Jane Eyre // Book Review

I have an important announcement to make:
I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED READING JANE EYRE.
Jane Eyre Literature Poster, Modern Literature Print, Book Poster, Reading Wall Art on Etsy, $20.00
This, for all of you well-seasoned readers and lovers of classic literature, might not seem as a large endeavor. Elementary, you might say. But for me, this is a huge accomplishment.
But wait, Emily, you might say, I thought you were an English major!

This, my lovely readers, is true. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English, yet I was never required to read Jane Eyre at any point during my education. I was required to read the other two Bronte’s–Agnes Grey by Anne and Wuthering Heights by Emily, but never Charlotte. I expect this is because they assumed most of us had read it already.
This is why I set out to read it last year. I felt like an English-major fraud. 
So what did I think of it?
[spoilers ahead]
Well, first off: it took me nearly three months to finish the book.
This was partly because I’ve been really busy, partly because I generally don’t like classic literature, partly because I did not have a deadline because it was not for school, and partly because I simply found a lot of it dull and uninteresting.
For comparison, I read Wuthering Heights in a little over a week because it was required reading. 
I read both of these on my Kindle, which generally takes me more time than printed books.
It is also important to note that I went into this novel not ever seeing any of the film adaptations and knowing very, very little about the plot.
My general consensus: I liked it about as much as I expected I would. The language was absolutely beautiful–Charlotte Bronte writes at a level that I can only dream of ever achieving. It’s breathtaking.
As for the story, I felt it was a bit predictable. There was only one instance when I was generally surprised about something, which was the condition of Mr. Rochester at the end. My biggest qualm was how long and unnecessary the first half of the book seemed to be. Jane’s childhood seemed to last forever and I’m not entirely sure what the point of it all was. I know it mirrored the author’s life and gave the readers some background over Jane’s character, but I ultimately felt that it was too much. The second half, however, was great. It didn’t seem like much a struggle to get through it and I was pretty interested in the story from then on. It was a rough start, though.
Now, I might have liked the book more if I had read it in the classroom setting and was able to discuss some of the points with other people and pick up on things that I had missed. That’s why I love going to Shmoop’s website. They do a great job at explaining things and pointing out literary elements that I probably missed, which makes me appreciate the story a lot more.
Personally, I’ve been thinking about the lady in the attic a lot over the past few days. A lot of people feel sorry for Mr. Rochester…but I’m not sure I do. His wife had a mental illness. Sure, he made sure she was taken care of, but she was locked away and hidden from the rest of the world. If this were to happen today, there would be an outrage. Mr. Rochester would probably be arrested for abuse. Then, I thought to thinking about how Jane was locked in the red room at the beginning and pretty much had a mental breakdown–is that some kind of symbolism? Would Bertha’s mental state have been better if she had been treated like an actual human being, instead of being locked in a room?
And I absolutely hate that the happy ending only came as a result of her suicide. It’s like everyone wanted her to just kill herself because it would solve their own problems. Jane and Rochester could get married, no problem. Nobody actually loved Bertha, so it wasn’t a big deal. They obviously couldn’t kill her themselves, so suicide was the only way everyone could win. Right?
That’s just a sickening resolution. 
How would I compare it to my other Bronte reads? I think I liked it more than Wuthering Heights, but maybe not more than Agnes Grey. If it was shorter like Agnes Grey, I think I would like it more, but it just took so much time to get interesting.
Overall, I would give it a solid 3.5 stars.
So…my next question. I haven’t seen any of the film adaptations and I know that there are SO MANY OF THEM. Do you guys have any that you prefer? Some are available on Netflix and I’m thinking I’ll watch the 2011 version, but I want to know what the best of the best is. Let me know in the comments.
Have a lovely week!
P.S. Next up on my reading list: 
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
–Emily
currently listening to: Josh McBride by The Head and the Heart

8 Comments

  1. Susanna
    February 9, 2015

    I read Jane Eyre recently and quite enjoyed it. Although I completely agree with you, the beginning drags on for waay too long and the characters aren't (IMHO) all that likeable. I enjoyed it becuase there are so many bits to think about. I had the blessing of friends and family around me that I could discuss things with.

    Within Jane Eyre, there seems to always be something more to discover. For example, what you mentioned about the red room and the attic being kinda similar, I have never heard that before. SO MUCH FOOD FOR THOUGHT. That is why I love it.

    Reply
  2. I didn't read the whole post because you warned about spoilers, and I haven't read Jane Eyre yet, but I really want to read it. I'm a huge fan of the classics and I just started a feature on my blog called the Old-Fashioned Fangirl so I can talk about my love for the classics. I'm always looking for new classics to devour, so I'm looking forward to reading Jane Eyre someday.

    Reply
  3. Cait @ Paper Fury
    February 10, 2015

    An Abundance of Katherines will be a HUGE genre switch from this! ^_^ (I've read all of John Green's books and luuuurve them.) Ahem. So anyway! Yes! I haven't read Jane Eyre. I listened to half on audio and then quit because her childhood was terrifying me. like all that child abuse?! omg. I already knew the ending and I don't really plan on finishing this, so I read through all the spoilers. x) I do think the ending is pretty sad….like that they needed the crazy first wife to die. šŸ™

    Reply
  4. Hannah Mary
    February 10, 2015

    Great review. I do really love this book, but I think that the point you made about how it was wrong of Rochester to treat his wife like that is very true. I also think that you are right about how disturbing the ending is.

    Thank you so much for the comment on my blog! I'm following yours now. šŸ™‚

    Reply
  5. Emily
    February 10, 2015

    I'm a big fan of Looking for Alaska and TFIOS, so I'm eager to read the other John Green books. It's like a huge cultural shock to switch to that from Jane Eyre, though. But I needed something that would be a light read after trudging through this.

    Reply
  6. Emily
    February 10, 2015

    Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you agree with me about Rochester. I had a discussion with one of my good friends a few weeks ago and she did not want to believe that he did anything wrong. The cultural back then was a lot different, though, and I'm not sure putting her in a mental facility would have been much better. I'm not sure what the solution would have been, but I know this was not it.

    Reply
  7. Emily
    February 10, 2015

    Sorry about the spoilers…I didn't do much to hide them because I figured I was the only person out there who has not read it yet! I wish I had a love for the classics, but I really struggle to get through them. I love being able to say that I've read them, though. It makes me feel more intelligent. =)

    Reply
  8. Emily
    February 10, 2015

    There is a lot of food for thought–the hallmark of a good novel, I'd say. Next time I read something like this, I'll see if you've read it already so we can discuss! It's miserable to go through it alone.

    Reply

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