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Monday, November 16, 2009

Jane Eyre - Book Review

Jane Eyre Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently reread Jane Eyre. This is the second time I've read it and the first time I read it I think I was in my late teens/early 20s. On this second reading it has lost a star in my review. I really liked it, but it's not five star worthy.

**Spoiler Alert** There were inconsistencies in the character of Jane that bothered me this time round. When she was with Rochester she was so capable, had him wrapped around her little finger, controlling his every move, all while making him think that HE was controlling everything. I don't think I realized that when I read this book as a young woman. Jane is strong enough to hold to her beliefs and leave Rochester when necessary and make it through trials of destitution. But then she loses her strength and assertiveness when it comes to St. John Rivers. She does everything he tells her to do because she wants to please him and live up to his morals. I don't really get as a character why she would go to these extremes for him. She had no love for him. Why would she feel so compelled to obey him? It didn't feel right to me. The Rivers family portion of the book dragged for me. I don't like Jane with them. I just want her to get back to Rochester!

Luckily overall, the gothic mystery and the passion of the story make for a great read.

I do love reading a book at different times of life and coming away with different views.

Maybe I'll read it again when I'm fifty and see how it affects me then.


  1. Hm, I think Jane obeys St. John because of his position as a parson. Ultimately, she doesn't obey him, marry him and go on the mission, because I think she realizes that he doesn't have a 'true' morality and that maybe true morality isn't exactly what she wants, if it even exists. She still has a soul connection to Rochester, even though she disagrees with his (im)moral decisions. Interesting question though, I'd like to reread it! The book's treatment of morality is so complicated.

  2. There is no inconsistency in Jane's character. She behaves this way to St John because he is the only opponent she has enountered that tries very subtly to change her. What I mean is that with Mrs Reed, Mr Brocklehurst and Mr Rochester Jane had a direct and sometimes violent confrontation. St John is mild (or sly if you wish) and cold/dispassionate. He refuses to have a fight. Even when she says to him that she scorns him he just replies calmly that he has done no thing to deserve that. And Jane feels ashamed.

    And then she owes him her life (not a small debt) and she really needs to get along with her only family now that the relationship with Rochester is impossible. Which is also another reason why she succumbs to him. She is depressed and can not find the strenght to oppose him. She does not care enough.

    And a last thing, I believe that Charlotte Bronte wanted to show how charged the teacher-pupil relationships really are. Jane get unter St John's control after she becomes his pupil. When you look up to somebody and you give him the power over you, you get used to the effort of wanting to satisfy him. The great first love of Charlotte's life was her literature professor, so she knew some things about it.

  3. Sorry - I'm probably missing something, but I can't recollect any "extremes". Yes, Jane agreed to teach in the vilage school - but she asked St. John to find her a job from the very beginning, so why not? Later, she agreed to learn basic Hindustani from him - and there's nothing wrong with that either. Other than that she always had everything her own way - St. John objected to accepting part of their uncle's fortune, but Jane insisted; St. John wanted her to marry him - and she rebelled... oh, how she rebelled! Marriage without love was all wrong from her point of view, so she could't accept it, even from a guy who - as ksotikoula very rightly said above - once saved her life. My opinion is, Jane's character is very consistent: she could do as she was told, but only if it was in agreement with her own ideas of right and wrong.

    It's one of the books I really love.


Comments are always welcome! Thank you!