“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Okay, so high school Melanie did not appreciate Jane Eyre! But thankfully, many years later, and because of a few friend’s encouragement, I have seen the light and righted my wrongs, because this reread proved to me how much of a masterpiece Jane Eyre truly is.
This is a very beloved book, that stars an orphan girl name Jane that is trying to figure out the world around her. She’s searching for worth, for love, and all the middle area in-between. When she is very young, she is forced to live with her not-so-nice aunt, who is absolutely terrible to her. But soon, her aunt sends her off to an all-girls boarding school, but Jane starts to learn who she is and who she wants to be, and after getting her education, she begins to teach at this school that she now considers her home.
But at nineteen, she decides that she would like to try to be a governess so that she can travel and see the world that she has learned so much about. Jane gets a job teaching a young girl at Thornfield Hall, but soon meets the master of Thornfield Hall, none other than Mr. Rochester himself.
Mr. Rochester is distant, and rude, and a bit grumpy, but the more and more time Jane and him spend together, the more and more they realize they have a lot in common. And they develop quite a strange and unconventional relationship, while many spooky and mysterious things are happening at Thornfield Hall.
This book is very protofeminist. Jane has so much rage and anger inside of her, because of the gender roles and expectations that are always set on her. On top of always being sent to places where she is forced to live and be molded into what is expected of her. Jane finally gets to live for herself at Thornfield Hall, and she does so unapologetically. Don’t get me wrong, Jane stands up for herself constantly, and at every age, throughout this story, but seeing her come into her own, and never backing down from her beliefs on what is right, is something so very awe-inspiring.
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
And so many important themes are in this book! From classism, to marriage, to gender roles, to witchcraft, to slavery, to abuse, to power dynamics, and to so much more. And the things brought up in this book? That was first published in 1847? And I stan one feminist icon, and it’s Charlotte Brontë. I can’t even image what the world thought of this throughout the ages, because it spoke to my very soul in 2018. Seriously, I will forever be in awe of this book and this author, and I truly mean it when I say that she’s a new icon for me.
“Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agised as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.”
I ended up being a sucker for the romantic subplot in this book, too, even though I can see how many terrible, wrong, bad choices the love interest made. But Jane always puts herself first, and even though she wants to be loved more than anything, she will constantly fight for her own place in the world where she lives on her own terms for her own beliefs. Jane loves herself, and in turn it made me love Jane, and this masterpiece of a story.
Overall, I fell completely in love with this. This was so intelligently crafted and so expertly woven! And the dark feelings and vibes throughout really makes this such a unique and amazing reading experience. And I think this is a book that I will be able to read and reread over and over for the rest of my life. You also best believe that if I ever have children, this will be required reading once they get a bit older, because this book seriously has an immense amount of power. And I truly believe this is my favorite classic of all-time now. And I never want any woman to feel like a bird trapped in a cage.
Trigger and content warnings for bullying, abuse, abandonment, loss of a friend, and use of the slur g*psy.