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.


bikerguy said...

sounds cool :)
nice review...details are well looked are getting better :)

Whitney said...

Jane Eyre is another one of my favorite books. Wonderful review!

Sathej said...

Nice review this, should pick this up sometime.. :)

Btw, please edit the previous post - I have something too, for you at my blog :)


thevanishinglake said...

It's so strange, I just bought this book today! It's one of my favourites but I've lost my copy & really wanted a re-read... Your review is so well-timed!

I absolutely love Jane Eyre - like you, I was never so keen on Wuthering Heights.

Pavi said...

For those who haven't read the book, HURRY!!! So, hurry I will to borrow it from you:-p and the first line is simply romantic!!!! Beautiful review:-p love your style of writing:)

Kals said...

This is a lovely review :)

Jane Eyre is one of those books that are more than just one-time reads. It's sort of like a companion to life. I will admit to crying when I read this book!

P.S. The BBC version with Toby Stephens as a wonderfully dashing Mr. Rochester is definitely worth a watch! :)

Hannah Stoneham said...

It is so hard to write about a "classic" as everything seems a bit trite - you sit down at the key board and think - everyone has kind of written all of these words before - I felt this when I was writing up on Rebecca today - but you have dealt with that so well here - not writing a review as such but bringing out your response to Jane Eyre. Love it - and of course - I am also very much on Team Jane!

Happy Thursday


Suvro Chatterjee said...

I hate to strike discordant notes, Vaishnavi: but have you compared a book like Jane Eyre with other great love stories, where the protagonists are not merely lovers, but intricately wrapped up in momentous and catastrophic social events, as in For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway, or The Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque?

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Sir,

No I have not. When I was talking about Jane Eyre in terms of how it can be compared with other books I was only talking about books like Pride and Prejudice or Emma or Gone with the wind. Books that are mainly only in the romance genre. I haven't yet read For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Three Comrades but from what I do know, these books are entirely different from books like Jane Eyre. I love both kinds but I have a special place in my heart for Jane Austen and this particular book :)

InABox said...

That is a lovely line. Jane Eyre isn't one of my favorites, but I'll admit that Bronte wrote a timeless classic.

Shweta said...

Hi Vaishnavi , lovely review. I do love the book but not Mr Rochester! God , the guy is creepy :) in my opinion LOL but over all it was a fascinating read and I agree For Whom The Bell Tolls falls in a completely different genre so you are justified in saying what you said :)

Anonymous said...

I love Jane Eyre and I love the cover on your version.

Which is the tamil classic you are talking about?

Vaishnavi said...

@Avi - Thanks :)

@Whitney - I LOVE Jane Eyre :) and thanks!

@Sathej - Thanks Sathej :)

@thevanishinglake - I love JE much more than is not as morose :) Hope you have fun reading it again :)

@Pavi - Thanks a lot! :) You can borrow it from me anytime :)

@Kals - Thanks a lot :) I don't cry but I feel wretched for Jane every single time. Need to catch the BBC version...

@Hannah - Yai for Team Jane :) Thanks a lot for your lovely comment, I am glad you liked the post :)

@InaBox - Yeah it is one of the most passionate and romantic lines I have ever read, passionate in its restraint :) A timeless classic indeed!

@Shweta - Thanks a lot :) Lol I found Mr.Rochester to be something of a hottie extraordinaire :)

@Nishita - Thanks a lot! I was actually talking about an old Gemini Ganesan movie...Shanti Nilayam

Suko said...

I am brand new to your blog--it is wonderful! I, too, love this novel. I read it a few times, though it's been a while since I last read it, and it may be time for a reread.

Vaishnavi said...

@Suko - Hello and welcome here! I am glad you like my blog..have fun reading Jane Eyre again! :)