This is not one of the most easiest book to read. However, I am rewarded for my perserverance.
Jane Eyre is an autobiography about an orphan who is under the care of her aunt, Mrs Reed, after both her parents died. Regarded as a nuisance, Jane endured years of oppressions and mistreatments at Gateheads from her cousins, John, Eliza and Georgina. Jane in her plain looking and common ways does not consider herself attractive, yet considers herself intelligent and independent enough to make her choices in life. A rare attribute in the time of 1847. I suppose this is also where the moniker of plain Jane originated.
Things were looking bleak, up until Jane was sent away to Lowood charitable boarding school. Not entirely out from privation, Jane was schooled in an improverish circumstances with food rations, strict disciplinary rules and breakouts of epidemic. Jane survived and became the teacher of Lowood, proficient in French Language (you will see many untranslated dialogue in French as well in the book) and sketch paintings. Jane then decided to advertise for a position as governess and her service was sought by one Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall to educate his ward, Adele. But her discovery of Mr. Rochester’s terrible secret forces Jane to follow her moral convictions, even if it means giving up her chance of happiness. She became what she described as “the instrument of evil to what she wholly love” and left Thornfield Hall without worldly possession. The Rivers family, St. John, Mary and Diana with helper Hannah nursed Jane through hunger and fatigue. Jane soon worked for a local parish backed school as a principal, followed on with a marriage proposal from St. John Rivers. St John with his perfect Greek God features, intelligent and eloquent, man with high moral principles looks to be a good catch, but Jane hesitated to the proposal, cited as scorning the idea of St. John’s love ideology. For she was sought as a wife for her suitable attributes to be a missionary wife, not for her personality, not for being herself. There was no amourous love in the equation.
It all sounded like a book of chic list genre in my attempt to present the beauty of this classic. However the book is more than that.
I particular love the way Bronte describe love in the eyes of her heroine:
It had been formerly been my endeavour to study all sides of his character: to take the bad with the good; and from the just weighing of both, to form an equitable judgment. Now I saw no bad. The sarcasm that had repelled, the harshness that had startled me once, were only like keen condiments in a choice dish: their presence was pungent, but their absence would be felt as comparatively insipid.
Would anyone learn to love like that?
What is less public knowledge was Jane Eyre is an evangelist diary. A woman faithful to God and His moral codes, who lay her outcomes in the hands of God, yet had the grace and benevolence to love an imperfect lover (not attempting to spoil the story by disclosing the ending, the man that Jane eventually chosen is as imperfect physically as it is characteristically).
It’s been an enjoyable read. Not to mention adding a few more new vocabulary into my expanding collection, such as: “Mrs Fairfax laid out the cups and spoons on the table with assiduous celerity“. Contemporaries do not write like this anymore. It is all the more interesting and piquant to read classics again once one is weary of the run of the mill vulgarity in recent literature, be it chick lit or thrillers. If it is not vulgar, it will not cut it in the popular fiction. So it is my pleasure to complete the readings of Jane Eyre, to appreciate the beauty of Ms Charlotte Bronte’s writings and to restore the faith of God in life. If it worked for Jane, perhaps it would work for me (I know, I know, it is fiction!). Maybe I should try Jane Austen next. Hmmm….