4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It's hard to imagine a better gothic romance than "Jane Eyre" -- gloomy vast houses, mysterious secrets, and a brooding haunted man with a dark past.
In fact, Charlotte Bronte's classic novel has pretty much everything going for it -- beautiful settings, a passionate romance tempered by iron-clad morals, and a heroine whose poverty and lack of beauty only let her brains and courage shine brighter. And it's all wrapped in the misty, haunting atmosphere of a true gothic story -- madwoman in the attic and all.
Jane Eyre was an orphan, abused and neglected first by relatives, then by a boarding school run by a tyrannical, hypocritical minister. But Jane refuses to let anyone shove her down -- even when her saintly best friend dies from the wretched conditions.
But many years later, Jane moves on by applying to Thornfield Hall for a governess position, and gets the job. She soon becomes the teacher and friend to the sprightly French girl Adele, but is struck by the dark, almost haunted feeling of her new home.
Then she runs into a rather surly horseman -- who turns out to be her employer, Mr. Rochester, a cynical, embittered man who spends little time at Thornfield. They are slowly drawn together into a powerful love, despite their different social stations -- and Rochester's apparent attentions to a shallow, snotty aristocrat who wants his wealth and status.
But strange things are happening at Thornfield -- stabbings, fires, and mysterious laughter. Jane and Rochester finally confess their feelings to each other, but their wedding is interrupted when Rochester's dark past comes to light. Jane flees into the arms of long-lost family members, and is offered a new life -- but her love for Rochester is not so easily forgotten...
"Jane Eyre" is one of those books that transcends the labels of genre. Charlotte Bronte spun a haunting gothic romance around her semi-autobiographical heroine and Byronic anti-hero, filling it with brilliant writing and solid plot. It has everything all the other gothic romances of the time had... but Bronte gave it depth and intensity without resorting to melodrama.
Bronte wrote in the usual stately prose of the time, but it has a sensual, lush quality, even in the dank early chapters at Lowood. At Thornfield, the book acquires an overhanging atmosphere of foreboding, until the clouds clear near the end. And she wove some tough questions into Jane's perspective -- that of a woman's independence and strength in a man's world, of extreme religion, and of the clash between morals and passion.
And Bronte also avoided any tinges of drippy sentimentality (Mrs. Reed dies still spewing venom) while injecting some hauntingly nightmarish moments ("She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart"). She even manages to include some funny stuff, such as Rochester disguising himself as an old gypsy woman.
The story does slow down after the abortive wedding, when Jane flees Thornfield and briefly considers marrying a repressed clergyman who wants to go die preaching in India. It's rather boring to hear the self-consciously saintly St. John prattling about himself, instead of Rochester's barbed wit. But when Jane departs again, the plot speeds up into a nice, mellow little finale.
Bronte did a brilliant job of bringing her heroine to life -- as a defiant little girl who is condemned for being "passionate," as an independent young lady, and as a woman torn between love and principle. Jane's strong personality and wits overwhelm the basic fact that she's not unusually pretty. And Rochester is a brilliantly sexy Byronic anti-hero with a prickly, mercurial wit.
Of Charlotte Bronte's few novels, "Jane Eyre" is undoubtedly the most brilliant -- passionate, dark and hauntingly eerie. Definitely a must-read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2008
Please do not listen to the reviewer who said this book has no plot. It is a story of emotions, hardship, women's rights, madness, intense love and intrigue. There are many twists and turns - and lots of conflict and pain to come to terms with. It will make you laugh out loud and cry. Maybe the previous reviewer was too young to understand and was disappointed that Jane Eyre wasn't like the plot of 'The OC' or something... If you are looking for a mature and engrossing tale, this is the one. Charlotte Bronte was the most awesome writer and her style never fails to draw in the reader from the first page.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2010
Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' has pretty much everything going for it - beautiful settings, a passionate romance tempered by iron-clad morals, and a heroine whose poverty and lack of beauty only let her brains and courage shine brighter. And it's all wrapped in the misty, haunting atmosphere of a true gothic story - madwoman in the attic and all.
A timeless classic - I only wish she had written a sequel! Other books I'd recommend although very different are:
Godstone - The Kairos Boxes
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
On October 16th, of 1847, "Jane Eyre: An Autobiography", edited by Currier Bell (pseudonym of Charlotte Brontë) was published. It created some controversy at the time, as many believed it was written by a man. The novel was very popular when published, but critical reaction to it varied. Today, it is clearly a classic, the development of a young woman, who does not fit into the stereotype of a nineteenth century woman. She is not submissive, and she struggles to avoid being dependent on others. The original publication was in three volumes, but this Penguin Classics edition is based on the third edition of Jane Eyre, and it is the last edition which Charlotte Brontë edited and corrected.
