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Jane Eyre Paperback – June 2, 2010
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"At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Bronte." --Virginia Woolf
About the Author
Charlotte BrontÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ (1816-1855) was an English novelist and poet. She was the eldest of the three BrontÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ sisters, all of whom were gifted writers. The most prolific of the three sisters, Charlotte authored a number of childrenÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs stories as well as several novels, including Shirley, Villette, and The Professor. She published her first success, Jane Eyre, under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847.
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I must say, although I struggled at the beginning of this novel, I soon found that I was able to comprehend it, even though the use of language was quite foreign to me.
In this piece of literature we meet the Earnshaw’s who own Wuthering Heights. Mr Earnshaw has a wonderful wife, and two children, Catherine and Hindley.
But on an outing, Mr Earnshaw comes home with an orphan, a young child who doesn’t belong to anybody.
It’s instant love for Catherine. The child with no mane (who is named Heathcliff) become close friends.
On the other hand, Hindley hates him as his father’s affection is taken from Hindley and focused on Heathcliff.
So begins the tale of the Earnshaws and Heathcliff.
Also let’s not forget the Linton’s who live at Thrushcross Grange. Both of these families are incorporated in this novel that I have perceived to be about a love forbidden and a man scorned wanting to seek revenge on those who hurt him. It’s a novel about loss, pain and the sheer agony of not being able to have the love of your life.
For me Wuthering Heights was a beautiful story that captured my heart.
I am glad that I took the plunge to read this icon of literature.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
This would be a wonderful mother-daughter read. It brings forward opportunities to talk about relationships - what makes one good or bad - as well as dedication, study, and a myriad of other topics that an adolescent faces. As Jane's life is detailed the unwanted child, bullying, powerlessness all rise up; so too does the consequence of standing up for oneself. The difficulties of poverty are shown and the co-existence of good people and poor characters within one school. The true impact that one friend can make, despite a brevity in the friendship, shows the power we each carry. The need to stretch and leave what you know, to spread ones wings, appears and brings the blessings and tragedies of life. Opportunities that are mixed and, finally, a happy-ever-after, without perfection, concludes the story. While Jane's insights are far too advanced for the age of her character throughout much of the book, they provide a young reader a path of exploration and the adult reader easy questions to discuss. ("How do you think Jane came to that realization or conclusion?")
This is a strong and powerful book that deservedly has withstood the passage of time. It has been the subject of several movies, but, alas, none of the movies capture the intensity and richness of the novel. Unfortunately, they tend to distort the book rather than represent it. This is a book that demands to be read. There is a reason this text is considered part of the Western literary canon, and it is so often assigned reading. What must not be overlooked, however, is the thoroughly entertaining nature of this book. It is not another dreary assignment to be drudged through. The tempestuous romance that drives this novel must be emphasized.
Although the text itself presents a rich tapestry on its surface, it reveals an even greater depth when the covers are pulled back for a deeper analysis of the novel. One point to be noted at the outset are the multiple layers of narration in the book, none of which can be deemed reliable. Even the ostensible master narrator who speaks to the reader is shown to be unreliable as he repeatedly makes mistakes that are pointed out to the reader. What other mistakes does he make that remain unrealized?
With multiple narrators come multiple frames. There is the master narrator, and the bulk of the story is told to him by a servant. This servant's narrative, too, is subject to omission and is tainted by what she wishes to disclose to her auditor. The book's author herself hides behind a pseudonym when the book was published originally. What is hidden and what is revealed? At its deepest level, the novel raises the question of what unambiguously can be known about *any* work of fiction.
Another device that pervades the text is the use of doubling and mirroring of the characters. Characters form pairs that stand in opposition to each other, as well as pairs that resemble each other. The book provides an exceptionally rich ground for an outpouring of analyses and interpretations. Ultimately, however, this novel resists any definitive interpretation. I do not consider this a flaw in a text, but, rather, a factor that makes it more intriguing and interesting.
The edition I read was the Fourth Edition of the Norton Critical Edition. (I recommend choosing the Norton Critical Edition whenever it is an option). This volume includes a selection of contemporaneous reactions to the text, as well as a selection of critical essays. The critical essays are varying in quality. J. Hillis Miller's essay is particularly outstanding, and Lin Haire-Sargeant's essay describing how the novel was translated into its numerous cinematic versions also was helpful. Still, I recommend reading all of the critical apparatus because readers may find other essays more useful. This edition also included a sampling of Emily Bronte's poetry, and she is as able a poet as she was a novelist.