Jane Eyre

I’ve always found classic novels to be tricky. They’re very loved, often read and quoted and made into adaptations. If you read classic novels just because you like them, you’re an Intellectual Person that understands the fine art and, in some ways, seen as a bit better than people who don’t like classics. However, to be honest, I’ve read quite a few classics by now and I find them to be rather boring and unfortunately, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was no exception (go ahead, call me uncultured!).

Jane Eyre is the story of, well, Jane Eyre. She’s a young orphan living with her aunt and cousins and she’s not treated well at all. Her aunt blames Jane for everything and eventually tires of her and sends her away to a boarding school where she stays for ten years. At first a student and later a teacher, Jane departs from school when she’s eighteen to work as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, Jane meets the owner of the manor, Edward Rochester. While Jane works with Mr. Rochester’s ward, Adéle, she and the master of the house falls in love. However, Jane doesn’t believe he, so rich, would ever choose her, so poor. She fears that he will instead marry the beautiful miss Ingram, who comes from a good family. Miss Ingram, though, turns out to be the least of Jane’s concerns because hidden in Thornfield Hall is a mystery that will ruin Jane’s dream of being loved.

While I can understand why people love this story (and certainly why it was so popular when it was first published in 1847), I, personally, don’t like it. The story itself is alright; a poor, young orphan falling in love with a rich (older) man but due to numerous obstacles, it’s uncertain if they can be together. A good story, but one that I’ve read before. And that’s the point. I know I’m looking at this book with modern eyes and that’s why I don’t like it. I’ve read similar stories before and I can’t say that Jane Eyre was neither suspenseful nor riveting for me. It was just a story about a girl falling in love with a guy she couldn’t have and then ending up with him anyway. Like I said, I can understand why people loved this when it was first published, but with all of the romance stories written now, I found this particular one dull and uninteresting.

There is another reason as to why I didn’t like this story and it was the writing. The length of the novel is overwhelming (550 pages, about 200 could’ve been taken away) but the writing makes the length even worse. It’s so dull and tedious and every little detail is explained. What characters wear, what hairstyles the women have, what the gods-damned doorknob look like… it was just too much! I like detailed books but this was way, way too much. And, of course, Mr. Rochester. He was so boring. The way he spoke… he talked for a whole paragraph and in the end, Jane (Jane!) said “I don’t understand what you mean.” Eh, well, if you don’t understand then how am I supposed to do that? I mean yeah, naturally, this novel was written quite a while ago and the language was different then but still. Not even Jane herself understand him so I don’t feel bad for barely understanding a word, myself.

As I said, the story wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good enough to make me forget about the details of every little thing, or the writing (or Mr. Rochester’s lines). It was dull and boring and I skipped quite a lot and I still didn’t miss anything, which says a lot. So, yeah. I’m probably uncultured for not understanding this lovely classic but you know what, I don’t care. I’m going to put my copy of Jane Eyre on a shelf and go back to reading YA, because at least those novels are entertaining.