Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

– Opening sentence

I had the pleasure of attending a book-themed wedding a few weeks ago. It was wholeheartedly lovely. Each table at the reception was themed around a different book, and the parting gift to all guests was a book (or four, in my case!).

This is how I came about my first copy of Jane Eyre, a classic that I had never gotten around to reading. I knew that it was celebrated amongst book lovers, but in my youth I’d always dreaded the ‘old fashioned’ and instead stuck to modern fiction.

However, the day after the wedding I found myself sitting in one of the comfy seats in Costa, and decided to try the first few chapters of Jane Eyre – and I was immediately hooked. I can’t even fully explain it, but there a charm in Jane Eyre that readily wins over the reader. The style reminded me of my favourite childhood read, The Little White Horse, and I was unexpectedly delighted.

I can now see why this Bronte tale has been a firm favourite amongst readers. We follow the fictional Jane Eyre as she recounts the story of her life, remaining honest and intimate throughout her narration. Her tale begins with her unhappy childhood, raised unloved by her aunt. Instantly we sympathise with the lovable child, and spend the rest of the pages rooting for her unconditionally.

And despite being published in 1847, it’s sentiments are still relevant today:

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 constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their privileged fellow-creatures to say 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, laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

In 1847, Charlotte Bronte – who had to publish under a male alias – was advocating for women’s rights. 170 years later and we are still fighting for the cause. There’s something very, very disheartening in that. Think about how much the world has changed and advanced in that time, but still women must fight to be seen as equal?

On numerous occasions, our heroine defies expectations and speaks her mind – not only to the opposite sex, but outside of her class. As a governess, she is direct with her master. As a woman, she repeatedly turns down an offer of marriage, presented to her as if forced to accept.

I think Jane Eyre is my new fictional role-model 😍

I am, however, glad  that I did not read Jane Eyre during my teenage years. I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I have done now, at 25. I will, however, advocate this to men and women alike; it definitely is not one to be condemned as ‘old fashioned.

Daily he announces more distinctly, – “Surely I come quickly!” and hourly I more eagerly respond, – “Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!”

– Final sentence

5 Stars (5 / 5)

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