Monday, October 23, 2006

Jane Eyre: a book review(-ish)

Believe it or not, I've never read the entire novel of Jane Eyre from beginning to end. I've always intended to, but really there are parts of the novel which are really, really boring and wholly unromantic.

What propelled me to finally read the whole novel were two things:
1) I have a ton of novels that I've never fully read sitting on my bookshelf. So I made a resolution of sorts to read through every one of them from beginning to end before I buy any more books. Okay, I've bought some since, but I'm definitely keeping to my resolution of reading the books from beginning to end. I am notorious for skipping over sections and reading the ending before I actually get to it. What can I say, I get bored and impatient easily. I don't think there's a single book that I haven't done this to.
2)The BBC put forth yet another adaptation of Jane Eyre, which has just finished airing in the UK. I found out about it before my UK trip and actually saw the first episode when we were in Scotland. More on that later.

I have to say that I liked the book, and actually reading through some of the boring bits helped me understand Jane and the plot a bit better. However, I suspect that when I re-read this book again, I'll probably only go back to the parts I like.

Although Jane Eyre isn't my favourite book, Mr. Rochester is my favourite romantic hero. Sorry, but Mr. Darcy is a big stick in the mud as a character, Mr. Rochester is way more dynamic and romantic in my opinion. Really rich guy falls for a poor, plain Jane, what woman wouldn't want that happeneing?

My favourite quote from the book, from Ch 27 (Mr. Rochester speaking to Jane):
Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat -- your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me. -- But why do I follow that train of ideas?
My only major beef with the book is St. John Rivers. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to punch him in the face! What a self-righteous, pompous ass! And how dare he use the name of God to justify what he's doing to Jane. I though he was emotionally abusing her. I would love to dig further how people back in the Victorian era would have viewed St. John and his self-righteousness. I certainly don't agree with it, and I'm Christian.

I'm also questioning what the point of having St. John in the book, or rather, why he is that way to Jane. He could have been the kind clergyman cousin and that would have been the end to him. If Charlotte Bronte is trying to make a statement with him, I've completely missed it.

Another beef: I don't know why Jane has so little faith in Rochester after she runs away from him. She's constantly fearing that he has gone back to the continent and taken up with mistresses again. Does Jane really not know her man?

Overall, an enjoyable book. Next up, my reviews of the latest adaptation...

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