Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Posted June 8, 2016 by @Angelized_1st in Books, Entertainment, Reading Challenges, Reading England 2016 / 4 Comments

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Published by Penguin Books on 2012
Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literary, Gothic
Pages: 528
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9780143123149
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & Noble

From A to Z, the Penguin Drop Caps series collects 26 unique hardcovers--featuring cover art by type superstar Jessica Hische 
It all begins with a letter. Fall in love with Penguin Drop Caps, a new series of twenty-six collectible and gift-worthy hardcover editions, each with a type cover showcasing a gorgeously illustrated letter of the alphabet by superstar type designer Jessica Hische, whose work has appeared everywhere from Tiffany & Co. to Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom to Penguin's own bestsellers Committedand Rules of Civility. A collaboration between Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley,  the series design encompasses foil-stamped paper-over-board cases in a rainbow-hued spectrum across all twenty-six book spines and a decorative stain on all three paper edges. Penguin Drop Caps debuts with an "A" for Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a "B" for Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and a "C" for Willa Cather's My Ántonia, and continues with more classics from Penguin.

B is for Brontë. A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre dazzles and shocks readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom. Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit--which proves necessary when she takes a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves?

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

I’ve seen snippets of the film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, but I never truly understood the story. Then one day, I went into a book store and saw the lovely Penguin Drop Caps. I knew then I wanted them. This is what brought me to reading Jane Eyre. This classic romance is about a young governess who falls in love with her employer. Both are considered to be plain, and unusual of character, so it seems a match made in heaven. Yet, Mr. Rochester hides a terrible secret that may destroy their love forever.

The novel takes place mostly in the English countryside, namely in Derbyshire (?). It’s kind of hard to tell, because the town isn’t exactly stated in its entirety. However, that’s where the novel is believed to take place. The story follows young Jane as she grows up an orphan in her aunt by marriage’s home. Though the aunt promised to care for Jane, she mistreated the poor girl until she finally leaves for boarding school. Readers get a glimpse of Jane’s character, and that she endures, and then see her progress from a girl into a woman of eighteen. Once she takes the position in Mr. Rochester’s home, the romance part of the story begins. While the story doesn’t immediately begin with the romance, Brontë’s writing keeps the reader invested in the story.

“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? 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. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!” 

One aspect of the story I enjoyed was how Jane broke the fourth wall, and speaks directly to the audience. This gives the novel a conversational feel, and helps move the pace along at a steady pace. In fact, I think this is why it never bothered me when Brontë went into a lot of detail in the beginning about Jane’s upbringing. It was important to her character development, and the conversational tone made the pages easy to read. Having read this not long after Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, I’d have to admit that I prefer Jane Eyre. The characters are more likable, and the story is less frustrating. If you’re looking to get into classic novels, this is a great one to start with.

2016 Reading England Challenge Update:

reading england

  • Wuthering Heights – Yorkshire
  • Jane Eyre – Derbyshire

About Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, the third of six children, to Patrick Brontë, an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria Branwell. In April 1820 the family moved a few miles to Haworth, a remote town on the Yorkshire moors, where Patrick had been appointed Perpetual Curate. This is where the Brontë children would spend most of their lives. Maria Branwell Brontë died from what was thought to be cancer on 15 September 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of her spinster sister Elizabeth Branwell, who moved to Yorkshire to help the family.

In August 1824 Charlotte, along with her sisters Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, was sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire, a new school for the daughters of poor clergyman (which she would describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre). The school was a horrific experience for the girls and conditions were appalling. They were regularly deprived of food, beaten by teachers and humiliated for the slightest error. The school was unheated and the pupils slept two to a bed for warmth. Seven pupils died in a typhus epidemic that swept the school and all four of the Brontë girls became very ill – Maria and Elizabeth dying of tuberculosis in 1825. Her experiences at the school deeply affected Brontë – her health never recovered and she immortalised the cruel and brutal treatment in her novel, Jane Eyre. Following the tragedy, their father withdrew his daughters from the school.

At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily, and Anne — continued their ad-hoc education. In 1826 her father returned home with a box of toy soldiers for Branwell. They would prove the catalyst for the sisters’ extraordinary creative development as they immediately set to creating lives and characters for the soldiers, inventing a world for them which the siblings called ‘Angria’. The siblings became addicted to writing, creating stories, poetry and plays.

After her father began to suffer from a lung disorder, Charlotte was again sent to school to complete her education at Roe Head school in Mirfield from 1831 to 1832, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period (1833), she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf under the name of Wellesley. The school was extremely small with only ten pupils meaning the top floor was completely unused and believed to be supposedly haunted by the ghost of a young lady dressed in silk. This story fascinated Brontë and inspired the figure of Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Brontë left the school after a few years, however she swiftly returned in 1835 to take up a position as a teacher, and used her wages to pay for Emily and Anne to be taught at the school. However, teaching did not appeal to Brontë and in 1838 she left Roe Head to become a governess to the Sidgewick family – this was partly from a sense of adventure and a desire to see the world, and partly from financial necessity.

Charlotte became pregnant soon after her wedding, but her health declined rapidly and, according to Gaskell, she was attacked by “sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness.” She died, with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, aged 38.


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4 responses to “Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    • @Angelized_1st

      I was worried after I read Wuthering Heights, that it would have the same tone. I know they’re not the same author, but since Emily and Charlotte are sisters, I thought maybe the tone would be the same. I don’t know what took me so long, but I really enjoyed it.

    • @Angelized_1st

      P&P is my favorite classic book. I bought another edition of it when I ordered Jane Eyre. I plan to read that sometime this summer, as I’ll be traveling, and don’t want any physical books with me when I do. However, as soon as I’m back home, I’m picking it up.

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