Dual Review: Why Jane Eyre and David Copperfield Kick Literary Ass

Good evening ladies and gents!

Guess what, today we’re going highbrow. While I was away doing ALL THE THINGS, I made good progress with The Rory Gilmore Book Challenge (seems fitting considering the Gilmore Girls Revival). I’m really enjoying chronicling my progress with this because these books push me as a reader. Recently I picked up Jane Eyre and David Copperfield, and they both shot straight into my favourites list. While theyre very different stories, they both feel timeless and relevant to modern life. To put it in a non, 19th century way, they kick literary ass!

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Overall Impression: A Gothic, haunting tale of one girl’s fight for independence, dignity and respect in a world that isn’t quite ready for her yet.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, oh where do I start with you? What a wonderful book. I make no secret of the fact that I love Gothic 19th century writing. It tickles all the right spots for me. It’s overdramatic and sweeps you down into it’s depths, it’s passionate and strong and willful. It’s emotive and tantalizing to the senses, full of descriptions of grand buildings, dark landscapes and mysterious characters with confusing motives.

So, in case you don’t know that much about Jane Eyre, the book centers around a young lady looking for employment. She finds it as a governess at Thornfield Hall. Her employer? The distinguished and arrogant Mr. Rochester. Despite their differences in class the two form and intellectual bond and fondness for each other that shouldn’t exist. But Jane soon senses a darkness at Thornfield. Strange things are heard at night, noises ricochet around the halls and accidents occur without explanation. Will this mystery destroy the closest thing Jane has ever had to happiness?

Having watched several different adaptions of Jane Eyre, I was worried about two things when it came to the novel – one, that it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations and two, that it wouldn’t be as compelling because I already knew what was behind the mystery at Thornfield. I needn’t have worried, Charlotte’s storytelling was 1st class and I found myself sucked in quickly as if I had never experienced the story before.

Jane was such a complex character. She has an abusive and loveless start to life which has made her personality reserved and cold but has also developed her sense of independence because nothing has been handed to her. Despite her hardships, she is brave, smart and has managed to find work for herself. She’s strong in the face of adversity and won’t falter when it comes to her principles, refusing to bend of break even when doing so would give her a lot of happiness. Her refusal to demean herself for the man she loved was both agonizing and the most awe-inspiring thing I have ever read. Man, I would love to go to a feminist lecture on this book. Jane, you’re my new icon.

The main difference I found between the book and its adaptations to the screen, was that Mr. Rochester was kind of a douchebag. Like, seriously. On screen, he was so drool worthy but in the novel, I found him arrogant, insensitive and invasive of people personal boundaries. He was fascinating due to his unique personality and the mysteries surrounding him, but as a love interest he left a lot to be desired and I was much more interested in how his presence in Jane’s life gave her opportunities to grow as a character. I found this very interesting – I think it just shows how when we have a pleasant visual, our brains can be tricked into forgiving a person’s disturbing behaviour.

Overall, I loved this book, but it did lose one star towards the end because I didn’t enjoy the section where Jane went to go and live with a clergyman. It dragged a lot but was still somewhat interesting in terms of Jane’s character development and her refusal to submit to male dominance. All in all, Jane Eyre gets a big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this as an entry level classic because the language isn’t as tough as some and it quickly sweeps you into the story!

Writing Style: 5/5 // Originality: 5/5 // Entertainment: 4/5 // Character Development: 5/5 //Would I recommend this book? Yes!
Overall: 4/5

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Overall Impression: A true storytelling marvel. One character’s trials and tribulations from infancy to adulthood full of love, loss, and lessons. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Well, I have successfully navigated my way through my 4th Dickens novel, and it only took me 6 weeks! (Phew). At 1000 pages, this was also my biggest Dickens novel to date (and it felt like it). It was extremely intimidating, but also so so rewarding.

So the plot of David Copperfield? It’s rather simple really. It follows one individual through the ups and downs of his life. Like most Dickens characters, Copperfield gets off to a traumatic start in life full of hardship. His father died before he was born and his mother remarries a controlling slave driver who makes his mother slowly waste away. Copperfield soon finds himself unwanted and begins bouncing from one place to another being swept up in life’s current – that varies from borderline child slavery to hardcore boarding houses and homelessness, until, eventually, he seeks out his Aunt, who takes him in. But that is far from the end of the story.

David Copperfield is said to be Dickens favourite novel, it is also said in some respects to mirror his own life. This reason alone makes it an interesting read. However, the best thing about this book is that it’s the ultimate character study. Getting to follow one individual for such a long period means you get to know absolutely everything about them. What a true storytelling achievement! I laughed with Copperfield, I cried, I screamed at the unfairness of the word. I watched him fall in love, experience hardship, disillusionment, anger, joy. I saw him struggle with classism and treacherous villains, and I saw him eventually develop wisdom and understanding that love is not always based on beauty but on the commonalities between two people. This book was a rollercoaster of emotions and it was so satisfying.

