Madeline's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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Jun 03, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: the-list, assigned-reading, ugh
Read in January, 2007

If you like fantastically depressing subject matter that would make Dickens cry (think orphans, typhoid-infested boarding schools, and crazy people locked in attics) and an annoying protagonist who can't decided if she's independent or submissive, you'd probably like this book. I'll admit, I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story, but as soon as Jane figures out what's causing strange noises late at night and setting fire to Mr. Rochester's bed, the plot kind of goes down the toilet. The mystery is solved about halfway through the story, so that's a lot of extra plot without much happening. Plus, one of the supporting characters talks almost exclusively in French, and Charlotte Bronte doesn't like translating it, which could be frustrating for someone who can't read French.

Read for: 12th grade AP English

UPDATE:
Does anyone else read "Hark! A Vagrant"? It's a webcomic, and kind of amazing. Anyway, I was looking through the archive and found something that basically sums up how I feel about the Brontes. Enjoy.
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php...
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Comments (showing 1-49)




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Christina and an annoying protagonist who can't decided if she's independent or submissive

Pretty much agreed here. I enjoyed the way it was written for the most part, and the "depressing subject matter" wasn't all that depressing for me but my god. Her romance with Mr. Rochester was really ridiculous, her shows of independence were more annoying than they were successful, and all the the blatant religiousness started to grate badly for me.

And yet I somehow can't justify rating it lower than I did. I think that moment where she rips off the punishment from her friends forehead and stamps on it is probably making me swoon a bit. Childhood friendship loyalty gets to me, every time. Sheesh.


Madeline Don't get me wrong, I loved Jane when she was little. Her sense of justice, her complete refusal to take any crap from anyone...and her discussion with Helen about "when people strike us we must strike back, to keep them from ever doing that again" (paraphrasing) gets me every time.
But then as soon as she grows up, Jane loses her awesome in record time. Suddenly she's all, "yes Mr. Rochester sir, whatever you say sir, I'm going to assert myself and not marry you but I'll still be really submissive sir, and oh please let me take care of you for the rest of your life sir may I clean your boots again?" etc.


message 47: by Sean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sean I remember loving (even while hating) the first part, before she arrives at Thornwood Manor. And then... it got weird. And then weirder. And then even weirder and more depressing and then it ended.

But her hair-tearing fight with her cousin and her imprisonment in the Red Room will always stay with me.


message 46: by Sarah (last edited Jan 19, 2010 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah That cartoon is so great! You don't see a lot of literary humor these days.

I really should try Anne sometime. I have a feeling she would be my favorite, --though I never seem to like anything from that period...


Madeline I'm officially obsessed. The woman who does the cartoons has a history degree and obviously reads a ton, so she has a lot of drawings like those.

Here are more of my favorites, because I like sharing:
Holmes and Watson!
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php...

Pompadour!
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php...

Napoleon and Josephine!
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php...

Nietzsche!
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php...

Like I said - OBSESSED.


message 44: by Sean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sean You already posted the Brontë comic, which is one of my faves-I MUST get the shirt!—but I'm also in love with Poe & Verne and Victoria & Albert. And pretty much all of the others.


Madeline I love the "History is Very Serious" shirt, myself.


Jesse That's more or less the main reasons for my own two-star ratings. Though I almost gave it another star just for all of the intellectual gymnastics I've come across attempting to justify Jane's decision to return to Rochester at the end--I just don't get how you can condemn a Bella Swann on one hand and then hold up Jane as a progressive feminist heroine on the other.

I didn't need anything to distract me today, but I have a feeling I'm going to be clicking through Hark a Vagrant for the rest of the afternoon... :)


message 41: by Nick (new)

Nick Black that comic is pretty awesome.


Tilly I knew I added you as a friend with good reason :)
EVERYTHING you said.
I reread this book recently to prove myself wrong... I remember hating it the first time round and feeling like the odd one out whenever this classic was brought up.
(Sort of like Sex and the City, I may be the only female I know who calls bullshit and bursts into laughter whenever it's on... )
Anyho, I reread and yes.. Still hate it. She was a very strong character as a kid, I was looking forward to more.. She had opinions. Then she just let everyone else lead her... Everything just sort of happened to her, the St John period makes me cringe, poor guy! She just floated through life and sighed a lot.

