Classic of the Month: Jane Eyre
Today we are starting a new monthly series. Each month I will choose a "classic". I am very loosely basing my idea of classic's on this "A classic is a novel that represents a genre or a writing style, or it can be a novel that makes a contribution to literature. There are all kinds of classics, from horror classics to romance classics, from novels that sold millions of copies to a novel that changed how a genre was written." Due to the widely different views on what a classic is, these books may be considered classics by me but your opinion may be different.
So what is Jane Eyre?
Jane Eyre is a novel written by Charlotte Brontë in 1847. The novel follows the story of Jane, a seemingly plain and simple girl as she battles through life's struggles. Jane has many obstacles in her life - her cruel and abusive Aunt Reed, the grim conditions at Lowood school, her love for Rochester and Rochester's marriage to Bertha. However, Jane overcomes these obstacles through her determination, sharp wit and courage. The novel ends with Jane married to Rochester with children of their own. There are elements of Jane Eyre that echo Charlotte Brontë's own life. She and her sisters went to a school run by a headmaster as severe as Mr Brocklehurst. Two of Charlotte's sisters died there from tuberculosis (just like Jane's only friend, Helen Burns). Charlotte Brontë was also a governess for some years before turning to writing.
Plot Overview (Detailed)
The novel opens with Jane reading alone in the breakfast room, hoping she can find peace away from the Reed family. However, this doesn't last, as Master John Reed arrives, wanting to torment Jane. He taunts Jane by calling her a 'rat', claiming she is poor, ungrateful and as she depends on his mother's wealth, is a beggar. Jane retaliates and a fight breaks out. Mrs Reed arrives with her servants to stop the fight and orders Jane to be taken and locked in the 'Red Room.' The Red Room is a 'haunted' room in the household, and it is here that Jane believes she meets her uncle's ghost. She is terrified by this and bangs on the door, wanting to be let out, but no one comes for her. Jane suffers a fever and it nearly kills her. Mrs Reed does not want Jane in her household anymore so sends her to Lowood School, a school run by the cruel Mr Brocklehurst. She tells him that Jane must be punished and Brocklehurst relishes any opportunity to punish Jane in front of her peers. Conditions at the school are not very good - illness is rife and there isn't enough food or water for the girls. Jane makes her first friend and, for the first time in her life, understands the value of friendship and love. Tragically, Helen Burns, Jane's best friend, dies of consumption and Jane is there with her until her death, refusing to leave her side. Soon after, the school is taken over by some kind and sympathetic gentlemen, thus improving the conditions. Jane later becomes a teacher there.
Jane decides to leave Lowood School and applies for a governess position. She gets the position and moves to Thornfield Hall where she looks after and teaches Adele, a lively French girl. After a few months, Jane meets Rochester, the owner of the estate and her boss. She finds him aloof and rude yet intelligent and sharp. She begins to fall in love with Edward Rochester, fantasising what life would be like with him.A fire During the night, a fire breaks out at Thornfield, nearly killing Rochester as he sleeps. Jane raises the alarm and saves Rochester by putting out the fire. Rochester thanks Jane and leaves her wondering who started the fire. The next morning, Rochester claims it was Grace Poole, his alcoholic servant. However, Jane isn't convinced by Rochester's story and is convinced Grace Poole didn't start the fire, as she hasn't been dismissed by Rochester.
Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper at Thornfield, announces that Rochester is expecting guests. The household are extremely excited and anxious, as they haven't had guests to the household for years. Preparations get underway to prepare for the party's arrival. A party of guests arrive, including the beautiful Blanche Ingram who it is rumoured Rochester will marry. Jane becomes heartbroken at this news, and awaits the marriage proposal, supposing that Rochester loves Blanche. Rather than proposing to Blanche, Rochester confesses his love for Jane and asks her to marry him. Jane is shocked and does not believe him at first but eventually accepts. They prepare for their marriage, Rochester insisting that he wants to marry quickly and quietly. On the day of their wedding, Mr Mason arrives at the Church and declares that Rochester cannot marry as he is already married to his sister, Bertha Mason. Rochester confirms the story by taking Jane to the attic to see his wife, who is mentally unstable and prone to violence.. Rochester exclaims that despite his marriage, he still wants to be with Jane and they could still live together. Jane locks herself in her room, away from everyone so she can think and decide what to do.
