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.
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

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

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…