Skip to main content

Review: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte


Pages: 624

Original date of publication: 1847

My edition: 2010 (Vintage)

Why I decided to re-read: the film adaptation inspired me to re-read this book

How I acquired my copy: Borders, Mach 2011

Oh, Jane Eyre, how do I love thee? The first time I read this book was in middle school; then I read it twice in high school and once in college. The recent movie adaptation inspired me to re-read this book after an eight-year gap since my last reading.

I won’t go into the plot since it’s one of those plots that most people in the English-speaking world seem to know (even if they haven’t read the book), and one of those plots that resonates throughout English literature. Suffice it to say that Jane Eyre is one of those books that stands up to the test of time well—not just historically but personally as well. It captured my imagination as a teenager; and, as I’ve been dealing with some recent emotional disappointment, there are some quotes in Jane Eyre that really seemed to reflect my mood—especially when the house party is held at Thornfield and Jane reflects on her new-found feelings for Mr. Rochester—that she believes are unreturned:

It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, ignis-fatuus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication (Ch. 16)

Or how about:

I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germ of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. (Ch. 17)

Or one of my favorites:

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot....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….knitting stockings….playing on the piano….It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.- (Ch. 12)

How can you not love a book that speaks to your mood, no matter what it is? I think also the appeal to this book for me lies in the fact that I identify so much with Jane herself; I see a lot of myself in her personality. She’s such an introspective person, someone who experiences emotion strongly; but it’s very quietly experienced, which is probably why that emotion is so strongly felt in the first place. There’s so little opportunity for Jane to emote that when she experiences feelings for Mr. Rochester, she doesn’t expect it. Jane's feelings of being a social outsider is very familiar, to me, too. I love a novel that, even after reading it five times, causes me to see the book anew each time I read it.

Comments

Karen K. said…
I recently reread this too, in anticipation of the movie. It had been years since I read it and I loved it just as much this time. I have to say the movie paled in comparison, sadly.
Anonymous said…
I love this book! I have been itching to see the film, but have been overseas since it was released. Finally, I'm back and ready :)
Teddy Rose said…
I love Jane Eyre as well. I am looking forward to seeing the new film adaptation! I think Ive seen every film version out there.
Read the Book said…
I, too, reread this before the movie, and it had been eight years since I had read it as well! What did you think of the movie?

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancĂ©e, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…