Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Review: Jane Eyre

  1. Classics-Bookclub

5 Minutes for Books ( a super site for any kind of reader) hosts the Classics Bookclub, where we meet the first Tuesday of the month and discuss a classic.  This go round we read Jane Eyre.  Here are some questions to ponder from Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books.

  1. 1.  Even though I was an English major, I don't often get all English major-y with themes, and symbolism and such, but one thing that I do find interesting is the prototypical characters that emerge in classics (for example, the seemingly callous, yet really sensitive Mr. Darcy type). Do any of these characters strike you as literary prototypes? Oh, for sure, especially after reading Pride & Prejudice last month.  On the back of my book it describes Mr. Rochester as arrogant and brooding but we found him instead to be just in need of true love.
  2. 2.  Bronte is considered a frontrunner in feminism. Is Jane a feminist by the standards of 1847? What about today? Well, if we look at the book we would have to describe Jane as not your typical woman of the time.  She would not live with Mr. Rochester and not be married to him ("I will not be your English Celine Varens.") and she would not marry St. John just because it was a good match.  Mr. Rochester gave the argument that no relation or other being would care if she did live with him to which she replied, "I care for myself."  And when she was arguing with St. John about why she couldn't marry him he declared, "You are original!"  By today's standards I wouldn't really declare Jane a feminist, just a woman who knows what she wants from life.
  3. 3.  Did the characters seem flat to you? Did the goodness or evilness of the characters add to the story? This is going to sound silly to some, but I found Jane herself to be flat.  Almost like a martyr in some instances.  The whole bit where she ran off and just wandered the village begging was ridiculous.  And the whole story at the orphan school almost made me not continue to read the book.  Only at the end did she open up and reveal her true feelings in my eyes.  I think St. John was the most detailed character in the story.
  4. 4.  What do you think of Jane's choice of husband? Did she make the right choice for herself? Bravo Jane!  Yes, of course she made the right choice.  She thought she would be happy in life to open a school for poor children.  She got that chance and didn't relish it.  She thought she would be happy with a cozy home and family all around.  She got it with her cousins, and still was unfulfilled.  Only when she went back and found her true love did she find contentment.

Okay, for my own observations.  I found the beginning of the book to be boring and long winded.  We get that Jane is an orphan who has a terrible childhood.  Was this intentional on Bronte's part?  Chapter 10 begins, "Hitherto I have recorded in detail the events of my insignificant existence:  to the first ten years of my life I have given almost as many chapters...I am only bound to invoke memory where I know her responses will posses some degree of interest; therefore now I pass a space of eight years almost in silence."  Imo she should have passed over a few of the beginning years.

I did enjoy the book and am glad I read it.  It had solid characters, an intriguing plot with plenty of twists and turns, and was extremely well written.


  1. Ha--great long-winded quote! I thought that I had marked one to include in my review, and then I never found it, and I certainly wasn't going to go hunting through the first 150 pages again!!

  2. Yes, 10 chapters in her early life is a bit much but at the same time, I feel necessary. For me, knowing her from 10 -18 years allowed me to understand her. To know where she was coming from (so to speak) in regards to how she responded to life situations and such.

  3. I loved your honest responses. I agree with ibeeeg; I think Jane's need to have a fulfilling love relationship with Rochester makes more sense because we know about her early years.
    I'm with you when you mentioned that some things were overdramatic!

  4. I think I'm one of the few people that actually liked the first ten chapters!

    St. John was a detailed character - definitely well crafted.

  5. Ah, yes reading this book was quite a chore. I decided to do a character analysis here


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