Love it or Hate it: Jane Eyre
It’s back! Our love it or hate it featured post was on hiatus for many months but we are bringing it back this year.
Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will battle it out to convince you to pick it up or throw it out.
This month’s selection is the classic Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Considered to be a gothic masterpiece, Jane Eyre makes it onto several “best of” and “must read lists,” including Boxall’s 1001 List of Books to Read Before you Die. But the book also has its detractors. So the question is… do you Love it or Hate it? Continue reading to find see our two reviews and cast your vote in the debate.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
First Published in:
Find it here: Jane Eyre
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.
Love it (Reviewer A): If you hate this book, you are dead to me. I LOVE Jane Eyre. I have read it at least 4 times and own a beautifully illustrated Folio edition of the book – yes, I shelled out over $60 to buy this classic. I first read Jane Eyre as a teenager and I credit it for being one of the books that lead me to seek out and devour a great number of classics including every other work by the Bronte sisters.
Why did I love it? Jane Eyre is one of those classics that feels intimate and mesmerizing. Jane talks to the reader confiding her innermost thoughts and passions. It’s also one of the few books of it’s era that yields significant power to a female narrator. Jane is no fragile flower to be placed on a pedestal to be admired. She is the ultimate female heroine (granted within the context of the time period in which it was written). Jane’s struggle for self-realization, her perseverance in the face of adversity, and her strong personality and wisdom make her one of the few examples of strong women in Victorian literature. For a Victorian-era woman she was spunky, outspoken, and entirely captivating to me.
When I read the book as a teen I liked the love story and the ultimate conclusion. As an adult, I think Rochester is kind of a jerk and there are parts of their relationship that make me cringe. But regardless of my age I have continued to find the story captivating specifically because the strength of the Jane and the ways in which Bronte managed so cleverly to pull us into experiencing Jane’s inner thoughts and emotions.
Hate it (Reviewer B): I remember in high school many girls thought it was “so romantic!” Huh? Not that any of us much experience with romance; I certainly didn’t at the tender age of 14 as a freshman in Sister Audrey’s English class. But I did NOT understand my fellow classmates swooning over the man. Rochester is an insufferable jerk who has already admitted to using a woman in France, and who now ignores the child. Newsflash … giving her nice dresses and providing her with a governess does NOT equal being a true father to the girl. He’s also manipulative; e.g. the gypsy garb scene. And I’m not even getting into his lying about his marital status and keeping his insane wife locked in the attic. Jane was right to run away.
Of course then she comes in contact with her distant relatives. St John Rivers is even worse, in my humble opinion. Jane, dear, you are better off alone! But no …she runs back to Rochester and even winds up calling him “my master.” Gag me with a spoon (a BIG one).
Sr Audrey didn’t agree and I only got a ‘C’ in her English class. Oh, well.
I re-read it (March 2007) only because our book club wanted to read a classic and we chose this one. I actually recommended it, hoping that, with maturity, I’d have more appreciation for it. I guess I do appreciate it more, and can look critically at the ideas presented (and how radically feminist it was in its day), but I still don’t like it.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and tell us if you love it or hate it. If you haven’t read it, you can vote on whether you want to or not.