The book opens with Jane as a ten year old living in her aunt’s home as an orphan, and being abused by her fourteen year old cousin. Everyone knows it happens, everyone ignores it. I’ve always found it frustrating to read about a situation where someone has absolutely no control over his or her well-being. In my head I keep thinking Jane should just realize she’d be better off in a poor house and walk out. And then I realize she’s ten and this is all she’s ever known.
Then Jane ends up causing such a huge ordeal that she gets sent to school. While I find it difficult to believe a ten year old sounds like she does, I found myself cheering her on when she reprimands her aunt.
I was surprised that such a huge chunk of the book takes place with Jane as a child. Other books I’ve read in this time period tend to gloss over childhood, and skip right to “all the characters in this book are adults.”
Jane makes friends with an older girl called Hellen Burns. Their relationship is really cute. And then Lowood school gets the plague and Helen dies. Jane holding Helen when she dies is actually really sad and sweet. That moment was really emotional.
Helen definitely represents Charlotte Brontë’s Christian upbringing. Jane questions Helen’s steadfast beliefs, and I wonder how much of that is Charlotte Brontë questioning her own beliefs.
So far, I love the book. The writing is outstanding, I love Jane as a character, and the world she’s living in feels real and beautiful.
What do you think of chapters 1-9? Find Jane to be a believable child-protagonist? Let’s have a discussion in the comments!!!
Join me next week for chapters 10-19!