I like the premise of this book more than the execution. Charlotte Brontë decided that, in defiance of the “rule” that heroines need to be beautiful to be interesting, she would write a novel about a heroine who was (GASP) plain. And Jane Eyre was born. (Or hatched. Or written into existence. Take your pick.)
While this was a bold move, or something, Brontë goes on to point out to the reader every ten pages or so that Jane Eyre and her love interest, Mr. Rochester, are not attractive. It is THAT RELEVANT to the plot. Our imaginations need CONSTANT REMINDERS to work properly, as everyone knows.
Jane spends a lot of time at the beginning of the book with her uncle’s family, who are MEAN, and in an orphanage, where everyone is ALSO MEAN. Then she leaves school to become a governess and meets Mr. Rochester, who is NICE. They fall in love and everything is great except for the apparent ghost in the house that everyone pretends doesn’t exist. On the day of their wedding, the ceremony is cut short when Mr. Rochester is accused of BIGAMY because his CRAY-CRAY WIFE IS STILL ALIVE. Why he did not see this coming is as inexplicable as the sudden appearance of the deranged wife.
Jane wanders England and eventually ends up BY PURE COINCIDENCE on her cousins’ doorstep. Jane makes the wise decision not to marry her cousin and eventually reunites with Mr. Rochester, now blinded by a house fire set by his former wife in which she commits suicide. So, yeah.
Moral of the story: Jane and Mr. Rochester are unattractive. Duh.
Is it one of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time? “Great” is a bit strong. It would definitely go on my list of the 100 Most Mediocre Books of All Time, though.
I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.
I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world.
“Am I hideous, Jane?” “Very, sir: you always were, you know.”