Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2.5 out of 5 stars
I've decided that I am not a fan of the Bronte sisters and am definitely more of an Austenite. After the fiasco of Wuthering Heights, I should have known better, but I'd heard so many good things about Jane Eyre, that I decided to give it a shot. Looking back at WH now though, I'd be more likely to give it 1.5 stars. :/ I finished this last week and last weekend, I was super bored so I decided to give the Jane Eyre movie on Netflix a shot. It seems like they added a ton of classic movies/series on there recently. (Maybe because I've been searching for them lol.) I got about halfway thru the movie and will probably finish it this weekend, so I'll try to do a Book vs Movie next week for it.
So, Jane Eyre had some interesting parts in the beginning of the story and then around the middle and towards the ending, but everything else was booooring. They could have taken out 100 pages in between each interesting section and made the book half as long. Part of the problem was that there was a good amount of conversation taking place in French, with no translation. "To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all; I cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth." Also, there was a strong religious theme, which is fine for some people, I just don't enjoy reading about it too much.
The first part of the book deals with young Jane Eyre, who is an orphan and living with her uncle's widow and her incorrigible children. She has a rough time, barely better than a servant, getting attacked by the eldest boy, completely misunderstand by her guardian. Finally, Mrs Reed has enough and sends Jane to a boarding school and away from the family forever. Jane is elated to be away from them, but unfortunately, the school is not much better. Worse, probably. Run by a religious tyrant, she barely gets fed, lives in near squalor but forced to maintain their high education standards, and has to watch her best friend die. (So sad) But Jane perseveres and eventually the school gets better and she becomes a teacher there. (Remember, back then, girls became teachers as young as 16 or 17.)
After a while and too many pages of introspection, Jane decides to leave the school and magically finds the perfect job in the paper. She travels to a far away place to become a governess for the Rochester household. When she gets there, she is welcomed heartily by Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper (whom she confuses for the lady of the house) and her charge, the young French child, Adele. Jane begins a somewhat comfortable life there but is still a kind of restlessness. One day, she is taking some letters to town when she runs into a frightful man and his horse and giant dog. Literally. She frightens the horse and the man falls and sprains his ankle. Any guesses who that man is?
Yep, the not-so-dashing Mr Rochester. They make a great point throughout the book of how unattractive both Jane and Mr Rochester are. Which I suppose is rather refreshing to not have practically perfect people, but comes across as overly insistent. "No, no. I am quite ugly. Well, I am quite ugly too!" Psshh... Mr Rochester is an unfriendly, gruff man and of course, Jane falls for him immediately.
Jane to herself: He is not of your order: keep to your caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.
And then there is a very large amount of pages of them having witty banter, one-sided conversations of Mr Rochester saying lots of stuff, and how Jane feels about it all. I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me. Mr Rochester throws Jane off for a while by showing an intense interest in a young woman named Blanche, who is one of the "pretty people". But it's all a (stupid) ruse because Rochester has fallen for Jane as well.
Rochester to Jane: "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you-especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame."
This review is so long already, y'all, and I haven't even gotten to the weird parts yet! Let's speed it up, okay? Rochester loves Jane, Jane loves Rochester, he asks her to marry him, she refuses because she's a lowly servant, he doesn't care, convinces her, Mrs Fairfax disapproves, there's a fire in Rochester's bedroom, someone is messing with Jane, Rochester tells her it's all cool, the wedding day comes, and welcome to Crazy Town, population 2: Mr Rochester and his FIRST WIFE THAT HE KEEPS LOCKED UP IN THE ATTIC. Yes, I had to do all CAPS on that, I'm sorry. This is so weird, it doesn't even feel like the same story. Rochester claims it's all perfectly innocent and acceptable, because the first wife is unhinged and mentally ill. And he still wants Jane to stay and be his mistress. Of course, Jane freaks and runs off.
Jane to Rochester: "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?-a machine without feelings? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!-I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."
She travels across the countryside for days and nights and ends up on the doorstep, starving and sick, of the Rivers siblings. Spoiler alert: she's related to them. She convalesces there for a month or so and thanks to St John, the eldest sibling, gets a job in the local town as a schoolteacher. And then there's more weird when he asks her to go on a missionary trip with him to the Middle East...as his wife. She's come to think of him as a brother (she doesn't know she's related yet) and still loves Rochester, so she's like "uh, no. But I'll go as your sister." He refuses and says it's her duty and her mission, etc...She still refuses and around that time, gets a letter forwarded from the Rochester house about a distant uncle who died and left her a ton of money. Then it all comes out that she and the Rivers' are cousins, Jane is ecstatic to finally have family, and she splits the money with them.
Finally, Jane gets happy with her money, decides she is worthy of Rochester and still loves him and needs to see him again, so she takes the trip back to him. There, she finds the house burned to the ground and no one around. She learns from the locals that Rochester was badly injured trying to save his crazy wife but she died and now he is blind and missing a hand and living in the woods somewhere. She runs to him and vows never to leave him again and all that mushy stuff. He can't believe his ears at first, thinking her a spirit that he called to him, but he comes around and asks her to marry him again. She says yes, of course, and then spends the last chapter of the book talking about St John. More weird, right? And that's it, thank you very much. Why do I always spend the most amount of time on the books I don't like that much? Strange.