Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte – A Book Review
A Victorian Gothic Novel, Jane Eyre is quite a drag in my opinion. It was dragging and tiresome in certain portions with excessive atmospheric description (quite well written though, in my opinion.) When fifteen year old me had picked up this book, I had expected a rosy romance novel but was left severely disappointed. At twenty, I now see this book as a tale of a woman’s growth into a head-strong individual, capable of rational and independent thought, grappling with issues of principles and religion.
The book depicts Jane—the protagonist’s—evolution into an independent woman. She not only battles with the social order and her place in it, but also her own self. This book then, is a series of battles. Jane Eyre’s first battle is with her own impassioned soul, so susceptible to offense, loneliness and volatile feelings. As a child, she is easily provoked. Not so much as a battle on the social side, it does showcase the life of young girls—poor or orphaned, living off charity. Her second battle is more rooted in the social and class order. Now subdued, she sets out to discover more of the world, and herself. Falling in love with her master, and her own status as a mere governess repeatedly shows how strongly confined the lives of governesses can be, and how strongly the lives of everyone is bound by their class.
Jane has to subdue her love for she knows there is no point in pining after a man who is so much richer than she’ll ever be and part of circles she can only dream of being in. However, the class structures are looser, that is visible. Not dependent on name alone, anyone with a fortune can be part of the first circle. A governess can marry a man so much richer than her, if he chooses to have her. The third and last battle I believe, is a very personal battle—a struggle between desire and principles; individuality and moral duty, which is reconciled in the end.
The book also depicts the idea of beauty and how people in the Victorian era set a store by it. Jane, a “plain” protagonist rises above her circumstances. Jane Eyre always maintaining a strong hold on her individual beliefs, thoughts. Desires that are not swayed by any man or woman. With the society putting a strong emphasis on moral and religious duty, Jane Eyre sheds light on one’s duty towards their self potential. Jane puts emphasis on the gift of God—not a heavenly abode, but the life God has given. She believes that one must perform the duty of living it fully. Jane comes across as a pure, good-natured Christian despite following her own desires. She even appears dutiful, for she dedicates her life to sustaining someone else’s.
JANE EYRE: 3.5 / 5
I did not find the protagonist very likable, again, a personal opinion. Being an atheist with a very rebellious, non-conforming nature, I did not like Jane’s religious fervor. Nor did I like her occasional subdued and docile characteristics. Ultimately, this is a good book and an important piece of Victorian Literature. It is much more informational and enlightening, and quite less entertaining, in my opinion. You can buy the book from here.