So far, what has made Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre great to me has been its perspective or, perhaps, “point of view” might be the better term. Bronte puts her novel firmly and confidently into the hands of her heroine using what is almost “stream of consciousness” before anyone had ever used the term (to my limited knowledge, anyway).
While Nelly Dean’s narration of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is intriguing, Nelly knows significantly more about the inner thoughts and emotions of everyone involved in the story than is realistic. But I’m not sure complete realism is what Emily Bronte is going for in her only novel.
Charlotte, on the other hand, pulls the reader into one character and nothing in the novel is seen outside of the title character’s thoughts – at least not in Volume the First. I admit I’ve plunged into Volume the Second since starting this post and as the plot thickens, we get a little more point of view from another character. But I’ll save that for another post.
Here’s a nice example of Jane’s matter-of-fact practicality in a conversation she has with herself regarding her employer, Mr. Rochester:
“You have nothing to do with the master of Thornfield, further than to receive the salary he gives you for teaching his protege, and to be grateful for such respectful and kind treatment as, if you do your duty, you have a right to expect at his hands. Be sure that is the only tie he seriously acknowledges between you and him: so don’t make him the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, agonies, and so forth. He is not of your order: keep to your caste; and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.”
I’m finding Jane’s conversations with herself to be quite enjoyable.