Set and written in the 1850’s Jane Erye, is probably the most popular Brontë sister novel and for good reason. Often I have heard people complain about how classics are slow paced. While Austen has a charm unique to her alone, Pride and Prejudice does feel slurred at a few places. Jane Eyre on the other hand is a beautiful blend of suspense, romance, moral obligation, and social messages. It is a book that plays with your emotions at every step. It was one of the few novels that actually let tears escape my eyes.
Jane Eyre has been described by many as a novel much ahead of it’s time. Written at a time when women’s vital role in society was marriage, Erye is a protagonist that breaks all social norms of a 19thcentury woman. Bold and sharp, plain and austere, witty and independent, Erye is quite the unconventional heroine. Jane is ball of fire, standing up for herself at every step.
When asked who in the world cares for her, she quite indignantly and rightly said, “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Brontë’s novel directly addresses the reader which at first was strange, but by the end it felt intimate and helped develop a strong emotional attachment for her heroine. Also, watching Eyre grow up from a little orphaned girl to a married woman, incited a sense of protectiveness and adoration for her. Brontë had mastered the most important element needed in a fiction piece, a powerful, inspiring, and relatable protagonist.
At every step we see Jane Erye struggle with authority. She does not obey simply because they’re older, more powerful or richer. Embedded with a powerful moral compass, she is a model of righteousness. Her relationship with Mr. Rochester is again not a conventional 19th century relationship. Mr. Rochester is not the gentleman that most novels boast of. He is moody, rash, brooding and yet at the same time a passionate, lonely man. Jane’s response to him is quite atypical her nature, when she says “Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”
Brontë uses powerful language, she can flower up her sentences, and yet not leave the reader to decipher her meaning. Reading her words I was left with a sense of pure delight, simply because I was struck by the genius behind her every sentence. It is a literary masterpiece. A breathtaking novel, with more than one message. I am yet to read a book with more powerful characters than Brontë’s Jane Erye and Mr. Rochester.