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Plain Jane

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More stories from Ruth Mekonnen

How many people do you know of that are still relevant decades after their big break?

Take J.K. Rowling; its been 20 years since Harry Potter’s adventures stole the world’s attention, and she is still as popular as ever…maybe even more!

Charlotte Brontë’s literary genius, however, has just reached its 200th anniversary, and the novelist doesn’t seem to be losing her popularity any time soon.

In fact, she was given two thumbs up by the Queen and a spot in the hall of fame of literary works (being labeled a “classic”). Copies of her novels and poems continue to line the shelves of many libraries and English classrooms across the globe.

The classic novel Jane Eyre is one of her more notable and controversial stories. It has been translated into nearly every language in the world after its publication in 1847. During that time, England had just entered the Victorian Era, and, to some, this novel was an insult to society.

Initially written under Brontë’s male pseudonym Currer Bell, Jane Eyre has been received by readers with a mix of warm praise as well harsh criticisms by some. Skeptics claim that the plain heroine, Jane, is too radical in her feminist ideals.

Growing up in a miserable, orphaned childhood, Jane finds that she wins the “Outcast of the Year” award consistently. She is ostracized by her aunt who is unwillingly keeping her to fulfill a promise to her husband (Jane’s beloved uncle). Combined with her ruthless children, this aunt created such a miserable existence that the young girl leaves this home to find life beyond the secrets and chaos within its walls.

Many events in the plot parallel to the events in Charlotte Brontë’s own life: from her traumatic childhood to the deaths in her family and difficult lifestyle in the 19th century middle class. Because of this Brontë writes with raw emotion, drawing readers into Jane’s worn shoes.

In honor of this milestone, I urge the classic-novel-obsessors, general book-lovers, the I-haven’t-read-in-forever folks to read* this story of a plain chick on a daring journey of self-discovery.

 

*This novel has also been adapted into multiple major motion pictures…but in my opinion, the book surpasses them all!

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