Jane Eyre (Do not read if you want to find out the book’s secrets yourself)
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is a book that I knew I had to do sometime. I haven’t read it in a while, but that’s okay because it was such a great book. Last year, I read it for assigned reading, which sometime sucks the fun out of a book. But this book is just waiting to be analysed. Jane is our link with the story, our everyday woman. She may be regular, but she does things we would like to do. It’s like a cartoon, really… the hero is us, and when we watch the cartoon we pretend we’re doing the things that the cartoon character is doing. By not being extraordinary, the main character is allowing us to take her place.
The book itself is filled with action, when it’s not trying to have some romance. Jane’s ordeal as a kid, the plague at school, the woman in the attic, Jane running away, the fire at Mr. Rochester’s house…all action-packed and a bit too dramatic for me. It was a bit too obvious that Jane was going to marry Mr. Rochester, but that’s okay. The whole cousin sequence, though, was too “Yeah, we know she’s not going to go off with you, so why even try?” for me. If this was a TV movie, they would definitely do those cut-off “And the winner is…” commercial breaks. I can imagine it: “Will you go to India with me, Jane?” Then: “Swiffer WetJet! It’ll chase your OLD MOP away!”
For the whole book, I wanted Jane to marry Mr. Rochester already. But still, you can’t help thinking about the other side. Could Mr. Rochester be lying? Is he just a lying cheater pretending his wife is crazy to get another woman? Or did he drive her crazy by carousing with other women? Debate can go on forever, as well it should. The way the book is written, though, you want to side with Mr. Rochester, which causes you to root for Jane, but after you’re finished with the book, you start wondering if Jane made the right choice by choosing Mr. Rochester. She did what all heroines want to do, which is run after the handsome man. But are all handsome men the right people? Or would she have done better if she’d gone with her cousin? This book is great because it makes us question the classic heroine move. Are all of those “perfect men” hiding a big secret like Mr. Rochester’s woman in the attic? Cinderella, Snow White…all of those fairytales never tell us anything about the past of the man. And yet we take for granted that the prince is as perfect as the book says he is. This book is obviously a big step for feminism, if you read between the lines.
The characters in Jane Eyre are quite good. Jane is sometimes meek and sometimes pretty bold. Running away: bold. Thinking about going to India: Meek. Sometimes, though, I wanted to tell Jane to get some spine. Mr. Rochester is nicely mysterious and sometimes a bit scary. The woman in the attic, though, is not much of a character except a crazy villain. It doesn’t seem like Charlotte thought about why she was mean. Jane’s friend at school who dies is a bit too sappy for me. But overall, the characters in Jane Eyre are good, though they don’t jump off the page.
Jane Eyre is a classic, and I can see why. It has a good action-packed plot, Jane’s a good character, and it makes you think. It’s not my favorite book, but it’s a book that you have to read sometime, and you will not fall asleep reading it.