Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Classic
Published: Originally in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co.
Source: Personal copy

Most are familiar with the story of Jane Eyre, but for those who are not: A poor orphan girl despised by her immediate relations, Jane spends the early part of her life being tortured by her cousins and displeasing her aunt. Jane's aunt finally decides to send her away to boarding school, where Jane has the opportunity to become more independent. After eight years at Lowood, she decides to strike out on her own as a governess, and is hired at Thornfield. As she gets to know the owner of the mansion, Mr. Rochester, sympathy and friendship develop between them, but Thornfield Hall holds some shocking secrets.

This is my third read of Jane Eyre, and honestly each time I read it I enjoy it more. My first reading was in high school, where I remember liking the story and subsequently forgetting it. Because I forgot it, when I came across the book again in college, I decided to read it again. I enjoyed it even more, but still forgot most of the plot, so when I read it this time around, there were many aspects that seemed new to me. I'm not sure why this particular book doesn't stay in my memory very well, because I do really enjoy it. I am just happy that my book club chose the book for this month's selection so I could have the chance to revisit it yet again.

Jane Eyre is somewhat slow-paced and meditative. The story is told in the first person, something I personally haven't seen much in classic literature, although I have barely scratched the surface of classics and am by no means an authority on the subject. We really are admitted into her thoughts and ruminations on every subject, a process that can be lengthy, but is always interesting. Right now I am reading a book called AfterWord where several authors write imaginary conversations with deceased authors. I would have liked to talk with Charlotte Bronte and find out if she is similar in personality and temperament to Jane, because I don't know how else Jane's voice could seem so real. Jane is very developed - she has her quirks and idiosyncrasies, her likes and dislikes. Her voice is very distinct and full of personality. I loved the descriptions of Jane's fanciful paintings - I think those more than anything showed her personality. I wish I could see them. Aspiring artists - do you think maybe you could reproduce them and have an exhibit of "imagined paintings of Jane Eyre" or something like that? Because that would be awesome.

I also adored Mr. Rochester. He is not your typical Prince Charming - described as ugly, known to have committed some appalling acts (I won't reveal them for those who are not familiar with the story), yet passionate, tender, and delightfully devious. (I think the gypsy scene in the book is absolutely brilliant). I could gush about him, but instead I will refer you to my last blog hop post, where I waxed fan-girly on the subject.

As I participate in the Victorian Literature Challenge, I am starting to gain an appreciation of what Victorian lit really is. I've read a fair amount of it, but I've never studied or really identified it before. This book was fantastically spooky with harrowing descriptions of maniacal laughter and images of frightening scenes, such as bed drapes alight in flame. The genre is appealing to me more and more, and I can't wait to read more of it.

I think Jane Eyre is one of those must-read classics. The writing and characterization is fantastic, and the plot is mysterious and enticing, despite its slow pace.

4 stars


  1. I love Jane Eyre. I read it twice, and from your post I found out I've forgotten some of the plot, too. I guess it is time for another rereading:)

  2. The gypsy scene is one of my favorites too!

    I've only read this book twice, plus a GN version of it, and seen some movies, but I never forget the plot because I worked with it a lot in one of the books I wrote in 2008, where the main character loved Jane Eyre to bits.

  3. Great post. This is one of my favorite novels. I also must reread. I've only read it once so far. I love Jane's 'meditative' narration. :-)

  4. @Pepca - Isn't it strange how things fade out of our memories so fast? I'm hoping that because I wrote down what I thought of the book this time around, I will remember it better.

    @Amanda - How is the GN version? I've seen that and am curious. I never have read a graphic novel, although some of my coworkers are trying to convince me to try it. And incorporating it into your own writing would definitely cement it into your memory!

    @Jillian: Thank you! I hope you like it even better the second time around.

  5. I am currently reading Jane Eyre for the first time. I'm having a hard time getting into it. I really want to like it though. I'm thinking that once i get deeper into the story I will probably like it a lot more.

    I took a Victorian Lit class last year and I loved it. We read Wuthering Heights instead of Jane Eyre along with some other terrifically spooky novels and short stories. I could send you my reading list from that class if you'd like.

  6. I have to agree. this is one of my absolute favourites. Charlotte Bronte was definitely one of the better writer's of her time

    1. I agree! I don't know anyone who has read Jane Eyre and not enjoyed it.


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