One of the best parts of Dickens writing is all the fun caricatures he creates. Copperfield comes across so many different quirky people on his journey. There’s the slimy Uriah who is so very ‘umble, dear old Peggotty the loyal housekeeper, the soulless Mr. Murdstone, Betsy and her fear of donkeys on the green, and the most memorable of all the lovely and ever hopeful Mr. Micawber and his many financial ventures that go oh so very wrong.

Very similar to Jane Eyre, this novel almost made it to the five star mark. However, due to its length sections did become arduous and my enthusiasm waned especially around the midway mark. Other sections were also overly verbose (I think Dickens is probably the definition of verbose, even if his writing is awesome!). Luckily, the story did pick up again later for a spiffing ending if I do say so myself.

Overall, a great story with AMAZING character development. What more could a bookworm want? I wouldn’t recommend this book for classic beginners though as it’s heavier than some!

Writing Style: 5/5 // Originality: 4/5 // Entertainment: 4/5 // Character Development: 5/5 //Would I recommend this book? Yes!
Overall: 4/5

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Have you read Jane Eyre or David Copperfield? What do you think of Jane as a feminist figure? Were you a fan of the character development in David Copperfield? Did these novels kick literary ass for you? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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30 thoughts on “Dual Review: Why Jane Eyre and David Copperfield Kick Literary Ass

  1. I read David Copperfield a few years ago. It’s good, but I could only handle it in chunks (usually in between in other books) and I think it took me the best part of six months to finish.

    The stuff with Dora was rather sad and I despised both Murdstones.

    • Yeah, I felt that way too. I did end up picking up another book so that I could switch to something lighter when I wasn’t up to Dickens! Some bits I gobbled up really quickly, while other sections dragged.

      The Dora thing was very sad, and I think the only thing the Murdstones deserve is a pile of donkey poop. 🙂

  2. It’s been such a long time since I read either of these books. I’m afraid I don’t remember Jane Eyre much, but David Copperfield has always been one of my favourite classics. Brilliant storytelling and characters. I’ve actually purchased a very nice hardcover copy recently because I wanted to revisit it. 🙂

  3. I haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, but Copperfield is a great book – definitely Dickens at his best. And that’s from someone who loves A Tale of Two Cities. 🙂

    I only have Pickwick Papers, Hard Times and Martin Chuzzlewit to read and I’ve read all his novels. Still got a ton of short stories to read though (Wow, that guy was prolific). Speaking of Chuzzlewit, I’d avoid it unless every other Dickens story in the world is destroyed. I’ve been reading it since August and I’m only a quarter way through it. I’ve read two other books while I grapple with it.

    If you want some great Gothic writing, try Wilkie Collins – “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone” are great reads.

    Is it snowing in here, or are my eyes going funny?

    • Haha, but surely nothing can be A Tale of Two Cities for Tony! 😛 I’m glad you agree. 🙂

      Wow, that is impressive! I can’t even comprehend getting to that point, but it’s where I hope to get to eventually. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that I’ve got all 16 of Dickens novels and I’m making my way through them. I’m trying to read 1 a year – at that rate, it will take me a loooong time, LOL. Ohh no, that doesn’t sound good. Is it just really boring? I don’t know anything about that one.

      Also, as you are the Dickens expert, can you advise me on which of Dickens novel to read next? I’ve read Great Expectations, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carroll and most of Oliver Twist when I was younger. I guess I’ve done the most well known ones and I’m wondering what to go for next!

      Thanks for the recs, I’ll be adding them to the wishlist for sure. 🙂

      • Ooo, Dickens advice! It’s taken me YEARS to get through that much Dickens. It helps having a Kindle and the complete set. I could read them faster, but sometimes he can get too heavy and verbose (Most of the time, he was paid by the word, after all).

        I remember that pic of that gorgeous set of Dickens you have with the red spines!

        You’ve covered the best Dickens with what you’ve read, that’s for sure. I looked back at my reviews and the one I’d probably suggest is Bleak House, simply for the wonderful ending. It is an *immense* doorstop though.

        I haven’t heard of the TV programme, I’ll have to look that up!

      • You seemed like the best man to ask. 😉

        I agree. I can’t read Dickens one after the other. When I finish one of his novels I need a 6 month break after, LOL. It would be too much otherwise, and I’d end up getting frustrated with his writing style rather than enjoying it.

        Yes, I still love looking at them *stares dreamily*.

        Yeah, I’m starting to think that I maybe should have spread the more well-known ones out now, haha. Eeep, Bleak House is a doorstep (David Copperfield seemed big enough) but thanks, and I will take your advice. Bleak House will be up next! I know nothing about the story but I do find the title intriguing. 🙂

  4. I actually read David Copperfield at the start of this year, and have just started reading Jane Eyre to round it out – what a coincidence! My favourite Dickens novel was Great Expectations, but it might have to share the podium with Copperfield now – and for pretty much the reasons you mention here (even despite the verbosity, which I actually thoroughly enjoy)

    • That is a coincidence, indeed!
      Great Expectations was my favourite too, Miss Haversham was such an amazing character and that book has the central mystery of Pip’s benefactor that really propels the book forward (which some of Dickens other books lack).

      I enjoy 80% of Dickens verbosity, but sometimes it gets too much!

