Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Synopsis from B&N: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, 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.

Okay, first of all I just have to say that I think I’ve spent my whole reading life confusing the Bronte sisters and their tales. I knew the plot of Jane Eyre before reading it. But I always ascribed said plot to Wuthering Heights…thinking I had read the latter (and own it) but not the former. But upon reading this book, I’ve found that I was wrong. And now I find myself trying to sort out if I’ve ever even read Wuthering Heights.

I really enjoyed this story. I appreciated Jane’s character and her depth of integrity. I did not like any of her male cousins and am glad the book ended happily.

Jane is a very spiritual, “do the right thing” girl. Temptation is there to lash out, to give in to her passions, etc. But at Lowood she learned to control those emotions and to act rationally and rightly. A part of me wondered if she lost a bit of herself in doing that, but in reflection I really don’t think so. She became a truer version of herself.

I think that Jane Eyre can give us all a deeper spiritual message and truth:

“I care for myself…I will respect myself. I will keep the laws given by God; sanctioned by man.
 I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad – as I am now. Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

I pray I can remember well remember her words the next time I face temptation. And to “plant my foot” in what I know to be true and right and good.

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