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Book Review of Jane Eyre 简爱书评


Book review of Jane Eyre Brief introduction
Jane Eyre, ranking as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction, is a masterpiece composed by the great English novelist and poet, Charlotte Bront?, the eldest of the three Bront? sisters who survived into the adulthood. Actually, no matter what the critics said, the author succeeded to create an impressive character -- or we may say heroine -- with a deeply unconventional personality and nonetheless a deeply moral being. By such individualistic settings of the main character, this fiction tries to explore the integrated themes, such as the classism, the sexuality, the religion and the proto-feminism, which is usually considered quite ahead of that time.

Plot summary
With the first-person narrative of the title character, the novel begins with Jane’s retrospect of one day in her miserable childhood. Structurally, the whole novel can be divided into five stages according to the sequence of time. 1. Jane Eyre’s early life in Gateshead where she is brought up by her aunt, Mrs. Reed, conforming to her uncle’s dying wishes but abused and tortured by the aunt and cousins at the same time, both physically and emotionally. 2. Jane is sent to Lowood School to get education and learn to be “an honest girl”. There she manages to get rid of the unjust “deceitful” accusations from the school-runner Mr. Brocklehurst and make a friend with a gentle and beautiful girl Helen, who taught her a lot during the next few years before Helen died in a serious typhus epidemic strike. 3. After 6 years as a student and 2 years as a teacher at Lowood, Jane determined to leave and seek her new life. She arrived at the Thornfield Hall as a governess and there she falls in love with the owner of that stunning estate, Mr. Rochester although the first sight of each other is not such romantic. During the period, Jane returns to Gateshead and stays there looking after her dying aunt for about one month. There she knows the existence of her other relatives -- Mr John Eyre, her paternal As Jane and Mr Rochester are ready to get married, Jane hears that Mr. Rochester has married although this wife is obviously descending into madness. She finally refused Mr. Rochester’s proposal and leaves Thornfield in the middle of one night. 4. Jane traveled through England with her little money saved by years. One day after forgetting her bundle of possessions in a coach and being exhausted, she faints in front of the doorway of St. John Rivers, a clergyman who later saves and befriends Jane and turns out to be Jane’s cousins. Deeming Jane as a good choice of a missionary’s wife, St. John proposes to Jane Eyre and invites her to go with him to India, not out of love, but out of duty. Jane initially accepts going to India excluding the proposal. 5. With the auditory hallucinations pf Mr Rochester’s voice calling her name, Jane returns to Thornfield only to find blackened ruins. Apparently, to save his wife when she sets a fire to the

house and tries to commit suicide by jumping from the roof, Mr Rochester is seriously injured. He lost a hand and his eyesight. Jane reunites with Mr Rochester and promises that she will never leave him. Then time flies. Mr Rochester has regained enough eyesight to see their first-born child.

General comment
This is not a purely a great romantic love story, one which has launched a thousand Mills and Boon novels. Actually, in this novel, Jane Eyre is depicted as a woman rebelling against convention. This can be clearly seen in her relationship with Mr Rochester Rochester. When she finds that she has fallen in love with Mr Rochester, a man at her father’s age, she bravely expresses her love rather than cowers back, not letting age become the barriers. When she receives her master’s love, she refuses those easily-obtained fortune or wealth but insists on being a governess all the same and earning her own living, holding the belief that a woman should be independent in a family. However, the unconventionality is not thorough because the submissive aspects in Jane’s character can still be seen. First of all, she succumbs to people’s opinions on women’s appearance. She sticks to the belief that beauty is indispensable in forming a perfect lady. Being a plain-looking girl, Jane has a strong inferiority complex about her look, even when she becomes a well-educated lady. When living in her aunt’s family, she attributes her being disliked by the family partly to her plain appearance. She mentions that if she was handsome, her aunt would endure her presence more complacently; her cousins would entertain for her more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would be less prone to make her the scapegoat of the nursery. When being a governess in Thornfield and seeing Miss Ingram, she feels incompetence to win Mr Rochester’s love against such a beautiful lady at first sight. Then in the party, she carefully observes Miss Ingram and Mr Rochester, and in her mind strongly expresses the feeling that they don’t truly love each other and Miss Ingram does not suit Mr Rochester in personality. As to this point, it shows Jane’s jealousy about Miss Ingram’s beauty. She seems to declare that if she has beauty, she can no doubt win Mr Rochester’s love. And this can be further proved in her later declaration of love to Mr Rochester. She says, ‘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 ’. In addition, she gives in to the traditional emphasis on women’s chastity. On the wedding day of Jane and Mr Rochester, Jane surprisingly knows that Mr Rochester has a living wife. Though she witnesses the insanity of his wife and realizes the hard life that Mr Rochester lived with such a mad woman, she refuses to marry him in that situation. Regardless of Mr Rochester’s confess and entreaty, Jane leaves him. If Jane was thoroughly unconventional, she could accept Mr Rochester’s love and becomes a mistress and then lives a carefree life with her beloved Mr Rochester, but she doesn't do this. She can’t accept being a mistress. As a woman, she regards legal marriage status the precondition in the combination of a man and a woman. Last but not least, she bends her knee to God. In this story, God always appears when Jane can’t make her decision, and each time she chooses to follow the God’s direction. When Jane is deep in dilemma whether to stay or leave after the cancellation of the wedding ceremony, it is the God’s voice that ultimately leads her leaving Mr Rochester. Later in the moor house, she submits herself to St. John, a devotional God admirer, doing many harsh tasks and trying her best to meet his

requirements, though these are not favorable to her. After St. John proposes to Jane several times, Jane is bewildered. She can’t decide whether to live in England to keep her love for Mr Rochester or follow St. John to a far-away place to do divine missions. At this time, she asks a favor from God. If she didn't hear Mr Rochester’s call, most probably she would follow St. John to fulfill God’s mission as long as life endures if God directs her to do so. Anyway, personally, I really appreciate Jane Eyre’s rebelliousness and forgiveness. To some degree she did show the readers an interesting character who acts in ways of what she thinks, in ways of pursuing her own moral conviction, in ways of we would not expect of a child of that era. While reading, the novel should not be considered as a purely romantic love story, like one has launched a thousand Mills and Boon novels. After all, besides romance, the author has conveyed a lot which are worth for us to read, to taste and to feel.


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