Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
“Do you think, because I am poor and obscure and plain and little, I am soulless and heartless?”
Amazing how real and relevant this 170-year-old novel is. Heavily autobiographic, it deserves its classic status.
“If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
Not as easy to read as works by Jane Austen, but the reflective mind will find much to ponder. Many modern readers may lack the familiarity with French (as a language) and the Bible (as a source of literary allusion) to fully appreciate some of passages.
“Inexorable as death”
Brontë shares a social conscience and impatience with hypocrisy with her contemporaries (Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, etc.) but lacks their sense of humor. Nonetheless, Jane Eyre delivers a gut punch of honesty and introspection. Brontë’s novel espouses a feminism fully in step with modern sensibilities.
“Women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts.”
Her critique of Christianity as practiced by some characters would be opaque to most moderns, whose understanding and response to religion has been conditioned by Hollywood. She critiques the religion practiced by some, and is daunted by that of others. The whole work reflects her deep-felt if unorthodox beliefs.
“There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”