Saturday, November 8, 2008

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

I liked Jane Eyre, the book. And I loved Jane Eyre, the character. She is feisty, strong-willed, but not proud. She is forthright, loathing of hypocrisy but not mean. She endures the abuse of her nasty relatives and the despicable Mr. Brocklehurst without playing the helpless victim. She is intelligent, independent, and astute in judging others’ characters. She is not the conventionally pretty heroine. To say that she is more beautiful inside than she is outside is not being trite.

I can only wish I have her strength of character; I believe the colloquial term now is EQ. It would be hard to be so enamored with Mr. Rochester and still have the moral fortitude to choose to do what is right. But I won’t spoil the story for you because if you haven’t read it yet and would want to read a classic, I recommend this one. It was a bestseller during its time and was even considered a trashy romance by some critics. This may be a precursor to chick lit, with light-hearted British humor, but with weighty moral principles.

It’s funny how much I can admire and aspire to be a fictional character. But Charlotte Brontë has written this character so well that in the moments I was reading the book she seemed so real. The first person narration effectively gets the reader into Jane’s brain; this reader at least. I was so into Jane that when the schoolmaster embarrassed her in public, I felt the shame, the indignation. And I felt the frustration that I cannot do anything about it as being merely a reader in Brontë’s able writer hands. So into the story I got that at one point, when Jane received a marriage proposal from an unlikely suitor, I was shouting “No, Jane, No!”

Jane, as narrator, is convincing as a child and even more endearing as an adult. I fell in love with her character. Okay, okay, I was totally suckered into the drama of this book. To think I thought I didn’t like romance. Bah! Nothing wrong with (I’m sure it’s rather healthy) indulging the sappy romantic inside of us.