Samadrita's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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EDIT - 22/04/2015:- The following review was written in paroxysms of adoration which I no longer feel hence a star is being ducked. Now that I have read Wide Sargasso Sea and re-read Wuthering Heights, Rochester and Jane's attraction as characters of high morals has waned in my eyes. But until I write a more balanced critique of this, I refrain from disowning my first impressions.

____


What do I write about you Jane? Words fall short when I try to.

Jane, you are so much a part of me as I am yours.
You are so much a part of women who lived in obscurity centuries before Brontë breathed life into you.
You are so much a part of women who are alive at present and so much a part of women yet to be born.
You are so much a collective chorus of voices than just a single one.
You are so much an inexorable force which builds up in intensity over the course of the narrative.
You are so much an embodiment of the feminine spirit and not just an ordinary looking, puny little girl of barely twenty with grand world views and ideals.

Jane, you are not only the essence of womanhood at its best but the finest specimen of humanity - so refined, so just, so fragile yet so iron-solid. So full of scorn yet so humble. So elegant even in utter distress.

Jane, you transcend the boundaries of an era so effortlessly and retain your relevance even today.
I don't give any guarantees that reading Jane Eyre (that is if you are still uninitiated) will cure you of misogyny. I do not believe in utopian concepts such as chauvinistic men suddenly giving up on their own delusional views on women and starting to treat them with respect deserving of a human, after reading a book. But it may come very close to achieving that purpose.
Then again, I do not expect a well-read man/woman (shocking but women can be misogynists as well) to be a misogynist in the first place.

Charlotte Brontë has accorded this immortal literary character with such a voice, such a dignity of bearing, such a sharpness of intellect, such a power of conviction - that absolutely no one can remain unaffected after reading this. Once you get to make the acquaintance of courageous, zealous, outspoken, energetic, intelligent, principled, respectable Jane, you are bound to remember her forever. Rather, Jane will ensure that you do not forget.

If you are a woman of integrity, you may see a part of yourself reflected in her sarcastic comebacks, in her sense of humor, in her feelings of rage, in her unapologetic frankness and in her cold refusal to bow down to the wishes of those more powerful than her in terms of wealth or social recognition.

Before the term 'feminism' had even come into being, Charlotte Brontë was busy creating an everlasting symbol of feminine power that will stand the test of time with incredible ease and continue to cast its influence on society and literature.

Sure Jane Eyre has a romance at its heart - a memorable one at that. Sure it also contains a Gothic mystery. But these are not its only highlights.

Jane Eyre is a feminist doctrine in the garb of a novel. Jane Eyre highlights the injustices of class divisions. Jane Eyre contains a subtle indictment of blind religious zealotry and upholds the value of man over God. Jane Eyre lays bare the perversities in self-important men of religion. Jane Eyre criticizes a prejudiced Victorian society and exposes the hollowness of the lives of its affluent but ignorant gentry.
And to think Charlotte Brontë wrote this in the middle of the 19th century.

The last time I had been this strongly affected by a classic was about 10 years ago, when I had read A Tale of Two Cities for the first time.
This is the kind of book whose greatness you cannot try and measure by awarding it a number of stars or even by reviewing it. This is not just one of the finest literary masterpieces ever to come into existence but forms a very important part of the reason why we read, why we prefer to shun the company of people and seek a few precious hours of togetherness with fiction or literature, instead.

Dear Ms Brontë, I am late to the party but I have arrived nonetheless. And I cannot thank you enough for bringing me, for bringing 'us' alive in your powerful words. The world and I owe you a debt we can never repay.
Oh thank you so very much!

P.S.:- This review is glaring in its obvious exclusion of Edward Fairfax Rochester, but that is not for any shortcoming on Mr Rochester's part. Rochester is without a doubt one of the most realistic and engaging literary romantic interests ever created. But I wanted this to be about Jane and only her. Because had Brontë's intention been to bestow equal importance on Jane and Rochester, she would have named this 'Jane and Edward' or something along those lines.
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Reading Progress

