“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself….. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation . . . They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.”
In a way I feel lucky to have read so few classics because of the joy of experiencing a story like this for the first time. Of course I then think what I have been missing for all these years but also what amazing reading there is to look forward to.
What more is there to say about one of the best loved of the classics? Having lived and breathed Jane Eyre for the past week I feel sure it will now always be one of my favourite books. The copy I read was from the library, I will be getting a copy of my own. I don’t tend to re read books (apart from Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers which I fall in love with all over again every few years), but this is a book that has so much to say, I’m sure I have missed plenty on the first read and even if I don’t re read it, I just want to have a copy close by if that makes sense?
Jane Eyre is told in the first person and some aspects of it are semi autobiographical. Parts of Charlotte Bronte’s early life are reflected in the story. Jane is an orphan and has to endure a harsh childhood firstly with her cruel aunt and cousins and then at Lowood, a strict charity boarding school. She is shown some kindness at the school and learns by the example of the superintendant Miss Temple and another pupil Helen Burns who becomes her friend. Later she acquires a position as governess at the imposing Thornwood Hall and meets her dark and brooding master Mr Rochester. Jane is drawn to him, and he to her but he has his secrets which will affect Jane drastically.
There is much more…but I don’t want to give too much away..
There are many elements to the book. It is a love story. It has a definite gothic feel with its atmospheric landscapes and cold, dark nights. The opposing elements of fire and ice appear throughout, the imposing Thornton Hall with it’s secrets and cries in the night. The unconventional Mr Rochester, ghostly suggestions…
And then there is the character of Jane – without family, friends and means, she is dependant and powerless. Despite her situation, she strives to stand by her principles, to mantain her integrity and personal freedom.
Considering this book was published in 1847, (under the male psuedonym of Currer Bell), the bold actions of Jane Eyre caused quite a stir upon first release. It was controversial for a woman of Jane’s station in life to be thinking and acting in an independant way.I think its principles remain sound. It would be wonderful if every young girl had the opportunity to read it.
The classics I have been reading this year seem to be getting better and better. I’m wondering if there will be anything to match this?