The story covers Jane's life from her childhood until her marriage. The childhood chapters can be split into two sections, those where Jane, an orphan, was being raised by her Uncle's family, but her uncle has passed away and her aunt does not like her, but was forced to promise to take care of her. The key parts of this section are Jane's being rejected by the closest thing she has to a family, her morality, and her independence, i.e. her refusal to conform. The second part of her childhood is when she is sent to attend a charity school, called Lowood, where the pupils have to make do with substandard food and clothing. Here Jane finds one teacher who treats her, and the other students, well, Miss Maria Temple. One of the key things in this section is the difference between religion and morality, symbolized by Mr. Brocklehurst a clergyman who is mostly responsible for the appalling conditions at Lowood, and Jane and Miss Temple on the side of morality. Also key is Jane's witnessing her friend, Helen Burns, dying from a typhus epidemic, in spite of her goodness and her submission to the standards imposed by Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Scatcherd, a teacher as cruel as Miss Temple is kind.
The story then picks up many years later, with Jane in position as a teacher at Lowood, but looking to move on. She advertises for a position as a governess and is hired by Mrs. Fairfax. She is to take care of Adèle Varens, a girl who is being taken care of by Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield Manor where Mrs. Fairfax is the housekeeper. This section has a lot to do with class, as well as morality. There is the difficulty of Jane falling in love with someone of a different class. There is also the looking down on Jane as being of a lower class, by Mr. Rochester's peers. The morality questions are here to, in the comparison of the higher classes verses that of the lower class. Even Mr. Rochester's behavior is in question, in the events leading up to Jane leaving. Jane also finds out that she does have family left, and when it appears that she is to have everything, she sends a letter to her father's brother. It is this attempt to reconnect with family that causes her to lose nearly everything as it destroys what she thought she was about to have.
The next section details Jane's life after leaving Thornfield Manor. Here she loses almost everything, and is on death's door when she is on the doorstep of Moor House. The Rivers, St. John, Diana, and Mary. It is from this state of having nothing from which she recovers almost everything she could want. Here she recovers her health, she is employed again and regains much of her independence. St. John is in love with a woman, but he will not ask her because he is driven to devote his life to religion. He does find out Jane's true identity though, and this results in Jane learning she has family, and wealth that she didn't know she had. She is pressured by St. John to marry him and join him in his missionary life, but she knows that he doesn't love her. She rejects St. John, and instead goes to find her one love, Mr. Rochester. She now has wealth and family, and she learns that tragedies in Mr. Rochester's life have made what was once impossible possible.
It is a long and winding road which Jane travels in this novel. Probably best classified as a gothic romance, it deals with numerous issues and the strength of Jane's character serves as a good role model for young women, and for that matter anyone. The Penguin Classics edition is filled with supporting documentation as always. There is a wonderful introduction by Stevie Davies, along with a Chronology, suggestions for further reading, notes on the text, opinions of the press, and wonderful textual notes which enhance the reading experience and understanding of the reader.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2011
I had bought the norton edition of Jane Eyre with the hope that it would help me in understanding some of the more abstruse religious symbols, quotes, and confounding vocabulary used in the novel. However I have to say that the extra footnotes were mostly irrelevant and did not serve the purpose. To anyone thinking of buying the norton edition, my advice is to save the extra ten bucks and invest in a good dictionary instead.
on January 18, 2010
Jane Eyre being my favourite book, I have read any sequels, prequels or spin-offs that I could find:
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which tells the story from Bertha's point of view, including her time in the West Indies.
- Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. It is similar in the sense that the second Mrs. DeWinter in the book is haunted by the unseen presence of the first Mrs. DeWinter, just as Jane hears the maniacal cries of Bertha. There is the fact that Maxim is much older than the second Mrs. DeWinter, just as Rochester is much older than Jane. Then, finally there is the fire that destroys their stately old mansion, Manderley.
- The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart. The parallels in that story are not as clear at first, but there is the young girl who falls in love with an already married man, and who runs away to escape from it all, and also the fire, and the destruction of an old majestic tree.
- a scifi version - Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn. In plot and structure it was almost exactly the same, following Brontë's narrative scene by scene, except for the transposition to a far-off planet in the distant future. I didn't think it was different enough, though, from the original to make it interesting in its' own right.
- How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Even with the misleading Nancy Drew reference in the title, reading the book it was clear that it was Jane Eyre in the modern day in Iceland.
- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde was a very different sort of take-off. It is a book that defies genre description - is it mystery, romance, alternative history, fantasy, or scifi? I think the consensus must be that it combines elements of them all. In this book, which takes place in a 1985 England still in the throes of the Crimean War, spec ops agent Thursday Next enters the world of fiction, and ends up changing the end of Jane Eyre to the conclusion we know today, for which we must profoundly thank her. (Nobody wanted Jane to end up with frigid St. John.)
on June 4, 2004
The story of Jane Eyre is a classic tale of a search for human compassion. From the tragedies of her orphaned beginnings and a childhood with a hateful aunt who, out of spite, sends Jane to a prison-like life at Lowood Boarding School, Jane's strength of character shines through. Through each ordeal the reader develops a true concern for this "plain Jane". When she finally begins to find a more content life at Thornfield and as her relationship with Rochester develops into love the reader feels happiness for her, but follows her through the depths of despair at the shocking revelation that prevents her from marrying him. The reader cheers for her as she rebuilds her life as a strong, independent woman who is able to choose her destiny.
Jane Eyre is a beautifully written book, although at times Charlotte Bronte's descriptions were very wordy and therefore the reading process was difficult. Understandably, this descriptive style of writing was typical of an era in which the average person did not have the opportunities we now have to envision different people and places.
on June 2, 2004
Quite arguably one of the greatest British novels ever penned, Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" is so all-around-wonderful, it's no wonder that it's been adapted into 5+ movies.
We first meet Bronte's Jane as a child, young and abused, in the care of her aunt. We immediately take Jane under our wing, feeling more her personal protector with each turn of the page. Then, one day, Jane is a woman. Though retaining many of her childlike tendencies, Jane is determined to be independent: leaving her old boarding school victorious and free, she begins a governess position at the manor home of the elusive and mysterious Mr. Edward Rochester. It is Jane who tames Rochester's brooding and arrogant heart, reducing him to schoolboyish desperation.
So deliciously provactive is "Jane Eyre," that it is impossible not to devour it within days; my own worn-with-love copy sits next to a dog-eared "Villette."
It is sometimes speculated that Charlotte Bronte exercised her complicated mind through the written word; "Jane Eyre" is beautiful evidence of that.
As the story slows to its conclusion, you will find yourself lost: hungry for more of Jane, more of Rochester, and more of the magic that is "Eyre." Quench that thirst with more Bronte (perhaps Emily's "Wuthering Heights" or some of Anne's poetry?) or, if you're like me, a second read of the irresistible "Jane."
on May 18, 2004
Charlotte Bronte takes a plain Jane, and makes her one of the most memorable characters from the likes of Bronte sisters. This novel starts at a boarding school, as we learn of Jane's painful childhood, grows into an exciting love story as governness Jane falls for Mr Rochester, (whose daughter she tutors), and after a lot of twists, drama, separation and engrossing trains of events Jane finds home, love and happiness.
I have had read the abridged version at age of 11, and loved it then. Over the years, I have repeatedly reread the novel. Like all classics, everytime I read it, it offers an array of previously unfelt emotions and of course remains as enchanting as ever. To say very least, it is like your favorite soap opera that you watched while growing up, has characters and events you nearly can never forget, and due to its ageless charm, you revisit those times and emotions through all the reruns and remakes. Maybe the weight of my years of association makes this novel unforgettable for me, but trust me, read it and you will definitely feel the romance, the pain, the emotion, the passion: and maybe like me, return to read it again!
on May 12, 2004
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is a touching love story from the 19th century. Within the first few pages you will be swept up into a poor orphaned girl's troublesome life. Jane Eyre's sorrows, triumphs, and love are woven together in an almost magical way that keeps you reading until the end. There is mystery, suspense, and drama in this book, and also humor and happiness.
Jane is an orphan who was raised by her cruel Aunt Reed. She was sent off to a charity bording school called Lowood. There our 'poor and plain' heroine spends eight years. With sad and happy memories from Lowood, Jane departs to become a governess at Thornfield Hall. Little does she know of the mystery in the attic or the love that awaits her.
I reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a good classic. It's really a magical tale that is worth reading over and over again.The reading is moderately hard, it is probably about high school reading level. I loved it, and
understood it, even though I am in 8th grade.
I think that when I finished this book I was slightly changed from what I was when I started this book. I can really relate to Jane Eyre, and that is why I think that girls tend to like this novel more than boys. Also because it is a romance,but who knows, it really depends on what kind of person you are.
Jane Eyre is a passionate novel that sketches the way women felt in the 19th century, and what they went through. Jane Eyre's passion pours out of her so strongly, especially in this sentence:
"...my soul began to expand, to exault, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into an unhoped-for-liberty"