– Charlotte Bronte.
I bought this book years back and now I have finally read it. I started reading this book last month and was hoping that I can finish it by the month-end; that did not happen. Jane Eyre is set in the England countryside in the 19th century. It is a story of an orphan girl Jane Eyre and it chronicles her life from childhood to an adult. It is a gothic romance.
The plot of Jane Eyre begins at Gateshead Hall with the Reeds, the family of her maternal uncle. Mr.Reed has always shown kindness to Jane but he is unwell and makes his wife Mrs. Reed promise him that will take care of Jane after he passes away. The other Reeds are not fond of her and treat her badly. John Reed bullies Jane constantly, he throws books at her and hits her all the while her aunt remains indifferent towards Jane and her son’s behavior. The treatment of Jane in this part is particularly is difficult to read. She is 10 years old and feels so isolated, unhappy because the only family she knows doesn’t care about her.
Jane is constantly called ill-mannered and bad-tempered because she asks questions and stands up for herself. When her aunt decides to send her to a boarding school Lowood, Jane is happy to leave the Reeds. In a way, it gets better for her when she’s at Lowood, she finds herself but the system of the school is horrible. The punishments, living conditions, rationing of food and the disregard for the girls there by the trustees is disturbing. Helen and Jane become good friends at Lowood and Jane looks to her for support and companionship. When Helen dies you really feel its impact as a reader and for Jane’s character as well.
Jane is quiet but observant; this comes through numerous times once she starts working at Thornfield Hall as a tutor for Adele. This is where I felt like the story picked up its pace. The element of suspense and a sense of something coming is an underlying theme here that pays off later. Mr. Rochester and Jane have chemistry straight away I thought and it was cute. I liked the relationship that develops between them; it happens naturally and their relationship doesn’t seem forced. Jane can be herself with him; otherwise, she is very controlled about her actions and behavior. Jane likes working and living at Thornfield Hall with or without Mr. Rochester being around. She loves spending time with Adele and looks out for her.
Jane and Mr. Rochester accept their feelings for one another. Jane is hesitant to act on her feeling for Mr. Rochester even before and that stays with her a little bit even after Mr. Rochester asks her to marry him and she agrees. On her wedding day, she finds out what Mr. Rochester has been hiding from her and she is heartbroken. He asks her to stay with him despite of her now knowing the truth but she doesn’t agree to it; she knows its morally wrong and runs away. All the suspense and build-up of the thrill of mysterious events at Thornfield is revealed and it is an unexpected twist.
The narration of the novel is in the first person which gives a complete sense of Jane’s character, her emotions and how she reacts to her circumstances. As it is Jane’s story, her being the narrator is the right way. I could find relatable qualities in Jane’s character which made me like her more. It is hard not to feel the same emotions as Jane while reading. She is a unique character with her inquisitiveness, witty humor, morals and principles, opinions and she sees the world as it is and doesn’t harbor utopian concepts about her life. The setting and landscape of the story are rural England and it is a minor character of the novel.
The novel is gothic so the setting and atmosphere play an important role. I loved Jane and Mr. Rochester’s relationship; their love story is an integral part of the plot and is not unexpected but the way it happens is surprising. There is a slow and simmering build-up to their relationship and that’s interesting to read. The twist in their relationship is described in a way that lets us feel the emotions of Jane as well as Mr. Rochester.
It took me a while to finish reading this book because it is lengthy and my version has a fine print which made it impossible to read for hours. But I enjoyed reading this novel. I liked the development of Jane’s character through her decisions, experiences, and relationships. My favorite part of the book is Mr. Rochester and Jane’s love story. The story of this book seems simple but it has so many layers to the plot and characters. It is an intriguing and delightful read.