After a long pause, I came back to the classics. I just finished reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Find any edition of this book over at Book Depository
I’ve been doing terrible with my Classics list lately. Life’s a bit weird right now and most classics don’t give me the distraction and escape that I’ve been needing. I think that’s why I have been leaning on young adult and new adult more. Not to invalidate those genres: I absolutely love them and most of the books I’ve read so far are really amazing. But they don’t get me thinking about big things, like classics do. But I redeemed myself a bit and read a classic that had been sitting in my shelves for a long time.
Jane Eyre is the most popular book by the eldest of the Brontës. Charlotte and her sisters, Emily and Anne, were literary genius in a time where women couldn’t even aspire to be something other than servants or mothers. I’ve only read Wuthering Heights, by Emily, but it had such an impact on me. It was, if I’m not mistaken, my first classic (or one of the first). That book changed my reading habits and, most certainty, my life. A few months later I bought Jane Eyre but I’m sure I mistaken the names and thought it was one of Emily’s work. Now I’m much more aware of the Brontë sisters and I couldn’t wait to read what is considered to be one of the first feminist books.
It tells the life story of Jane, an orphan girl taken into custody by her severe aunt since her legal guardian’s death. We see her journey through a house where she is despised, a school where she first learns about the world and her first love while tutoring a child in a master’s house.
This book was published exactly one hundred and forty eight years before my birth and it is safe to say that a lot of things have changed. Orphan children aren’t (mostly) made servants by their foster families, girls and boys attend school together and love is the primary reason for marriage between two humans (at least in the first world countries). Since this is, mainly, a bildungsroman (a therm I just learned, meaning a coming-of-age story) and a social criticism book, it’s impossible not to notice how progressive it is in the matters of love, sexuality and womanhood. Every man that even dares to try and impose something on Jane completely fails. She’s always in control of all of the aspects in her life. She’s a woman, young, small and of a low social status but that doesn’t stop her from anything. I’m sure that not a lot of Victorian women, unfortunately, were like this but I also want to believe that reading this book has changed some of the women’s (and men’s) views.
I love coming-of-age stories! I love experiencing the process of growth through others perspectives. Everyone is different and it’s quite fascinating to see how people become who they are. The ways of Jane are completely inspiring to me. It takes such a strength to be yourself and roam against a tide that pushes you so hard. She’s talented, a rebel at heart and extremely curious. I honestly loved her. Such a real yet different woman.
I’m not comfortable with adding romance to the main points of this book. There’s so much more than that, delivered by all the characters and situations, that the romance present doesn’t seem to be that important. It’s a very progressive one nevertheless.
My only problem with this book was its pace. There was a lot of rambling and sometimes not that critical descriptions of places or situations. They were beautiful but I just wanted for the story to move on already!
I’ve recently seen the latest movie adaptation, with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, who is my all time biggest crush. It was a very good movie and amazingly faithful so I highly recommend it too. I’ll be talking more in depth about it in a next post about movie adaptations!
In summary, this book is a total masterpiece. I’m glad I’ve been giving the Brontë sisters all the attention they deserve. I cannot wait to read more from them. With that said, Wuthering Heights still has a special place in my heart.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes:
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.
Thank you, once again, for reading!