When I first started reading this book, I found it supremely boring (no don’t kill me yet, hold your horses), and it was a struggle to keep at it. In fact, I would have certainly DNFed it, if not for the fact that I was buddy-reading this book with Bookish Muggle, and I really did not want to let her down.
It’s the only reason I bothered to drag myself through the initial few chapters. And no, I am not saying it was all dreary, there were certainly sparks of excellence, but for the most part I was bored out of my mind.
So from that kind of a beginning to now, when I’ve finished the book, and I’m obsessed with it – it’s clearly been quite a turnaround, ’cause now I can’t imagine giving this anything less than 5 glorious stars. Yes, you read that right.
And sure most of this has to do with a terrific second half, but in hindsight, I can see how the first half was as vital as the second to this wonderful wonderful story. Without the backstory, the second half wouldn’t have had the kind of impact it did.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let’s back up a bit.
I know many people view this book as an epic romance, a timeless love-story, and while it’s definitely one way of looking at it, I view this more as a ‘life story’. The tale of the evolution of a strong and independent female protagonist, a 19th century feminist, who was light years ahead of her time.
“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”
The author utilizes the first person narrative, which creates a high degree of intimacy with the character; it made me feel like I knew Jane as well as she comes to know her own self. And the more I knew her, the more I liked her.
I am not saying I agreed with everything that she thought or did. For instance, she sure had a strong moral compass, which is great, but was a little too preachy at times. And no, I am not judging her for that, just saying.
At any rate, none of us can claim perfection, so I can hardly expect that from her.
Having said that, I do envy her strength of character in the face of tragedy and temptation.
“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”
She did not to let love justify all the mistakes and wrong choices, and refused to let it blind her to everything else that was important for her sense of self-worth. And I loved her for this unwavering determination to stay true to herself!
I wish I could have declared with any degree of confidence that I would have acted in a similar manner too, but in all honesty, I cannot say that. Which is why I found her to be a very brave soul, to deny the first glimpse of happiness that she found in her life, which had so far essentially been one long tale of woe.
Also, as the book progresses, the plot movements bring her back to the place where she had spent her childhood, a place she had grown away from – mentally and physically. And it was at that time, that we can see the stark contrast in her personality, from the spit-fire she used to be, to the composed, self assured, lady she had turned into. It’s rare that we get to see that kind of evolution, and it was very gratifying to witness it.
Jane Eyre – On Religion
The book takes a very nuanced view of religion: there are the garden variety of hypocrites. The ones who use religion as a tool, or an excuse for what they do, to justify their own selfish end. There are the saintly characters who always turn the other cheek.
And then there are believers like Jane, who are imperfect, but are doing the best they can. And while I clearly do not share the same moral or spiritual compass as Jane, her view of religion is the one I most relate to.
Jane Eyre – The Romance
Now speaking of the romance in this book, I must say that it was of a singular nature (book allusion, yes 😀 ).
This is no Cinderella story. Jane is no hidden beauty, certainly not a damsel in distress, and Mr. Rochester is clearly no Prince Charming (far, far from it). Neither was this love story mostly a tale of attraction (though they are definitely attracted to each other).
This one was a true meeting of the minds and hearts. A romance between two mature, strong willed people, who brought each other immense joy and fulfillment. A bond that makes a lasting impression on the reader.
I also loved the repartee between Jane & Mr. Rochester. He made witty, sarcastic comments all the time, and she sassed him right back. Their banter always brought a smile to my face.
And while we are still speaking of Mr. Rochester, I must mention this – when he first appeared, I found him extremely aggravating. He came across as a rude, bossy, entitled prick. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could even tolerate him, much less like him.
And I know this story took place centuries ago, but I did not find that an acceptable excuse. For instance, even if we compared him with people around his time, like the arrogant, yet ever the gentleman, Mr Darcy, Mr. Rochester only seemed worse in comparison.
But like the book, his is one character that made a complete turnaround. He went from aggravating, to tolerable, to adorable, pretty quickly. In-fact he is now on my list of favorite male leads! Who would’ve thought, right?
Jane Eyre is more than just an autobiography or a love story that transcends all boundaries; it is a testament to the power of pure emotion, that can be felt through the ages and across all barriers of time and culture. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.
That’s all from my end folks. I would love to hear from you. Which book did you recently read? Also, have you ever been as obsessed with any book that you felt compelled to check out all the adaptations? Because that’s exactly what I am doing right now. Going through all the Jane Eyre adaptations.
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