Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Genre: Romance, Victorian, Bildungsroman

“Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still.”

There are times when I feel like I have been born in the wrong era (probably because of a fumbled-up incantation, just a wild guess.) I long for the world that existed during the times of endless ballroom dances, of horse-riding evenings along sunny moors and definitely, of the stately country-side dresses with bonnets. When this longing turns unbearable, I surround myself with Regency novels. One day, I found myself sitting down with Jane Eyre; and now I’m not the same person I was before. Except for the fact how I still regret not being conceived in 1800s, everything else has changed, especially my idea of love.

“You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love.” 

– Mr. Rochester

Jane Eyre is the woman every woman wants to be- ideal. She’s an ideal governess and an ideally independent woman, but does the characteristic of being ideal actually help you out when you are in love? Charlotte Bronte structures Jane Eyre as a flamboyant character, full of alacrity and enthusiastic independence, who knows exactly how to address the readers and tours them through sufferance and principle learnings and hopeful sighs and weeping romantics (there’s scope for happy tears too, just in case I got you worried.) Charlotte Bronte writes with such a piquant animation and intelligent humour that you cannot help but fall in love in the first laugh.

One of the most important dimension that Charlotte Bronte exploits in the novel Jane Eyre is feminism. Not many people during the colonial times acknowledged feminism, because apparently they were getting their men ready for wars and their daughters ready for marriage (speaks a lot about socially acclaimed sexist obligations, don’t they?) Charlotte Bronte did not just acknowledge this, but instead, delivered full-blown feminist ideologies, challenging the concepts of the religiously principled patriarchal society, in the most straightforward way possible and I still think she was being too polite. 

Another important factor that draws this novel close to my heart is how the story keeps weaving the definition of true love. A love that’s painted by patient lovers, the ones that can wait their entire lives for a person who makes them believe in the poetry of unconditional love; a love that can be their eyes to prettier sunsets and rosier daisies, the one that proves the existence of happy endings. It’s funny how the mansion at Thornfield entwines Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester in a lovely serenade, irrespective of their frictions in class, age, countenance and principles; and I say it’s funny because they truly end up loving each other without their love breaking each other down. 

It almost makes you dwell in the possibility of a love that’s hand stitched just for you; a love that’s threaded from red roses, the thorns not bleeding the romance but rather, protecting it; a love that can keep you warm, not just till the end but till eternity.

Reader, do not go looking for love. Let love come to you. And that’s Jane Eyre for you.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. “Come, Miss Jane, don’t cry,” said Bessie as she finished. She might as well have said to the fire, “Don’t burn!”
  2. Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted.
  3. It’s weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear.
  4. It is not violence that best overcomes hate-nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.
  5. Her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.
  6. I am a defective being, with many faults and few redeeming points.
  7. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.
  8. Desire brings anything but gratification.
  9. 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.
  10. There are grains of truth in the wildest fable.
  11. It is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which if unreturned and unknown, might devour the life that feeds them.
  12. He made me love him without looking at me.
  13. To my mind a man is nothing without a spice of the devil in him.
  14. Men and women die; philosophers falter in their wisdom, and Christian in goodness.
  15. As if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one’s heart.
  16. I found you full of strange contrasts.
  17. Never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.
  18. Reason and not feeling, is my guide.
  19. It was but love of the senses.
  20. There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

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