Monday, 31 December 2012

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (2/5)

The back says: Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester. However, there is great kindness and warmth in this epic love story, which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Yorkshire moors.

I say: I read this in my teens, at the same time I was obsessing over all the British women writers, and had no recollection of it whatsoever; apart from a feeling of disliking Mr Rochester and Jane. After reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys last year I said that I would re-read Jane Eyre, but things came in between. Then I came across some internet questionnaire about people’s favourite romantic characters and a lot of people chose Mr Rochester, so I said to myself to finally re-read the novel.

And I wish I hadn’t.

I honestly had a hard time with this because I cannot stand Brontë’s writing or Jane Eyre’s annoyingly haughty personality. It took me over a month to finish as I would read a few pages, get annoyed and then stop. But then I told myself to just finish the damn thing, and so here we are.

There is so much hyperbole on nearly every page my brain started rebelling; the dialogue was so contrived I wanted to scream; and all the characters drove me to such insanity I would have thrown the book across the room, only I was reading on my e-reader since I couldn’t find my copy of Jane Eyre (which I genuinely hope I’ve thrown away). I truly understand now why I detest these types of novels, because I always say I do, but since it’s been so long since I read them I always question my judgement.

No more.

Jane is a stuck up, self-obsessed bitch who thinks she’s the bee’s knees and that everyone should love and live to help her. She’s rude all the time and justifies it by saying that she speaks her mind – she clearly values her own need to speak over the feelings of others. Then she falls in love with Mr Rochester, another self-obsessed bitch, and I laugh at her being mistreated by him without being able to figure out why. But then, of course, he falls in love with her and they both act like idiots for a short while, before being harshly separated.

Oh the humanity.

I want to say that I hate this novel, but I’m not sure if it’s the entire novel or just the characters, the plot, and the writing? Which would be the entire novel, I suppose. The entire time I was reading I kept wondering what it was about Mr Rochester that people like. Was it his rude behaviour to everyone? The way he wanted Jane to be his little love slave mistress? The way he was constantly condescending her? Or how he was saying he would force her to leave the country with him? Perhaps the fact that he wanted to become a bigamist? Or that he locked up his wife in the attic?

Why. Would. Anybody. Like. Him?

Gah.

In order to save myself the need to take a walk outside to cool my head, I’ll conclude this review by giving Jane Eyre 2/5 – I would have given it 1/5, but the one good thing about it is that it’s a great vehicle for teaching women how not to behave and what not to tolerate from a man.

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