Rochester hates women.
Everything he said and did was despicable, he flaunted his past affairs, and only really became a human being after he lost his arm and eye sight (but of course he gets this back, of course).
To think he invented a relationship to test her, to think he blamed her for leaving him when he basically hid his wife in an attic! Why on earth did we not get more information on his wife? Poor woman! It's not her fault she has a mental illness, why did Rochester act like her mental illness happened to him!!!

The only nice thing Jane did in this whole book involved sticking up for her childhood friend, and later splitting the inheritance (which she only got out of spite for her cousins parents, so technically, she could have given it all to them and run off to the very rich Rochester. Just saying!)
I was also pretty disturbed by all the swooning at the end, it seemed to me she loved him more for being blind, crippled and dependent on her attention. If she came back to find him fine, married to that other woman, or even just keeping mistresses as he told her he would 'have to do' if she wasn't around, would she have pouted, married St James and run off to India?


Madeline ...if you hated Jane Eyre why did you give it 5 stars?


Tilly Madeline wrote: "...if you hated Jane Eyre why did you give it 5 stars?"

OH I did? Ooops.. I must have changed pages or something whilst rating! Thanks for looking out. :)


Michael I finished the book this very day and posted my review. One of my first thoughts was that this story was, at least in the early portions, much like Oliver Twist..mgc


Paige Really? You read this in 12th grade? I read Jane Eyre in 9th grade and it wasn't even required. I've loved the book ever since. The entire beginning, when Jane is young, is similar to Charlotte's life as a young girl.


Paige In response to Sean's comment towards the beginning to middle: it's Thornfield Hall, not Thornwood Manor. (shows how much you paid attention to the book).


Jaime I actually do love fantastically depressing subject matter that would make Dickens cry :)


DeAnna Madeleine, you must check out Jane Slayre sometime, if only to read the Readers' Guide questions at the end. They reminded me of some of your Shakespeare parodies.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

"I was also pretty disturbed by all the swooning at the end, it seemed to me she loved him more for being blind, crippled and dependent on her attention. If she came back to find him fine, married to that other"

In reply to Tilly, I felt that this part proved to the readers how strong her love for Rochester was since she loved him still even though he was broken. It's not that she loved him more because he was crippled, it's to prove to us that love is there through thick and thin.
She will love him no matter what.


Madeline She will love him no matter what.

Even when he locks his secret wife in the attic and acts like a total dick to everyone.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 19, 2012 12:39PM) (new)

Madeline wrote: "She will love him no matter what.

Even when he locks his secret wife in the attic and acts like a total dick to everyone."


She wanted to light him on fire! Imagine you were forced to marry someone who wanted to light you on fire.

Also, it's not like he enjoyed having his wife locked up in the attic, what else could he have done? He was forced into marrying someone who was insane!

She was very dangerous guys, come on.


message 29: by Travelling Sunny (last edited Jul 19, 2012 02:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Travelling Sunny There's never a discreet asylum around when you need one.


Madeline In Rochester's defense, mental health care at the time was pretty horrible, so locking his wife in the attic and denying her basic human rights was (somehow) more humane than shipping her away to an asylum. But if I were her, I'd still set his bed on fire.


Travelling Sunny While I did really enjoy the book, I have to agree with you about Rochester. And her cousin - what was his name? John? He gave me an uncomfortable case of the heebie-jeebies.


message 26: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 19, 2012 03:33PM) (new)

He was keeping her in the attic so she would not hurt or kill anyone. Hence, the locked up part.

It's not like he was purposely getting a sick satisfaction from keeping a human being locked up in his attic. Asylums during those times were just as worse than being locked up in an attic.

His wife's family made a deal with Rochester's evil brother and father into marrying a woman who was insane. The people who should be responsible for this mess are them and not Rochester.


Madeline Rochester's questionable treatment of his wife aside, you can't deny that he has a very low opinion of women in general. In addition to his wife, there's also the French woman he had an affair with, and if I remember correctly he described their relationship as, "she liked me as long as I paid for stuff, and then the dumb whore left me with this stupid bastard daughter." Maybe being dumped by Jane and then going blind made him a nicer person eventually, but let's be honest: Jane could have picked a guy with significantly less baggage and grudges against women.


