Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jane Eyre: the graphic novel by Charlotte Bronte

Book:  Jane Eyre:  the graphic novel
Author: Charlotte Brontë
Publisher:  Classical Comics
Year:  2008
Reason I read it:  I had to read 2 graphic novels for my YA lit class and I’ve never gotten around to reading “Jane Eyre” but I’ve always wanted to.  It was win-win.
My grade:  B+

Jane Eyre is a plain, determined and intelligent child. Orphaned and poor, she is adopted by her Aunt and Uncle Reed. The death of Uncle Reed allows her unpleasant aunt to send her away to a grim charity school, where she continues her harsh upbringing, but is given the education that finally frees her. Once old enough, she becomes a teacher and takes the role of governess in a large manor house, where she falls in love with her employer. But Rochester is hiding a secret that, when revealed, forces Jane to choose between following her head and her heart.

Both critically acclaimed and immensely popular, Jane Eyre dealt with concepts of class discrimination, morality, equality for women, and freedom of choice. Designed to encourage readers to enjoy classical literature, Jane Eyre The Graphic Novel stays true to Brontë's original vision. The book includes 125 pages of story artwork (by the legendary comic book artist, John M. Burns) and fascinating support material detailing the life of Charlotte Brontë.

My Review

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never read “Jane Eyre”.  I’ve wanted to for a while but I just never seem to get around to it.  So, when I went to the library and saw this sitting on the shelf in the graphic novel section, I jumped at the chance to read it.

I liked this graphic novel.  It uses Bronte’s original text for the dialogue and of course, the illustrations tell the rest of the story.  I’m not going to review Bronte’s original story, because that sort of speaks for itself.

I liked reading the graphic novel format of the classic.  Especially with the original text being used, I felt like I wasn’t cheating quite as much.  Although, I think that I missed things with the graphic novel format, because there were times when I was a little confused or the story felt choppy or abrupt. 

However, I do think that I now have a basic understanding of the story and I could carry on an intelligent discussion with someone about the book.  I also think that the graphic novel gave me enough outline of the story that if I picked up the book now, it would flow more easily and I could probably read it more quickly.

Both of those reasons would be good enough to use a novel like this with a class of high school students.  If our goal is to expose students to literature, this graphic novel does that.  The average American teenager is just not going to spend hours poring over 18th century British writing.  It’s just not going to happen.  But if a teacher could show a class just how good the STORY is, then students who are not serious at least get exposure to the novel and more serious students may then be inspired to move on the actual novel.

I still don’t think that the comic form is going to get any 17 year old boy excited about “Jane Eyre”, but a comic version might get them excited about “Hamlet” or “Beowulf” or some other equally gory, sword-fighting sort of tale. 

Classical Comics is a publisher from Great Britain and they offer lots of titles, including Shakespeare, Dickens and many other classics.  They come in several varieties such as Original Text, Quick Text(the full story in modern English) and Shakespeare graphic novels also have an option called Plain Text, which is the entire play translated into “plain English”.

I think this is a great, fun way to introduce students to classic literature in a way that helps them understand it.  In my opinion, it’s better to read “Macbeth” in comic book form than to never read it at all.

I gave this novel a B+.  I enjoyed the story and it was a fast, easy read, but I still felt like I missed some of the story.  In August, I’ll probably be picking up “ Jane Eyre” proper.

1 comment:

  1. There's a graphic novel!?
    I absolutely love Jane Eyre! It's one of my favorite books.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the comic, maybe someday you'll pick up the book.
    Thanx for introducing me to Classical comics ;)