This was the first ever Brontë novel I’d read and I had high expectations for it. All three sisters are renowned for their novels and are celebrated by most literature fans. Jane Eyre tells the tale of an orphaned girl who is abused throughout her childhood and adolescence and how she comes to be the governess working for Edward Rochester. A beautiful rags-to-riches story with a twist of love.
A surprisingly easy to read slow burner, Jane Eyre is a book that in my opinion, was very ahead of it’s time. There is a feminist theme that runs throughout the novel making it an enjoyable read and one that can be appreciated for it’s strong female presence.
My favourite part about this book is of course, the title character. Jane is the heroine of the novel and is well-deserving of such a title. The abuse she suffers throughout the first few chapters of the novel instantly earns her any readers respect. She earns every piece of happiness she gets in the end and as a reader, you cannot help but support her in every possible way.
After suffering from endless abuse as a child in the care of her aunt, attending the most horrific school and dealing with the traumatic death of her only friend Helen, Jane’s story truly begins as she arrives at Thornfield Hall having become a well-educated, polite, intelligent and independent young woman.
She is a character to be forever treasured as a feminist literature hero for her refusal to conform to social norms of the time. Her refusal to marry is a subject that is often bought up and a subject that she always turns down despite her social status. Many will know that Jane eventually does marry, but not out of duty or of class. Jane marries for love and choice. She chooses to marry Edward Rochester despite becoming a wealthy heiress who is perfectly capable of living alone.
One thing I’d also like to point out in Jane Eyre is the descriptive visual imagery. Descriptions of the land surrounding Thornfield Hall, Moor House and even the trees that Jane sleeps on when she becomes homeless are all rich in colour and are very easy to escape into.
The book has a way of drawing you into the words and into the language to the point where you find yourself within the story. Walking amongst the trees or sitting under the chestnut tree at Thornfield Hall. The nature in the book breathes life into it. The visual imagery is so central to the plot in terms of setting the mood and tone and Brontë does an excellent job of making the nature important to the story.
My biggest criticism of the novel would be the love story or, lack of love story between Jane and Mr Rochester. Their love is central to the plot however I think it deserved more. Their friendship develops wonderfully but the transition from friendship into love is strange and feels somewhat unfinished. Almost like a whirlwind romance. Their love for each other is honest and real but it feels rushed.
It has it’s glimmers of passion, Jane’s admission of her love for him and their first kiss in the rain are filled with all the romance you could want. However, these glimmers are overshadowed by other moments like the rushed first wedding and the apparent insignificance of the second wedding. The reader is told in the final chapter that Jane married Mr Rochester but that is all, no details, no description just the fact. I suspect that this is deliberate but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a little bit disappointed.
Jane Eyre lived up to it’s high expectations and deserves it’s place amongst literary classic novels. The language is simple and easy to follow, the plot draws you in very early on and Jane will forever be an ultimate heroine. The novel tackles some important topics such as class, religion and feminism but above everything else, it is first and foremost a love story; which was something that I felt wasn’t there enough. Rochester himself is a peculiar character and in the literature world full of Mr Darcy’s and Heathcliff’s, I’m not entirely sure where Edward Rochester fits in.