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 19, 2012 04:59PM) (new)

I never said he is a perfect human being:) He has his flaws, just like anyone else. I do agree that he did have a grudge towards women, but I would not go as far to call him a sexist pig.

He was a naive young man during the time he was with that French woman. However, from what I recall, she did use him for his money and left him with a child who he was not even sure was his:( I acually doubt that Adele was his biological daughter since there were no DNA tests during those times. It would have been easy for a woman who did not want a child to fool a naive person to believe the child was his own.

He was played like a violin that is about to be destroyed. He is also a great example of how good person can turn bad due to hardships.

He should not be forgiven for having a grudge towards women, but there is a back story. It's not even just women he has a grudge towards, but also human beings in general. It's kind of sad but that's why I love this novel.

But I really believe he loved Jane and they were each other's cure.


message 23: by Donna (new) - added it

Donna Kay Jesse wrote: "That's more or less the main reasons for my own two-star ratings. Though I almost gave it another star just for all of the intellectual gymnastics I've come across attempting to justify Jane's dec..."


Well, first of all she did not try to kill herself for a man.

Second of all, she returned to him because she loved him enough to forgive him for being tricked into marrying a crazy woman and pretty much having his father and brother screw him over.

And lastly, she is seen as a feminist hero for always having been in control of her thoughts and actions. She made her decisions and stuck to her beliefs.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't know what to say, other than (A)this review is fabulous, and (B)Rochester SUCKS!!!


message 21: by Java (new) - rated it 5 stars

Java Gattaca wrote: "Madeline wrote: "She will love him no matter what.

Even when he locks his secret wife in the attic and acts like a total dick to everyone."

She wanted to light him on fire! Imagine you were forc..."


I agree with you. I want to thank Charlotte Bronte for giving us a main character with some depth instead of a one dimensional perfect man who has never made a mistake in his life. I liked the darkness and the basis for the two main characters. I would also like to add that submission does not mean weakness and dependence. Somone can be submissive and independent, but in Jane's case the submission came from her position and time period.


message 20: by Jem (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jem I read this book doubtfully and I really enjoyed it because it was wry outside the box. Also this book shows exactly what the life of a normal person was like at this time. I read a book called the eyre affair based on this one and it was really interesting. It made me look at the story in a whole new way.


gooby Goddamn, it was frustrating reading that French. I cursed Bronte's soul every time that little brat spoke.


Victoria (Victoria's Reading Pantry) *Spoilers*

The main reason I like (adore) it was the fact that Jane Eyre walked away from Mr. Rochester because she valued her morals and integrity. That must have been at least a little difficult, especially once Mr. Rochester decided to actually say something comprehensible. (Seriously - how in the world did he think Jane would understand that he was proposing to her?) This is my go-to novel when I need a "chick-flick-pick-me-up". (I honestly cannot STAND Pride and Prejudice.)


Laura Herzlos I said it before and I say it again... It takes a certain maturity (not only age) to read some books. The fact that a book is not actually inappropriate for teens doesn't mean that it is recommended for teens.


message 16: by Heidi (new) - rated it 1 star

Heidi Whurr Exactly! In a nutshell the protagonist as well. She was so annoying, and pointless. The author tried too hard to conjure up a sob story in order to force me to like Jane Eyre, but I just didn't! There was nothing likable about her, and just like you said, the story did take a turn for the worse. The only good character Miss Bronte had was Mr Rochester, and she spoiled him in that fire! Yuk. Awful book.


Suhaila Skr Tilly wrote: "I knew I added you as a friend with good reason :)
EVERYTHING you said.
I reread this book recently to prove myself wrong... I remember hating it the first time round and feeling like the odd one ..."

if you want more information about mr Rochester's wife then you should deff read "The Wide Sargasso Sea." It was an amazing read.


Cemre You know that neither Rochester nor Heathcliff are alcoholics, right ? Maybe Kate Beaton has to do some rereading.


message 13: by Greg (new) - rated it 3 stars

Greg Madeline, I'm 400 pages in and was wondering if anyone else thought the story completely unravels and becomes rather ridiculous at this point. Apparently so. But still, after reading 2/3rds, and now that Jane is flat broke and lost in some tiny wayside hamlet, I'll keep reading.


