The first book that we read in my Victorian Literature class (which is focusing on children’s literature and literature that focuses on growing up) was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre follows the life of none other than a girl named Jane Eyre. Who woulda thought? Anyways, the novel narrates her life from when she is but a young orphan living with her horrendous aunt to the “completion” of her growth-also known as: adulthood.
I guess I’ll start with talking about my enjoyment of the book before diving into some meatier comments on it. Overall, I did particularly enjoy this novel. At times I was bored (though that may be due to the fact that I had to read it for class, and when it’s homework it takes just a bit of the enjoyment out of it). There were also times that I couldn’t help but devour the book. So while I was not consistently enthralled with the narrative, I did overall enjoy the process of reading Jane Eyre.
In my class, we discussed a variety of topics associated with this book. I wouldn’t even be able to cover all of them here, but I will say we spent a long time arguing over whether or not Jane as a reliable narrator. Honestly, I didn’t think it mattered as much as others did. My personal opinion is that Jane is as reliable as any first-person narrator can be. When reading something told in first-person, the narrator is bound to have a touch of unreliability as they are recounting events only as they see them. In other words, the are not omnipotent. I do not feel that Jane intentionally altered her narrative or outright lied. The argument was brought up that she may have exaggerated, and I can see that, but personally I just don’t think it’s all that relative to this particular story.
We also talked about Jane as a proto-feminist character. I personally see a good amount of feminism in her. My peers agreed up to a point. ***SPOILER ALERT***If you don’t want to know what happens in the end, skip the rest of this paragraph*** Some people in my class said that because she ended up marrying that it undercut her value as a feminist character. I was angered by this opinion. Now I get on my little soapbox and say that you CAN be a feminist AND STILL WANT to get married and have children. Okay? We all good with that? Okay.
Anyways, I’ll step off my soapbox now and go back to the book. I did really enjoy the formating of the novel itself. It was biographical and Jane would periodically address her readers. I personally liked that she continually drew attention to the fact that we were reading her story. It worked here. I was going to say something else about this…but I’ve lost my train of thought now…
I also started watching one of the many movie adaptations of the novel and was going to write about that as well, but I was called away to play Munchkin (an amazing board game I was just introduced to), and therefore didn’t finish the book. Such is life.
Wish me luck on the rest of my copious amounts of reading and paper writing.