Over the years there have been many stories written and filmed about the adventures of nannies, governesses and the like. In 1847, Charlotte Brönte wrote a book about a governess and it became one of the best-beloved novels in English literature. The novel is “Jane Eyre,” and the story tells of a young girl’s journey into adulthood and all the strange and exciting detours along the way.
When the novel begins, Jane is a little girl who lives with her horrible aunt and cousins. Sound familiar? Orphans have always been favorite subject matter for stories and Jane’s past and present troubles set the stage for this exciting novel.
The early pages consist of Jane’s initially bad time at boarding school and subsequent years teaching at the same school. At age 18, Jane decides that she wants a new life and accepts a post as a governess to the ward of the wealthy Mr. Rochester.
Of course, there is mystery and drama at the Rochester house and Jane becomes attached to her employer. All is not peaceful, however, as Mr. Rochester hides a dark and frightening secret in an upper room of his home and it just might be the ruin of Jane and his relationship. What starts out as mysteriously maniacal laughter in the night soon blossoms into midnight fires and wedding garments ripped apart by livid hands.
This is one of my all-time favorite books for a number of reasons. The settings are magnificent. Every description makes the whole place seem eerier and balances between the edge of hopeful and the descent of despair. The characters are rounded and interesting and very realistically portrayed. Whenever I read this book — and I’ve read it quite a number of times — I get sucked into their world and remain there happily until the very end.
“Jane Eyre” is a book that anyone can relate to. Everyone faces obstacles in their relationships and everyone has
on-the-job situations that must be faced and overcome. In popular media such as “The Nanny Diaries,” the story is entertaining because it focuses on a girl overcoming obstacles, finding love and making a better life for herself. This is essentially what “Jane Eyre” does, only Jane does it in a time when independent women were a rarity.
Bronte’s views of women were unique for her time. She portrayed Jane as an intelligent human being, often more intelligent than the men she meets, and very able to take care of herself. Jane also possesses enormous willpower and strength of character, both of which were not often attributed to women at the time the novel was written. Jane Eyre is a new type of female character and one that has been present in literature ever since.
There have been many movie versions made but nothing can compare to the actual book. It is romantic, mysterious and an extremely interesting read. “Jane Eyre” is an excellent read for any time.
Reach columnist Cheyenne Perata