Now this classic novel I might have a slightly biased opinion of since I have not only read it but studied it as well. After studying a novel in great depth I find you either learn to love it through discovering all it’s intriguing depths and layers, or you come to absolutely despise it due to the tedious sifting through of it’s hundreds of pages (in this case especially). This can particularly be the case with classic texts since most of them were serialised – meaning the author was paid for the number of words they wrote and tended to string things out for as long as physically possible. However, I will aim, despite my personal tastes, to give you an accurate view of this novel.
Jane Eyre has a fairy fulfilling plot overall and on the whole it was exactly what I expected. The story revolves unsurprisingly around the character of Jane Eyre, who becomes a governess for a wealthy nobleman and resolutely falls in love with him in that typically romantic reality-bending kind of way.
The story begins, however, with Jane living with her stereotypically horrible Aunt Reed who ships her off to Lowood school when her Uncle dies. The chapters of Jane’s early life are filled with details of her relatives and the story of her friendship with Helen Burns – poor Helen Burns, I might add. These help shape Jane’s character and are psychologically interesting when considering her personality traits, such as her independence, as an adult later in life. Jane undergoes trials and tribulations during her years at school which mould her and prepare the reader for the rest of the novel.
The love story involving Mr Rochester at his home, Thornfield, is romantic and charming enough, albeit slightly clichéd concerning the romance itself. The scenes in which Jane and Mr Rochester see each other, particularly the garden scene when the storm happens and the tree splits in two, are very strong with imagery and symbolism, this specific moment being a good example of pathetic fallacy. These parts of the narrative are beautifully written and as a reader you get a good sense of emotion from the characters. Even the scenes of Jane stumbling around on the moors – which is my absolute pet hate in the novel since it goes on so long and her narrative is absolutely oozing self-pity – portray emotion very strongly. When Jane fleas Thornfield and is without a home she retires to Mother Nature to keep her safe. I find there is something calming and satisfying about this. Although I have to admit that I feel Brontë spends far too much time describing this scene and adding nothing to the story what-so-ever most likely because she spent too much time idly staring out of her window.
The end of the novel is classic in that it does what most classics do: give the reader a standard, satisfying ending which isn’t particularly outstanding. I’ll just warn you now to look away if you wish to avoid any SPOILERS since I feel the ending is a particular point for discussion. The novel has a happy ending which is quite predictable. My issue with it however is that is is so un-feminist. Of course, feminism wasn’t a thing in those days but several critics have argued that Jane Eyre is a feminist text and I completely disagree. Yes she returns to Rochester once she has inherited and become self-sufficient but she returns to the man who hurt her most in the world, the man who deceived her and betrayed her love, who even went as far as to propose living in sin. Oh the outrage. I’m bitterly disappointed Jane returned to her former Master; a part of me had hoped she would ‘move the hell on’ and build her own happy life somewhere, but perhaps that’s too outside of the box for a text written in 1847.
My advice for those wishing to know if it’s a novel worth reading – it’s a decent classic to have under your belt but there are much better books out there!