Geisel I'd like to point out that back then there weren't a lot of great guys and Rochester was the FIRST dude Jane ever met. One would have to experience the novel from the perspective of someone from that point in time. Lets give Jane some slack. Yes, rochester would b a huge douche in our day. But I'm guessing that if he were to be compared to the common man of those days he is not so bad. Also, Jane is in her prime year when she meets him and she had obviously never experienced sexual attraction. Had this novel taken place today, someone like Jane might have probably stayed away from such a righteous, self-absorbed arsehole. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of men that were available to Jane and sadly they were not better choices. A girl's gotta eat!


message 11: by Greg (new) - rated it 3 stars

Greg Geisel wrote: "I'd like to point out that back then there weren't a lot of great guys and Rochester was the FIRST dude Jane ever met. One would have to experience the novel from the perspective of someone from th..."
Geisel, agreed, "a girl's gotta eat" as you say. But by the point where Jane is ready to marry Rochester, but can't cause his wife is stowed away upstairs, Jane has been informed she is an heiress. She is an educated and strong woman who just happens to have rich relatives longing for her to move in with them. And what does this educated, smart woman do? Runs off down the road with no food, nothing. Then almost starves to death. This has got to be one of literature's biggest plot holes. And then, to make matters worse, Jane, who has a huge self-esteem problem with her physical appearance, only returns to Rochester when she finds out he is blind, so he can't see her ugliness. This is the best of books, and then this is the very, very worst of books.


Geisel I guess I am biased because I identify too much with Jane. I understand that she is human (I know she's a character) and we make decisions that sometimes don't make sense. I get where Jane is coming from because I have had the same kind of struggles. The only difference is that whereas I am a woman of the 20th century who has been raised with a confidence acquired by a society that is more enlightened on female and male equality; therefore I have been able to make better choices, Jane was raised in a time when women weren't given advice on how to stand up for themselves, they had no one to look up to (seeing as it was more common to be submissive), and no one to encourage them to ascertain themselves. Jane had to pretty much follow her instincts on the matter. Except that when feelings are involved, following ones instincts becomes a lot harder.Jane didn't have a mother or older sister to learn from so she pretty much had to raise herself. Either way, I do not agree with her decisions. But I understand where she is coming from. And according to where she is coming from she still manages to surpass the costumes of her time.
Again I am probably biased because I adore her (even though I don't love how her story ends)


Greg Geisel wrote: "I guess I am biased because I identify too much with Jane. I understand that she is human (I know she's a character) and we make decisions that sometimes don't make sense. I get where Jane is comin..."
Geisel, I admit, I have an entirely different POV. It's impossible for me to fully understand Eyre and to fully understand that time period. And, I did very much like the first 400 pages or so! And I LOVE a good discussion about books, and I absolutely respect all opinions. And I've changed by book ratings previously, so who knows? I don't mind saying a first impression of a book might be way off base!


Greg Oh, Geisel, I do identify with Jane in some ways. In my life, I've had to run and run and run and study and run and work hard. I moved ASAP from a small Southern town to the big city of LA with no help, no direction, nothing, but I did have a job there. But even then, I still went back to school, and studied, and then ran some more. I get that. I sorta get Jane!


Geisel Yeah I guess I just adore her because she's so real. And I definitely respect your opinion. I actually love reading different opinions. It makes me consider points that I might have missed. I just love having discussions. Especially about books as you said.


Cecily Much as I love this book (having first read it as school, as you did), I also enjoyed your review. There's certainly plenty of grim stuff, but I don't find it all doom and gloom, though I'm not convinced it's a happy ending.


Madeline This one definitely deserves a re-read someday. I don't think I was ready to fully appreciate it when I first read it.


Cecily Given how much you disliked it, that's a brave undertaking. Nevertheless, you'd probably react very differently now. I was 14 when I first read it (for class), and although I enjoyed it, it was in a totally different way to subsequent encounters. I'm still glad that I read it young, but I expect some were put off it for ever.


Samantha wickedshizuku Tolleson oh gods! The comic is just hilarious. I'm struggling through this read right now.


Greg Geisel wrote: "Yeah I guess I just adore her because she's so real. And I definitely respect your opinion. I actually love reading different opinions. It makes me consider points that I might have missed. I just ..."
Geisel, like you, I love reading other people's thoughts about books, I love stories here by others about how and why they read a book, how their opinions change, etc. I might give this book another try in the future.


message 1: by shyla bland (new)

shyla bland You have good books


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