“What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question – why I thus suffered; now, at the distance of – I will not say how many years – I see it clearly.”
Charlotte Brontë | Jane Eyre | p. 19
For the month of October, I had decided to put something more scary on my ‘6 Classics in 2018’ reading list to fit the typical Halloween-feeling I get every October. And since I already read spooky novels like ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, ‘Dracula’ or even ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in the past, I chose another book categorized as Gothic Fiction: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Told from the perspective of the female protagonist Jane Eyre herself, the reader follows her journey from childhood to adulthood. Being an orphan, young Jane has to suffer from her neglectful aunt, and after that, from a harsh education at a charity school. But Jane is strong and finally, aged 19, leaves the school to take position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where not all is as it seems…
I do have a little bit mixed feelings about this Classic, because it grew a bit boring sometimes and had considerable lengths I had to get through before the plot got interesting again. Nevertheless, ‘Jane Eyre’ is a wonderfully clever book and I am still impressed by the protagonist Jane Eyre and by Charlotte Brontë’s writing.
“I covered my head and arms with the skirt of my frock, an went out to walk in a part of the plantation which was quite sequestered; but I found no pleasure in the silent trees, the falling fir-cones, the congealed relics of autumn, russet leaves, swept by past winds in heaps, and now stiffened together.”
Charlotte Brontë | Jane Eyre | p. 46
Reading a Classic, I think it is necessary to consider its cultural and historical context – and that is why I loved this book and its author so much. Remember that it was written by a woman in mid-19th century and published under a male pseudonym. Charlotte Brontë’s views on society and personal philosophy of human life are as modern as can be and those views she inscribes into Jane Eyre – both the book and the protagonists. The fact that there are many discourses to be found in the book (for example class, race, gender, self, sexuality) make this book even more stunning and compelling to read several times more.
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
Charlotte Brontë | Jane Eyre | p. 130
I definitely adored its gothic features, such as the haunting buildings that are sure to harbor dark and twisted secrets and mysteries, the hint to vampirism, even autobiographic aspects of the story that make it difficult to distinguish Jane from the author, Charlotte Jane Brontë.
This book is perfect for reading during fall, and if you enjoyed other spooky Classics as named above, you will love this one – even if it is at times a bit lengthy.
Author: Charlotte Brontë
Title: Jane Eyre
Press: Penguin Classics
Year of publication: 2006, first published in 1847
[Genre: Classics / Autobiography / Gothic Fiction]