Reviews by Laura McDonald

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

Compared to the stuffy romances of the time, Charlotte Bronte's most famous novel is a surprisingly gripping read. Even in comparison to Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which was previously ranked top of my list, Jane Eyre excels. Of note is that our heroine isn't beautiful or rich or of any social consequence. She's a poor, plain working girl whose concerns and feelings are so expertly portrayed that we almost feel they are our own.

And who wouldn't connect on some level with Jane Eyre? Through her eyes and ears we see the displays of the upper classes as an outsider--giving the social mores of the time an even more futile tone. The purpose of the "genteel" characters seems no more important than the drapery. Indeed, the rolling moors and fields of scented heather claim more of our attention. Therefore the fact that Jane Eyre sees the brooding Rochester for who is really is, is a given. And her socio-economic situation makes her assertion of equality even more potent, because we know she'll suffer for this knowledge. In the end this theme symbolically takes us to its happy conclusion. Earth, wind and fire conspire to reduce our characters to the equals they always were. They just needed a little reassurance that they were right.

Reviewed on 2007.04.23

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