Despite being one of the most popularly known pieces of canonized literature, I still struggle to explain what this book is about beyond “it follows the life of Jane Eyre”. Honestly, I don’t feel like all that much happens for the length of it. But that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve it’s high acclaim. It’s just that when you read a lot of fantasy, you come to expect a lot of events (and numerous opportunities to wield your magic slaying-powers, of course).
So we start off with Jane as a child – a state I can just about manage. It’s far from my favourite stage to read about. To me, the language just seems rigid and almost wrong for her age. I’m well aware that the story is being narrated through an older Jane Eyre’s perspective, recounting her story and being able to add intelligence and hindsight beyond her focused years. But when that language and voice doesn’t change at all in recounting the dialogue of a ten year old…it’s strangely jarring. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, no matter if it was true to the time period or character. So we’ll just ignore ten-year-old-Jane, okayy? Okayy.
Saying that, Jane Eyre soon grows older – as nature requires – and from that point on I can barely find anything to fault in the book. Because ohhhh it gets intense.
But how can it get intense if not all that much happens?
Blame the “flowery language” classics tend to be known for.
Every single word seems so carefully chosen. When every word sounds like it’s been deliberately selected for that sentence in particular, you can’t help but feel the emotions so keenly. When Jane was angry, so was I. When Jane spoke fondly of any character, I found myself warming to them even if I didn’t particularly liked them. And I can’t help but be awestruck by how carefully words are used, how Bronte manages to pluck out the exact words needed to convey the atmosphere she strives for.
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
That atmosphere, now that I mentioned it, being another thing to win me over. Though not quite a gothic novel, there’s definitely a darker, drearier mood to this story that suits the Northern England/Yorkshire inspired setting perfectly (I say, as a fellow Yorkshire(wo)man). It’s not very often I particularly remember the landscapes described – lord, I find landscape descriptions boring 98% of the time – but you just can’t help being surrounded by sombre, yet weirdly comforting imagery of dreary days. I mean, what’s better that getting in from the cold rain and cosying up by a fire, right? The smaller pleasures in Jane Eyre’s life were only enhanced by her surroundings.
I still don’t have much to say character-wise this time round than I did the first, other than confirming how infuriatingly self-righteous the entire male species are in this book, and loving how sassy Jane is for dealing with such people (you go gal). It didn’t take anything from the book though. In fact, if anything, I probably appreciated Jane’s character more now than I did three years ago when originally reading about her.
So it’s safe to say this book has impressed me once again. I’m actually looking forward to picking it apart for university, rather than dreading the inevitable combing through of every sentence. Maybe I’ll come to love it more, maybe less, who knows. But for now, it’s a good ‘un.
Rated 4/5 stars
Let me know your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it!
Until next time…