I made the executive decision to read and review one classic work of fiction a year. In our modern world, we seldom have the patience to read a novel written in the past. They tend to be too word, contain a lot of description, and move too slow for the typical reader in 2021. Therefore by doing a review of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, I will attempt to bring modern attention to a forgotten classic. The writing wasn’t perfect, and the plot contained tremendous obstacles the reader might have trouble overcoming. Still, the book was inventive during its time. I discovered moments of great passion between the novel’s pages. Bronte becomes one of the first trailblazers in the romance genre.
Quick summary of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre experienced a tragic childhood. Her mother and father died while she was a baby. Her uncle took her in only to pass away a short time later. He persuaded his wife to raise Jane as one of her children. Mrs. Reed resented the burden of another child, especially one who had a temperament like Jane’s. Mrs. Teed sent her to live at Lowood school. The living conditions there were brutal. The students were often cold in the winter, and there was little food to eat. The inspiration for creating this girl’s school may have come from Bronte’s experience.
However, conditions improve over the years, and Jane stays on as a teacher. She becomes restless with the job and advertises in the paper as a governess. She accepts a position at Thornfield Hall to teach Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane falls in love with the man even though he parades another woman in front of her face. She thinks he feels nothing for her and plans to marry the high-classed lady he’s been bringing around. Unknown to her, Mr. Rochester has plans for her. He asks her to become his bride without telling her about the secret he’s keeping in the attic. Rochester never made any secret about the fact he had a degenerate past. His ward may or may not be a love child from a past affair. They are about to walk down the aisle when she discovers the awful truth.
And then ….
Jane runs away in the middle of the night without any resources. She uses the money she made working for Rochester to hire a carriage, and Jane escapes from Thornhill Hall. Jane becomes homeless, wandering around the English countryside. Near starvation, she finds herself begging on the porch steps belonging to St. John Rivers.
In a weird twist of fate, Jane discovers she has inherited money. Her family increases when she discovers Diana, Mary, and St. John are her cousins. St.john is about to go on a mission trip, and he asks Jane to accompany him as his wife. Jane hears Rochester’s voice calling out to her. Will she accept St. John’s proposal, or will she return to Thornhill and the man she loves?
Story development in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
Therefore, Jane Eyre’s story told in the first-person point of view, allows the reader to view the world through Jane’s eyes as she navigates through English life in the 1800s. Therefore the class system in place during Jane’s time places her at the bottom of that system, leaving her with few prospects. She is a woman without fortune or family connections, and she describes herself as rather homely. These conditions make marriage almost impossible for her. The story takes on a life of its own when Jane takes the initiative and advertises her services as a governess. She accepts the position at Thornfield Hall. This shift in the story takes her out of Lowood. School and puts her in the proximity of Mr. Rochester. The story has many interesting twists and turns.
While some of them are almost too unbelievable to be true (who hides a crazy wife in the attic), they do lend an interesting element to the story. All of the characters except Jane, Mr. Rochester, and St. John Rivers seem a little plastic. Since the book is a romance, these three characters may be the only people the reader needs to know to get the story to the right end. I didn’t need to know more about Mrs. Reed or Mrs. Fairfax to get the essence of who they were concerning Jane.
Worldbuilding in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
Bronte paints the perfect picture of life in the 1800s in the English countryside. The reader could picture the drawing rooms, kitchens, school rooms, barracks, and gardens in their mind as they read the words on the page. The language is slightly different from what we use today, but it wasn’t hard to follow.
I found it interesting to enter Jane’s world as we prepared for Christmas. Thanks to Charles Dickens, I always think of the holiday in a very old-school English way. This classic magnified my Christmas mood as I moved through the pages. This year, a great deal of my Christmas spirit can be attributed to the wonderful worldbuilding I discovered in this book.
Overall opinion of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
I am so glad I paid a return visit to this wonderful classic. I won’t claim it was an easy read. The modern mind doesn’t have the patience to devour a novel written in the 1800s. We live busy lives with an enormous amount of sensory input from many different sources. Maybe every once in a while, we need to take the time to slow down, pick up a classic that has been waiting on the shelf, find a warm fire, and read. I know it did my soul some good.
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Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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11 thoughts on “Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre”
It’s a terrific story, effectively crafted. This is a great choice to share.
I believe it is good for the soul to read a classic from time to time. I read The Brothers Karamazov this year and am so glad I did. As you say, a bit wordy and detailed but still very good.
I love The Brothers Karamazov. I read it during my year of Russian literature. Imay need to read it again.
I absolutely LOVE Jane Eyre!!!! I’m so happy to see that there is someone else who likes it too. Also your review is very accurate and nicely worded😊
An interesting read. I have to agree some of our classic books are not straight forward to read, but one gets the jist of it. I recently started reading a very old book by Mary Shelley.
Mary Shelley is good. Are you reading Frankenstein?
Sure am. I have seen the film numerous times on TV, but I think the book comes over better.