#YearOfBrontë - Jane Eyre

I’ve been a lazy butt lately, but I’ve been moving, and that made me really exhausted and there’s stuff everywhere, but I’ll get back into the swing of things.

The first book of Year of Brontë is completed. It’s Jane Eyre, duh. Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece of feminist ass-kicking fiction. I’m a convert. By the way, spoilers, because it’s a book from 1847, so, proceed with caution.

The book
This is ostensibly a love story between Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester, but there’s a lot more. It’s told as if it’s the autobiography of a woman named Jane Eyre, and she tells her story from when she was about five years old. Jane is an orphan, she grows up with her aunt for a while, and when she’s about ten she goes to a school for girls, Lowood. Her aunt really dislikes her and tells the headmaster that Jane is a liar and a bad kid. Jane, who is a perfectly alright kid, earns the love and respect of her teachers and becomes a teacher herself. She leaves the school when she is 18 and goes to Thornfield to be a governess for a young girl named Adele, the ward of Edward Fairfax Rochester. Jane and Edward fall in love, and are planning to get married. Then it turns out that Rochester has a crazy wife in the attic. So Jane runs away.

I loved it. It was awesome. And gushing over. Just thought I’d get that out of the way right away.

I love Jane, so much. Not everything about her, there are qualities to Jane that I found a bit annoying, she’s very pious, and it sort of goes really far. She dresses like a nun, and she refuses to accept every gift Rochester tries to give her. I realize that she doesn’t want to be dependent on him, but good God Jane. She’s also a little “woe is me, I’m so plain.” That’s really the only thing I can think of that I really disliked about her, because most of her is awesome.

Jane has this very strong sense of right and wrong and who she wants to be. She wants to be an independent woman, she doesn’t want to depend on a dude, which is impressive. She is a massive feminist, she’s so out of her time, it’s incredible. She doesn’t see a husband as the be all and end all. She doesn’t want to depend on a man to survive. She wants to manage on her own, which is why she wants the job as a governess.

Jane is sort of the savior in this story. She’s not the damsel in distress. She actually saves Rochester on a couple of occasions and he acts like the damsel, which I liked. Rochester is set on fire, yeah, and she puts it out, and then is like: “see ya, going to bed” and Rochester is very needy and: “why are you leaving me? I’m stressed out, I was put on fire, stay with me,” it’s great.

There’s also the love story aspect obviously, which is interesting, because Jane is a badass. That’s weird, but I’ll try to make sense of it. Rochester is about 40 years old, so he’s around 20 years older than Jane. He is very forceful, strong minded. He wants her and he is very insistent. And Jane is still in control of him. She doesn’t want to like, let him do whatever he wants with her, just because they’re engaged. She keeps him at a distance, and she’s tough and strong. It’s clear she loves him very much, but she wants to be in control of her own life. She’s this very poor woman, and he is an extremely wealthy man and she needs to be in control or he will take advantage, and I respect her for that.

I think her reaction to finding about Rochester’s wife Bertha is very natural. Because Rochester’s idea is that she could just be his mistress, and Jane doesn’t want that. Because she knows her standing in society, and she doesn’t know if he’ll get tired of her and just dump her, so she needs a commitment from him, so she leaves. It’s possibly not the most responsible thing in the world, she’s 19 and she leaves home with no money, clothes or valuables, which isn’t the smartest decision in England in the fall or whatever, but it’s the best thing she can do.

A lot of people feel like the fact that she goes back to Rochester is un-feminist, but I feel like that’s not accurate. Jane doesn’t go back to him because she wants to be looked after, she goes back wealthy and independent because she wants to be with him. Also Rochester has changed drastically from the person he was when they first knew each other. Obviously he went through a seriously traumatic accident and I don’t wish that on him, I’m not crazy, but it does make him into a person that’s worthy of her. She’s not with him because he’ll take care of her, but because she loves him and wants to be with him.

I’m now done being a gushy, delighted human. I loved this, it was amazing. The writing is beautiful, Jane is outstanding and a badass. I loved it, so much.