badly treated by her aunt and cousins when he dies. She gets shipped off to a boarding school for poor girls and the conditions there are appalling. The best life these girls can hope for is to be governesses or teachers at the same type of school as the one she’s growing up in. When she leaves Thornfield Hall, there is no safety net for her. She almost starves to death in the snow before she’s taken in by the Rivers family. She only ends up with hope because of the miraculous discovery that she’s heir to a fortune left her by her father’s brother. At that point, she’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself or choosing a husband who isn’t a total freak like Rochester.

I really enjoyed the social aspects of this book. However, I really got irritated by Jane and Rochester’s discussions of their “love” for each other. As I said before, it just seemed wrong in so many ways. I can’t even imagine that there was ever a time in history when their relationship would have been considered something to strive for. If Jane had been raised by her mother and father, and have spent time in girlhood around normal men, maybe she wouldn’t have fallen for that creepy Rochester.
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Quotes Sandi Liked

Charlotte Brontë
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Reading Progress

09/20/2017 marked as: read

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