November 5, 2012 – Shelved as: timeless-classics
November 5, 2012 – Shelved
November 5, 2012 – Shelved as: bygones-are-never-bygones
November 5, 2012 – Shelved as: romance
November 17, 2012 – Shelved as: european-literature
December 9, 2012 – Shelved as: britain
February 19, 2013 – Shelved as: 1001-and-more
April 20, 2013 – Shelved as: by-women-who-matter
May 30, 2013 – Started Reading
May 30, 2013 –
0.0% "Finally getting rid of my Charlotte Brontë ignoramus status."
May 30, 2013 –
8.0% ""All John Reed's violent tyrannies, all his sisters' proud indifference, all his mother's aversion, all the servants' partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, always brow-beaten, always accused, forever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it useless to try to win any one's favour?" \n \n Oh Jane, your poor thing."
May 30, 2013 – Shelved as: feminism-feminist-undertones
May 31, 2013 –
31.0% ""I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.""
June 4, 2013 –
44.0% ""I can live alone, if self-respect and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure, born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.""
June 8, 2013 –
58.0% "Mr Rochester: "I will attire my Jane in satin and lace, and she shall have roses in her hair, and I will cover the head I love best with a priceless veil."\n \n Jane Eyre: "And then you won't know me, sir, and I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's jacket-a jay in borrowed plumes."\n \n You tell him, Jane."
June 9, 2013 –
66.0% ""Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?""
June 11, 2013 – Shelved as: gothic
June 11, 2013 – Shelved as: cherished
June 11, 2013 – Shelved as: re-readable
June 11, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 11, 2013 – Shelved as: behemoth
April 22, 2015 – Shelved as: semi-favorites

Comments Showing 1-50 of 69 (69 new)


Dolors oh my...I love to see those flashing 5 stars. Waiting for that review, Samadrita (no pressure meant, just sweet anticipation!)


Samadrita Dolors, your enthusiasm for this book is the primary reason why I tried to write a review. Obviously I haven't been able to do justice to it, but oh well I tried.
I see you have given Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South(which has been on my tbr pile forever) 5 stars as well. Will pick it up soon as well. :)


Dolors Ravishing Samadrita, was lingering on here just to see if you posted your review (how sick is that??)
I laughed out loud seeing your book recommendation. Certainly misogynists would find a great deal to munch and ruminate in JE.
Your review is full of genius:
You are so much a part of women who are alive at present and so much a part of women yet to be born.
so refined, so just, so fragile yet so iron-solid
contains a subtle indictment of blind religious zealotry and upholds the value of man over God
criticizes a prejudiced Victorian society and exposes the hollowness of the lives of its affluent but ignorant gentry
I could go on, but that would mean copy pasting your whole review.
Brava, Samadrita.
You should read the other Brontë sisters now. Anne and Emily have surprises in store for you. That's a promise. :))


Nermin Wonderful review!


Dolors Samadrita wrote: "Dolors, your enthusiasm for this book is the primary reason why I tried to write a review. Obviously I haven't been able to do justice to it, but oh well I tried.
I see you have given Elizabeth Gas..."


Ha! I was writing my over-excited comment and missed yours. You did justice to the book with that review, Samadrita. I'm sure Charlotte would have shed more than a tear reading it! :))
Oh, Gaskell's is great as well. I envy you for having this brand new, still undiscovered gems to read *sigh*


message 6: by Shilpa (new) - added it

Shilpa Beautiful review Samadrita.. I would love to read this book.


Alex Just to be clear - you liked it?


Garima Is this some sort of 'beautiful' conspiracy? First Shruti and now you? There goes my money and here comes my book (yes! I didn't have the copy). Excellent review!


Rakhi Dalal Wonderful review,Samadrita! You have very impressively expressed your thoughts about the work!! Well done! Good to see those 5 stars :)


Samadrita Dolors wrote: "Ravishing Samadrita, was lingering on here just to see if you posted your review (how sick is that??)
I laughed out loud seeing your book recommendation. Certainly misogynists would find a great de..."


Dolors, thank you for being such a wonderful GR friend. You always say what comes right from your heart. I am glad you liked the review. I tried to make it sound as less impersonal as possible. Because this is one of those books which become a part of you once you have read them. :)
I have read Emily Bronte but I barely remember anything about Wuthering Heights anymore. I just remember it being very heart-achingly tragic. I hope to get to Anne Bronte soon.


Samadrita Alex wrote: "Just to be clear - you liked it?"

Of course not. Are you kidding me? I have a habit of rating books I absolutely hate, 5 stars.


Samadrita @Nermin:- Thank you girl.

@Shilpa:- Do read it. Jane Eyre deserves to be read by one and all.

