Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte -- Final Thoughts

I can still remember my first encounter with Jane Eyre.  It wasn't with the book, it was with the 1983 BBC miniseries starring Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton.  My mom got it from the library when I was probably thirteen or fourteen, and we watched it together.  I fell in love.  With the story, with Jane, with Rochester, the whole shebang.  I didn't read the book until I was a few years older, but when I did, it quickly rose to the ranks of my favorite books.  A couple of years ago, I realized that it had at last eclipsed the book that had long held the #1 spot in my affections, and become my absolute favorite book.

I've read the whole book six or seven times, but there are some chapters I've read far, far more often than that.  Sometimes I dip in for a visit when I need a pick-me-up; other times, I've skimmed the beginning and much of the later part, and just relished my favorite sections.  

What is it about this melodramatic, implausible, highly emotional story that draws me so fiercely?  The plot -- poor girl becomes a governess, falls in love with her employer, flees from him when she learns his secret, finds new friends, returns to her one true love when he is free -- is basically a Cinderella retelling, and while I'm very drawn to Cinderella stories, there aren't any others that have earned this level of devotion from me.  


When I was a teen, and into my twenties, I would have said I loved this book because I loved Mr. Rochester.  And he's still a huge part of my affection for this story, no question.  When it comes to movie adaptations, it's Rochester who makes or breaks them for me -- I will put up with a less-than-great Jane, but if Rochester feels off to me, I'm going to dislike the entire production.  But I realized, when I reread the entire book around the age of 30, that it's Jane herself that makes me love this book.

Jane Eyre, outwardly plain and powerless, is inwardly a pillar of strength.  That juxtaposition of one's outer and inner selves fascinates me, and Jane's absolute resolution fills me with awe.  Leading this read-along has confirmed my admiration of her.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for discussions of Rochester's possible fathering of an illegitimate child, scary situations, and cruel treatment of a child.

I'm not going to share favorite lines here today, as I've shared them already in individual chapter posts.  I just wanted to share these final thoughts on this book, especially since it is my 50th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club!!!  I have finished the challenge I set for myself at the beginning of 2014 -- I wanted to read 50 classics in 5 years, and I accomplished that in slightly less than 3.  More about that in another post.

This was also the 18th book I've read and reviewed for the Women's Classic Literature Event.  I'm aiming for 20 by the end of the year, so here's hoping I can finish reading two more classics written by women in the next 6 weeks!

16 comments:

  1. Yes, I haven't read it as much as you but now that i have participated in this read-along Jane is my favorite. St. John.... Well, I like him because he found out they were cousins. Rochester, I like him A LOT better. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Jane Eyre with us!
    Congrats! 50! Way to go!

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    1. MovieCritic, I suspect you might also be younger than I am? So by the time you're in your mid-30s, you may have read it more often as well ;-)

      And yes, St. John does have a lot of good points. He rescued Jane, he found her work she enjoyed and was good at, and he discovered her identity and helped her claim her inheritance and relatives. I like what he does, just not how he behaves, if that makes any sense.

      And thanks! I'm pretty excited by this.

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    2. Me too! I liked, not-liked St. John. Did you notice his name is pronounced "sin" but spelled like "saint." Hm...

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    3. Jillian, yeah, that's an English-ism. "Saint Clair" becomes "Sinclair," "Saint John" gets pronounced "Sinjin." Bronte may have chosen his name for that very reason, to juxtapose the two sounds and meanings.

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  2. Congrats on 50!!!! Also I love reading people's thoughts on their favorite book. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jillian! I agree, it can be a lot of fun finding out why people love specific things.

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  3. I saw the Hurt / Gainsbourg version when I was about the same age and while I didn't love it, it intrigued me enough in the story to read the book. I still haven't found a favorite screen adaptation, but if you haven't heard it already, I highly recommend the Jane Eyre Musical. It's the only version of the story where they leave the religious underpinnings intact. Being a musical, it also enables them to use the symbolism running through the book; I especially love "Sirens," where Edward compares her to a Siren, luring him to his demise; and Jane thinks of the ways she can redeem him. Such a marvelous story. :)

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    1. Charity, I haven't seen that version yet. One of these days! And people keep recommending the musical to me, so I'm going to have to try to find the music and listen to it. Are there any filmed versions, even of stage productions?

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    2. Sadly no, only the audio. Which... works fine for me. (I actually wish Focus on the Family would do a Radio Theater for Jane Eyre. That would be marvelous.)

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    3. That would be cool! I used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey sooooooo long ago...

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    1. Jillian, sounds cool! I'll check it out. Thanks!

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  5. Hello Hamlette, I'm so sorry I missed your last posts in this great read-along. I must think you for giving me the idea to re-read this story. You did a great job, and I love this last post/wrap up. I recently wrote a post on Jane Eyre that I had hoped to share during the read-along. It's not much...just a connection I found between Mr. Rochester and one of my favorite classic rock songs. I'll leave a link here. Thanks again. http://www.libraryluggage.com/classic-rock-and-jane-eyre/

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    1. Lucy, that's okay. Life happens! I'm glad you enjoyed the read-along, and I look forward to reading your post :-) Sounds intriguing!

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