Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte [1847]

"If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."
-Helen Burns

Jane Eyre is kind of what I think of when you say 'Gothic Romance Novel', though according to my mom (who knows way more about literature [and life in general] than I do) it doesn't exactly fit the Gothic Romance Novel criteria. However, it does have your unassuming orphan governess, your mysterious master of the house (:D), and dark secrets in the attic. So by my standards, it's a Gothic Romance Novel. And yes, Jane Eyre is a little (okay, really) melodramatic at times, and there was a bit towards the end that was so unintentionally funny that I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time. But the stuff I liked about the book balanced out all the cheesiness. For one, the characters. You know a book has good characters when you can dislike a character but still know that they are well written. That's how I felt about a few characters in this book (Except for Helen Burns. I'm sorry, I have trouble sympathizing with a girl who's worst 'sin' was that she couldn't wash her face because the water was frozen.), especially Mr. Rochester, who I came to like later. My favorite character was of course, Jane Eyre herself. I thought she was a very witty and interesting narrator, and her character was awesome too. I mean, the girl has got a moral compass, and she is going to follow it no matter what. That. Is cool. I don't quite understand why she fell in love with Mr. Rochester, though. I suppose she could see that he wasn't a bad man, and stuff like that, but still. O.o
Even if the writing was sometimes over-dramatic, I thought for the most part it was really good! Of course, the dialogue is archaic, but most of it was quite realistic. I especially liked the dialogue between Jane and Mr. Rochester. They are obviously very much in love, but they aren't gooey lovers. No, they're both very candid and honest with each other, and that makes the gooey stuff they do say seem all the more sincere. Of course, it's not all romance. There's also plenty of suspense, and a lot of spiritual-Christian-y stuff. I like the way the Christian themes were handled in this book. You've got your strict, Pharisee types, like Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers (Pronounced: 'Sinjin', but I call him 'Slimjim'), and then you have people like Helen Burns who are the model of who a good Christian should act. Well, I don't think it would be sinful to stand up for yourself a little, but you can see how Helen 'saved' Jane from a bitterness that was growing inside her as a child. So Helen is kind of like Bishop Myriel from Les Miserables. They're both only in the story for a little bit, but they create a positive, life-long change in the hero.

The Verdict: B+
So, despite the fact that James from Orchestra advised me to stop reading this book and burn it because 'nothing happens', I found Jane Eyre a pretty good read. It's moderately paced, well-written (massive coincidences and goofiness aside), with interesting characters to boot! It's not one of my favorite books, but I certainly liked it, and look forward to reading it again. :)

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