Thanks to increasingly busy trains it took me about a month to finish this book, which sucked because I was joyfully devouring this whenever a had a chance in the morning (not on the return commute… because I usually end up taking an ill-advised nap). This is one of only four books that managed to have me tear up whilst reading; the first to do so because of joy rather than sadness.
Jane Eyre is one of those books where, thanks to watching the excellent BBC adaptation, I thought I knew all that I needed to know. Of course this is not true as there is so much more to the book than there is to the adaptation (although it was impossible to not picture Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens as Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester respectively), especially the earlier chapters about her childhood that were barely covered.
What strikes me most about Jane Eyre is the point-of-view of Jane herself. When I think of the contemporary books I’ve read (including Wuthering Heights) this is unusual in being a first-person narrative that is more than just a person recollecting the events of their life. In reading this book we get to know Jane’s own moral beliefs, thought processes and her emotional state. When I think of the last book I read and all the different minds that Faulkner let us be privy to – there is a lot to be said of the influence of Jane Eyre.
Like Little Women, Jane Eyre is described by many as being an example of an early feminist novel. With Little Women I was inclined to disagree because of where all the characters end up at the end of the journey. In contrast, I can actually see how Jane Eyre is feminist (especially in the context of Victorian England). Sure she ends up on the marriage train by the close of the story, but everything she achieves is because (as Kacey Musgraves would say) follows her arrow.
Call me romantic, but even if I did not know the ending – I would be shipping Jane and Mr Rochester and would have been devastated if they had not ended up together. Given the times of the book, I can see why Jane walks way – but I’m so glad she comes back. Some have said that this ending shows her compromising her morals, but I think this ending is a way for us to have the romantic ending whilst she keeps her morals untainted. Maybe that’s just me, but it was this ending that just made me get a bit misty on the train.
It’s time for me to get back to comics for a little while – a perfect time to do so as I’m not sure what novel could top my experience with Jane Eyre.