Archive | March, 2013

Jane Eyre

27 Mar
Jane Eyre is the rare book that manages to be good by virtue of ineffable charm alone, despite not having very much going for it in terms of overall plot.
There is something more going on in Jane Eyre than mere charm, true, something authentically powerful–if, as will be see, brief. But the power of Jane Eyrehas less to do with the conflict of great forces that typifies great works of literature, and more to do with the subtle irritation of a delayed resolution to its most important episode. Instead of a race between values through the people who represent those values, Jane Eyre tasks us with a race to turn its pages and find out its secrets–still a race, but a race whose victory, barring the boredom of the reader, is assured.As a narrator, Jane is ideal: objective enough to provide us with a good account of events, outspoken enough to bump the plot along whenever it needs bumping, and virtuous enough never to frustrate our expectations. Often enough, our viewpoint is hers; only we’re not quite so witty and we’re without quite so apt an eye for injustice–again making Jane, in page-after-page of her revelations, a delight to read. The novel’s rhetoric is also inventive, accomplishing its routine narrative tasks via devices more elaborate than are probably necessary, yet with something fresh about each. 

Jane’s attempt to chide herself into abandoning her interest in her brooding employer, Edward Rochester, takes the form of a contest between two mental pictures, and the inevitable attempt by Rochester to coax out Jane’s feelings involves an elaborate and well-detailed ruse involving disguises and a gypsy fortuneteller. The book, and its narrator, both definitely have charm: we like Jane, we like what she says, and i want to see what she will say next.