Written by CONNIE BATES
Book Review – Pre 1900
Book: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Brontë
It’s easy to dislike Jane Eyre. The heroine can be morally righteous and at times emotionally distant, even from herself. The hero can be intentionally cruel and staggeringly selfish. But there lies Charlotte Brontë’s genuis. Her characters are inherantly flawed, a study of the complexity of human emotion and resilience againt the rigid social structures of the 19th Century.
Orphaned as a young child, Jane Eyre is sent to live with wealthy relatives who neither want nor care for her. Eventually exiled to Lowood School for Girls by her emotionally abusive Aunt, Jane grows up to be a quietly determined and self-reliant young woman.
After completing her education, Jane obtains a position as a governess to 10-year-old Adele Varens at Thornfield Hall. It is at Thornfield that Jane crosses paths with Mr. Rochester, an intensely private and often aloof man who is drawn to Jane’s moral character.
It would be a disservice to Brontë’s vision to state that what follows is a simple love story. Jane Eyre is filled with a sense of uneasiness, of tightly reined emotions and social constraints, which allows Brontë to comment on the inequality of women and the pitfalls of social status in 19th Century society.
Jane Eyre is undoubtedly an essential piece of classic English literature. It should not be judged harshly by its inclusion in what can be an inaccessable, and at times, an irrelevant club. Brontë comments on feminism and social politics without falling victim to mundane prose and manages to create a story that is intelligent, compelling and as vitally important now as it was when it was orginally published in 1847.
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