For the record, there's probably nothing I can say about this book that ten other people haven't already said much more eloquently, but I'm giving it my best shot. Because I have a blog, and that's what you do! Jane Eyre is amazing.
So I first read it an eon ago in sixth grade, and even back when I was as twerpy a little ragamuffin as ever thought the cafeteria chicken nuggets tasted like rubber, this book was very, very special to me. I felt like there was a whole world of books opened up to me when I read it because it was so Old-Timey, but at the same time why would I need to read anything else, because how could anything else be as good? This is basically how it went down the first time I experienced Jane Eyre (Oh, it's not just a book, it's an experience):
- I wanted to befriend awesome, spunky little Jane.
- I wanted to befriend awesome, spunky big (though technically still little) Jane.
- I was totally horrified when she slept in her friend's deathbed. This was before I knew that Weird Death Scenes For Saintly Young Girls are a staple of Old-Timey books.
- I was totally horrified when she almost married her cousin. This was before I knew that Cousinly Romantic Entanglements are a staple of Old-Timey books.
- I savored Every. Single. Jane-Rochester exchange (The fire and the intense flirtation that inevitably ensues after life-saving! The guy who gets bitten! The banter! The gypsy who is actually Mr. Rochester in drag! The proposal closely followed by the lightning-struck tree that is symbolic and foreshadowy! The attic-lurking ghoul who is actually his wiiiiifeee)
Necessary beloved quote:
"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -I have as much soul as you- and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal - as we are!...I am no bird, no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."
It strikes this magical balance between the page-turning deliciousness of a brooding Gothic romance (Mr. Rochester, guys, OMG OMG) and Brontë's super-smart examination of what it really means to find your place in the world and be a good person. What more can you ask for? NOTHING, that's what! Man, it's just my favorite thing. Now time to have an Eyre-athon and watch every single movie version I can find. And start Wuthering Heights by Charlotte's reclusive sister, Emily.