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  5. I felt exactly the same way about both books! I loved how Jane was such as strong character and loved the mysteries throughout the story. I enjoyed reading David Copperfield even more though, because of all those characters. Aunt Betsey Trotwood was a great feminist character and the book seemed ahead of its time just because of her. Since the story’s time period started around 1820, it seemed surprising whenever she spoke out against the way women and children were treated. I loved that character’s spunk.

    • Oh wow really, that’s great!
      I remember being so, so fascinated by the mysteries in Jane Eyre when I watched the TV series, I didn’t know if it was going to turn supernatural or not because there were some seriously weird goings on! Unfortunately, that element was lost a bit with the book because I already knew the story, but I still enjoyed watching Jane figure it out. 🙂
      Yes, there really are some great characters in Copperfield. That’s interesting, I hadn’t considered her to be a feminist character but she definitely is in comparison to some of the others. That’s one thing I do struggle with when it comes to his work – the females can be frustratingly 19th century – I think that’s one of the reasons I liked Great Expectations – Estella certainly wasn’t a wimp!

      • Some of the things that character said amazed me for that time period. She even spoke out against marriage of all things! 🙂 I still haven’t gotten to Great Expectations but I’ve been thinking I need to read another Dickens this winter – I’ll be on the lookout for Estella!

  6. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve reread it so much and I love it just as much on every occasion. Jane is such a great role model, and her refusal to sacrifice her integrity to someone she is deeply in love with- it destroys me every time because you feel her pain so much but also know that this is an absolutely crucial moment for her and that if she chose otherwise she wouldn’t be the person we’d come to know.
    It’s so funny to me that you had the pleasant visual thing first- after reading it, I think every adaption makes Rochester way too attractive, haha. And yet for all that he is an asshole- I love him, I really do. If only because he clearly thinks the world of Jane.
    I read David Copperfield ages ago but don’t remember much of it. However I do remember it annoying me much less than most of Dickens’ work, and there were definitely moments where I cried. Which is a feat because I can count on one hand the books that have gotten me to do that.

    • I would love to reread Jane Eyre in a couple of years time, I bet I would get even more out of it the second time. Yes, it destroyed me too! It was so self-sacrificing and brutal and sad and… AWE INSPIRING. If I was in that position I don’t know if I would be able to be as brave as Jane, I sure hope I would but it does make you think. And like you say, I loved what it did for her beliefs and morals as a character. I’m not sure I would have seen that if I’d read this when I was younger because I probably would have been too blinded by the romance, haha. But this book really was all about Jane for me. I agree, I’ve seen the recent TV and film versions and Rochester is way more attractive than in the book, but I love the way he speaks, his logic and turn of phrase. It’s fascinating. 🙂

      Haha, the ‘less annoying’ Dickens. Love it. xD All through my teen years I swore I would never like Dickens… now look at me! Heehee.

  7. Hi, I like your blog.
    I re-read Jane Eyre during the year, and loved it more than I did during my teens. Her character is a winner for me too, showing that we can be quiet and unobtrusive, but also no pushover. I haven’t read any Dickens for several years, but may have to read David Copperfield on the strength of your review, especially since Charles Dickens called it his own personal fave.

    • Thank Paula. 🙂

      I couldn’t agree more with the statement ‘we can be quiet and unobtrusive but also no pushover’. I think that sums up why I loved Jane Eyre so much, I’ve always been a quiet, introverted soul which often makes people think they can push me around – people get a shock when they can’t get me to budge, I’m a willful soul! I guess maybe I related to Jane on that level. It’s important that people understand that you don’t have to be just one thing, you can be quiet AND strong. 🙂

      It was indeed his personal favourite, and I think it shows in his writing! I hope you do decide to pick it up.

      Thanks for stopping by to chat!

  8. Your reviews have made me determined to read more Dickens! I’ve only read Great Expectations but it’s a firm favourite. Like you, I’ve seen countless adaptations of Jane Eyre so I know and love the story, but you’ve convinced me to read the book ;). I certainly think I could take a lot from the character of Jane! David Copperfield is a story I know very little about, so it might be quite nice to go into that with no prior knowledge or expectation.

    Fabulous reviews as always. Covered all the main points without revealing too much and your passion shines through. Oh I have missed reading your reviews!

    • You should! He’s such an awesome author – if an intimidating one. So far, Great Expectations is still my favourite, hands down. But what I continue to love about Dickens is his characters – in all of his novels. They’re so quirky and unique and mostly caricatures. And ohh the visual descriptions… no one described a character like Dickens. He puts words together I never would have thought of to describe a human, but they’re so accurate!

      Oh wow, being an English student, I would have thought you would have read Jane Eyre. The peeps at my uni had a whole semester on it (I kinda wish I could have sat in on some of those lectures). It’s definitely worth reading, even if you do know the story. 🙂

      Thank you very muchly Miss C, your words are too kind as always. 😉 But they are very nice to hear!

  9. I haven’t read David Copperfield yet, but now I want to! I agree on the Mr Rochester thing – I think that he’s often presented as romantic, but if you get down to what’s written in the text, he’s creepy and pretty problematic.

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