Charlotte Bronte’s birthday is April 21st, and in honor of her, this April I thought I would re-read her gorgeous classic Jane Eyre. I got so excited about this idea that I started my re-reading in March. That’s because the book is really good and there are countless reasons to love it. But here are a few:
1. Beautiful writing. While the first several chapters of the novel (if not the whole thing, depending on who you ask), have a reputation for being dull, Bronte’s writing was actually pretty incredible. Yes the book can be dense, but Bronte has a capability of expressing complex emotions in a quirky and interesting way. Her writing is the reason her books have stood the test of time, and the reason we all have a mental picture of Rochester and Thornfield Hall, and Bertha Mills.
2. Great characters. Speaking of Rochester, Bronte deserves centuries of recognition for the creative of him alone. He is a very complex character who, in reality a lot of women I know would kick to the curb, but on paper is compelling and sympathetic. In addition to that there is the towering and cranky Mr. Brocklehurst who preaches moderation but keeps his wife and daughters in finery, the judgmental but ultimately well-meaning Mrs. Fairfax, and of course Jane herself. Bronte’s characters are filled with contradictions and complexities that make them very interesting.
3. Gothic and moody. The idea of moors and rain and distraught women will make anyone mention Jane Eyre, or her sister Emily’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. In their individual writing, all of the Bronte sisters managed to create a Gothic mood that is completely absorbing when you’re entrenched in the pages of their great works.
4. And kind spooky… Also, when it comes to Jane Eyre the disembodied voices, and strange faces and acts of violence throughout Thornfield are kind of terrifying. They’re even more terrifying when you know their source (I won’t spoil it).
5. Jane is awesome. Jane does the unthinkable. She marries a man out of her station to whom she is sexually and romantically attracted rather than marrying what would be considered a prudent and ideal match. She decides not to be a governess even though that is all that she was told she deserved. She pushes against people’s expectations of her and is an incredibly strong female character. Especially when you consider time period.
So what are you waiting for? Read Jane Eyre!