I am ashamed to say that I had never read ‘Jane Eyre’ – not at school, not for fun, despite many people I know saying it was a great book. Last month, I set myself the theme of reading my classics; since I had quite a few that I had not yet read. Jane Eyre was one of those.
‘Jane Eyre’ was written by Charlotte Brontë and follows the title character through her life as a young, poor school girl to governess in a wealthy household. It is a tale of romance, class and self, with a bit of a mystery to top things off.
I went into this book knowing what the mystery was which reduced its impact for me, preventing me from fully getting as engrossed in Jane’s story as I would have liked, as I knew there would be disappointment and tragedy. Despite that, I still managed to get invested in her as a person. In the majority of classics that I have recently read, I have been very disappointed with the treatment of women. ‘Jane Eyre’ was a refreshing step away from the trend.
Despite her upbringing, Jane Eyre remains an independent woman throughout the novel, priding herself on it. Brontë seems to parody the habit for romance to be primarily based on beauty by constantly referring to the ugliness of her main duo, and focusing the romance on the personalities of those involved. One of the themes that I picked up in the novel is that in order to be happy, one must do what is right for your personality before love. This is highlighted in the main relationship, with it not working when Jane finds herself losing her independence and being bestowed with gifts that she did not want, and making that very clear to Mr Rochester. By the end, I had a lot of respect for Jane.
The writing in the novel was incredibly well done. While it did take me a little while to get into, which I think was partly due to me anticipating what I already knew the story involved, once I did, I struggled to put it down. There is skill in Brontë’s symbolism, for instance the dreams of children, the relationships between characters, and creating suspense and fear for the characters. Despite roughly knowing what happened, I still feared for an unhappy ending at one point.
I would definitely recommend that anyone should read this book, but in particular it would suit a female young adult audience. The main character is a strong lead who, despite her flaws, is not willing to sacrifice her integrity or sense of self for a passionate love. The story is beautifully written and the romance one that you can believe and appreciate to the full.