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Gothic Romance is a genre that has never truly left, but in many ways it’s finding a sort of “come back” today. The recipe is simple. Start with a huge estate and manor. Add suspense and either a dark specter or vampire-like villain with a touch of insanity. Mix in a handsome, tortured hero. And finally, throw into this mix a strong woman who doubts her own beauty or value.
Jane Eyre is an orphan raised in a loveless, but wealthy home. When she first shows her strength of character in this family, she is rejected and sent to a defunct and abusive boarding school. She grows up into a woman with little happiness in life who finds joy in the simplest of pleasures and has learned to keep her strength to herself.
She meets Mr. Rochester, a self-tortured man with a secret. He lives a life of reckless abandon: gambling, drinking, partying, and running away from his past by any means possible. He never allows himself true joy, because of the severity of his mistakes.
The two find themselves in a love that breaks social conventions. A love neither party can act upon legally or morally. Then it ends tragically, at least for a few chapters anyway.
Charlotte Bronte penned this passionate tale of one woman’s fight to be herself and the man who encouraged her to do so in 1847. A plain, stalwart protagonist keeps the teenage bookworm’s attention. Her ambitions, strength, and even her abuse are easy to relate to. Every young woman wants a man that understands her better than she does herself. It makes for a love that is neither superficial or temporary. And those characteristics have kept Jane Eyre on high school reading lists and movie adaptations for generations.
This book is likely a favorite for teachers as well. It lends itself to discussions on religious and moral practices, socioeconomic lectures, and talks on feminism. During its day, Jane Eyre was considered a very controversial read. I’ve watched the 2011 version, which the stills in this review are from, and the black and white version. Though the visuals in the latest adaptation are riveting and without question Gothic, much of the controversy is lost in its translation to film.
Bronte’s use of language and emotion is captivating and inspiring. The tale she weaved is suspenseful and full of heart-wrenching twists. Do yourself a favor and opt for the book before watching the movie. It’s worth it.
Free Kindle Edition of Jane Eyre – To read
Jane Eyre on DVD or BluRay – To watch