Saturday, 11 June 2011

Book Review 5: Jane Eyre

Book Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Price: P335.00 (National Bookstore, paperback)
Genre: Romance/Angst
Number of Pages:  596
Personal Rating: 7/10 
Reading Difficulty: Difficult (4/5)

Book Summary:

The loneliness and cruelty of Jane's childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as governess at Thornfield hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart- wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman's quest for self- respect. 

Personal Insights:

If you're looking for a good and fulfilling book to read, then I suggest reading Jane Eyre. Now, I understand why it is one of the classics. At first, I really had no idea what this book was really all about and I'm glad that I didn't search for the synopsis in Wikipedia because I think it would have ruined the experience of reading it. I added it to my list of books-to-read because it was included in BBC's top 100 books. I don't really trust the BBC top 100 books since I've read stuff in there that I didn't really like, but for the sake of fulfilling my new year's resolution back in January, which was to finish at least 50 books from the list this year, I started reading this. I've got to say that I'm glad that I did.

Jane Eyre is really one of a kind. I usually steer away from romantic stuff since I can't really relate to it and it bores me a LOT since I think the dialogue and plot is too shallow, but this is an exception. The plot was not cliched and the character's romantic banter is not something that you'd consider as corny or cheesy. Just take a look at my favorite excerpts below! The characters' trails of thought and exclamations of love would really go straight through your heart! But, like I've said before, the romantic part of the book is not the thing that appealed to me. Rather,  I was more attracted to the author's description of the characters as having a lot of flaws. I appreciated that since it provided a breath of fresh air where the characters are not perfect, gorgeous and sparkly like the vampire book characters that seem to be the 'in' thing these past few years. Yay!

First off, let's start with Jane Eyre. I really like her! Jane Eyre is not the usual stereotype of a female protagonist/ heroine. For one thing, she's NOT pretty or beautiful. It was even mentioned in the novel that people act coldly towards her since she's such a disagreeable- looking girl. Suffice to say, she's a little bit on the dull or ugly side. I think, this is the quality of Jane Eyre that I like. She doesn't get her power or self- confidence from her looks or even from her riches since she's quite poor. It just strengthened the fact that her high self- respect and self-esteem are something innate in her. In a way, this kind of served as an inspiration: you don't need to be perfect. Your flaws only strengthen your character. 

Other than Jane Eyre, I also like Mrs. Fairfax and Mr. Rochester. Mrs. Fairfax's motherly presence was somewhat comforting. Once you're in the middle of reading it, you'd really get absorbed in dealing with Jane Eyre's problems so having Mrs. Fairfax seems to lessen the troublesome feelings that you'd have as you progress in reading the novel. On the other hand, I like Mr. Rochester since he's really unpredictable, but just at the same time. He also has a lot of flaws; he's quite ugly and he has a really cocky and strong attitude, but his imperfections only intensify the fact that he's just human. In this way, the reader could really identify with him. 

Having said all that,  I think that it would come as a big surprise when I say that neither Jane Eyre nor Mr. Rochester is my favorite character. I find Helen Burns as the most striking out of all. Helen Burns is Jane Eyre's friend in school. I don't like to expound on the things that would happen to her, but it's a really harrowing experience. Through that, you'd see the strength of her character. If Jane Eyre is plain-looking and witty, which borders on being cocky, Helen Burns is the exact opposite. She's quite saint-like. Jane Eyre fights for her rights, but Helen Burns just accepts everything. Take a look at my favorite excerpts to get a better idea of her character. The best description that I can give about her is that she's a self- actualized individual, which is a level that is kind of hard to attain in her young age considering the 'event' that would happen to her.

I guess I'm rambling now. I've already used 3 paragraphs to describe how the characters have affected me, which is a positive thing for me since they evoked a lot of emotions. This just goes to show how good Charlotte Bronte is as a writer. Now, let's focus on the aspects that I didn't like namely 'the twist' of the story. True, Mr. Rochester's secret kept me guessing halfway, but his secret's not THAT shocking for me. I guess, if I were in Jane Eyre's position, I would have felt like I was cheated or something, but I was expecting something MORE horrible. Another thing that I didn't like was how the story ended or at least the events prior to the ending. This is just a fictional novel, I know. Thus, the author can depict the perfect ending, which Charlotte Bronte did. However, I found it tacky. I hated the fact that everything just seemed to 'fall into place.' Forgive me for mentioning this since it's a spoiler, but I didn't like the fact that the rescuers of Jane Eyre are in fact her long lost cousins or the fact that his uncle is angry at her cousin's whole family so she got all of her dead uncle's loot. Everything is just so perfectly orchestrated that it's bordering on being unbelievable. I would have given the novel a higher rating if not for this drawback. I mean, Charlotte Bronte emphasized the characters' flaws and weaknesses to promote the idea that self- esteem and self- respect are things that can exist even without having good looks or riches then suddenly, she lavishes this good fortune upon Jane Eyre? For me, I got the feeling that it defeated the purpose of inspiring the readers. But, other than these observations, I loved the book so I would really recommend it especially to people who likes to read novels from certain time periods. 

So, just to make you want to read it, just look at this picture (which I do NOT own; just got this from google)! It's a good scene right? That's Mr. Rochester, Pilot the dog, Jane Eyre and Adelle. I love the setting and the milieu! Are you also interested? 

Favorite Excerpts:

Children can feel, but they cannot analyze their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words.-- Jane Eyre

It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you.-- Helen Burns

By dying young I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way well in the world. I should have been continually at fault.-- Helen Burns

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action and they will make it if they cannot find it. -- Mr. Rochester

Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre. Remorse is the poison of life. -- Mr. Rochester

The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely entrusted.

Genius is said to be self- conscious. 

I can live alone, if self- respect and circumstances require me to do so, I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure, born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be witheld.-- Jane Eyre

A wanderer's repose or a sinner's reformation should never depend on a fellow creature... If any one you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amen, and solace to heal.-- Mr. Rochester

Human beings enjoy complete happiness in this world. I was not born for a different destiny to the rest of my species: to imagine such a lot befalling me is a fairy tale.-- Jane Eyre

Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes.

Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness, it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure and if it would be broken, it is still my treasure.-- Mr. Rochester

Life, however, was yet in my possession; with all its requirements, and pain and responsibilities. The burden must be carried; the want provided for; the suffering endured; the responsibility fulfilled. -- Jane Eyre

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