@Shruti:-Thank you much. I am glad to have read this along with you. :)

@Garima:- I am glad both our reviews have convinced you to spend money buying this. :) This is one of those books you cherish forever and read again and again till the day you die. And thank you!

@Rakhi:- Thank you as always. :)


message 13: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill I'm reading this soon, so I am SO glad to see you enjoyed it this much! I really like this sentence of your review: "Jane, you are not only the essence of womanhood at its best but the finest specimen of humanity."

Often I see reviewers label a character as feminist if she's "kickass." In my opinion, a true feminist character should not be solely defined by her femininity but rather show herself to be an excellent human being.


Samadrita Jill wrote: "Often I see reviewers label a character as feminist if she's "kickass." In my opinion, a true feminist character should not be solely defined by her femininity but rather show herself to be an excellent human being."

Aha I knew someone was going to bring this up! And of course who better than you, Jill?

I have used the word 'feminism' and 'feminist' quite a number of times in this review fearing that somebody was going to call me out on it. Many people associate the word 'feminist' with the derogatory meaning 'man-hater' which is absolutely incorrect.

This is what I believe what the term 'feminism' truly means - "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

I am happy I was able to convey the way Jane appeared in my eyes. She is not just a great woman but the best human being there possibly can be.


Alex I'm not quite sure I agree entirely with either of your definitions of feminism but I do agree that Jane Eyre is probably one of the defining moment for women's literature and one of the most important feminist texts. And I'm going to be re-reading it shorty. Yay.

Don't neglect watching some of the wonderful adaptations by the way Samadrita. The Fukunaga movie that came out a couple of years ago was really beautiful.


message 16: by Shilpa (new) - added it

Shilpa Just ordered it online :) Hope to have a good time :)Thanks for a wonderful review.


message 17: by Samadrita (last edited Jun 11, 2013 09:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Samadrita Alex wrote: "I'm not quite sure I agree entirely with either of your definitions of feminism but I do agree that Jane Eyre is probably one of the defining moment for women's literature and one of the most impor..."

Well I don't think that Rebecca West's one-sentence description concludes the discussion on feminism. It is sort of a starting point. But yes there won't be an end to it if we start.

Yay I was actually going to watch an onscreen adaptation but couldn't decide on one. Also, I think a movie will end too soon for my likes. Is there any good series adaptation you will recommend?


Alex I saw the 2006 BBC adaptation with Toby Stephens as Rochester. He was excellent and Ruth Wilson a good Jane Eyre... but sometimes ina daptations more detail isn't necessarily better and it felt a bit off overall.

If the movie has a fault it's that you're well aware that there's so much material missing from the book, but it does a fine job of creating character and drama with its gorgeous cinematography and great acting.


message 19: by Pulkit (last edited Jun 11, 2013 10:06AM) (new)

Pulkit You should also read Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Though the story is a little uninteresting, the protagonist - Lucy Snowe - is very well etched, intellectually gifted and a terribly nice human being. Her character along with the beautiful narration definitely make it worth reading.


message 20: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill Samadrita wrote: "This is what I believe what the term 'feminism' truly means - 'Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.'"

Whenever I start talking to people about feminism who are, for whatever reason, reluctant to label themselves as feminists, I use that same quotation! It's a perfect starting point.


Madeleine This is one of the few books that I was forced to read in school and absolutely loved.

Thank you for reminding me why with this thoughtful, well-written review. :)


Samadrita @Shilpa:- I am glad my review was able to convince you to spend money on this. Hope you find reading this as much an enriching experience as I did.

@Alex:- Great. I will watch both the Fukunaga version and the BBC adaptation then.

@Pulkit:- I have added it already. And I plan to read Shirley as well. :)

@Jill:- I know right? I always thought so too.

@Madeleine:- Thank you so much. I so wish I had read this in school - that way I would not have been a Charlotte Bronte ignoramus for so long.


message 23: by Anushka (last edited Jun 11, 2013 11:41PM) (new)

Anushka Wow. Great review!
I bought this book a long time ago but had been procrastinating it shamelessly, I better get to it now. :)


message 24: by Tej (last edited Jun 12, 2013 01:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tej Exactly Samadrita, one cannot review but only pay tribute to such colossal works... and yours is wholly from the heart :))


Samadrita @Anushka:- Get to it right away. You won't regret anything. And trust me despite being a classic, the language in this flows very freely and the pages fly fast.

