The Bronte sisters are considered some of the most venerated classic writers of 19th Century. I was more than impressed with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and was ever since, desperate to read Jane Eyre, a classic by her more famous sister- Charlotte Bronte.
The first look of the novel depicting a confident looking, elegant English lady on the cover page, further enhanced my curiosity and I picked up the book instantly and settled down for an entertaining suspense filled day.
Jane Eyre opens with a little girl, being subjected to humiliation and physical and verbal abuse by her aunt and cousins of the Reed family. However, the girl is quite free spirited and could not be subdued easily. And Mrs Reed tries to get rid of her by sending her to a horrible boarding School ‘Lowood’, notorious for its incompetent pseudo-disciplinarian teachers, unhygienic environment and the thrifty cunning manager.
The initial years of Jane’s Lowood are quite traumatic and reminded me of Lamb’s Christ Hospital, but our heroine is not to be let down by any adversity, she is a fighter and faces all the challenges with a brave face and becomes a governess at Thornfield Manor.
At Thornfield, a new chapter begins in Jane’s life, when Mr. Rochester, a stiff lipped gentleman with less than attractive face falls in love with the elegant lady like Jane. But , Rochester has a secret hidden in the Thornfield. Will Jane be able to embrace the past of Rochester gracefully or will she move out of his life, forms the most important aspect of the novel.
And, I must say that Charlotte has created two wonderful strong characters of opposing nature in the form of Jane and Rochester and it was really interesting to watch the unusual courtship of the rude rich baron and the sophisticated poor girl.
But, Jane Eyre is not just a romance. It is a story of an independent working woman, who is not ready to be treated as a trophy wife, door matted by her powerful husband. And, today on the Woman’s Day, I think, Jane Eyre is the best example of individualistic equality of men and women, in the true sense of feminism. The protagonist of the novel makes all her decisions- personal as well professional, independently without waiting for social approval. She is a strong willed woman, who believes in living life at her own terms, without bothering about the consequences.
And as for the suspense regarding the secret of Thornfield, it was so nicely executed by Bronte that I could not contain my curiosity and even wanted to cheat by reading the last pages of the novel, even before the author could take it to a logical point. The secret is well kept till the very end and adds even more chutzpah to an already delectable, heady mix of love, hate and madness.
It is a beautifully written, originally feminist, fabulous romance-cum-tragedy-cum-suspense novel. It is a must read for anyone craving for a teary eyed, mind numbing romantic thriller. An absolute winner!