October 30, 2011

Jane Eyre: The Book

     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. 

9 comments:

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

I read Jane Eyre in school for my summer reading one year. I didn't like reading it, but once we discussed it in class, I grew to like it a little. It's not my favorite story, but it's not the worst either. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

This was a very good review Melody! I enjoyed reading your sentiments on the novel especially!

I used to very much enjoy watching the various movies with my family. Then one winter my dad read the novel aloud to our family and we all really enjoyed it much more than any of the films.

I started reading Jane Eyre for myself earlier this year, but it started out so dark and then I got busy so I put it down and haven't finished reading it. I'm rather uncertain about my feelings on the book now. The more I think of Mr. Rochester the less I like him. But I guess this just means that I need to finish reading the book for myself in order to make a precise judgement.
Right now I'm rather down on Bronte novels, mostly because Charlotte didn't like Jane Austen.

Jessica said...

I love Jane Eyre! I've read it at least 2 times, probably 3, but it has been a few years now. I also enjoyed some of the JE movies I've seen, but of course, not as much as the book. ;-)
I've read North and South, and it's very good....I like Elizabeth Gaskell.

Abby said...

I read Jane Eyre earlier this year and although I enjoyed it greatly, it isn't really one of my favourite books. I found Mr Rochester a difficult character to like, but overall I found it a very interesting story that I cannot help but admire :)

~Abby

Kathryn Ross said...

Jane Eyre was always my mother's favorite book. I have her well thumbed old copy - a library edition discard she had for years. I remember looking through it for the illustrations when I was a child. I've seen a couple of the BBC adaptations - enjoying the Ciarn Hinds Rochester edition - the older one moved too slow. Brontes not truly my favorite of the 19th century writers, though. I have a softer heart for Jane Eyre because of my mom's fondness for it, I guess. And, I do miss my mom these past 7 years that she's been gone.

Joy!
Kathy

Lauren said...

I started watching a movie of Jane Eyre, but I stopped watching half way through and threw the taped video in the bin (In a scene I really didn't like with a form of witch-craft in it) I haven't read the book because of this reason. I enjoyed reading your book review, and I'm wondering if the book has that particular scene in it?

Melody said...

Thank you for your comments everyone! =)

Miss Laurie,
Thank you!
At first I was rather prejudiced on account of Charlotte Bronte not liking Jane Austen. I don't know about any other Brontes, and I'm not sure I want to. haha
Hope you won't be too down on them to not enjoy the coming posts!
In some ways, I liked Rochester much better in the books, except for some details of his past that made me like him much less in that way.

Jessica,
I mean to read N&S soon! And the others someday.
I'm glad you enjoy the book & movies. :) I know of one particular Mr. R. you can't abide, however...;-)

Abby,
I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I'm not sure how it ranks on my list yet.

Kathy,
I don't know about any Bronte novels except Jane Eyre, and I'm inclined to think that just because the Brontes are sisters doesn't mean they're books are at all the same. I think Jane Eyre is probably the best - from what I hear, many of the others sound to depressing. So I think I can agree with you that the Brontes aren't some of my favorites from 19th-century literature.
It was lovely to hear the story about your mamma. :)

Lauren,
Did you get the comment I made on your blog concerning this? I think I know what you're talking about: in the 2006 version, the guests at Thornfield play a "game" that was actually a witchcraft thing, and I didn't approve either. The book has nothing like that. And, incidentally, that particular mini-series has other inappropriate elements as well.
There's one other thing you might be talking about, which is when a supposed gypsy tells fortunes. It is not really a gypsy and 'she' is not really telling fortunes, either, in the book. Many of the movies don't even have that part, for sake of time.
I am very opposed to witchcraft, and so I think I can recommend the book as having nothing to be concerned about on that score.

Kate said...

I'll never forget the first time I read JE. I was 11 years old and I think it was in Autumn 2000. We were going away and I got very bored in the car, (still do!) without a book so my mum gave me the paperback copy of Jane Eyre she owned at the time and placed it on my lap. From the first page I loved it! I remember not being keen on Rochester because of the way he deceives Jane but as I got older I understood Rochester more and more and fell head over heels in love with him. In September 2000 I started high school and I was bullied which made me very unhappy so Jane became my best friend and as I thought myself plain I could easily understand what Jane meant when she wishes she were pretty.

Jane Eyre has also distracted me from my disability and has made me believe that a man will love me for who I am despite my disability like Jane love Rochester even though he is blind. It also taught me to resist temptation and I was amazed at how strong Jane was in leaving Rochester even though she loved him so much, I remember thinking how hard that must have been.

One of the reasons I love Jane Eyre so much is because Jane stands up for herself and overcomes ever obstacle that people put in her path; I also love her morals too and I also like the fact that she is plain but is such a strong heroine. I love the language in this novel and think it is beautifully written.

Another reason why I love it is because there is a brooding, dark, blunt, rude but a very passionate and gorgeous hero in the novel (what woman doesn't like one of those?!) which is Mr. Rochester who loves Jane for who she is, is very kind to her and treats her like an equal, I know that he has his faults but I can't help but fall for him! I also find him a very sympathetic character because he has a lot of very unfair things to deal with in his life.

My favourite parts of the novel are:
When Jane and Edward first meet
The first conversation they have
After Jane saves Edward from the fire
The conversation they have when Jane leaves the drawing-room
When Jane finds out Edward is the gypsy
When Jane asks Edward's permission to leave Thornfield Hall
When Jane returns to Thornfield Hall
The proposal! (This part is so passionate and romantic!)
When Edward is explaining everything to Jane after their interrupted marriage and is trying to convince her to stay with him (I nearly cry when I read that part!)
The reunion of Jane and Edward

Every time I read Jane Eyre nowadays I still feel like Jane is my friend telling me everything about herself, I love to read it in bed where I can get cosy and fall in love with the novel and Mr. Rochester all over again! I also have Jane Eyre on audio disc as well it's lovely to listen to when I am unwell or the weather is bad. My mum often passes me one of my copies when I'm upset or ill. I often forget my worries when I read it. When I can't sleep I read it, I once read parts of it at 5:00am! It sounds crazy I know! I read it many times a year. Edward Fairfax Rochester my favourite hero in English Literature

I will love Jane Eyre forever and it will always be a very special novel to me.

Kate (Leeds, England)

Melody said...

Kate,

I greatly enjoyed reading your comment! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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