Friday, 2 September 2011

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Brontë
Original Publication Date: 1847 
My Version Published By: Oxford University Press
Source: Own copy
Genre: Classics
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I think I can successfully sum up my feelings for Jane Eyre in three words. I LOVED it! Jane Eyre has quickly jumped to the top of my classics favourites list. I think a lot of that was due to the almost gothic elements scattered throughout the novel. It was unique compared to many of the other classics I have read.

For those that may not know the basic outline of the novel, Jane Eyre was published in 1847 under the pen name of Currer Bell and follows the life of Jane Eyre as she moves from her emotionally and physically abused childhood with her aunt and cousins, through her schooling days at the oppressive Lowood Institution and onto her time as governess of Thornfield Hall where she falls in love with her employer Edward Rochester.

For a classic I found it it reasonably fast paced and surprisingly suspenseful. There were parts of the book that even gave me the chills.
"Just then it seemed my chamber-door was touched; as if fingers had swept the panels in groping a way along the dark gallery outside. I said, "Who is there?" Nothing answered. I was chilled with fear. pg 147

"The head of my bed was near the door, and I thought at first the goblin-laughter stood at my bedside - or rather, crouched by my pillow" pg 147
I really enjoyed the section of the book on the relationship she had with Helen Burns at Lowood Institution, I was so touched by their friendship and definitely had a tear in my eye for this part of the book. I was fascinated to find out that many believe Burns to be based on Brontë's eldest sister, Maria.

I found a number of sections very prevalent to the social repression of the time and these are my two favourites.
"Women are supposed to be very clam generally: but women feel just as men fell; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." pg 109.
"'Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild, frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.'
'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.' pg 253
And I also couldn't get enough of some of the interactions with Jane and Mr Rochester. It was nice to see their relationship develop and change overtime. These are a couple of my favourite quotes.
"'Now go, and send Sophie for Adele. Good night, my ------' He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me." pg 181.
"'Jane, if aid is wanted, I'll seek it at your hands: I promise you that.'" pg 204
I thoroughly enjoyed the progression Jane made herself throughout the novel and really enjoyed this excerpt when she meets again with her distant family and tormentors; The Reeds.
"within the last few months feelings had been stirred in me so much more potent than any they could raise - pains and pleasures so much more acute and exquisite had been excited, than any it was in their power to inflict or bestow" pg 229
Ultimately I found Jane Eyre a fantastic read full of love, suspense, mystery and social politics. If you haven't had a chance to enjoy this classic I highly recommend it.

P.s. I finally found my published version for the photo at the top of the post. That's the cover of the version I'm reading.

Jane Eyre was read as part of my 100 book challenge of must read novels 
(16 read. 84 to go!).

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery