From the beginning, she followed a path of disaster: her parents died when she was an infant, and she was taken in by her kind uncle—who then died himself, leaving her to the spite of his wife, the small-minded Mrs. Reed. Her aunt can no more understand quiet, serious children such as her niece, than she can control her own spoiled, devious brats. And thus the tale begins.
Charlotte Brontë fills her book with delicious and sometimes chilling descriptions—even if you know the story beforehand, the malevolent occurrences at Thornfield Hall will unsettle you. Her panoramic illustration of everything from the gardens to the rookery of Thornfield leaves very little to the imagination, but everything to the image.
One thing that I think is not gone into as thoroughly, is the characters themselves. They are fine when looked at some ways—Jane seemingly a quiet, thoughtful girl, but underneath an impulsive, passionate imp. However, back up a little and she is merely another representation of Good. She is the one who refuses to run off with Rochester when wedding him proves illegal—she is the one who would rather die than be led into sin. Rochester is the brave, debonair and not especially handsome man who is even more impulsive and passionate than Jane. But from the other direction, he is the creature battling to exchange dark for light, Bad for Good. And then for the devil-creature, the other end of the spectrum from our heroine: the madwoman, who never once looked on the light, or wanted to—she who plagues Rochester and brings about the apocalypse to Jane’s and Rochester’s fledgling world. But really, what story isn’t about this clichéd battle? Would we want to read anything less than the ultimate?
This book pleasantly surprised my expectations with its gripping—though not necessarily fast-paced—narrative, and though each person has their own opinions and preferences about this book, it has fostered in me a newfound taste for the Victorian novel.