25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Only four stars because it's not as good as Villette,
This review is from: Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This is a great book, bristling with anarchy, anger and rebellion. It is so unusual for a Victorian novel that even now, reading it all this time on, it still has the power to shock. Jane spends the entire book upsetting decorum, railing against her fate and succumbing to her desires. It's absolutely fascinating to see so many Victorian taboos being broken.
Someone mentioned that the book is long. The Victorian convention was for the triple decker novel, which is basically three modern sized novels in one. This is why there are almost no short Victorian novels, so if you're looking for snappy reads, try a different era.
I for one, think that this book is just about perfect. It is tautly written, suspenseful despite the length, and pacy. It is full of cliff hangers and drama, and you always want to know what happens next. The ghostly, supernatural element is done brilliantly, both with the episode at the beginning with Jane in the Red Room, and the episodes with Bertha Mason once Jane arrives at Thornfield Hall.
The basic plot is that Jane, an orphan child, is dumped on unwilling and unloving relatives who make her life a misery. She in turn makes their lives a misery, and is peremptorily packed off to boarding school where amidst great trials and tragedy she becomes a governess. Her first job takes her to Thornfield Hall where she meets the wonderfully brooding anti-hero, Rochester. They fall in love, and things go horribly wrong from thereon in.
I must have read this book at least half a dozen times, and it never ceases to be a pleasure. There is always something new to find. For students, I recommend reading it alongside Gilbert and Gubar's seminal critical work, The Mad Woman in the Attic. It is a revelation. I also recommend reading it alongside Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, which was published in the 1950's and deals with the back story for Bertha Mason. It adds such depth to the work I guarantee you will need to read it again afterwards.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jun 2012 09:49:17 BDT
Marie-Anne Mancio says:
Yes, absolutely agree with your additional recommendations and would add for those interested in art there was a famous British painting by Richard Redgrave called The Governess or The Poor Teacher (1844) which represented the ambiguous and lonely role of the governess who was neither family nor servant. Eyre's book is more feminist though.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2012 21:43:35 BDT
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley says:
Anne Bronte's work is also interesting on this theme.
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