Published originally 1847
Source: downloaded this one from Librivox
Summary From Goodreads:
Orphaned into the abusive household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
The fact that this is my third (fourth?) reading of Jane Eyre is probably enough to let you know that I love this novel; it is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved it from the first time I read it, wrapped up as I was in empathy for Jane and the improbable romance. Rereading Jane Eyre has done nothing to dim my first impressions; instead it has served to convince me of the brilliance of Charlotte Bronte.
Jane has long been maligned as being too passive, the book of being nothing more than a Cinderella story. To some extent, that's true. Jane is an orphan, abused by the very person trusted to care for her, "saved" by a wealthy man who loves her despite the fact that she is below his station. She is a girl who understands that her poverty and lack of connections severely impaired her prospects in 18th-century England.
“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? 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!”Bur she is so much more than a patsy who spent her life under one person or another's thumb. When her cousins picked on her, she stood up to them; when her aunt verbally abused her, Jane told her aunt just what she thought of her. She didn't back down from Mr. Rochester any more than she had the head of the orphanage despite the fact that both might easily have made her life miserable. Truly, the only time when Jane lost herself entirely was when she was most overcome by her own morality, not so much that she fell under the spell of someone stronger.
“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”When doing what her heart desired would have compromised her morals and integrity, Jane stood firm. Only when her path was clear, when she was able to find herself on equal footing, then was she able to make her way back to happiness.
Is it wordy? Yes it is. It's an eighteen-century novel; aren't they all? But this time, perhaps more than any of the other times I've read this one, I really appreciated every word that Bronte chose.