Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It would not matter a single straw if a Brontë story were a hundred times more moonstruck and improbably than Jane Eyre. . . . It would not matter if George Reed stood on his head, and Mrs. Reed rode on a dragon, if Fairfax Rochester had four eyes and St. John Rivers three legs, the story would still remain the truest story in the world...
- G. K. Chesterton

As the above statement from Chesterton implies, Jane Eyre was sensationalized, a little over-the-top, and at some points simply unbelievable. But as Chesterton goes on to explain, Jane Eyre is true to emotion. At the heart of the story is the unquenchable desire to be loved.

The book can be view as parts: the first being Jane's formative years, the second being her adult life. The book opens with Jane as a 10-year-old orphan, living with Mrs. Reed, who treats her horribly. The Reed children are no better. Jane is sent off to a school, where life is not that much better. Young Jane's spunky demeanor makes for some funny exchanges with the adults in her life. One of my favorites was when she was being interviewed by Mr. Brocklehurst as a possible candidate for the school of Lowood.
"Do you know where the wicked go after death?"
"They go to hell," was my ready orthodox answer.
"And what is hell? Can you tell me that?"
"A pit of fire."
"And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?"
"No, sir."
"What must you do to avoid it?"
I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: "I must keep in good health, and not die."

Not long after Jane finishes her education at Lowood, she becomes the personal instructor for a little girl under the care of Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall. This is where the book took a turn that I didn't expect. It got dark and mysterious. Something was going on at Thornfield Hall, something sinister and it involved Mr. Rochester in some way. Because of this Jane flees Thornfield Hall with no destination in mind. Jane makes it on her own, but is soon drawn back to Thornfield, where the story comes to a close.

In general, I enjoyed the first part of the book more than the last. But the whole book was well-written, and some parts were quite riveting.


Amanda said...

I like the parts at Thornfield better than the parts at Lowood, but both were wonderful. I read this for the first time two years ago and I didn't think I would like it - it had always struck me as being too fanciful and girly. I really ended up enjoying it though.

Carlton Farmer said...

That is pretty much the same experience I had with the book.

Brent Waggoner said...

That quote is hilarious.