Review of Jane Eyre (1847)
Charlotte Brontë (writer).
Read in 2019.
Mr. Brocklehurst, one of the implausible villains in this story, says of the protagonist in chapter 7: “God has graciously given her the shape that He has given to all of us; no signal deformity points her out as a marked character.” Indeed, Jane does not have Harry Potter’s lightning-bolt scar, nor any such physical sign of how special she is. Nonetheless, she triumphs against improbable adversity in the uncomplicated manner of YA Mary Sues.
Consider Jane’s dismissive description of Georgiana’s conversations in chapter 21: “they always ran on the same theme—herself, her loves, and woes.” This is the theme of Jane Eyre itself: A book named after its protagonist, masquerading as autobiography, and revolving around the love and woes of its protagonist. It’s hypocritical. The protagonist’s “spiritual” development is just a layer of varnish on her ability to tame Mr. Rochester, the smouldering bad boy more than twice her age. The constant Christian sermonizing is lifeless and intellectually empty, including the outright miracle revealed in chapter 37.
As the reader, I’ve nothing to show for it. The novel is certainly well written, in terms of presentation, yet its sole piece of content is a self-serving fantasy of escape from undeserved suffering to romance, wealth and high status. Look into the colonial aspect though; that’s an amusing curiosity.
References here: Rec (2007).