Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit - which prove necessary when she finds a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves? A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre 1847) dazzled and shocked readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom.
Jane Eyre is my final book for the Victorian Challenge. I know I read this book in my teens but my memory was fuzzy at best and I must say that if not for the 2006 TV adaptation I probably wouldn't have been compelled to reread it.
It is interesting to read about Jane from childhood, she makes a compelling heroine even when she is a child. She is so focused and so serious in her views and descriptions that we can't help but to want to know more. I have to say though that the book really comes alive for me when Rochester enters the scene. I really enjoy reading about him and Jane matching wits. Jane is always described as a very plain heroine and while I understand that Charlotte Bronte wanted her to shine only through her intelligence and resourcefulness it was a bit too much to have most of the character referring to her like that, after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The story is, of course, a wonderful Gothic, we feel Jane's pain and unhappiness though her childhood, even her relationship with Helen Burns ends in tragedy, and we know, because she says so, that she was never as happy as in Thornfield which she comes to consider her home. However there's always a powerful foreboding sense hanging over them that reaches its high point when Jane and Rochester are about to be married. It is no wonder that she runs away from him, if there's something that is with Jane from beginning to end it’s her strict moral code. While Rochester was a great brooding and mysterious hero there's no way she can accept what he wants and she runs away.
I felt the story slowed down a bit after that, or maybe it was that I wasn't that interested about St John Rivers. Although Jane is as morally irreprehensible as he is she is passionate about what she believes in and has a fire that the preachy St John never manages to achieve.
Bronte wrote a mysterious dark tale and I was quite happy to see things coming together for Jane in the end. Her reunion with Rochester promises her happiness at last. The book approaches many of the social problems of the time, through Jane Eyre's status and worries Charlotte Bronte shows that women had choices and could be independent but that it wasn't easy.