So, I recently reread Jane Eyre with a group of friends, or at least attempted to. It was so dry! Like a Popeye’s biscuit with no butter and no drink in sight! I choked down about half of it before I gave up.
As a teen, I really liked this book! It held a special place in my heart, although I have no idea why. I can’t relate with the main character that much, or at all really. I remembered liking it much more than any other Victorian novel, especially anything Jane Austen. I guess I remembered the plot as a whole, which is real juicy (one tiny speck of butter in that dry ass biscuit).
The monologues drove me crazy. Something that could have been said in one paragraph felt like it went on for pages. All of the characters were insufferable, either whiney, cocky, or selfish. Or so insignificant and were a waste of description.
I thought the pseudo-autobiographical style was inconsistent, and the events were waaaaaaaay too detailed to be realistically recalled in an autobiography. I almost wish the story was told strictly in first person or third person instead of this nonsense.
Basically, I am of the highly unpopular opinion that strongly dislikes Jane Eyre.
And I understand that taste is subjective, and people like what they like. But what I don’t understand is how books like these are the great literary canon. Why are these the only books held to this level esteem and infamy? Why are there these gatekeepers in the literary industry that like what they like, but expect and set the tone for the rest of these to hold these stories as the gold standard? (Well, racism, and to an extent, patriarchy, of course).
There is no doubt that the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen opened many doors for women (white women) writers to step through and prove that women could write great stories just as well as men. I am not taking that away from them. They were great in their own right. Where is the room for (like all) of Toni Morrison, who writes prose like poetry? Oh yeah, she’s been banned from school for talking about rape and how bad slavery was. Where is the room for Zora Neale Hurston? I’m honestly surprised I had to read Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school. That was one of two books that centered a Black female lead (the other was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry that I read in the fourth grade) I read in all of my grade school years.
Actually, they were the only books I read in all of grade school where Black characters weren’t relegated to the margins of the story. Huck Finn and The Cay don’t count as books about Black people. I also don’t count summer reading books, because we all know people didn’t actually read those. We need more authors of color in the curriculum and not just on a list for students to ignore.
But we could read The Awakening. TWICE.