I read “Jane Eyre” in high school in a class called “Victorian Women.” Barf, right? However, out of the many insufferable books we read, this one stuck with me. In fact, I read this book every year, sometimes even twice a year out of my own choosing. This was the only book in high school that I didn’t read any SparkNotes for, didn’t cheat, and didn’t ask a friend to read it for me. Simply put, this book was powerful to me. Now, not everyone has this experience. The characters can be dull and even unlikeable. But somehow, this book resonated with me in a way that was meaningful.
Essentially, it’s a gothic novel with suspenseful elements that will keep you on your toes. In the story, Jane, a poor, lowly orphan, is sent away to school by her aunt. During these formative years, she grows strong and distant. After she graduates, she seeks work elsewhere and finds a position as Governess at Thornfield Hall, the part-time home of the mysterious Rochester. Rochester is hiding a secret that could destroy everyone in the house. Cryptic, right?
This book is a masterpiece. Fraught with symbolism and embedded with secondary meanings, every word is important. If you do embark on the endeavor of reading this book, get a version that is annotated. The annotation will describe concepts you are not familiar with, references you may not understand, or words that are outdated.
The book can be taken at face value but is more enjoyable when truly explored.
However, this book is not for the faint of heart. The long character development and little plot movement make this book slow.
In fact, the first 100 pages, while important to understand Jane’s motivation and character are a very slow, sad first 100 pages.
The next 200 pages pick up after Jane meets Rochester. With Rochester being a bipolar weirdo, and his crazy obsession with calling her “little,” these pages never cease to be interesting. Scenes with Rochester and Jane debating the presence of fairies and little green men in the woods surrounding the house or him just being generally confusing are abundant. This section culminates to the most epic five pages that have ever been written.
The final 200 pages are again slower, with a plot that will make you wish you were back in those crazy 200 pages. Jane meets new characters – Diana, Mary, and St. John (pronounced “Sinjin”) – who, frankly, are as useless to the plot as the 200 pages they are wedged in. However, the last 10 pages make up for every wrong this book has ever done to you. With a marriage proposal (not by whom you would expect), a long, epic journey, and a castle burned to the ground, this book is like a regular soap opera.
I highly recommend this book. It is my ultimate favorite book. But, like I said, it is not for everyone. The Victorian language can, to some people, be a turn off. Understand that, although it is no Jane Austin book, it is no John Green book.
Copyright 2015 Marielle Lyons