Saturday, September 14, 2013

Review : Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

(There's no point in my reviewing Jane Eyre the conventional way, because most of you who read have read this already. So what follows is the rough equivalent of a tribute to this great work of literature.)

What do I write about you Jane? Words fall short when I try to.

Jane, you are so much a part of me as I am yours.
You are so much a part of women who lived in obscurity centuries before Bronte breathed life into you.
You are so much a part of women who are alive at present and so much a part of women yet to be born.
You are so much a collective chorus of voices than just a single one.
You are so much an inexorable force which builds up in intensity over the course of the narrative.
You are so much an embodiment of the feminine spirit and not just an ordinary looking, puny little girl of barely twenty with pompous world views and ideals.

Jane, you are not only the essence of womanhood at its best but the finest specimen of humanity - so refined, so just, so fragile yet so iron-solid. So full of scorn yet so humble.
Jane, you transcend the boundaries of an era so effortlessly and retain your relevance even today.
I don't give any guarantees that reading Jane Eyre (that is if you are still uninitiated) will cure you of misogyny. I do not believe in utopian concepts such as chauvinistic men suddenly giving up on their own delusional views on women and starting to treat them with respect deserving of a human, after reading a book. But it may come very close to achieving that purpose.
Then again, I do not expect a well-read man to be a misogynist in the first place.

Charlotte Bronte has accorded this immortal literary character with such a voice, such a dignity of bearing, such a sharpness of intellect, such a power of conviction - that absolutely no one can remain unaffected after reading this. Once you get to make the acquaintance of courageous, zealous, outspoken, energetic, intelligent, principled, respectable Jane, you are bound to remember her forever. Rather, Jane will ensure that you do not forget.

If you are a woman of integrity, you may see a part of yourself reflected in her sarcastic comebacks, in her sense of humor, in her feelings of rage, in her unapologetic frankness and in her cold refusal to bow down to the wishes of those more powerful than her in terms of wealth or social recognition.

Before the term 'feminism' had even come into being, Charlotte Bronte was busy creating an everlasting symbol of feminine power that will withstand the test of time with incredible ease and continue to cast its influence on society and literature.

Sure Jane Eyre has a romance at its heart - a memorable one at that. Sure it also contains a gothic mystery. But these are not its only highlights.

Jane Eyre is a feminist doctrine in the garb of a novel. Jane Eyre fearlessly reproves the injustices of class divisions. Jane Eyre contains a subtle indictment of blind religious zealotry and upholds the value of man over God. Jane Eyre lays bare the perversities in self-important men of religion. Jane Eyre criticizes a prejudiced Victorian society and exposes the hollowness of the lives of its affluent but ignorant gentry.
And to think Charlotte Bronte wrote this in the middle of the 19th century.

The last time I had been this strongly affected by a classic was about 10 years ago, when I had read A Tale of Two Cities for the first time.
This is the kind of book whose greatness you cannot try and measure by awarding it a number of stars or even by reviewing it.  This is not just one of the finest literary masterpieces ever written but forms a very important part of the reason why we read, why we prefer to shun the company of people and seek a few precious hours of togetherness with fiction or literature, instead.

Dear Ms Bronte, I am late to the party but I have arrived nonetheless. And I cannot thank you enough for bringing me, for bringing 'us' alive in your powerful words. The world and I owe you a debt we can never repay.
Oh thank you so very much!

P.S.:- This review is glaring in its obvious exclusion of Edward Fairfax Rochester, but that is not for any shortcoming on Mr Rochester's part. Rochester is without a doubt one of the most realistic and interesting literary romantic interests ever created. But I wanted this to be about Jane and only her. Because had Bronte's intention been to bestow equal importance on Jane and Rochester, she would have named this 'Jane and Edward' or something along those lines.

5 out of 5 stars.

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  1. Every time I read this review, I feel like giving a standing ovation to you and Jane and Charlotte Bronte and just women in general. And I've not even read the book myself so that's saying something.
    Great piece of writing Sama :)

    1. I think Charlotte Bronte and Jane deserve a standing ovation. I am only a fortunate reader of their stories! Thank you as always, Scarlet!

  2. Seriously, Scarlet just echoed my thoughts! I was going to say something along the line of your review always making me feel like re-reading Jane Eyre. Love your review :)

    1. Haha I plan on reading Anne Bronte soon just so as to acquaint myself with all the 3 Bronte sisters! And thank you for liking the review, Rowena.

  3. You're welcome:) I really want to read Agnes Gray and Villette. So many books so little time ;)


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