Brontë Book Club discussion

Jane Eyre > Why is Jane Eyre so popular?

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message 1: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Powrie (lucythereader) | 21 comments Mod
I'd love to know your thoughts on why you think Jane Eyre has stood the test of time. Why was it so popular when it was first published and what is it about it that still captures audiences today?

message 2: by Alenka (new)

Alenka of Bohemia (alenkaofbohemia) | 6 comments Should I assume many people view Jane Eyre the same way I do, then the answer would be this:

Jane Eyre is a book in which a woman, who is (or at least definitely sees herself as) physically unattractive and lives in a time which was extremely restrictive for women, yet she goes through life with wonderful determination, choosing to honour her own conscience even if it means a great sacrifice, and most importanly she is somebody who knows her own self-worth and her greatest strength is her self-respect.

Jane Eyre helped me to think more about my own character, actions and confidence (which is still rather shabby most of the time, cannot imagine what would it be without reading this book). It provided me with a relatable and admirable character to love.

There are other reasons, of course. The writing is beautiful, the atmosphere rich with details and emotions, the story intricate, sad and gentle and spooky and teary all at once. The shock value it had when it had been published is lost on us these days, but that takes away nothing from the mystery and twists that take place.

But the chief among it all - there is an appeal of the character itself.

message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna Little | 2 comments I think the fact that Jane Eyre is a coming of age story of a woman who has endured so many hardships is inspiring. I think enduring hardships is something universal that outlasts time so I think that could be a reason that it's lasted so long. But another thing to consider is that Jane Eyre wasn't well received at the time that it was written in because of the oppressive and kinda sexist culture of the Victorian age. The book was ahead of it's time which is probably why it's so popular today.

message 4: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Watson | 16 comments *Spoilers ahead!*
What I like about Jane is that she's self controlled. Which isn't really seen as a benefit these days, with social media and everything instantly at arms reach.

But during the Victorian era - it was definitely a thing! Which is where I think a lot of Jane and Rochesters chemistry is coming from. But no matter the temptation, Jane is true to herself and restrained.

I like the fact she stuck to her guns and refused to become Mr Rochesters's mistress, when everyone finds out about the mad wife in the attic 😂 (that's become a metaphor all in its self). Even though it was terribly difficult, she left him and tried to continue with her life and be her own woman on her own terms. Eventually discovering her long lost family and inheriting a fortune!!

Wouldn't it be great if that happened whenever you got her heart broken! 😂👌🏻

message 5: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Watson | 16 comments Jane Eyre was the most popular Bronte Book that was published in the sisters lifetime. Most, I think because Charlotte outlived her sisters. It got a reputation as being a ‘naughty’ Book because it was so very different to the genres and culture of the time!

It shocked the Victorian readers with sensuality of the story and Jane’s tendency to refusal to submit to her social destiny’ as one critic put it.

Another critic complained, “It is true Jane does right, and exerts great moral strength,” but the critic continues that “it is the strength of a mere heathen mind which is a law unto itself.” In typical situations of misunderstanding, Victorian critics got Charlottes message all wrong but suggesting she was at risk of starting a rebellion as she had “overthrown authority” and cultivated “rebellion.”

When really Charlotte was highlighting the hypocrisy of the Victorian age in regards to what right and wrong was. Being a deeply religious woman herself and a daughter of the church, she had the best position to see how things really were. Than many other people who were more comfortable in their ivory towers.

In reality I feel that Jane’s independence and her determination to do what was right helped peel back the layers of conventionality. And showed what genuine morality and faith is.

Which I love, because I can personally see the dangers of some Victorian literature in painting a certain view on religion. Because the church like any man made ceremony will always have the weaknesses of ego, bias and hypocrisy. God gave us a ‘free independent spirit’ and gave directions and how to act in the Bible, but as usual mankind decide how to use it.

I love how Charlotte highlights the hypocrisy of the church in its dealings, because ‘pure religion undefined is to care for others and look out for and actively help those who are needy like the poor, orphaned and widows’ a very loose paraphrasing of James 1v27 (the Bible).

I love Charlottes reply to all these reviews, forthright but elegant!
“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last … These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world.”

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