I finally read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte after wanting to read it from many years. I buddy read this book with Shantala from Shanaya Tales (my first official buddy read ever). I am so glad I read this with someone as there is a lot to discuss in this book. Also thanks to her, I did not mark this book as DNF as sometimes it got little boring. This book is part of the list of most favorite reads for many people. Also this book is held as a standard for good writing. I was curious to see why this book was so popular. I am glad I chose to read it as it is definitely worth reading at least once in your life. I ended up liking the book but it did not quite make it to my favorites list.
This book is mostly an autobiographical account of this fictional character Jane Eyre. I heard it is based on the author’s own life to some extent. Jane Eyre is an orphan and grows up with her aunt who hates her. She then goes to a boarding school and then gets a job as a governess. From the first page, I fell in love with Jane Eyre as a character. I liked how headstrong she was, how bold and outspoken she was and how she could not tolerate injustice. There were many scenes in this book which I reread multiple times as they were that good. There were plenty of quotes in this novel which were amazing. The writing was phenomenal. I usually am not a fan of descriptive writing, but I loved the way this book was written. If not for the writing, I am not sure if I would have completely read this book. The plot was too slow moving and not compelling enough for me. There were so many words that I had never even heard of before.
Romance also plays a major role in this book. I usually dislike books that focus on romance but in this book, I liked that part too. I found the romance between the two characters to be matured. It was not love at first sight or some such nonsense. Instead, we see the love developing slowly and neither of the two characters fell for each other because they were attracted physically or found the other person beautiful. Reading this kind of a love story after reading plenty of YA books with extremely handsome men was like a breath of fresh air.
Some parts in this book were truly amazing while some parts were dreadfully boring. I loved Jane Eyre’s childhood and school life. I wish more time was spent on her school life as I loved this part the most. Once she became a governess, it got pretty boring and I had to force myself to read further. Volume 1 ended with some interesting scenes and then volume 2 was good for few chapters. After that it got dreadfully boring, these sections were the worst. The people in those chapters (esp Mr. Rivers whom I did not like) were boring too. After this point, everything I predicted happened. I was even able to predict correctly the way this novel would end. So when events happened as expected, my interest waned. Nothing much took me by surprise so did not quite like the last 40% or so of the book. For the first 60%, I would give 4 stars and last 40% got 2 stars from my side.
I loved the feminist themes in this book. Considering that this book was written in early 1800s, I am surprised how feminist Jane Eyre’s thoughts were. She makes extremely bold decisions and I am not sure I would have been bold enough to make such decisions if I were in her position.
An example here –
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stocking, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.”
Jane Eyre is a very strong determined independent inspiring woman. I would like to buy a copy of this book for every young woman I know. I am glad that I finally read this book.
My favorite quotes from the book:
“If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse.”
“If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? – You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart!”
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
I watched the 2011 movie adaptation of Jane Eyre and everytime one of the above quotes were mentioned, I felt like clapping. I admire Jane Eyre a lot. The movie adaptation was good for people who already have read the book. But way too many interesting scenes were cut so that the movie could focus more on the romance. Anyway, it was a good one time watch. I need to watch the TV adaptations soon.