@Kirsty:- Thank you, lady. I am glad you liked it.

@Tej:- Yes that's what I did - tried to sum up what this book made me feel. Did not wish to review it the conventional way. :)


message 26: by Jr (new)

Jr Bacdayan Really heartfelt, Samadrita. Your passion alone merits a standing ovation, couple it with your writing skills and you have a thoroughly affecting review. Smashing! Bravo!


message 27: by Anwesha (new) - added it

Anwesha Wonderful review Samadrita! This classic has been there in my to-read list for quite sometime now but after reading your review I can't wait to start with it....


Wayne McCoy This is a brilliant review of an amazing book. I came to Jane Eyre later, and found her to be the strongest female fictional character I'd ever encountered. So much so, that had I read it earlier, my daughter might have borne her name.


s.penkevich Wow. Just wow, this review is outstanding. I agree, this is such an awesome feminist piece. I love how social class and norms and all that appear so fickle and flawed through Jane. She was like the victorian punk rocker, just sidestepping the system and forging her own way, she is so cool! I love your comments on the 'indictment of blind religious zealotry' as well. So true! This is fantastic work.


Samadrita @Jr:- Thank you for your kind words, Jr. I tried to write what this book made me feel. :)

@Anwesha:- I am glad my review was able to convince you to do that right away. And thank you!

@Wayne:- Thank you for your kind comment. I think she may just be the strongest female character ever created.

@Steve:-Thank you so much as always. And yes Victorian punk rocker just about sums it up. :)


Aubrey Heh, I wish being well-read was a way of warding off misogyny and other such bigotry, but my experiences beg otherwise.

Still, a wonderfully passionate review, Samadrita. Bravo.


Samadrita Aubrey wrote: "Heh, I wish being well-read was a way of warding off misogyny and other such bigotry, but my experiences beg otherwise.

I know. Doesn't happen that way. If only it did, we could have forced people to read good books at gunpoint and half the world's problems would have been solved just like that. :P
Thank you for your kind comment, Aubrey. :)


Alex Aubrey wrote: "Heh, I wish being well-read was a way of warding off misogyny and other such bigotry, but my experiences beg otherwise.
"


When I was younger I used to think that inevitably people who read classic literature couldn't help but be smarter through the experience. (Now I'm older I realise that it didn't help ...) but more and more I see people reading all these books and just taking the parts that bolster their own worldview. How you could read DIckens and not develop a social consicence for instance (or hate lawyers!).. but people manage it.

That said, Jane Eyre is a peculiar one because I think men tend to stay away from it. The same is possibly true of Austen and Eliot as well, outside Academia they're primarily seen as romantic texts for women.


Samadrita It's actually a myth that well-read people are bereft of most common human shortcomings. Same can be said about authors. There was one very noted author (winner of numerous literary honours to boot) in our country (who writes in Bengali and not English) who has been credited with creating very strong female characters but unfortunately enough was later accused of sexual harassment by another well-known female author. (I'll refrain from naming them both)
So I think you are correct in saying "I see people reading all these books and just taking the parts that bolster their own worldview."

Coming back to Jane, I noticed some flaws in Bronte's writing. Like the way Rochester seems to view all Parisians as debauchees and even sees a young child like Adele in a negative light simply because she was the offspring of his French mistress. It's obvious that Bronte derived a perverse kind of pleasure from her English origin. I glossed over these aspects of the book deliberately in the review.


message 35: by Mala (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mala A heartfelt like for a heartfelt review!


Samadrita Mala wrote: "A heartfelt like for a heartfelt review!"

Thank you as always, Mala di. :) I tried to write exactly what this book made me feel.


Alex I'm not sure why you see that particular point as a flaw in Bronte's writing? Pretty much all of the Bronte's male heroes are surly, disagreeable types and his prejudiced exterior seems to me to be deliberate. Rochester has become very bitter and disillusioned after what's happened to him, but it would probably have been pretty irregular to take in an orphaned French girl the way that he does, especially the daughter of his mistress - Rochester is a curious outsider... the Brontes don't really write about cultured society life in the way that Austen or Eliot do and their characters tend to be edgier and wilder. I think he disapproves more of what Adele represents about his past and his own behaviour than the "Parisians" or Adele's actual behaviour.

