Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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jane eyreTitle: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Classic
Source: Purchased (Paperback)

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Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity.

She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

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(This review was first posted on my blog Winter Distractions on April 10, 2013)

I really, really wanted to like this read as I dug into it. I have read only one modern adaptation of the story, Jane by April Lindner, and I really liked it. Reading the adaptation led me to want to read the original story of the young girl who becomes governess at Thornfield, ultimately falling in love with Mr. Rochester. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the story of a young Jane, I felt that the story went on for too long and wasn’t the classic romance that I had been expecting it to be.

Now, I really appreciate Charlotte Bronte’s writing. She’s very good at telling a story and I felt myself completely drawn to Jane in the beginning. I really enjoyed learning about her life with her evil aunt, and her life at school. I even enjoyed seeing her decide to work at Thornfield. My problem with the story was that it seemed to take pages and pages to describe certain times in Jane’s life, whereas part of me really wanted to get to the meat of the story. I felt like it was taking me ten minutes to read each page since Charlotte Bronte really loves her words and fills each paragraph to the extreme.

And while I found myself drawn to Jane in some sections, I just couldn’t warm up to Mr. Rochester. He was just an odd, odd character. There were things that he would do — like dressing up as a gypsy woman to get information out of Jane (who wouldn’t notice this?) — that struck me as very strange. I have no idea how he fell in love with Jane, or why Jane found it necessary to fall in love with him, but it happens. It just made no sense to me. Mr. Rochester was just extremely rude, a liar, and not a very nice person, in general. I didn’t know if I was supposed to like him or not!

I had actually thought that the language would be a complete hinderance to me, but I felt comfortable enough in reading the story that the language made no difference — it was just extremely wordy. Certain parts would drag and drag, and then other parts had me perking up my ears like a cat. I only wish that the whole story had kept me so intrigued.

I know this is one of the classics, and one of those love stories that should be read and cherished, but I just can’t find myself ranking it as a favourite classic. Perhaps it was because I read this after reading Pride & Prejudice, a novel that really deserves the honor of being called a sweeping romance, or maybe it was because it just wasn’t the book for me.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  1. Jane Eyre didn’t really appeal to me that much either when I read it, and I think it may have been similar reasons. However, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be seen as a romance. I feel like a friend of mine once said she loves Jane, and she dislikes Rochester but since she likes Jane, she respects her decision to be with him. So, maybe if I reread it as a female bildungsroman or a woman taking charge of her life rather than a classic love story, I would enjoy it much more. Also, The Eyre Affair is kind of fun as far as other novels go that involve this story – I thought the Thursday Next series got a bit too quirky after two or three novels, but the first one was an entertaining story.

  2. I tend to feel this way often about classics–they drag and drag and drag and then there’s a gem that pops up and makes it worthwhile. And then they drag some more. I enjoyed this one but I read it so long ago that I don’t remember many of the details (except the biggies). I’ve been meaning to pick it up again.

    • There have definitely been a few classics that stuck with me better than some. And others were just boring … Like this one. I guess I’ll just keep reading the adaptations since I seem to like them better!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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