Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
"Reader, I married him." Has love ever been expressed better? Seldom do I come across lines that are so satisfying in any book that I read. Having begun at the end, I nevertheless feel that this line in the last chapter of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece is an embodiment of everything her irrepressible heroine has stood for since the moment she came into being. Jane Eyre is so universally beloved that I shall not presume to write a review. There is no need: I love it and I shall only gush so let this be a note in tribute to a timeless classic.
When I first read Jane Eyre, the storyline in some way was already familiar; there is an old Tamil classic with a mostly similar plot in glorious technicolor. But the book of course was something else and the experience: part gothic, part warming-my-heart, part chuckles, part horror was pure Brontë. While the other sister wrote the much despaired-for Cathy Linton, Charlotte Brontë's Jane is a young woman of such wit, inherent charm and good sense and is so self-deprecating that it is almost a relief to read about her. From chapter one, when you see her tackling the hateful Mrs. Reed and through the consequent chapters at the Lowood School, with Mr.Rochester, with the Rivers, you are Team Jane. All the other characters complement the plot beautifully. Among everybody, the two principal men in Jane's life deserve special mention: Mr.Rochester and St.John Rivers are both as different as can be; one has made mistakes galore, lives with a terrible secret but knows to love with a passion that breaks and excites your heart at the same time. The other has set a path for himself and deviate he will not, no matter what the temptation. His intentions are noble but the recesses of his heart are stone cold; he has no place in it for anyone but the Lord nor anything but service to the poor. You can't help loving Mr.Rochester while somewhat vaguely fearing St.John.
Charlotte Brontë has written not just a novel; much like the wonderful writers of her times, she has dreamt up Jane's character and fed it life and blood to make it as human as possible and then she has spun her life's story and she has chronicled it. So real is the plot and so real are the characters. Whether you are Lowood, at Thornfield or with the Rivers, every character you come across excites strong emotions like love, hate or pity or even apathy. Only after reading the Brontë sisters did I realise that apathy for a character can also be a strong emotion. So for those of you who have read Jane Eyre, aren't you glad you did? And for those of you who haven't, hurry! Please meet Mr.Rochester along with Jane and fall in love with him too. Through all the joy, much drama and some heartache, you will have a wonderful time.