Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Light and Eyrey

image:: Jane Eyre Silhouette Black and White Book Cover by Pendantmonium,

I am preparing myself early this year for when I announce we will be studying Jane Eyre.

“Do we have to?”

“Is that our only choice?”

“Isn’t that a chic lit selection?”

And that’s the question I shall endeavor to answer. Because the first two questions both can be answered with “no.” But we won’t go there for now.

So, is Charlotte Bronte’s famous classic novel of being true to oneself, of overcoming adversity, of embracing family over riches really a chic lit because it centers on a romance, intrigue, and a woman who is victimized more than once.

First off let’s look at a couple of definitions:


What is Chick Lit?

Chick lit is smart, fun fiction for and/or about women of all ages. Many of these books are written from a first-person viewpoint, making them a bit more personal and realistic. The plots can range from being very light and fast-paced to being extraordinarily deep, thought-provoking and/or moving.

Another perspective–from

chick lit

/lɪt/ Show Spelled [lit] Show IPA


literature that appeals especially to women, usually having a romantic or sentimental theme.

At this point Jane Eyre could be considered smart, fun? probably not so much. First-person viewpoint–yes. Personal and realistic–maybe. The plot is not very light and could be considered deep, thought-provoking and moving. It does appeal to women and does contain a romantic theme. Perhaps it is chic lit. Then again, let’s explore “classic.”

Mark Twain’s definition is universally accepted: “A book which people praise and don’t read.” However, Jane Eyre is read evidenced by it still being in print, let alone being studied in AP courses. Plus, look at all the film versions of JE.

I put the question to the guy students in class and most said the novel held their interest. The language, the setting, the intrigue, the cousin plot, the bitter aunt, and of course that underplot of a possible vampire living upstairs–wait, that’s a different novel (or is it?)

The verdict? How about JE is a classy literary novel focusing on a woman who overcomes her unjust circumstances. Oh, yes, let’s not forget Mr. Rochester.

Any thoughts?

Did you dread reading Jane Eyre in high school and roll your eyes or embrace the story of a strong young woman who finds happiness after much travail? (yes, I am slanting the vote).


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6 thoughts on “Light and Eyrey

  1. I read Jane Eyre when I was in 6th grade (I was only 10), too early, I think, to get much beyond the plot. And I had wanted to read it because it seemed like an “adult” book. One of these days, I have to go back and read the book again. In high school, we didn’t read Jane Eyre. We selected an author (I chose Faulkner) and spent our senior year reading within the author’s oeuvre. Sadly, I was too young to read Faulkner, so I didn’t get much out of his work until I got my MFA in my early 40s. I have many regrets about my early education that I’ve spent much time trying to rectify in middle age.

    I’m trying to recall books we read as a class in any year of high school. To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Flowers for Algernon, On the Beach, and Lord of the Flies come to mind.

  2. I read Jane Eyre for the first time while I was in university. I saw it as more of a classic than “chick lit.” We read it in the context of fairy tales and I thought that was a very fascinating perspective that made it more interesting to the boys (although I’d hope that the guys in the class wouldn’t dismiss the book just because it’s written by a woman about a woman…). Regardless of what others thought, I really enjoyed the book and would definitely read it again!

  3. I can’t remember when I read it, but I do remember not liking it. I think I was too young and impatient. I would like to give it another try, though.

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