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Jane Eyre (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre (Random House Movie Tie-In Books)

emmaline.finney, May 16, 2011

The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte follows a young orphan, Jane Eyre, on her conquest to be loved. She endures cruelty from various people in order to become the strong woman she is at the end of the novel. The author’s own experiences influence the characters and situations found in Jane Eyre. Bronte’s beliefs on gender and social equality are made strong through the main character Jane. Many women, such as myself, will agree with these beliefs and enjoy reading this powerful, beautiful novel.
Jane Eyre, a gothic, romantic and Bildungsroman novel, was published in 1847 and is written in the first person point of view as Jane is looking back on her life. Many similarities are found between the author’s and Jane’s lives. Jane’s experience at the Lowood School, where her friend Helen Burns dies of tuberculosis is compared to the deaths of Charlotte’s sisters at Cowan Bridge of the same disease. Jane’s cruel headmaster at the Lowood School, Mr. Brocklehurst, is based on Reverend Carus Wilson, the minister who ran Cowan Bridge. The author took revenge upon the school that treated her so poorly by using it as the basis for Lowood. Jane’s cousin John Reed’s decline into alcoholism and his suicide are most likely modeled after the author’s brother who succumbed to opium and alcohol addiction in the years before his death. Finally, like Jane, the author was also a governess and therefore was able to give insight to the oppressive social standards during nineteenth-century Victorian society.
Thirty-eight chapters told chronologically by the narrator and main character Jane Eyre organize this novel. There are five major plot developments. Jane is an orphan raised at her cruel aunt Mrs. Reed’s house. Jane is not treated fairly and Mrs. Reed often “’take[s] her away to the red-room, and lock[s] her in there’” (14). Eventually Jane is sent to the Lowood School whose headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst is also very cruel. The students are given the bare minimum to make them “hardy, patient, self-denying” (75), but Jane excels in her studies and spends the next eight years there. After, Jane accepts a governess position at Thronfield to teach Adele “a little girl, under ten years of age” (105). Jane’s employer, Mr. Rochester, proposes to her and she accepts, but during the wedding a man objects that Mr. Rochester already has a wife. Jane realizes she cannot stay with him and runs away. She has to sleep outside and beg for food until Mary, Diana and St. John Rivers at the Moor House take her in. St. John finds her a teaching position at a poor school for girls in Morton. One day Jane is surprised to find out that her “uncle, Mr Eyre of Madeira, is dead; that he has left [her] all his property, and that [she is] now rich” (440). She decides to split the 20,000 pounds equally between the three Rivers siblings and herself. St. John, the clergyman, asks Jane to join him on his missionary trip to India as his wife. Jane, however, knows that they don’t love each other and politely refuses his offer. Jane admits that she loves Mr. Rochester and returns to Thornfield to find him. Unfortunately, the manor was burnt down so Jane had to ask around until she found Mr. Rochester at Ferndean. He had lost his eyesight and one of his hands in the fire, but Jane still loved him. They soon got married and he regained sight in one eye. “When his first-born was put into his arms, he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were �" large, brilliant, and black” (520). Flashbacks, dreams and foreshadowing are all used to develop this plot.
Jane’s goal in this novel, to love and be loved, is accomplished in the end but not without countless difficulties. She wants not just romantic love, but also to be valued and for a sense of belonging. However, Jane has to learn how to love and be loved without losing her identity or harming herself in the process. She has to stay strong in order to get what she wants as she faces gender and social discrimination. The gothic and romantic tones of this novel help convey this message. The author’s opinion on gender and social issues is similar to my own, as I also believe in a strong, independent woman. The characters in this novel were very dynamic and complex, as they could step out of the book into the real world. The end when Jane is with St. John gets to be a little dry and long, but that is most likely just because I am waiting for Jane to come to her senses and go back to Mr. Rochester.
The author’s experiences add real-life insight to this novel to make it very believable. I very much enjoyed reading Jane Eyre, as it was a powerful, strong piece of writing.
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