Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
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By now you’ll know that I go into every classic novel – no matter how many amazing reviews it might have (and Jane Eyre appears to be a five star read from almost everyone I know) – dreading what’s to come. So when I open the book and find a light tone and engaging main character, it’s an understatement to say that things have started off well.
I saw the most recent film adaptation several years ago, so I knew the story more or less, but what the adaptation doesn’t give you is the same insight into the characters that the book can. Nor can it give you the page long soliloquies filled with beautiful words and asides and emotion that the book can. Because my God, these characters are eloquent. Everything they say is so great and emphatic and melodious and, you know what, I guess I’m praising the writing, really, but the dialogue!
The beginning of the novel was interesting and the characters were more lively than I had expected. The gothic theme also made itself known early on, something I had forgotten, and set the tone of the novel nicely. I thought the section on Jane’s childhood might drag a little, but it didn’t. The final third of the novel however, I’m sure it’s not a spoiler after so many years to say after Jane leaves Thornfield, did. Let’s be real, reading the novel you’re invested in the Jane/Rochester relationship and after the fantastic middle portion of the book you’re desperate to get back to that. That said, I do like the contrast of Rochester and John Rivers. I know this is not a revolutionary thought, but even without analysing the text, this contrast pushes its way to the forefront and lets both you and Jane know where Jane truly belongs. Spoiler alert, that place is at Rochester’s side and may they have many happy banter-filled years together.