As a girl of ten, Jane Eyre leaves for school, away from her uncle’s widow Mrs. Reed and her children, who never loved Jane and were cruel despite her attempts to please them.
Lowood school is a cold, hard place where the living conditions are unhealthy and discipline is harsh. The headmistress Miss Temple is sympathetic though, and Jane’s friend Helen Burns helps her in settling. Jane works as hard as she can and does very well in school. At age sixteen she becomes a teacher, and stays at Lowood for another two years.
When Miss Temple marries and leaves, Jane suddenly finds herself discontented with her monotonous life and desires a change. She seeks a new position as a governess, and she finds one.
Thornfield Hall is Jane’s new home, where she is welcomed by the kindly housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax and meets her new pupil Adèle, a little French girl around eight. Adèle is the ward of Mr Rochester, the owner of Thornfield, who is reported to be rarely at home.
She continues quietly as a governess for a few months. While she is happy in the position, she begins to feel a bit restless.
Then Mr. Rochester comes home unexpectedly. He is a moody man with a dark past, but he treats Jane well and for the first time in her life she can enjoy conversing openly with someone who is her equal in intellect. Though he is rather difficult to understand sometimes and has many faults, she anticipates their interesting conversations, and finds her respect for him growing into fondness.
There is a mystery at Thornfield that Jane can’t solve. Every so often she hears a strange, mirthless laugh. Mrs. Fairfax says it is the servant Grace Poole, who stays all day long in the upper rooms and Jane sees very rarely. She suspects there is more to the story than anyone will tell her.
One night Jane is awakened by a noise outside of her door; that unnatural laugh—a moan—footsteps retreating. Disturbed, she dresses in preparation to seek Mrs. Fairfax. When she opens her door, she is bewildered to see a lit candle on the floor, and then she smells a fire and sees smoke coming from Mr. Rochester’s room. She rushes in and tries to wake him up, but when he doesn’t, she proceeds to put the fire out by herself.
“I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time.” Mr. Rochester tells her while expressing his gratitude to her for saving his life. “I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.”
Jane is perplexed the next day to discover that Mr. Rochester has left to visit some of his wealthy acquaintance. He stays away for a couple of weeks, and then comes back with a houseful guests, one of which is the beautiful Blanche Ingram, who Mr. Rochester pays a great deal of attention to.
Jane is furious for ever allowing herself to cherish tender feelings for her employer. She tries to reason herself out of it, determined to stifle her increasing love for him.
Little does she know that, through the disguise of his supposed potential bride Miss Ingram, Mr. Rochester is really desperately in love with Jane and hopes to marry her. But there’s also something else she doesn’t know…and that something has the means of ruining their happiness and bringing desperation into their lives.
But don’t worry, it has a happy ending.
My sentiments on the novel
So, I had finished all Jane Austen’s novels and it was time to read more of the desirable classics. Jane Eyre wasn’t actually the next on my list (North and South was, and I’ll get to that), but I felt like reading it, so I did. And I loved it. Certainly, it’s not perfect (and Charlotte Brontë has her problems…not liking Jane Austen is one of them…) but I still enjoyed it immensely. It’s a very captivating story, and believe me, reading the book is SO much better than any of the movies. I’d seen a few of them first, and they all seem to have quite a number of weak spots. Of course, the book gives the story exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
I never liked Mr. Rochester in any of the movies. When I read the book I actually liked him a little. Or maybe more than a little. Sometimes. Well, most of the time. Sort of.
Yes, I’m a little confused about Edward Rochester…he’s rather a mix between a hero and a villain. Fortunately he’s over most of his villain parts by the time he shows up in the book. Supposedly Jane was his cure. (tehe) But in any case, I liked him better in the book than the movies. He has more good points than I thought he did. Personally, he would never do for me, but I’m not Jane, now am I?
I also liked getting to know Jane Eyre. The novel is written in first person, so it’s quite easy to get to know her. She’s a very interesting and complex character and I admire her in many ways.
I am also quite touched by their romance. I have a Marianne Dashwood-like fondness for stories about such deep love.
But unlike some would have it, Jane Eyre actually has a lot more than romance in it…such as the enthralling mystery and all its horrifying elements!
It was bittersweet to come to the end of the book. I loved getting to end, the part that the reader is anticipating for half of the novel, but it was sad to be done reading it for the first time. I say the first, because there will definitely be a second. =)
What about you? Have you read Jane Eyre and/or seen a movie? Did you like it? I’d love to hear from you.