My friend RJ and I have decided that this year, we will encourage each other to stay diligent in our studies by reading together. Our first book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Yesterday was our deadline for the first fourteen chapters. At first, I was cautious: though I love classic literature, I am not fond of Wuthering Heights, and I was unsure if my dislike would apply to all Brontë novels. However, once past the first ten chapters or so, I was able to really get into the story.
The first few chapters, which focus on Jane Eyre’s childhood, were not enjoyable for me. I like novels that start right before the action, giving the reader just enough background information to know what is happening. I was also annoyed with child Jane, who, while mistreated, was whiny and self-pitying. The poor, mistreated child is a common protagonist, and I’m a bit sick of it (though, as RJ pointed out, Brontë was probably one of the first to use this type of character. Now, however, it has become the staple of YA literature). For me, the novel doesn’t really begin until Jane reaches Thornfield Hall.
As soon as Eyre arrives at Thornfield, the novel gets interesting. There is strange laughter in the attic, an adorable French child (who, while being entertaining, also helps me work on my French), and the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Things are happening, and Jane is learning and changing.
Mr. Rochester, thus far, is a character who I like very much. He is the type of person I was friends with in high school. While being rude and having rather extreme shifts in mood, he is hilarious and imaginative.
As to the piece as a whole, there are both things I like and things that I despise. I love that Jane is unattractive, as is Rochester. Attractive heroes are the norm, and so less than beautiful protagonists tend to make me uncomfortable for the first few moments (for various reasons, including, but not limited to, suspicion of what the author is going to do to balance the character), but once I am used to the character, I like it. I dislike, however, Jane’s constant asides to the audience. “Don’t talk to the audience!” I mentally scream. “The fourth wall is there, I promise!”
Overall, I am thus far intrigued by the novel, and I am looking forward to the rest. I have a few theories on what will happen/be revealed, and I can’t wait to see if I am right.
You can read RJ’s blog, including her Jane Eyre post, here.