June 22, 2013
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Author: Charlotte Brontë
First published: 1847
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This was a wonderful re-read for the third week of The Fiction of Relationship course. My love for this book can be traced back to my childhood. I guess I was about 10 when I first read it in translation, and then in my teens it was the first big and non-adapted book in English that I bought and read. Of course, I understood no more than 50% of it, and it took me two months to finish it, but the fact that I knew what it was about helped a lot.
This re-read was different, because I considered the book from the prism of a much broader literature and historical background and I saw much more in it as a result. I remember that during previous reads I was really pissed off with Jane for refusing to become Rochester's mistress (I know, I know, I didn't have really high moral standards, I admit :) ), because it seemed to me that love was the most important thing in the book, but now I looked deeper and saw all the feminist ideas about women's self-respect and right to accomplish something in their lives. This time it seemed impossible for Jane and Edward to be together unless they are equal not only in status but also in their attitude towards each other.
The pattern of Bildungsroman was also pretty obvious for me this time and I understood the importance of all the characters that Jane interacted with to the forming of her character. That's what differs this novel from other love stories - that it is not a love story at all. It is a story of coming in terms with one's self, of choices and of understanding what is one's way.
I also liked to notice traces of a Gothic novel in the story now that I know what it is. Jane's dreams and drawings, spirits, haunted manor, voices - this is all pretty classical, but it is not out of the place as it sometimes is. These things add to the atmosphere and beauty of the novel. If you try hard, you can also find fairy tale tropes in the story, especially in the childhood part of it. Come on, there is even an evil stepmother :)
Sometimes re-reading a book is even better than reading it for the first time, because you not only enjoy the plot and the writing, but you also observe how much you have changed in the time elapsed between the readings. And I'm happy to notice that I can read and understand books much better now than then. I feel kind of proud and accomplished because of this, but also a bit sad, as I don't have so much excitement in me now as I used to have. But this is life :)