Jane decides that she cannot be with Rochester, as he is already married. She stays true to her principles and decides to run away, becoming homeless in the process. She forages for food in villages and journeys away from Thornfield Hall, hoping Rochester will never find her. When she is hungry, delirious and close to death, the Rivers family take her in and nurse her back to health. When she gets better, Jane becomes a schoolmistress at the village. St John Rivers (the brother in the Rivers family) arrives at Jane's school to announce that her uncle has died, leaving his wealth and estate to her. John also reveals that Jane's uncle is also his, making them cousins. Jane is overwhelmed and rejoices that she has family, splitting the inheritance between them. St John decides to undertake missionary work in India. He asks Jane to accompany him and she agrees; however, St John suggests they should be married for their journey. Jane reluctantly accepts, however, when she hears Rochester calling her name in the night, she decides she cannot marry someone she doesn't love.
Upon hearing Rochester's voice, Jane returns to Thornfield. When she arrives, she discovers it has burnt down. Jane suspects the worst - that everyone in the household has died, including Rochester. She soon hears the truth, that Bertha burnt the Hall down and Rochester, in his attempt to save her, became blind and lost his hand. Jane makes the journey to Ferndean to see Rochester. As he has lost his sight, he believes he is imagining Jane's voice. He is overwhelmed that she is there, breaking down and confessing his love for her. The novel concludes with Jane and Rochester married with children. Edward manages to regain sight in one eye to see his first-born child.
What Genre is this Book?
This book covers many different genres of writing. They are: Novel, Gothic fiction, Bildungsroman, Romance novel, Victorian literature, Social criticism, Fictional Autobiography. It really depends on your personal opinion I think as to what genre it falls under.
Why is it considered a classic?
There are many reasons that Jane Eyre is considered a classic but the main reasons that I have found really feel like they are the only reasons that you need. This list was found on Express Lively and I changed it up to match my writing style and to not copy word for word.
Captivating Storyline: The key to the success of any book is the storyline. If the story begins at a good note but gets boring somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t encourage a person to continue reading. In Jane Eyre, new twists and turns come one after the other, keeping the reader glued to the book. Jane Eyre has a very interesting story line. Situations are reflected in a very straightforward way.
Reality: It is not a fantasy and doesn’t seem to be written with the thought of fiction in mind. The main character goes through pain, jealousy, anger, poverty and loneliness. It shows that a protagonist doesn’t have to be the fairest of them all. Being the main character doesn’t mean being perfect and always innocent, and needing someone to rescue and take care of them, more so if the protagonist is a female.
Clarity: While reading the book, the way the emotions have been expressed and the kind of language used in the writing of the book make you feel that the incidents are actually taking place. There is a lot of clarity in the ideas. It is very easy to visualise and feel the emotions expressed by all the characters.
Characters: Depiction of all the characters of the story, protagonist or not, is essential. This book does not sideline other characters and maintain the spotlight on the main ones. The features, history, and future of nearly all the characters gives a very good shape to the story. However, no one is a sidekick, everyone has an important role to play. Without the intervention of these characters, Jane’s story would have been incomplete.
Lessons: The moral of the story is beautiful. It teaches you to believe in yourself, no matter how many people try to pull you down. The incidents in Jane’s life teach you that your strength is in nobody but in yourself. One must have faith in what life gives. Good or bad, you must accept it and keep aiming for the sky. But, most importantly, it teaches you to never give up. No matter how hard life hits you, survive through it. The harder you fall, the brighter will be the future as you look up to it.
If your not much of a reader you can also watch the captivating story of Jane on the tv screen. There are a couple different versions of Jane Eyre but my favorite is the one with Mia Wasikowska from 2011. There are at least 5 versions 1943, 1983, 1996, 2006, 2011 of this movie so find one that works for you.
So have you read this book or watched the movie? Do you have a favorite movie if you have seen more than one version?
Hope you enjoyed today's post and I will see you next time.