By Charlotte Bronte
Barnes & Noble Books
Jane Eyre is a book I’ve owned for many years. My mother bought it for me as part of a boxed set of classics that included Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Well meaning that I can be sometimes, I wanted to read it, but something new always appeared on the shelf and I never got around to it. A few weeks ago I decided that I would read it, and assuage a little guilt as well since I was starting to see it each time I looked at the shelf and realized that once again I hadn’t read it.
Jane is a young orphan being raised by an aunt who can’t stand her. After an incident with her cousin, her aunt sends her off to Lowood School where Jane finds a life as a teacher. Wanting a new experience, she sets out to find a governess position and unexpectedly finds a home, a life, love, and heartbreak. In the midst of her most heartbreaking moment, she stumbles upon unknown family members, rebuilds herself but knows that in the end she must follow her heart even if it means ruin for her battered feelings.
Those few sentences were so difficult to write. I realize many people already know the story so I didn’t want to drone on about the plot and I also didn’t want to give too much away for the few of you out there that were like me and kept putting it off. There are so many wonderful moments in this story that in order to truly appreciate how lovely, haunting, and beautiful it is, you must read it. Which brings me to a new dilemma — how do I talk about this book without getting all saccharine and sloppy on you?
You see, I adored this book. I adored Jane. She’s feisty, stubborn, generous, loving, understanding, and loyal. As a child she hates her family, with good reason as they are abominable people, but when she arrives at Lowood School, despite a cruel headmaster, she flourishes. She finds friends who believe in her, her kindness shines like a beacon, and she’s adventurous wanting to experience life outside of the comfortable walls of the school. When she arrives at Thornfield to become a governess to a young French girl, she’s strict yet fun making Adele fall in love with her. The servants at the house become a family of sorts to her and for the first time in her life Jane enjoys being at home. The master of Thornfield, Rochester, however, is another issue. Jane explicitly describes him in a way that makes him seem revolting but she herself is in love with him. You see through her descriptions to the love she feels but when it ends in heartbreak, she leaves and you want to cry with her. In her darkest moments, she still feels loyalty to those she loves and I wanted to yell at her. She’s too smart for her own good but that’s why she is so likable. When things are most horrid, she somehow perseveres and that staunchness is something you come to appreciate.
Characters are what make a story for me and Jane has found a place in my heart as a favorite character. There are so many things in her path but she still finds the good in people, even ones that have hurt her, and she has incredible strength. I admired her for her ability to calmly make decisions and stick with her convictions even when it meant living with nothing but the clothes on her back. When Jane finds her happy ending (don’t worry the spoiler lover in me won’t say more), I also wanted to cry for her. She had been through too much for it to be any other way.
Jane Eyre, a book that I will be reading again and probably sooner rather than later.