It's a bit difficult to talk about the book though... I'm going to re-read it in the next few months since I haven't done so for years and years!


message 38: by Steve (new)

Steve One might get the impression that Ms. Brontë spoke to you directly and intimately, Samadrita. What a wonderful tribute to her creation! I don't think she'd mind that you're late to the party. At a certain point, like after she passed away, it doesn't much matter when you arrive. ;-)


Samadrita Alex wrote: "Rochester has become very bitter and disillusioned after what's happened to him, but it would probably have been pretty irregular to take in an orphaned French girl the way that he does, especially the daughter of his mistress - Rochester is a curious outsider... the Brontes don't really write about cultured society life in the way that Austen or Eliot do and their characters tend to be edgier and wilder. I think he disapproves more of what Adele represents about his past and his own behaviour than the "Parisians" or Adele's actual behaviour."

You do make some valid points, Alex. I seem to have missed out on your comment some how. But I think there's another instance in the book where Jane says something disparaging about Paris or probably it was one of her cousins. This gave me the impression that Bronte may have been prejudiced against France in some way.
But your comment makes more sense. I failed to consider Rochester's point of view.
Maybe when you read it again, you can review it and offer us newer insights into this masterpiece? I'll wait for it if you do decide to write one.


Samadrita Steve wrote: "One might get the impression that Ms. Brontë spoke to you directly and intimately, Samadrita. What a wonderful tribute to her creation! I don't think she'd mind that you're late to the party. At..."

Thank you and, indeed, she did Steve. It felt like she spoke to me through Jane and I'll never forget that feeling. Now I must get me some Anne Bronte soon.


message 41: by Alex (last edited Jun 22, 2013 01:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Samadrita wrote: "This gave me the impression that Bronte may have been prejudiced against France in some way"

Given the recent wars with France and that the Brontes grew up in a pretty secluded way, a certain amount of Francophobia wouldn't be amazingly surprising I guess. I'm not an expert on attitudes towards France in the 19th Century ... but up until the 20th Century the history of England and France had been a history of racial tension between the two countries.


Dhiraj Sharma Samadrita, you should have been a poet...what a review.... I am sure this is the sort of review Charlotte Bronte would have loved to have as an Introduction to Jane Eyre !!!!


Zanna I love your review so much. It makes me feel such gratitude to those pioneering women writers who shed light at last on the inner lives of their sisters, finally answering and challenging the male gaze. The best of these authors are true feminists in that they criticise larger structures of injustice; Austen (especially in Mansfield Park) and the Brontes overturn the class hierarchy and replace the blood-aristocracy with a hierarchy of virtue (nb I know this is v problematic but still valuable). Their analyses are limited of course, but they are to a meaningful extent socially and politically critical. Sometimes I think that is overlooked - people talk about Austen's wit, Charlotte's insight, without drawing attention to their targets, but not you!


Samadrita Zanna wrote: "Brontes overturn the class hierarchy and replace the blood-aristocracy with a hierarchy of virtue."

You said it, Zanna. I couldn't help but wonder how she was able to publish this book in the 1850s and under a male pseudonym to boot. It's because women like the Brontes existed that later women writers could stay true to their literary aspirations.


Samadrita Dhiraj wrote: "Samadrita, you should have been a poet...what a review.... I am sure this is the sort of review Charlotte Bronte would have loved to have as an Introduction to Jane Eyre !!!!"

That's kind of you to say, Dhiraj. I am glad you liked the review that much.


message 46: by Teresa (new) - added it

Teresa Shaffer


Cecily I love the passion of this review, and especially the way you highlight the fact it "is a feminist doctrine in the garb of a novel".


Samadrita Cecily wrote: "I love the passion of this review, and especially the way you highlight the fact it "is a feminist doctrine in the garb of a novel"."

Thanks, Cecily. I guess I was very much moved by Jane the first time I read it. Maybe I'll be able to scale down my enthusiasm if I attempt another review after a re-read.


Cecily Samadrita wrote: "I guess I was very much moved by Jane the first time I read it. Maybe I'll be able to scale down my enthusiasm if I attempt another review after a re-read."

On the contrary, if you do reread it, I hope your enthusiasm will only increase, though the reasons might be subtly different!


Crystal Wang You just summarized all my feelings about Jane Eyre in several paragraphs and perfectly. Thank you!


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